Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mixed emotions!

It’s with mixed emotions that I report that we have all returned home safely to Australia from our Short Term Mission trip to Ethiopia 2011!  We had an absolutely amazing trip and saw God at work over and over again.  We’re really glad to be back in Australia – definitely the best country in the world (no bias whatsoever!).  But, it’s also sad knowing that the adventure is over for a little while.  I’ve only been home for a few hours and I already miss the team!  I’ve attached our last team photo from the airport in Thailand. 

I’m so proud of our team!  They rode the ups and the downs of the trip with amazing courage and are a true inspiration.  God did some amazing things on this trip, both on a personal level, and on a team level.  If you get a chance, grab someone from the trip and ask them to share a highlight with you – you’ll hear some great stories! 

We may post one or two more entries with some specific stories or photo’s to show some of what we got up to, but this is the last official post of the Ethiopia Mission Trip 2011 blog.  Thanks for following along on our journey.  We hope that the stories and experiences we’ve shared have provoked a response from you!  We serve an amazing God with an amazing plan for each and every one of us. 

All glory to God for the great things He’s done!


The Team.

Just love those elephants!

I couldn’t resist putting one more photo of Abeba, Matilda and me feeding the elephant some bananas.  So fun!

What a blast in Thailand!

Well we had a fantastic time in Thailand!  To break the return trip up into manageable bites, we had a full day and night in Thailand.  We stayed at the First Hotel which is very conveniently located nearby MBK and the Platinum Centre – two huge shopping centre’s with ‘authentic’ name brand clothing, technology etc. 


If God hadn’t called our family to Ethiopia, I reckon we’d be doing more mission in Thailand.  What a beautiful country!  92% of the population are Buddhist so there’s a huge mission field there.  By far my favourite thing was getting to ride and feed an elephant!  They are amazing creatures.  So huge, but so gentle with us. 


We also had a tour through a Coconut Farm and got to buy some natural coconut products and we were able to experience the famous Floating Markets. 


All in all, a great stop over! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Fixer Play Ground

We were thrilled to know how much the playground that our team built last time has been used.  So much that the metal rings had worn out.  All fixed now :)  ready for another few years use :)

Potties for Grace

With Aid money that our team has raised we were able to purchase 15 new potties for the nursery at the Grace Centre :)  In total now the Catalyst Mission Team has donated over $4000 USD to the ongoing work at the Grace Centre - this is made up of some money donations and lots and lots of maintenance about the place.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blue Nile Falls

Still lots of work being done at Grace but this morning most of the team went for some R&R to the blue nile falls in full flow.
On a not so great note please be praying for us as our Monday flight from here to Addis has been cancelled and we are busy trying to get another one organised in the next 2 days other wise we will be in vans trying to make it to Addis for our international flight on Monday night.  Don't panic - just pray :) 


Had an incredible day today - did some paper making with the small business ladies at the Grace Centre and the team went to the Blue Nile Falls.  An then to our surprise we had the best visitor ever - (Adult :))Kidist and Nardos arrived from Addis this afternoon.  Nardi was so excited and didn't want to let go of Murray.  Big cuddles with special friends.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


When Murray, Abeba, Matilda and I were living here in Ethiopia for 5 months - 4 of them were here at the Grace Centre and we made such special friends with Asmare who did our washing so faithfully each day.  She came around for a visit today with her little girl Kidist who was not even walking when we were living here.  They are both such a joy to be around and such an inspiration to us all.  The staff here at the Grace Centre amaze us everyday.  They are so generous with their time, so dedicated to their work and so joyful in their spirit.  We have a lot to learn from them and I wish I had more time to do that.  Already sad about leaving... This photo is of Kidist and her beaming, delicious, round, beautiful little face!!!  Em

PS: love you Mum - love you Dad xox

Two babies born today!!!!

An exciting day for babies in the Grace family today as two of the ladies who have been receiving care gave birth this morning. Unfortunately they had gone off to the hospital before we knew they were in labour. They both had healthy babies, the first a girl, followed by a beautiful boy. It was such a priviledge to be able to go with Sister Abu to check on the post partum ladies who were in the labour ward and another ward.

This was an experience I will never forget. The paint chipped iron beds were blood stained, rusty and the mattresses were only covered by a dirty looking vinyl cover. No sheets, pillows, water jugs, pads, cots nappies etc to be seen. The ladies were lying in their very soilded clothes they wore in, which was probably their only set of clothes, so were more like rags.
It was such a joy to be able to provide a bundle of new clothes for both mother and baby and some basic necessities ie sheet, soap, baby wrap, paw paw cream, water bottle and some vitamins to help these poor ladies manage their newborns in their simple one room mud huts.

Grace not only paid for the deliveries, items used ie gloves and medicines, but for the transport home- a bajaj (tuk tuk), only hours after delivery. I accompainied one lady home, and it was a very painful expeerience for her bumping over all the pot holes and rocks enroute.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Aaron with the Kids!

Here is a photo of Aaron playing with the kids in the Negede village. So cute! :D

Our trip to Gondar

Hey Everyone,
Well today was a big day. It's a holiday here so we were all off work and into a van for a 3 hour drive North of Bahir Dar to Gondar. We got there and Meskel was in full swing, 100's of people in the street celebrating. Our historical tour started with the Monastery, very interesting history, lots of artwork on the walls and floor that told all the stories in the bible, because many of the people couldn't read.
We then continued on to the 6 castles of the Ethiopian kings, all built in the same block of land. So many amazing ruins and many of them were quite advanced, including a sauna and swimming pool in one of the castles.
By the time we got though the castles we were all a little weary and ready for some lunch and the drive home so that's what we did! So a 3 hour drive home, a flat tyre just inside the Bahir Dar borders which was quickly changed and then finally home. Emma had dinner on the table for us when we got home and it was nice to be off the van.
We are all doing well and enjoying our time here but of course we are missing you all! Love Andrea.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One very proud owner of an Aussie Tee Shirt... This little boy was so proud of his new wears... Such and awesome privilege to be apart of delivering these kits.  We met with this village last trip and it is so great to again spend time with them building relationships even with the language barrier.   Also feel so grateful to be able to enter this village under the Grace Centre covering doing all of this with a hope that this village will come to know the real and only God who we are representing here.

Delivering house kits.

Aaron in his element :)

Sorting the Grace store room :)

Shelley in her element :)

Delivering house kits!!

Broken Heart

I thought my heart was already broken for these people but it completely fell apart when I saw this lady.  When I look at this photo I get completely lost in the story that her appearance tells.  Honestly can not begin to imagine what she has had to over come.  On the last trip the team prayed for her eye sight and it has dramatically improved - giving all the glory to God it was so wonderful to see her again.  

The team deliver house kits with The Grace Centre

Such a highlight for everyone being a part of delivering these house kits to families who barely have a roof over their heads.  Such confronting stories of survival from each of them.


Well we have been off the grid for a few days getting settled at The Grace Centre.  It is so great to be back here serving again.  The people traveling in the Van for over 8 hours had a long and bumpy but very safe trip and those of us who flew enjoyed the short 40 minute flight :) We are being well looked after here and everyone has a job to do which is great.  Abeba and Matilda are having a blast at one of USA volunteers home with our old washing lady Asmare which is so wonderful for them.  The team are off doing house kids right now which is so rewarding for them and then this afternoon we are celebrating Meskel.  The team will be able to also blog tonight with the photos from the house kits which will be great but here is a photo of some of the AID that we bought here for the Grace Centre.  Thanks so much to Jason and Janelle for donating towards the formula and also thanks to Russel and Lyndell Schloss's home group for donating money which we used to purchase a cd and tape player that Grace needs.  We couldn't give like we do with out all the support you all give. THANKS SO MUCH.
Over and out - back on here again tonight so stay tuned :)


PS: Love you Mum and Dad - Sarah, Pete and the kids xo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Suzzie is in there somewhere

Suzie takes time to help the kids open their packs and enjoy every little treasure inside...

SEATS for the church

Murray met with the church Elders and Compassion Director and found out that one of their greatest needs is to be able to seat more people in their church as it is growing!!! On behalf of Catalyst Church we were able to purchase 30 new seats like the ones in this picture.  They are so thankful and so excited about the ongoing relationship we will have.


Wayne gives his LOVE THIS CITY shirt to the Compassion Health Worker!!!  He was absolutely thrilled... Wayne is now shirtless :) hee hee

Catalyst Youth

What an incredible blessing to have the Youth from Catalyst raise enough funds to feed all these children...  It was an amazing sight to see...

What a 'Fun Day'!

Well, today was...awesome!  That's the only word to describe it.  We had been looking forward to it, but it exceeded all expectations.  We had planned a 'fun day', but we couldn't have scripted how great it turned out.  All 78 of the children sponsored by attendees of Catalyst Church attended the day.  We had packs of goodies to hand out to each individual child.  Each pack contained toys (primarily 'Huggles'), clothes, learning aids and a letter and/or photo's of their sponsor family.  The looks of amazement and joy on the children's faces after receiving these gifts was humbling. 

We were able to play heaps of games, cuddle heaps of cute kids and communicate God's love to them in a tangible way.  It was...awesome!

We were also able to pay for a big feast for all the children and the Compassion staff - 90 people all up.  I couldn't believe the amount of food on each child's plate...they loved it. 

While all the team was playing with the kids, I was able to spend some time with Pastor Belachew, Senior Pastor of the Mulu Wongel (Full Gospel) Church at which the Compassion Child Development Project is based.  It was a great time of mutual encouragement.  They have plenty of needs and I can't wait to get back to Australia and share some of the plans the Church has if funds are made available. 

Well, Em also wants to share some thoughts so I'll say Chow for now!  Off to Bahir Dar at 4:30am tomorrow morning. 

Bless ya,


Friday, September 23, 2011

Things in common

So wonderful to see that we can play together even though we are from other sides of the world...
Here Matilda is teaching a little girl - To Wash The Dishes, Dry the Dishes and Turn the Dishes Over :)

Selam in her new outfit

Selam in her new outfit - feeling like a princess :)

Selam steals our hearts

Today we went to Kora which is part of Ethiopia Mission and is associated with the Guest home we are staying at.  Here they make beads and then necklaces to sell and keep employment.  I blogged earlier a photo of my girls with a little girl called Selam that we met at Kora.  She was there again today and we had a new little outfit for her.  Once it was on her she began singing and strutting her stuff for us all.  What a wonderful moment.  She was such a cutie that is for sure.  With aid money we are able to support this project by improving the lights in the rooms they work in and by purchasing some much needed furniture.  Wonderful day all round.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Your money makes a difference!

If you have any doubt that your money makes a difference, here is a young man who came up through the sponsorship program and is now a Nurse for a Compassion project!

Compassion Child Survival Program

Hi Everyone, Andrea here.
You are probably getting sick of hearing how beautiful the children are here but I have to say it again. 'The children are beautiful here' :D
Today we visited a Child survival program and it was just wonderful to see 35 healthy Mothers and 36 healthy Babies,  there was 1 set of gorgeous twins.
I am so impressed with all the Compassion projects we have seen here so far. The staff are genuinely kind and caring people with a real love of God and the work that He has lead them to, they believe whole-heartedly in what Compassion are doing and are so grateful for the support from people and churches around the world

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


We spent time with more of the Catalyst Sponsor children today.  We were looking for lots that we haven't seen yet and found out that they attend a different school and we will see them on Saturday.  This little princess is John and Michelle's little one.  She had the biggest most beautiful eyes and once she found her place on Josh's lap - no one could shift her. This is by far one of the most rewarding trips - seeing what the partnership between Catalyst and Compassion is doing with this kids - so encouraging and such a privilege to be a part of.

Along the road

One of the real highlights of our trip is giving out clothes and food along the roads we are traveling on.  We set a challenge for our two vans to see who could give away one of these Australian umbrella hats.  Our friend Yared who drives us out to the project each day could hardly stop laughing when we showed him what we were trying to give away.  He had never seen such a thing and thought that no one would want it.  BUT we stopped along side these young guys guarding some cows and THEY LOVED IT!!! it also started to rain right as we were showing him how to use it.  Big belly laughs all round!! SO much fun - he couldn't take the smile off his face - priceless!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fistula Hospital

Some of the team went to the Hospital by the River today - Fistula hospital.  Absolute miracle that once again Catherine Hamlin the Australian Founder of the hospital was there and wanted to visit with our group.  Very exciting to have this opportunity - God is certainly making things happen!!!

Ethiopian Food

In the last couple of days we have been busy. Below is a list of the activities:

Monday - Some people on the trip got to visit their Sponsor Child's House
Monday night - the team got to experience a traditional Ethiopian Dinner with Ethiopian Dancing (see the photo for the meal)
Tuesday morning - more visits to sponsor childrens houses (not linked to the Church's partnership)
Tuesday afternoon - visit to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital (with some of the team meeting Dr Catherine Hamlin)
Tuesday night - dinner at the Sheraton to celebrate Emma's birthday.

We've also had power and water issues, but we are surviving.

Will blog again soon!

(Shelley W)

Monday, September 19, 2011


Had to blog this photo of Josh and Corinne with their little girl Kidist.  We were so blessed to have Amanda Stevens and her team of ladies make over 100 HUGGLES - they were the soft little toys to go in every childs pack.  We have given quite a few out and all the children just adore them.  This is Kidist getting her little Huggle.  Very special.

Compassion kids!!

Wow what an incredible day.  I don't know where to begin.  We had home visits with the children sponsored by the members of our team today but along the way met SO many of the children sponsor by Catalyst.   We had a meeting with the church leaders this morning and was so impressed with how Compassion run things here and how much the leaders love serving God.  They were such an encouragement to us and we were so impressed by their love for the children and their determination to see God's will done. 
One story I must tell :)
An absolute miracle!!!  We were visiting Josh and Corinne's sponsor child and twin girls along with 10 other children ended up in the little hut with us.  The twin girls were trying to tell Murray and I that they are also sponsored by our church.  We kinda didn't believe them - so they ran to their home in the pouring rain and came back with their letters and photos of their sponsor.  here we were in the middle of no where in the pouring rain in a mud hut and guess what we were looking at... A PHOTO OF THE SAXON FAMILY...!!!  there before me was a photo of Belinda Saxon, Luke and the kids!!!  WOW!!! what a moment... VERY COOL - so SAXONS we have had a great old chat with your little girl in a mud hut in Africa!!!
Tomorrow we are meeting with more of the sponsor children and after that we are visiting the fistula hospital here in Addis.
Keep you posted
PS: love you Mum and Dad :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Our first trip to the Compassion Church Partnership

Greetings to the loyal blog followers!

Undoubtedly, today has been the best day of the trip so far! Today, we made the 43km journey to Addis Alem to the Compassion Church Partnership.

Our day started at 8am. It took about an hour to travel from our accommodation in Addis Ababa. The scenery on the drive was spectacular with rolling green hills and many, many eucalyptus trees. We arrived at the church to find a few children outside the church gates to greet us. We were all very excited, as we were anticipating the opportunity the meet our sponsor children for the first time. As we approached the church grounds, we could hear clapping from the children. As soon as we walked through the gates, we were greeted by 230 children. (See the photo above).

Except for Aaron, everyone on the team got to meet their sponsor child. It was an amazing experience - hard to describe really. It wasn't long until all the children went to Sunday School - there was 4 rooms filled with children. Their singing was so energetic.

We were also privileged to attend the church. The whole church was packed with people worshiping the Lord. We got to sing to them "Ancient of Days". The sermon was presented in two local languages, but we were also provided with a summary in English.

So, overall, today was a day which everyone was looking forward to, and it exceeded all our expectations!

From Shelley W.

Our second day in Addis

Guess what Ray's been doing ... yep! He joined the youngies (brown and white) for a friendly game of soccer on the road outside the Guest House.  I THINK he was enjoying himself ...

Actually, it was Ray who initiated it, and it was a lovely time of connection with the locals.  They appreciated the new soccer shirts, and bubble blowers, and Abeba and Matilda had quite a skipping competition with a very friendly girl about their age.  People are the same the world over, and communicating with these beautiful people, even without a common language is easy, if you can find a common interest.

Soon though, it was time to go ... off to do some souvenier shopping at Churchill Rd.  Back home for lunch (fried rice), and then we fit and healthy ones were off to climb the mountain.  Unfortunately Debbie and Andrea weren't feeling up to it, but the rest of us set out with much excitement, and a little trepidation.  And I'm pleased to be able to announce that everybody made it!!  I was quite sure a couple of times that I would have to stop and wait for them to pick me up on the way down, but with lots of encouragement and a few timely rest stops, I made it.  It's unlike any mountain walk you will ever see in Australia.  It's very rocky and uneven, with people living on either side of the track behind tin fences, and children playing ... mind boggling, really.  The view from the top of the mountain, over Addis Ababa, is glorious, even with a bit of smog about!  And the ancient monastery (built in the 400s out of the rock) was amazing.

All of us felt like an early night after that, I think, but as soon as we got back, it was a quick change or shower, and we were off to Yared's for tea (all 16 of us!!).  What a delicious traditional meal Shibere put on for us ... we were very glad we went.  The Ethiopian people are so generous and hospitable - even though they have so little, they are always willing to share.  We love them to bits.

And THEN it was time for bed.  We were anticipating a huge day on the morrow, as we headed out to the Compassion project for the first time, so wanted to be well rested for that.  It did take a while though, for my mind to process all the day's events, and thank God for everything He had shown and taught us.

Love to you all, Barb

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Soccer Jersey's

Thanks to the Gorrie family for donating some soccer jersery's.  We handed them out this morning to a little team on our street.  So great to see them thrilled with their shirts and the colour was especially loved.  We have made friends with quite a few of the local kids and we handed out skipping ropes - Abeba loved skipping with Kalkidan in the picture.  Very special. Everyone was exhausted after the soccer game - especially the Aussies!!! The team has headed out for the hike up the Mountain this afternoon to see the Monastery  and some have stayed behind to gather some energy:)
Keep you posted.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Team Arrives!

The team has arrived after an relatively non-eventful flight!  Josh caused a few problems with the Ethiopian customs officials when they mistook the parts to repair the swings with some form of weapon.  It took half an hour for Josh, using his limited Amharic and some impressive charades skills to convince them that it was only a harmless children's toy...very funny for the rest of us watching through the glass!

The team is very excited to be here.  It was great to see people reuniting with their long time friend Yared! 

Well done to Noel and Shelly for getting everyone here safely!



Tomorrow the TEAM posts will start - stay tuned...

Team arrives in the morning and we will begin to keep you up to date with the visits out to the 78 sponsor children Catalyst has so stay tuned.

Words cannot explain how amazing it is to see our girls embracing the people here. this is a photo of Bebs and Til with their new friend Selam - I think Selam is still trying to work out 'who' or 'what' Matilda is... Such great memories being created - love it...


Today we went to the markets and purchased some items for the kids in our area who are unable to go to school because they don't have an exercise book - we purchased 12 books for 63 birr which is about $2.50 so that was a bargin :)  Team arrives soon - looking forward to that!

Here is a photo of the view we have from the top floor of our home.  Joe E -  I thought of you when I took this photo - spot the VW in the yard - cool colour.

Talk again soon.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We Made It !

Well I must admit that I had forgotten what it was like to travel across the world with two children!!  I still haven't slept since leaving Brisbane but arrived here at the Guest Home and it was all worth it!!  What and incredible place and we really do feel like it is a home away from home.  For breaky we had strawberry smoothies and scrambled eggs with fresh bread!!!  Abeba and Matilda were excited at that but then went nuts when they found out that we aren't allowed in the kitchen and therefore can't do our dishes!  They better not get use to that.

Any the team arrives in two days - can't wait!!

All doing well - from Murray, Em, Bebs and Til

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Grace Centre

Second half of our trip will be at The Grace Centre in Bahir Dar.

We are very excited about heading back to see all our friends at the Grace Centre and to help them in any way we can. We are also looking forward to seeing the ongoing work that is being done in a village near by. The Grace team have been building relationships with the people in the Negede Village and have been rebuilding their huts (above is a before shot and we will blog an after shot when we get there). Awesome progress and we are looking forward to seeing it. Other projects on the list so far include:

* Electrical work

* shelving

* Paper making and craft activities

* fixing the swing set we built last trip - worn out from all that playing :)

*Bible study groups

* And lots more...

Stay Tuned

Friday, September 2, 2011

Compassion Packs completed :)

So excited to have all these packs finished now. Thank you so much to all the VERY generous people who donated to these - they will not only put a massive smile on the childrens faces but they will also clothe them and comfort them for a long time to come.

Sooo excited.

Thanks again.

Em & the team.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Well it is only just over two weeks until take off and we are so excited. We had a wonderful time today packing all the Compassion Sponsor Children's care packs. What an absolute blessing to receive over 100 hand made little toys (Huggles) to go in the little hampers for the children. Something for them to cherish and love that is for sure. Thanks so much to Amanda Steven's and all her helpers who have been working on these over the past weeks and months - Your generosity is making a difference!!
Be sure to follow along now as we all take off on the adventure God has planned for us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's Ahead

Hi and welcome to the blog of our next trip to Ethiopia. We are all very excited and on the team this time is :

Murray, Emma, Abeba & Matilda Jensen , Andrea & Wayne Dupuy, Josh & Corinne Knight, Aaron Shanahan, Ray & Barbara Jensen, Debbie Robertson, Noel & Shelley Woodward, Chris & Suzie Overell

We have already been meeting as a team and had our first large fundraising event on Saturday raising over $1400 at a Car Wash to go towards blessing the 70+ children we sponsor through Compassion in Addis Alem, Ethiopia.

Our plans so far are to spend at least one week in Addis Ababa the capital. Driving out daily to the Compassion Church Partnership that we have begun with a project in Addis Alem. We intend to get to know all the children we sponsor from here at Catalyst and begin to build a relationship with the church leaders to learn from them how we can best support them into the future.

We then plan to head up to the Grace Centre in Bahir Dar to serve with Dee, Andrew and the team there helping them in any way we can.

On our way home we hope to stop in Bangkok and ride an elephant and maybe even do a little shopping :)

Please join us in praying for our path to be mapped out by God and that He would take us where He wants us to go.

Keep you posted and thanks for following along.