Great Impact :: A Nurse from Canada

Blessing the Children in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia has been so blessed to receive missionaries from all over the world.  Europe, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and most recently, we were blessed to have Helene Leis visit us all the way from Canada.

Helene came to serve Blessing the Children by performing health exams for the newest and sickest of our children.  She came prepared to perform a full health exam on the children.  She then was able to make recommendations to our staff to let us know who needed to see the doctor and what the possible issues are.

Helene served with BCI for two weeks.  During those two weeks she examined more than 30 children.  But not just a quick exam either, she spent around 1 hour with each child asking many questions of the mother or guardian to get a full health picture of the child.  She then made many notes on the child’s file so BCI can follow up with local doctors.

During those two weeks Helene also held a first aid training and a nutrition class for moms in the BCI program.  In the nutrition class, Helene taught the women proper nutrition for their little ones.  She also answered any questions that the mothers had about their babies’ health.

She also held a first aid training class for the BCI social workers and teachers.  This was a great opportunity to teach proper responses to accidents and illnesses that arise with having lots of little people running around!

Helene during a training session.

Helene during a training session.

Helene is very much a go-getter.  She is the type of person that can get things done.  We have one child in the program, Nati, that has been sick for quite some time with a serious heart condition.  We have been trying to get him to the right doctor that can perform his surgery or send him overseas to have it done.  Helene was able to set up an appointment for Nati with a highly specialized doctor in Addis Ababa that frequently sends children to India for surgery.  We found out more about Nati’s condition but we are also praying that this doctor is able to help Nati.

Even though it is a joy and a blessing when God sends us to serve Him in different places, it can also be overwhelming at times.  Helene was overwhelmed by the poverty that she witnessed in Debre Zeit.  Also, some of the mothers of the children expected Helene to heal their children and this caused Helene a lot of heart ache when she was unable to.  Missions trips can be filled with ups and downs but God meets us in those low times and shows us that we are making a difference in the lives that we touch.  God doesn’t expect us to go and change a nation but He calls us to obedience.  When we follow Him, He will use us in unmeasurable ways.

We are so thankful that Helene left the comforts of home to serve our children!

What’s Stopping You?!

-An Inspirational Story by Jonnett T.

Lis Detweiler is an amazing woman that inspires me so much.  She is the epitome of selflessly giving of yourself to serve others.  Lis recently came to serve BCI’s children for two weeks in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.  She came with a team from her church in Pennsylvania, USA.  I have been affected by all of the missionaries that have come to serve with BCI, but Lis affected me in tremendous ways.  I have never seen a more selfless, caring, willing, person in all of my life.

When I talk to people about coming on missions trips or giving of themselves in a deeper capacity for the Kingdom, I am met with a myriad of responses.  Most of the responses are something like:  “I have no skills to give”, “I don’t have enough money or time”, “I am scared to travel far away from home.  What if I get sick or hurt?”, “I want to… some day”.

I have given many of these reasons when God asks me to do things that I think are “crazy”.  A lot of times, these answers come from a place of fear or uncertainty.  Uncertainty about whether or not this is God’s will or not.  I have seen so many people (and I have been this person at times) who keep waiting and waiting for a sign from above to prove to them that going on a missions trip or sponsoring a child is God’s will.  When they don’t hear these clear cut “words from God” they do nothing.  But, God has already told us in His Word that we are to preach the gospel to the lost and to serve the least of these and to rescue the widows and orphans.  I personally believe that by serving in such capacities, you are doing God’s will and He is pleased.

Lis is a person that serves God at all costs.  She even signs up to serve when she is not sure in what capacity she will be able to serve.  I don’t mean, she doesn’t know if her skills will be useful.  I mean, even if she doesn’t know if she is physically able to serve-she goes anyway.

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Let me explain.  Lis was born with a rare disease called arthrogryposis.  Several things can cause arthrogryposis but Lis believes that her mother contracted a virus while she was pregnant with Lis.  The disease is symptomatic of curved joints and causes cartilage to grow around joints rendering some of Lis’s muscles useless or severely stiff.  She was also born with severely deformed feet, they resembled club feet.  As a baby and a toddler, she had surgery to reconstruct her feet and to lengthen her heel cord.

Through all of her trials and struggles Lis only gives praise to God.  She is able to get around using crutches and she praises God for the mobility that she has.  I was absolutely amazed to watch Lis get around town.  She doesn’t just simply walk with the crutches.  She uses her arms to swing the crutches in front of her and then swing both legs to the side to move them forward.  The streets of Debre Zeit are rough and I was amazed at watching how strong Lis is.

Even though getting around was difficult for her, she did not let it affect her time here.  Lis was always on the go, wanting to serve in many different capacities.  There were times during her trip when I was really tired and just wanted to rest but then I would see Lis constantly on the go and she inspired me to overcome my weariness and keep working.

The main thing that impressed me so much about Lis is her constant cheery attitude.  She is a woman whose heart has been captured by God and she is fully living the fruit of the Spirit.  She has such a love for people that it’s contagious, she is constantly full of joy-no matter the circumstances, she has a kind of peace that beats all human reasoning.

When deciding whether or not to come on the trip she had many different concerns going through her mind.  But prayer and talking to her dad got her through.  God gave her strength and her dad helped her to see that she could overcome the concerns that she had.

Lis fell in love with Ethiopia and she is so glad that she took a step of faith and came to serve God here.  We can confidently say that her first missions trip was a success.  Lis, I just want you to know that we all fell in love with you and we see God in you and that inspires us to continue with the work we are doing.

A memorable gift

Will printing pictures for the families of Debre Zeyit, Ethiopia.

Most Americans have hundreds, if not thousands, of undeveloped pictures stored on their computers, photo-sharing websites, or even on rolls of film.  But imagine if you had absolutely no pictures of you or your family.  No pictures of your children smiling, no pictures of their first steps, no pictures of your wedding day.  Hard to imagine, isn’t it?  However, this is the reality for a lot of our BCI families.

Will and Robin Arnold, short-term missionaries from Illinois, recognized this as a problem for most Ethiopian families and they decided to help.  Will and Robin came to visit BCI in June and they brought with them a unique way of serving our families.  Will just recently graduated with a Master’s degree in photography and he wanted to use his skills in a valuable way on his mission’s trip.  After thinking about the best way to utilize his skills he decided that he would take pictures of the families that he visited and present them with a photo book filled with pictures of the family.

Alemayhu Abera & family looking through their picture book.

They came to Debre Zeit equipped with a photo printer that a friend of theirs let them borrow and approximately 30 photo books.  After each home visit Will and Robin printed the pictures at the BCI guest house, filled the photo books with the pictures, and gave them to the social workers to give to the family.

The families were so happy to receive this gift.  They were amazed at the quality of the photos they received.  They were delighted that Will was able to capture such amazing pictures of their family-pictures that showed the personalities of each family member.  These photo books are a pricless gift that the families will treasure forever.

There are many ways to serve the families of BCI but the best way is to use the gifts that God has given you.  Thank you Will and Robin for blessing our families with your gifts!

Thank you Will & Robin!


Alemayhu’s family was pleasantly surprised with WIll & Robin’s thoughtful gift


Team Building Exercise

During this years Semester Break Program at the BCI Academy, there were many games, activities and exercised designed to teach – as well as amuse. An especially fun team exercise was the  lavalava exercise. A lavalava is basically a Samoan cultural skirt of sorts.

The point of this exercise is to get the kids to think as a team and to work strategically and creatively so that they can win the competition by getting all of their team onto the lavalava as it gets smaller and smaller.  So the lavalava started on the floor, laid flat, fully open and all the team has to stand on it without touching the ground.  Then Asaua, a BCI Intern, got the group leaders to fold their lavalava in half and do the same, then in half again and then again and each time the teams had to all get on the lavalava without touching the ground.

The winning team was the one who was able to get the whole team on as it got smaller.  What made it more fun was that the social workers, who were a part of the teams also, had to get on the lavalava but they weren’t allowed to touch the lavalava or the ground so the kids had to lift the social workers off the ground at the same time. The winning team had 12 children fit onto one small lavalava. A good time was had by all, those watching and participating!

Team Lavalava Exercise

Team Lavalava Exercise


Listening To That Still Small Voice – by Beth Trexel

Our adoption story starts back in 2007.  God led me to the website of an organization called Blessing the Children International to sponsor a little girl named Genet.  In one of the newsletters that they sent me it talked about going to Ethiopia on a mission trip, and I heard God telling me to go.  “Go?” I asked, but I have never even been on a mission’s trip let alone out of the country before – even more scary, on my own.  But God persisted and I went, not sure why I was going other than to minister to kids and meet our sponsor child.

While I was there in February of 2008, I met this precious little girl, Haben, and her young cousin Lidiya. They stole my heart.  God told me to pray for them every day and so I did, not sure why again but who wants to argue with God?  While we were there we went to an outreach church at Green Lake. When asked what their greatest needs were, Pastor Berhuna said clean water and good roads.  I heard God saying clear as day, “This is why I brought you here, to bring these people clean water”.  You see, our home church works with a group that made clean water units to take to areas like this to make their water safe.

So I returned home to plan my second trip to Ethiopia in 2010 to bring the water units, still praying for Haben and Lidiya’s protection every day.  I took my daughter and a group from my home church the second time and we brought 7 water units with us to take to the places that so desperately needed them.  While we were there we had two girls from the foster home come stay with us, Lidiya and Chu Chu.  And I fell in love with them, but especially with Lidiya. It broke my heart to have to leave her, but I could not just pack her in my bag and take her home, it is not that easy. I knew in my heart God wanted me to bring her home to be our daughter, but my husband was not so sure.  We started sponsoring Chu Chu and praying about adopting Lidiya.

In December of 2010, God helped my husband to see that we should adopt Lidiya, and so we started down the journey toward adoption.  Now, how to go about it? We spoke to a friend who had also adopted a child associated with BCI and God led us to an agency out of Florida, who said they would look into seeing if they could help us.  With the help of BCI staff, especially Nigist (Lidiya’s social worker) and Mussie (BCI’s Ethiopian Director of Teams) we were able to get the paperwork needed to get Lidiya to the places she needed to be in order for us to bring her home. 

Our journey has taken us 16 months to bring Lidiya home. We are so blessed to have her and I praise God every day that he had brought us to BCI and to Lidiya for I do not know what we would do without her as part of our family. And as for Lidiya’s cousin, Haben? Well, she is our newest sponsor child, a way to keep Lidiya and Haben connected even though many miles keep them apart. So what is that still small voice telling you to do today?

Visiting Provisions

Bereje in his cart with his new horse!

Bereje in his cart with his new horse!

Yeshak and Yakob Bereje, two young brothers in the BCI sponsorship program, live with their mother, Almas and father, Bereje. Both parents are HIV positive and struggle to support their sons. Although neither parent complains of being sick, they are often tired and worn out. The boys’ father, Bereje, was working on his church compound as a farmer but the church had to take the land back, leaving Bereje no means to support his family.

After this happened, Bereje knew he needed to do something to provide for his family. He applied for a loan from the government so he could purchase his own horse and cart, which would allow him to make a living transporting people, without having to worry about it being taken away at a moment’s notice. Bereje was doing well and paying back his loan to the government until his horse got sick and died of unknown causes.

This was a devastating blow for the family. The horse and cart being their only source of income, Bereje had no way to support his family or pay back his loan to the government.  A visiting missionary family heard Bereje’s story and felt led to purchase a new horse for Bereje, costing around $180 USD. This huge blessing allowed Bereje to continue his business, support his family and pay back his loan.  Bereje and his family are doing well and praising God for his faithfulness.

Yeshak, age 9

Yeshak, age 9

Yakob, age 6

Yakob, age 6

Mesay’s Story – A Blessing On Wheels (by Kevin Barrick)


Meet Mesay!

Meet Mesay!

Meet Mesay. She is the mother of BCI child, Estifanos Tariku. Mesay has recently been blessed by God with a wheelchair, by way of a short-term missionary named Donna White from South Carolina. About eight years ago Mesay tragically discovered that the sickness she had been fighting with began hindering her ability to walk. She went to the doctor and found out that she had nerve problems in her lower back which caused her inability to walk.

At the time, Estifanos was only 2 years old. In fact, she told me it was approximately one month after his 2nd birthday that she became crippled. She was kind enough to show me a picture of them behind a table decorated for his birthday. In the picture she is standing behind him as he surveys his birthday table.

Even though she was now a crippled widow raising a two year old, she was lucky enough to have been living in her new home where her Christian and Orthodox neighbors helped in any way they could getting her to church or the markets or taking care of little Estifanos. Perhaps God has shown her this blessing or might one day reveal it to her: The blessing of having to move to that new house.

Her father was (and probably still is) a drunk and her brother has rage. One day in particular – the day that drove her away from her home and to the city of Debre Zeit – her brother, full of anger, decided to beat up her and her mother. The only thing Mesay could do then was to cry out for help, but even that attempt at rescue was cut short when he grabbed her throat, breaking part of her neck which prevented her from screaming anymore. Mesay’s brother beat their mother so much that she was driven to a coma where she stayed for around a year.

It was this reason she packed whatever possessions she had and left to Debre Zeit. She now lives in fear of her brother who lives only an hour away. She requests prayer for protection and safety in this matter.

She is now living in a different home in Debre Zeit since moving here, away from the kind neighbors who helped her before. Her only helper now is a lady who comes in occasionally to help where needed and look after her when Estifanos is at school. But Mesay and Estifanos look forward to being able to get around town with the use of Mesay’s wheelchair – even if Estifanos is a little scared about the idea of pushing his mom around the busy streets. Even still, he is excited about God’s gift of the wheelchair.

However, Satan never likes when God’s children are blessed or when God is praised. It has been about two weeks since she has gotten her wheelchair, but has been unable for the most part to use it due to the flu and other sicknesses that have attacked her. She hopes to be able to praise Christ’s resurrection on the day of their Easter on the compound of their church Easter program. What a praising that will be when she remembers the resurrected life of her Savior who also has given saving life and now new life that comes with her wheelchair!

So please pray with us for her safety and health. Pray also that Mesay and her son will be able to get accustomed to the new wheelchair and be able to go to church and the market without problem.

Mesay & her son, Estifanos

Mesay & her son, Estifanos

Life Saving Water – a story of hope.

“In June, a 10 member team from Iowa, Illinois, and Oklahoma came to Debre Zeyit to work with Blessing the Children.  7 water purification systems were brought with them for the people in the area.  Each water unit, from, provides clean, safe drinking water for 5,000 people for 5 years. During their stay in Ethiopia, the team was able to participate in the water unit training of area pastors and leaders.  One water unit went to a rural school, and 2 others went to outlying churches whose only water supply was a contaminated lake and a muddy river.  What a blessing to be a small part of God’s work in Ethiopia, and get to personally meet the people who will benefit from the gift of clean water.

The idea for this project was born when Beth Trexel from Iowa went on a BCI mission trip in January of ‘09.  While she was there, she learned that the some of the greatest needs in Ethiopia were better roads and clean water.  She thought to herself “I can’t do anything about the roads, but I can do something about the water!”  God paved the wave for her and her team to return to share the gift of clean water so that the churches of Debre Zeyit could share the Living Water, Jesus Christ.

Whether it’s to GO, GIVE, or PRAY, God has a purpose for each one of us in the Body of Christ.  We in the U.S. are so blessed by God, but even more importantly, we are blessed to be a blessing to others.  That occurs when we simply share the things that God has given us… whether it’s our time, our resources, or the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, & he who gathered little did not have too little.'” 2 Cor. 8

Godly compassion is a light for Christ that all will see.”

This article was written by Wendy, a member from this team. Kay, another team member, writes:

“Getting to be a part of the team delivering the water purification units was an unexpected and meaningful part of this trip. I am so grateful that God orchestrated the timing of my trip to coincide with the team members who brought the water units! It was amazing! To see the faces and hear the hope in the voices of the leaders when we delivered the units was unforgettable. To witness murky green water turn into crystal clear purified drinking water was miraculous! At Green Lake, one elder stood and told us that many people had visited them and promised to help them get clean water – other missionaries had come, the government had come, but no one had ever come back, until us. He said that we had given them HOPE! And that they would share the water with their communities, with the Orthodox and Muslim, and they would not only give them clean water, but they would give them JESUS!”

Below are some photos from their trip.



The June Team with the people of Green Lake

Beth doing a demonstration

Trying them out

Moses doing a demonstration

If you feed them, they will come.

This summer, Blessing the Children had many visitors. Among them was a very special couple who saw a need, found an opportunity, and made a difference.

During their short two-week visit, Dave and Holly made a lasting impact. Not only did they forever change a child’s life (front page – but they started a monthly feeding program. They saw the need while they were there and upon their return, they emailed us and asked what it would take to start this program. After some research and planning, we decided to start the program as one meal a month at a local church. The meal would take place after the weekly activity day, and the moms of several children in the BCI sponsorship program would be recruited to prepare the meal. This will not only put food in the children’s bellies but also provide jobs for their mothers!

Once all the details were worked out and a plan set in place, Dave and Holly started fundraising for the feeding program. The program is now in its third month and is going great! The wonderful thing is that before the meal, the children take turns putting together a small, bible-based skit, a few bible verses, and the children’s choir leads a few praise and worship songs. So this is not only reaching out to the children physically by putting a healthy meal in their bellies, but it is also ministering to them spiritually.

The hope is to eventually expand the feeding program to offer more than one meal a month. All of your prayers and support are greatly appreciated! And a big thank you to Dave and Holly, for all their hard work and fund-raising for this program. God is truly blessing the children!

The moms preparing the meal.

The moms preparing the meal.

Dish it up!


Feeding Program.

Feeding Program.

The multitude.