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

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Father and Son's usually Rae making all the posts. I just couldn't pass up posting this photo of me and my son...contemplating life's theological musings...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

More from Ethiopia

We're doing fabulous! Both Calvin and Piper are attaching well and
already know mom and papa.

The nannies taught Calvin "eyes" "nose" "ears" and "teeth" (in
Amharic), so I learned how to ask him in Amharic and we will try to
post a video soon. They also taught him "I love you" (in
English) we can't take credit for all the yumminess!

Ethiopian people are so amazing! They are so kind, generous and
loving. They really love children and everywhere we go they hold the
babies and give us coffee! Sounds like the place to be if you ask me!

We are excited to come home...both kids are pretty sick. It looks
like Calvin has scabies. We'll try to post soon...

Sunday, March 2, 2008


So, I just spent 30 minutes typing a post about our day and then it
was DELETED!!! NOOOO!! So now I'm over it. I had written all about
this beautiful city and even more beautiful people and what we did
with the babies today, but now I'm done. So maybe another day.
The very happy thing is that the babies are coming with us today. We
will leave in the next few minutes to say our good-byes and bring them
to our Hotel. You guys don't even know how BUMMED I am about that
deleted post, but I'll try to do it in the next few days. I am so
tired. I woke up at 3 puking my guts out with food poisoning and SO
thankfully it only lasted 3 hours so we can still get the babies.
Pray for their little hearts tonight, please!They are really doing
AMAZING and I can't wait to bring them home. You guys are going to
LOVE them. They fit into our family just right!! And they are going to
love their sisters!!

Friday, February 29, 2008

A most precious day

We are so tired, but very happy tired. Today was beautiful. We woke up
and went straight to meet our babies!! Calvin wanted nothing to do
with us and his nanny said he always cries when he meets white people.
We had already known this so we were prepared. It took many tries and
a miracle, but by the end of our time together he had fallen asleep
with Dave, given us both lots of kisses and let me hold him (as long
as no nannies were around!). The American couple that runs the home
said they had never seen Calvin warm up to anyone so quickly and were
amazed. They said it was as if he knew we were his parents, which is
what we had prayed for! Piper is just sweet and beautiful. She just
smiled and baby talked the whole time, not one fuss the whole day and
she fell asleep in my arms. She is very happy and cuddly. We can't
wait to back tomorrow to see them!!

We are having troubles with the internet so I'm not sure if we'll get
a video up, but I know some of you are waiting for news, so we do have
some fun photos. You will see how Calvin gave us evil eyes at first,
but he really did so much better than we were thinking he would. We
even took him to lunch with the some people and he was so great. He
really loves Dave already. He's taking longer to warm up to me, so I
was happy that he let me hold him at all and at the end of the day he
even raised his arms for me to hold him! YAY! He is so hilarious and
loves to play.

Noah, Charli and Tegan!! I miss you so much!! You are going to love
your new brother and sister!! Piper just smiles and smiles all day and
Calvin is so much fun, just like Elia! Thank you Aunty Kris for the
squeaky books!! They were a hit!!

Thank you all for your prayers. We sooooo felt them!! We'll be in
touch as often as possible! It's an ordeal from here, I tell ya! We
love you guys!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let's Bounce!!

So, tomorrow is the day...We are outta here!! There really are no words to even describe the pure giddiness we're feeling! We are ecstatic!!

The transitional home sent us an update on our kids and that just made us more eager to meet them. Here's what Rachel, the director of the home wrote us:

Ermius (Calvin) is everyone’s favorite! It is no wonder, as his personality and facial expressions are always entertaining. He is very engaging, playful, and loves attention. Playing with balls is always fun and exciting for him. Ermius can be shy and scared of new people, and it takes awhile for him to warm up. Ermius walks all over the place… and with his new boots on, it is a precious sight to see.

Kalkidan (Piper) is such a beauty…all the nannies always say “conjo” to her, which means cute/pretty/beautiful. She is sweet, happy and smiles all the time! The nannies report that she only cries when she is hungry. Kalkidan is not yet able to sit up on her own.

So, everyone is packed, house is clean, laundry done (till tonight!), movies returned, cash in hand, sheets are changed, cupboards wiped out, you name it...I cleaned some things I'm sure I haven't cleaned since we moved into this house!! We are as ready as we could ever be for 5 kids! I am also ready to sit on the plane and do absolutely NOTHING for 24s or so hours!!! :) I have books, magazines and some mild sedatives to keep me happy and oblivious to turbulence for the entire time.

We get in to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia around 8 pm. Dave really want us to go dancing and I say "WHY WOULDN'T WE?" I guess he went to some fun clubs while he there in October. Forgive us if this comes as a shock to any of you. We do have but a few wee hours sans kiddos!! :)

So far the (very) tentative plan is to meet the kids on Friday morning and just get to know them and play with them for a few days before we actually rip them away from all that is home to them. We absolutely covet any knees bloodied in prayer on our behalf, so thank you already to all you prayer warriors! Please pray peace over all of our children, but especially Calvin and Piper as everything will be new and undeniably frightening for them (especially their new blonde daddy!).

Next time we post will be from Ethiopia some point after we meet the babies! Au revoir! Bon Voyage! (I don't know if I spelled that right. Mary?)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Photos of our beautiful girls in the states

We don't want our lovely ladies to feel left out, so we are also showing off Noah Joy, Charli, and Tegan!! Noah is the most responsible, organized big sister ever! Mom would be lost without her! She is very caring and wants to make sure all are well cared for, and that everything is fair and equal. Charli, oh, sweet Charli, has the whole dinner table cracking up almost every night and has never met a stranger! She will be 7 very soon and also has a passion for bathroom humor that she gets from her father. Tegan, just turned 3, is so ready to be a big sister, too. I think she's looking forward to not always being told what to do, but to finally do some telling. We love you girls all so much and we'll miss you like crazy!!

Well, we leave in 4 may wonder if we're ready. Oh no, far from it. Today Tegan has thrown up on the carpet a few times...we have wood, but heaven forbid she aim for that! The other 2 were sick last week. Dave and I will NOT be getting sick. It's just not happening. The weekend plan is to get ready. Pack about 55 outfits between the 7 of us (The girls will be staying with friends and at home. Raise the roof for our friends Mike and Leigh Ann!!), fixing things around the house, cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning some more (hopefully not any more bodily fluids of any kind!). We still haven't got our new money to exchange while in Ethiopia, which is an ordeal. We have papers to be notarized and many loads of laundry, some more shopping (my hair dryer died today...oh, the pain!!) and of course we have birthday parties, a school project due, and a school play on Monday. Some may wonder why we still have our Christmas lights up, too! Well, we paid people before Christmas to put them AND take them down. Of course, those certain individuals have disappeared. We even called their mother-in-law! She must have brought down the hammer...they are supposed to come tomorrow. We'll see...

I think we will just stay up until we get on the plane Wednesday morning, then sleep like we will never be able to sleep again!!

God's amazing grace in the flesh

Here is a beautiful video of a family picking up their son from the same home our babies are in just a couple of weeks ago. They are so loved!!

KLEENEX WARNING!! This could make you cry like a little girl!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's finally happening!!!

After the longest 3 years of my life they are ours!!! Introducing Miss Piper Jay Kalkidan, our 6 month old daughter and Sir Calvin Scott Ermias McIlrath, our 17 month old, chic magnet brother of 4 sisters! (To avoid confusion, Calvin is actually the one in the pink socks!)
OH MY GOODNESS!! I KNOW!!! You SO want to pinch, squish and just eat them up!!! HOLD ME BACK SOMEONE!!! I hope I don't freak them out...maybe I should alter my personality with some sort of medicinal substance prior to meeting them...I'll think about that...

Since we, myself (Rae) and Dave, the best husband I've ever had, are leaving in 16 days (WEE HOO!! WEE HOO!!) to pick up our 2 precious children in Ethiopia, I wanted our dear friends and family to be able to keep up with the never ending McIlrath saga (we wouldn't want anyone to go into withdrawls while we're gone!). We are also leaving our 3 other precious girls here in Texas (I love you girls!! I miss you already!! Keep your hands to yourselves the entire time I am gone, is that clear??!!) and I know that they will be suffering profusely being away from their mother and staying with their little friends and BOTH Grandmas, this way I can remain close to their little hearts. I know how much they hate getting presents, eating ice cream and marshmellows, staying up late, watching movies...I hope they are ok.

So this blog is for the people who love us. They have been so supportive and encouraging throughout the longest roller coaster ride ever and my worse-than-a-pregnant-elephant emotions. I know that they are just about as excited as we are about all this and they can now share in our first memorable (yet possibly quite terrifying) moments with our kiddos.

If you are dear to my heart you know that I just got my own e-mail account last year and I am a computer idiot - living in the mommy land of Sesame Street and Barney the past 8 years (I am now in High School Musical, Hannah Montana land, too!), so I can't promise any cool tricks or anything but I will bring you along on what is most definately one of the biggest moments of our lives (so far!).