Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More Prayer Requests

This is a letter from my friend Michelle- the founder of the orphanages in Ethiopia. Please read it and then please pray that God would work His will and show off His power to us as we try to understand which direction He would have us go.

"Dear Prospective Adoptive Parents,

Thank you so much for your patience awaiting news on the status of our work in Ethiopia. I know it is very frustrating not to hear news, and I plan to send you all an update each Thursday

I want to be completely forthright and let you know exactly what is happening. First, I am so sorry that I unintentionally misled some of you prior to my recent trip to Ethiopia, saying that our orphanage license was completed. Although that is what I understood from Getachew, our Ethiopian program director, apparently he meant to tell me that he had been told the final paperwork would be finished in two days. I understood him to say that the final paperwork WOULD be finished in two day, and didn’t understand that he had been told this but that didn’t mean it would actually happen.

So this is the current situation. As you probably know, we started in Ethiopia with a license for African Widows and Orphans Project. We invested a great deal of money in the projects but soon became aware that the money was being misspent by Ethiopian staff. Additionally, in over a year they had not finished paperwork on even one child. We didn’t feel we could continue with these staff members, but learned that according to Ethiopian law we couldn’t fire them.

We quit funding AWOP in Ethiopia, which was a legal way for us to discontinue working with these dishonest men. We moved the children and our supplies from AWOP to a newly licensed entity, Tsega Orphans and Widows Service. We had excellent leadership and staff there and for several months things went well. Eventually, however, the Tsega staff learned that it was illegal to move the children from one orphanage, AWOP, to another orphanage, Tsega. Apparently if an orphanage closes the government reassigns children to new orphanages.

Upon learning of this mistake Tsega was no longer allowed to operate, other than to care for the children in our orphanage, while an investigation was done. Apparently over the last three to four months a lot of bureaucratic paperwork has been accomplished to nsure the children are safe and things are being run correctly.

Prior to my trip I had understood that everything was completed and Tsega could once again gather children’s paperwork for adoption and do humanitarian projects. Upon my arrival in Ethiopia, however, I found that the license actually had not been completely renewed.

In the past the DPPC office has been in charge of things such as this renewal. We have a good relationship with a gentleman at the DPPC and he wants to help us. However, about a month before I traveled the government had established a new office, the Charities Department, that handles things related to non-profits and NGOs.

I visited our friend at the DPPC and he made an appointment for us to see someone at the Charities Department. We went to that appointment and I was very sure that the gentleman would give us the remaining paper needed to renew the license. However, the gentleman said that the papers wouldn’t be finished for a week or two. This was on a Monday. I explained that we have children to feed and that donors wouldn’t support them unless we have the license renewed. He asked when I was leaving and I said Friday. He said he would try to have it finished by then.

Enthusiastically I went back on Friday to see the gentleman, but the offices were closed due to a Muslim holiday. With great sorrow I had to leave Ethiopia without the completed license. I realized that there is nothing I can do to speed things up – this is totally in the Lord’s hands. We will delight in seeing Him work and we will know that He accomplished this and wants us to continue to work in Ethiopia. If I could have persuaded the gentleman to give me the paperwork I would have given the credit to myself, but as it is obviously the Lord must work for anything to happen.

Getachew returned to the office the Monday after I left and they told him to come back on Wednesday, which he did. At that appointment they told him to quit bothering them, that they would call him when it was finished. Obviously that was discouraging for all of us.

The encouraging news from a few days ago is that finally things seem to be moving! After a couple of months of things being stagnant we are seeing action. Getachew told me that local government officials from the area where our orphanage is visited, were very pleased with what they saw, and wrote up a positive report. Apparently the remaining step is that representatives from the federal government must look at the facility and write a report. I would like to say that will happen by the end of the week, but given all that has happened so far I have no idea when it will occur.

So to sum this up, Tsega cannot do ANYTHING in Ethiopia until this license issue is resolved. They cannot gather paperwork on children, they can’t sponsor children, they can’t admit new children to the orphanage. They can just care for the children living in the orphanage.

Everything I saw at the orphanage was very good. The children are all healthy and those age 6 and older go outside the orphanage each day to attend a local school. There are many nannies with the kids and everyone relates together as a family. Things are going well.

The very difficult thing is that the children living in the Tsega orphanage are basically stuck there at the moment, unless the license is resolved. As we learned from the problem with AWOP we can’t move children to a different orphanage – that is for the government to do and they could send them anywhere. Paperwork is ready on the children, but nothing can proceed further without the license renewal. So none of the cases can move forward at this point.

Tsega has a few children who are not living in the orphanage – their paperwork was in process and they hadn’t yet moved in when this license issue started. Because those children are living with relatives or guardians rather than in an orphanage they could move into any orphanage and then be adopted through the agency that works with that particular orphanage. So if you are interested in children not currently living in the orphanage there is a greater possibility that those children can be adopted.

We had a major board meeting yesterday and realized we cannot continue to support Tsega for an unlimited period of time without being able to do any projects. We decided that we will wait 90 days for the license to be resolved, and if it hasn’t been by that time we will need to pull out of Ethiopia and turn our projects over to one or more different organizations. We are not sure how this will affect the children living in the Tsega orphanage. Our understanding is the government would disperse them to various orphanages, and whether or not you could adopt the children is uncertain.

So these are prayer issues:

1. Pray that the government will quickly process the license renewal. There is always the possibility that they will not approve it, although there is no reason for them not to. We want to see the Lord at work here and know for certain that He wants us to continue this ministry. Nothing is done quickly, but the Lord can certainly speed things up. Nothing much can happen until this is resolved.
2. Pray for finances for us to continue to support the projects without money coming in. We obviously need to pay salaries, buy food, pay for school, medical care, etc.
3. Pray for Getachew as he has a very frustrating job, trying day after day to get this resolved. Please pray for encouragement and peace for him.
4. Pray for the children, that they won’t be trapped in a nearly impossible situation.

Please contact me with questions. I intend to send updates to all of you each Thursday, and of course if something major happens prior to Thursday I will let you know immediately.

Please be aware that if you have applied to an agency you have the option of going through that agency’s traditional program rather than working with Kingdom Kids. Should you decide to do that please let me know. Otherwise I encourage you to hang in there and see what the Lord does in the next couple of months.

This passage from Scripture has helped me a great deal in the past few weeks. I hope it will speak to you as well:

“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.’”
- Jeremiah 18:1-6

I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything!

For His glory,
Michelle Gardner"


Jasleen said...

In response to a message at church several weeks ago, I decided to pray for Ethiopia for 60 days. I haven't been praying for any particular group or persons in Ethiopia because I wasn't familiar with any. I just read this post of yours and want to thank you for providing me with that "specific" that I can pray for!

Chuck Weinberg said...

It is so amazing how god works all these little things together. Keep praying- He is big.