Sunday, February 15, 2009

There is no substitute for a first hand experience

I often encourage people to take the "Pray, Give, Go" model and turn it upside down. We don't need to pray too much about James 1:27. If you are ready to go...but not sure where to begin, maybe it's time to give us a call. As we partner with many groups throughout the year who arrange trips to Ethiopia, let us know if you are ready to take the trip. We are also prepared to help you lead a trip of your own. Feel free to call or email us.

Dave McIlrath, MA
Orphan Advocate

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

January Trip to Ethiopia

We are so excited about the leader’s trip in the last week of January, 2009! The trip is designed to equip those who have a desire to do more with the compassion they have for orphans, and to help generate a contagious compassion in the lives of others for the sake of the orphan.

We will have over 25 different ministries/projects and will have a choose-your-own-adventure feel with the ability to customize the trip.

Some leaders (using the term here to refer to those who are willing to say “yes” to that deeper calling to make an impact for the cause of the orphan) will have projects that they currently support and will be bringing others to see those projects. Other leaders may not be connected with a specific group, but desire to see more tangible ways that they can get involved.

We’ll see orphanages, group homes, non-residential drop-in centers, microenterprise projects that chip away at poverty, HIV related works, sports camps, foster-care-type housing, and a variety of other avenues for you to get involved. The goal here is not to overwhelm anyone, but to give exposure.

Additionally, if we are all truly about the cause of the orphan, there is no such thing as “competition”. There are many great groups doing fantastic things and we are not even close to having a handle on the epidemic orphan crisis. If you are about collaboration for the sake of the orphan, then this trip is right for you.

Each night, we’ll spend time using Life Coaching principles to draw out what we’ve seen and how we can translate that into raising awareness back in the states. By the end of the trip, each guest will have developed a specific plan regarding how they can best share the need as well as how they might encourage others to come and see the need first hand.

I’m a follower of Jesus, but the invite here is for everyone who is passionate about the cause of the orphan, regardless of where you are at with Jesus (you might find you are more like Jesus than you thought as was a real advocate of the poor, orphans and widows…and disadvantaged people in general). I mention that because there will be some praying going on…but nothing to be afraid of…no cornering by church goers allowed…lol.

The trip is a jam-packed 7 days. The dates of the trip are January 26th through February 1st…with a deadline of December 15th to register. There is no charge for lodging! In fact, having you in for free helps us to show you what we are all about…and our hope is to create raving fans that would want to send others in the future. The group will pitch in for meals and in-country travel…that should be about $200 for the week. To sign up for the trip, you’ll need to hop online and make a reservation at

As several different people are going from different organizations…and many with no particular organization, the only way we can be sure that everyone has emergency medical travel insurance is for each person to purchase that through the reservation online.

With regard to the specifics of lodging, think of our home(s) as a Newport Beach mansion with a bunk bed twist. We have two homes within walking distance of each other…both 4 story, wood, marble…secure with guards, etc…nice places for sure. Even still, it’s not about the buildings, it’s our staff that make the difference. With hearts to serve, they will leave an impact that you will remember for a lifetime.

Also, prepare to be pampered as each volunteer will receive a complimentary, one-hour massage during your stay as we have a full time masseuse on staff.

All lodging for the trip is bunk-style (men’s and women’s rooms). We realize that married couples may prefer to stay together in one room with a queen bed. That may be possible. When you reserve your lodging online, be sure to indicate your preference. We’ll do the best we can to accommodate everyone, yet we know that it will be impossible for every married couple to have their own room, so be prepared to make new friends in bunks. On a positive note, there have been some great bonds formed in trips like these with others you end up meeting. Bathrooms are shared…and not to worry, there is plenty of hot water.

Some have asked about staying longer. You are welcome to stay prior to the 26th or beyond the 1st if needed. If you plan to do so, the regular rate of $40 per night/per person will apply. We include breakfast and a boxed-lunch for you to take with you on projects you might want to see. Additionally, we can arrange transportation for you if you plan to stay longer. A full day of van rental, driver pay, and one of our own staff translators costs $60 to $75 depending on gas usage. If needed, dinners in the home cost just $5 per person.

Baggage (not the emotional stuff we all have…ha)...Each person on the trip is asked to bring one personal checked bag and one personal carry on. This allows each person on the trip to bring one checked bag of donations for the work in Ethiopia.

We’ll be covering items for donations in the conference calls prior to the trip.
Conference calls will be held on the last Sunday of the month starting Sunday, October 26th at 8:00 pm Central Time Zone. Stay tuned for the number to call in.

Getting to Addis: You are welcome to get to Addis any way you can (boats are slow). The airport code for Addis Ababa is ADD. Feel free to visit the links below as they have experience with travel to Ethiopia and/or Mission type travel:

Groups that have expressed interest are:

World Orphans
Gobena Coffee
Forsaken Children
Visiting Orphans
Mission Discovery

So…in a nutshell: January 26th through February 1st
Extended dates available.
$200 in food and in-country travel costs
$31.50 in Emergency Medical Travel Insurance
Tap into a number of ministries/projects.
Share your ministry/projects.
Be coached towards action/advocacy for orphans and possibly leading trips.
Make a reservation online at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Video of Our Journey

Long time no see...

Can you tell I'm not too into this whole blog thing! Hey, I told you it was for the TRIP - the trip is over!:) We have been home 6 weeks now and things are a roller coaster of good moments and cry my eyes out moments. The first week was the hardest as we all came home very sick and exhausted. The babies were awesome on the plane, but we missed our flight due to customs and hung out in D.C. an extra 8 hours (31 hours total travel)! We still had a fabulous welcome home party waiting for us in Dallas.

The first week was brutal though. Dave went back to work right away, Piper and I had double ear infections, we thought Calvin had scabies so we treated everyone and everything - TWICE, Tegan started throwing up about 2 days after we came home and she also regressed in potty training and all kinds of temper-tantrum throwing, Calvin screamed his head off everytime I walked out of the room, he also had never been told no in his life, and Piper was up all day and night - sleeping in 15 minute increments. Thankfully, Noah and Charli were fantastic (and at school!).

Many a moment Calvin, Piper, Tegan and I were all crying together...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? (Those moments still happen, just not quite as often! By the grace of my Jesus alone!)

To survive and not destroy our family entirely, after that first week (and me karate chopping Dave in the middle of the night to go take a turn with Miss Piper) we put them on a schedule and things have gone SO well since then. Everyone is in bed at 7, all sleep through the night, all take naps at one, and an extra one for Piper in the morning. And all are happy and love their mama! YAY!! Things seem so much more doable with sleep!

That's most of the bad stuff and now for the little wonders...both the babies are so cuddly and affectionate, they kiss and hug and love to be held, rocked, danced with and are so open with their hearts. My girls love them and more often than not it seems like Calvin and Piper have been with us since their beginnings. They just blend right in. Tegan slowly but surely warmed up to them and now she is happy to see them and play with Calvin and even kiss him! The first week she wanted absolutely nothing to do with them and would turn away when Calvin would reach out to her. She asked me twice when I was taking them back to "Upiopia - they're not so special" she said, she also wanted ME to go back to Upiopia so she could live with Grandma. She still has little moments she has to work through, but the babies are growing on her every day and I'm pretty sure she is becoming more and more fond of being a big sister.

Noah and Charli are just wonderful with them. There are no words to describe how proud I am of these 2 girls. They are so selfless (with Calvin and Piper, that is, NOT with each other! LOL!) and loving. They play and just laugh their little heads off, as Calvin, especially, is such a ham and a dancer to boot! He is quite a chatter box and already understands pretty much everything we say to him. He does talk ALL DAY, NON-STOP though! I'm thinking I would be a nicer person if I had ear plugs in all day. But he is a very sweet baby man and very eager to please. (It's nice to have 1 child out of 5 that is like that! Obviously "eager to please" doesn't run in our bloodline!)Piper is mama's girl, for sure, if she can see or hear me I better be holding her. She started clapping (so cute!) and can sit up unassited now. We are having an Occupational therapist and Early Childhood Intervention come out today to evaluate both of them.

I have given up on the dream of a clean house and perfectly groomed children (and a well groomed self, for that matter). I have forever said good-bye to the lie I was sold about a Pottery Barn spotless house, looking like Eva Longoria, and gourmet meals every night. I've given up on bathed children who know all Bible verses and stories and always wear clothes or even shoes that match (with a bow in their hair of course!)and are involved in every social event and extra curricular activity available to them. We are definitely minimizing and trying to keep life simple and enjoyable for us. We're just going to be 7 people who ask the Lord to invade our home and pour His grace and love all over us so we can survive and in the end know Him and love eachother more fully. At this point that is as much as we can do.

So there you have it. That's our little life in a nutshell these days. Thank you (most of you) for being patient with me, it's not like I have much to do or anything. Just veg out, watch Brazilian novelas all day, paint my nails and get a daily massage or two... :)

Oh, and before I forget, you wanted to know how I got everyone to sit still for that picture...Well, what you can't see is ANY of our faces (I can't recall if anyone was happy or crying), but I did also bring a huge bag of jumbo marshmallows, that I perhaps gave them after each happy snap! Candy...the secret to perfect children...

Calvin is standing at the door with his purse and keys, ready to go, he also has silver fingernails, (don't tell Dave). What's a little guy to do in a house with 4 sisters...?

Stay tuned as Dave will soon be posting a vido of our trip and all our yummy kiddos...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008