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Aint Nothin' Like the Real Thing Baby

Chad Dykstra - 2010-10-19
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Well this is it!  We are on the verge of leaving for our first trip to Ethiopia.  Our bags are (mostly) packed, we have everything (mostly) together for our departure.  This is all thanks to Lora, of course, I’m not sure any of this could happen if I was in charge of it.

We are so excited to finally meet “the boys”.  We love these two boys more than words can express, and yet we’ve never even met them.  We’ve stared at pictures for months and read their progress reports over and over.  We’ve imagined them as a part of our family.  In our home.  In our community.  In our church.  As the old-school song says, though, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby”!  Until this weekend, none of it is really real.  I am not prepared for what I’ll face while on this trip.  We’re going to get hit with a whole lot of “real things” in just a few short days.

There are some “real things” that will be great!  I will get to walk through the doors of Help for the Needy Orphanage and finally lay eyes on my beautiful children.  I will (hopefully) get to hold them, play with them, read them stories, and tell them how much everyone back home loves them and can’t wait to meet them.  I will get to experience their country, their food, and their rich culture.

Out of our blessings, we also will get to bless others.  Lora has been collecting shoes and other clothing items at garage sales and buying cheap children’s medication and vitamins over the past several months.  We have a full suitcase of items to be donated to the orphanage and gifts for the nannies.  Just yesterday we received a donation from Perrigo of 24 large bottles of children’s multi-vitamins.  That is over 1,400 vitamins.  Thank you Perrigo, and Cousin Denise for the connection.  Lora’s dentist also donated a bunch of dental supplies for both children and adults.

In addition to all of this, we will get to travel outside of the city and visit 3 World Vision projects.  We will get to see firsthand how lives are changed when clean water, schools, and irrigation are brought into communities.  We will get to see this change with our own eyes, and through conversations with real people whose lives have been changed.  As supporters of World Vision for many years and through our involvement with Team World Vision running specifically to bring clean water to Ethiopia and Kenya, I can’t even begin to imagine how cool this is going to be.

There are some “real things” that will be pretty eye-opening as well.   As Americans, we like to consider ourselves “average”.  Truth be told, Lora and I are anything but average.  We are wealthier than over 99% of the world’s population.  (We aren’t alone in this…if you make even $40,000 per year you’re richer than 96.5% of the world).  As we travel around Ethiopia, we are far more than “average”.  We are rich, spoiled Americans.  It’s easy to forget this, or ignore it, as we are living our life in comfortable, quiet Hamilton, MI.  It’s not going to be so easy anymore.  How will I react to witnessing people living in such extreme poverty?  How will they react to me?

Experiencing the culture and food will be a great thing, but it also does not come without challenges.  As a small town folks, how will we react to the congestion, smells, and experiences of a major third world city?  Will our stomachs be able to take the radical difference in cuisine, or will we get sick every day?

Most importantly, how do we explain to a 3 and a 5 year old that have already been through more loss than any child should bear that we love them, but we have to leave without them?  It is easy to say “we’ll be back”, but does the mind of a young child understand this?  Will they cry as we leave?  Or won’t they even get it?

Well…it seems like we have a lot to think about!  There’s also probably a lot that we haven’t even thought about.  But that’s OK!  We are so blessed to be on this journey and we so look forward to every minute.  We thank everyone for their thoughts, well wishes, and prayers as we leave tomorrow morning to meet the beautiful boys that God has planned for us even before this process started.

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All in God's timing

Lora Dykstra - 2010-09-08
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I just have to take a minute to praise God for His timing....His wonderful, perfect timing!  During our wait for our referral, God granted me wonderful peace.  I wanted to be matched but I rested in a peace that passed MY understanding.  Then after 1 year and 1 week, we were matched with our precious "Z" and "A"  Now we wait for our court date...but I feel so busy with life, I know the time will just fly!  During our wait we felt called to two things.  Run with Team World Vision, and work on starting an orphan ministry.. Also the book, "The Hole in Our Gospel" has been such a powerful and convicting book and we are so excited to be doing a 6 week series at our church this this is how the timing has worked out...

Sept 11 - Brother Mike's Wedding in Rock Island, IL

Sept 12- Lora runs Chicago half marathon with Team World Vision (along with Lora's mom and 11 others from our church and  approx 500-600 other Team World Vision members!)

Sept 19 - The Hole in Our Gospel Series Starts - Lora leads Worship for 2 morning services

October 10 - Chad runs Chicago marathon with Team World Vision (along with Lora's dad and 2 others from our church- and approx 1000 other Team World Vision members!)

October 20 - Chad and Lora get on a plane to go to Africa to meet our precious "Z" and "A" and go through "Court"

October 26- Chad and Lora get to visit a World Vision site in Ethiopia to see the kind of change that can happen when a community receives clean water!

October 29 - Chad and Lora return home from Africa

October 31 - Orphan Ministry is launched at our church!

I don't know about you, but that timing just blows me away!  Our God is such a BIG GOD!  Everytime I think about this timing, I smile!  Abi started Kindergarten today and I'm really glad she will be in a routine by the time we leave for Africa.  I think that will make us being gone a little easier. 

Also, I would ask for your prayers as our group will be running the half marathon in just over 3 days.  Please pray for strength, safety, and good weather:) 

I also challenge you to consider skipping "eating out "one time this month  (and eat at home instead) and donate that money you would usually spend at a restaurant to help clean water to a community in Africa.  That's all they are asking for, CLEAN WATER.  I can hardly imagine!  So whether you usually spend $10 or $40 on a meal out with your family, please consider donating today!  Maybe even talk with your family over that meal about why you are staying home and what your donation is going for.  I think it's great when kids understand just a little bit of how "good" we have it!

Your donation is tax-deductible and 100% goes to World Vision so they can help a community with clean water and proper sanitation!                  Or mail a check made out to "WORLD VISION" to me.  Contact me if you need our address!

Thank you and GOD BLESS you and your family!!

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We have flights booked!

Lora Dykstra - 2010-08-19
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We feel so blessed!  We got the call today!  We have a court date!!!!  October 27th :)  We have several other families that we know that will be traveling at a very similar time and I thought it would be wonderful to get the same flights.  But Chad had an even better idea.  Airline miles!!  What are the chances that we could use them?  Not very good, except God seemed to be working!  Chad spent about an hour on the phone and when it was all said and done we saved about $2500 by using our miles!  The lady who assisted Chad was really surprised by how well it all worked were we!   WHAT A BLESSING!  We have a two day layover in Germany...but hey, mini-vacation!:)  I've never been to Europe before!  It's perfect!  We are soooo blessed!

We are also so excited for the families we get to be in Ethiopia with!  We know it will be such a blessing to travel with people we've already started to form friendships with. 

If everything were to go well....we might be on the timeline for an embassy Date of December 7th.  That would be SOOOOOO great.  If we miss that, the next date is 2 weeks later, December 21st.  Either one would be SOOOO great, but I'm praying for the 7th:)  I'd love to have our boys home in 2010!  We are just so excited to see God's timing playing out!

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