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Christmas Conspiracy…

December 3, 2011

…also known as Advent Conspiracy. Check it out!

[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

I was first introduced to Advent Conspiracy last year. I instantly thought, “Wow, this is awesome!” and I wanted to really give more of my time, myself, and I challenged myself to make my gifts (or at least put a lot more thought into them then I had previous years). However, I’m ready to take it up to the next level.

As I dried the clean dishes in the “kitchen” in Turmi, Ethiopia (with water from the well a few miles down the road…that had to be boiled…over a fire…that had to be started with precious firewood), I began to think of Christmas. Very odd thought to have in the middle of Turmi in October, but I started to think about all the decorations I would see upon my return (sure enough, the airport in Amsterdam had all the Christmas trimmings and bah-humbug attitudes to go along).

I mentioned to Teresa and Lauren (as I dried a plate) my idea of Christmas Conspiracy; instead of requesting gifts for myself, I would make a “list” of gifts for my new friends in Ethiopia. Lauren and Teresa jumped on board right away and here we are, only 22 days away from Christmas.

I initially thought of having only my immediate family involved, however, I thought of you, the readers. I wanted to share with you what I’m doing and maybe give rise to some ideas of your own. Maybe you could serve at a soup kitchen during the holidays, make all of your gifts, spend more time with friends and family, or instead of gifts for yourself, you collect them to give to others. Which is what I am doing this year. These are just a few ideas to make Christmas more personal and intentional.

I met many individuals while in Ethiopia, but a few are near and to dear to my heart (and to Lauren’s). I have included a (very) brief story of each individual along with Christmas ideas for each. This list is to generate ideas of how you can create your own Christmas Conspiracy and/or where and how you can donate a gift to someone very special to me in Ethiopia.

Ribka:
Ribka is a widow with three children (I believe). She is Tom and Teresa’s housekeeper and had us over for dinner at her home one evening. The power went out and we ate dinner by one solar light that was dim. She’s a sweet woman who cleaned up after 4 Americans every day – no easy feat!
* Rubber cleaning gloves (small)
* Thin hand gloves (similar to $2.00 gloves @Target)
* Good Earth Original Tea
* Flashlight & batteries to fit

Asfaw:
Aswfaw is the guard on Tom and Teresa’s compound (same compound as the church) and he is in his late teens or early twenties. He has severe eye allergies and it has impacted his life negatively in many ways. Even with severe eye problems he still loves to read and hopes to go to college some day.
* Webster Dictionary (he told me it was his dream to have one, so he can practice his english)
* Book light and batteries
* Sunglasses
* Garden trowel (he is also a gardener)

Yakob:
Is a monkey. No, not really, but he is a teenage boy who is a bit mischievous, but polite, and can climb anything (seriously, I witnessed his climbing skills). He is currently living in Turmi and like most teenagers, he likes music and “super-fly” sunglasses.
* Inexpensive Mp3 player
* Sunglasses – the bigger the better! šŸ™‚

Marta:
Marta is a 19-year-old translator. She currently lives in Menegelte in a hut with her mother. Her father is a missionary with the Hamer people and so she served as our translator with them. She, like Yakob, enjoys music and making bracelets (showed her how to make friendship bracelets).
* Picture frames
* Embroidery floss of various colors (for friendship bracelets)
* iTunes gift card (I have an old iPod, just need music)

Emanuel:
Emanuel is Marta’s older brother who is now working with and for Project Ethiopia. He left a well-paying job with a NPO based out of Seattle that was working in Ethiopia because he believes in what Tom and Teresa are doing. He is very well-organized and is familiar with the Hamer people of Turmi after living there for many years.
* White dress shirt (maybe a 17-18 in neck size)
* Notebooks (moleskin notebooks are great)
* Binder/folder
* Nice(r) pens

Melekeas:
Melekeas is a worker who Tom and Teresa have hired to work for the Bekele family (featured below). He is working very hard to fix the Bekele’s home and to earn money to go to school. He just bought a bicycle so he can get around town much easier/faster.
* Backpack
* Bike lock

Bekele Family:
The Bekele’s are a family of 5. Bekele is training to be a brick maker. The mother (Amarech) has suffered from polio along with her son (Yigermal). The youngest is 8-years-old (Misganaye) and both she and Yigermal are attending school. Amarech’s mother, Ako, lives with them and spins cotton. However, there is so much more to say about them. They have been supported by Tom and Teresa, Project Ethiopia, and even my parents are serving as their “sponsor”. They currently are in a home where they bought it for the advertised price, but like many things in foreign countries, the people who sold them the home initially know they are friends with “Americans” and harassed the Bekele’s into signing a legal contract that states that they have to pay them more money. In American dollars this is $1500. If you would like to donate money directly to the Bekele family, please send a check to the following address and on the memo line write “Project Ethiopia: Bekele Family” (you will receive a taxable donation statement):

Emerald Bay Community Church
160 LaSalle
Bullard, TX 75757

Other gifts are as follows:
* Long socks for a 10-year-old boy (for his braces he wears on his legs)
* Long socks for a 5’8″ woman (she wears braces as well)
* Nail polish, lotion, hair boys (Misganaye)
* Stickers, paper, markers
* English bible
* Nice blouse (Women:L, Men:S)
* Hair Scarf

If you are interested in donating any of these items listed above, you can contact me here and I will send them wrapped in Christmas paper to Tom and Teresa in Arba Minch, Ethiopia. However, I won’t be sending the gifts until the end of January which is when Tom and Teresa will return to Ethiopia.

I truly wish you peace and joy this Christmas season!

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