This morning I read a post from Rachel describing a kind of restlessness she feels. (Go read, then come back, OK?) I could really relate to what she wrote.

John and I have similar discussions about Ethiopia, wondering if there is something we could do there that would be truly meaningful, and in a bigger way than just through adoption. Adoption is huge for a few children, and we are so grateful to be able to do that. But adoption doesn’t touch the true need in Ethiopia.

In the reading I’ve done about poverty and disease (The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder), it seems that most experts have concluded that monthly food hand-outs and bundles of hand-me-downs from first-world countries aren’t the answer. Poverty-stricken communities need the opportunity to help themselves. To do that, they have to be healthy enough to work, and they need basic things like clean water and affordable schools and health care to be freely available.

John and I have wondered if there is truly a way that we could do something lasting– something that would truly impact a poverty-stricken community in a positive way. We keep coming back to the water thing. Can you imagine being productive if you had to walk three hours a day just to get your family’s water supply?

I read about a couple who retired to Africa, where they supervise the drilling of wells in poverty-stricken communities. John and I talked about how neat it would be to go to the communities where our Ethiopian daughters were born (Wollaitta, Ethiopia and Harar, Ethiopia) and drill wells. Even just a well or two in the most poverty-stricken parts of both towns seems like it would make a difference for a lot of people…..

It sounds like a stretch to me…part of me thinks we’re being grandiose to think we could make a meaningful difference. Who knows where we’d get the money, or what our kids would think about tootling off to Ethiopia. To tell the truth, I’m not sure if I’d want to live in Ethiopia full-time. I’m an air-conditioning, hot showers, and microwave kind of gal. At the moment a three month mission trip sounds more my speed. But we’ll keep on thinking, and praying, and dreaming….who knows what doors will open in 10 or 15 years….?

What crazy dreams do you have?

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  1. We’ve talked about ideas similar to yours, as well, and whenever I think about them I get so excited. I figure that I’ll just keep filling my head with ideas, and let God direct us to the best option for our family, as I’m sure he will with yours, as well.

  2. My crazy dream is to open my home as a retreat center (after my children are grown and gone, of course). We have a rural setting, plenty of room for a chapel, a great dining room, and large kitchen, etc. I think I feel called to diminish the spiritual poverty and isolation of our culture. I guess I will have to see what God has in store, eh?

  3. Creating a self sustaining, ecologically sound community that takes on every child that needs a home and have family groups that form within the community to place these kids in. In my fantasies it’s also not too hot, there are no flies, and everyone understands instantly how great my idea is and we all live happily ever after. But even though I know that isn’t the case I still want to do it.

  4. Oh, how the idea of divine dissatisfaction strikes such a chord in me! I have many grandiose dreams, ranging from adoption to moving overseas and starting my own orphanage, but I am waiting….waiting….waiting…..to see the Lord move on significant other people in my life. Maybe the dream isn’t for me, maybe it’s for my children…maybe it’s just an awareness that they need to have in order to fly this coop and accomplish the dreams that some of my ramblings spark.

  5. Right now dreaming big for me is visiting my in-laws in South East Asia where they are serving as missionaries to the Indonesian people!

  6. Like Jenni, my dream is to move overseas and start my own orphanage. I don’t know if it will ever happen.

  7. My dreams fork into two different directions – each equally strong, and equally distant from where I am now…

    In one, I’m a successful writer (re: paid and living comfortably enough to stay home and write), watching my children grow while sipping good coffee on the front porch of a house on a lake.

    In another, I’m debt-free and living back in Sighisoara (Romania) living and serving the people there alongside my husband.

  8. xawilsons says:

    Thank you for including the book selections. I’ll be checking them out!

  9. This project may be of interest to you: Ethiopia Reads: http://www.ethiopiareads.org/ .. My ma and step father have spent a lot of time in Ethiopia and thats how they connected with this organization. My personal dreams? To get people to stop reacting in anger. Anger magnified is war. War only brings harshness. People talk about believing in world peace, but what are their actions towards it? IMHO it starts between people – extending an arm of forgiveness when that arm is the most difficult to extend.

  10. I too have many dreams that are percolating inside. One of my dreams is to adopt. Another is to serve long-term overseas for the Lord. Another is to foster very young children. I, like Jenni, am waiting…waiting…waiting…on the Lord.

    I am learning that there is much to learn in the waiting. A profound sense of faith and trust is being grown within me as I wait on the Lord and His timing. What a wonderful thing…but it is also a painful thing as well.

  11. Mary,
    this is so weird that you post this, I was JUST thinking of this same thing this morning. Adoption is wonderful and needed I know, but the bigger picture needs to be addressed – I couldn’t agree more. Infrastruture, water, electricity, basic needs and then of course, education. Argh. You’ll never know how pleasantly surprised I was to read your post! Now if we only had Oprah’s money 😉
    I’ll keep praying and praying……..

  12. Perhaps all Christians have this feeling, because we’ve been given a Great Commission and the only true answer that can make lasting changes is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I try to take it as a reminder to share Christ with the people around me. Also reading Revolution for World Missions gave me a vision for how to be a part of something bigger than myself. You can get a free copy at Gospel for Asia’s website.

  13. Kati has been reading up about her desire to be a cross cultural nurse. She is fascinated with Africa and wants to do something there in a humanitarian way. Although it scares me to death, I won’t stand in the way o f the plan that God has for her. It’s not about me.

    I know God has put this land in your hearts, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you and John end up there at some point, in some way.

    Not in the least.

  14. Christine Masloske says:


    Huge congratulations on the adoption of your two lovely, lovely girls! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

    I’m not sure if your family is involved with World Vision at all, or if it’s an organization that you would support, but they have a catalog where you can donate to help communities support themselves, and one of the ways is to fund a deep well drilled for that community, along with so many other things.

    We sponsor three African children, one from Rwanda and two from Kenya and the biggest desire in their communities is to be self-sustaining, as I’m sure you know.

    I hope this info blesses and encourages you or other readers who know that WATER IS ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE!!!

    Love in Christ,

  15. I have a friend who felt this exact burden for Rwanda and here is his response: http://www.rancorpservices.blogspot.com/
    I think this is incredible and a physical way to help provide employment and a boost to the economy.

  16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLBhsifiW_E

    This is Ben Ransom’s youtube video of the bicycle project. Blessed man!!

  17. Great question!

    My many dreams are still too much in pieces for me to be able to write of them in a succinct sentence or two here. (Knowing how prone I am to being jumpy and taking things into my own hands, I think God just doesn’t give me clear ideas until the last minute, you know?) I feel as if I am standing and holding seemingly random threads, as if he’s hard at work weaving a beautiful, complex tapestry, and from time to time hands me a thread with no more instruction than, “Here. Hold this!” I stand there and hold with impatience, bursting curiosity and sometimes difficulty as he tugs and pulls, with the joy and anticipation of knowing that he is weaving something good, and with a little fear that I’ll drop it and cause need of repair.

    Threads I was given years ago have already become one Ethiopian adoption, but I believe that there’s more to that story.
    One thread I’m particularly puzzled about this week is my work as a birth doula. It was absolutely, undoubtedly God who led me directly into doing it. I did it for about 4 years, and was confirmed in my gift for it. Now, due to life circumstances, I’ve been unable to be on call for clients for almost 2 years, and won’t be able to do much anytime in the foreseeable future. Sometimes I wonder why I was so clearly led into what seemed like just an interlude of a profession– or was it? Or is that the end, but it’s a piece I needed? So this weekend I am traveling to re-certification training (spending big bucks on something that’s not making me any money right now!), not feeling freedom to let that lapse.

    I look down in my hands at all of the many distinct threads and cannot even imagine what they might possibly have to do with each other (birth, autism, Ethiopia, etc, etc… are you seeing a connection here?), but oh, I do look forward to someday seeing the tapestry completed, and nodding in recognition of the beautiful way it all fit together!

    Speaking of dreams and seeds and threads, I’m still wondering about that third stuffed animal, aren’t you? ; )

  18. My crazy dreams are right along these lines, though I don’t know if I’ll want to wait 10 or 15 years. Isn’t it amazing how life unfolds as God puts these crazy dreams into the hearts of people who just might be crazy enough to follow them?!
    Maybe we’ll meet up one day over bunna and ambasha bread in Ethiopia after a hard day’s work in the country of some of our children’s birth! 🙂