Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
What could be better than an Ethiopian welcome, FOVC style?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We. Are. Outta. Here.

Hi Everyone,

It looks like we will all make it out....except our two KC team members will be a day late. :-( This is a tremendous disappointment, but we are thankful they can make it at all!

Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts while we are away:
  • That Team Tasfa will be unified and flexible;
  • That we will accomplish all that God asks us to do;
  • That we will bring great glory to Him;
  • That our team members will be changed forever;
  • And finally, that we will deliver hope, love and lasting change to the dear people we will serve.
Our friends, family and communities have rallied around this grass-roots effort that is TEAM TASFA. I could tell story after story after story about all the ways people have helped and encouraged each of us. So many people have done so much....not for us....but for the people of Shanto, the children of FOVC, and Children's Heaven, and Korah.

Am I scared? Terrified! Do I struggle with leaving my kiddos? Absolutely. May I press resolutely ahead, in response to this call and opportunity. Amen!

"The One who is calling us is faithful, and He will do it."
1 Thes. 5:24

Monday, December 27, 2010


Twenty-six members of Team Tasfa are scheduled to meet at the Newark Airport tomorrow afternoon.

So far, the flight out of Colorado has been confirmed, then briefly cancelled, and now it is again scheduled to go on-time.

The news isn't so good for everyone on our team. Tomorrow's flight out of Kansas City has been cancelled, and two of our members are scheduled on that flight.

Nobody can get through to the airline, and I don't know how to advise our team members.

Please pray that nothing will thwart our plans to serve in Ethiopia!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Packing Party!

The Colorado Contingent of Team Tasfa had a BIG packing party Sunday afternoon.
Kids lunching.

The local Girl Scout Troop made sooooo many dresses, complete with a pair or panties and a little doll for each girl.

Our former neighbor and excellent friend, Hailey Ewing, models a dress!

The Colorado Contingent....Ethiopia, here we come!

Thank God for organized, engineering types who were able to make sense of all of the donations,
and help us get everything packed up!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TWO WEEKS & a birthday & some pictures!

Let me begin by getting this out of my system:

We are leaving in two weeks!!!!!!!
Ok, back to business.

Dave's parents came to town this weekend to (finally) meet Bereket and visit the rest of us. It was good to see them again!

Nana and Grandad and a bunch of grandkids (plus a grandschnauzer)
Amelia spent a lot of time trapping Nana in the bathroom with her!
Life has been so crazy and busy, we didn't tell Bereket that his (randomly assigned?) birthdate of November 29 had come and gone with a birthday party. Instead, we held a proper celebration Sunday night. Honestly, in our defense, he didn't know the date had already passed. And it was much better this way, with Nana and Granddad in town, and DAVE in town, and a house in which to celebrate, etc etc.

Note the semi-homemade birthday cake...that is my tray and we installed the candles!
With all the sprinkles and drizzles, the birthday boy was thrilled!
Yes, he's a boy, and yes, he's attracted to guns.
Brother and Sis together!
First birthday gift!
Yep, we're already sorry we bought the Nerf gun.
Abby the Techno-Sis assembles the PlayMobil hero set.
A boy and his dog!
A boy and his daddy!

The aftermath!
Finally, I guess I am dealing with my Mary and Martha issues. Trying to discern between what I need to do  (help my kids get to Christmas, prepare for our trip, pay attention to my kids, go to work, not ignore my kids, focus on the meaning of Christmas, take care of my you see a pattern here?) and what I ought to do (create really fabulous Christmas cards and decorate the whole entire house for Christmas).

It has not been easy for me, but I am scaling way back on things that don't really, truly matter, in order to make time for the things that do really, truly matter. Many, many boxes of Christmas decorations remain packed away in the basement.

I'm trying to be more of a Mary and less of a Martha, but I'm not a Scrooge---we do have a Christmas tree!

And I think this Christmas time will be a really special one for the Howletts Six.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"He's the Mother Teresa of Ethiopia"

Here is another excellent article from the Denver Post, about a doctor people call "The Mother Teresa of Ethiopia." This American doctor, who lives and works in Ethiopia, and who has adopted five sons there, is also featured in the excellent book, There Is No Me Without You.

I cannot wait to get the new book, This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes. Let me know if you have read it, or seen the HBO film, Making The Crooked Straight.

Oh, to be chosen to change the world!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We Did Move

We spent last week moving to our new house. Well, the kids and I spent the week moving. Dave spent the week in sunny, beautiful Detroit--that dirty dog!

So.....if you have been waiting to hear back from me about anything, I will try to get unburied this week. We spent several days without any internet, and I am very behind!

Dave just realized that exactly 10 years ago, we had lost most everything. Most significantly, we had both lost all hope. It was a very dark time for us.

I appreciate that Dave is striving to live with thanksgiving and gratitude. He says he never, ever dreamed that our situation would be redeemed and greatly blessed over the course of ten years. He never dreamed we would have two more children. That we would have such a great family and such rich friendships. That we would be back in our beloved Longmont, and at Rocky Mountain Christian Church. That we would have traveled to many places in the world. That we would have such a beautiful home. And that God would have worked so much in our hearts and lives, to heal so much pain and to begin to free us from many of our fears. All praise to Him.

P.S. We leave for Ethiopia in three weeks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Going to Ethiopia Soon? Check this out!!!

We get this swanky catalog from a company called Horchow.

This Ethiopian cross is "on clearance" at Horchow for "only" about $2300.

Team Tasfa, you will see these beautiful crosses in Ethiopia. We purchased one when we were there earlier this year. Our cross is smaller than Horchow's "clearance" cross. But we paid a very small fraction of Horchow's price.
Crazy, huh?

Team Tasfa, we will start our journey soon!

much love,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We Didn't Move (yet)

So, our buyers' lender dropped the ball big-time.

Our buyers scrambled over to a different lender a couple of days ago.

We won't clsoe for another eight days. Not the end of the world, but not fun! Our house is 95% packed up and we're just tryin' to survive the next week or so.


Actually, the worst part is that Dave will be traveling when we do move. So I'll have to juggle all the kids and do a lot of loading. Did I say GRRRRR?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New School Uniforms for the Children!

Look at these beautiful, smiling FOVC children
in their new school uniforms!

Desalegn wrote on FOVC's blog that the children had been wearing only tattered clothes, and no shoes. What a joy to see that FOVC was able to provide new school uniforms for the children. I cannot imagine how proud a young boy or girl must feel to have a complete, new, clean, matching outfit to wear to school.

Team Tasfa, it's almost time to travel!

Let's go change a little corner of the world!

God, I bless your name today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

While Mom's Away (Packing Boxes)....

the two year-old will wash her hands!

The girl!

The soap!

The hands!

The mess!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Article about Ethiopia in today's Denver Post

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — For many people around the world, mentioning Ethiopia brings to mind its devastating 1984 famine. The specter of the disaster haunts the country's international image and still hurts the growth of its fledgling tourism industry.

But here's the reality that awaits those few adventurous visitors who do make the trip: a high plateau of lush, green hills that's more like Scotland than a desert; decadent nightlife in Addis Ababa; and historic sites such as the island monasteries of Lake Tana and Lalibela, a remarkable complex of 12th-century churches.

In addition, Ethiopia's wildlife parks are teeming with game, but unlike Kenya, where packs of tourists compete for a glimpse of lions, here you might have the animals all to yourself.

Traveling in Ethiopia, however, can be uniquely disorienting. Ethiopians insist on doing things their own way. They have their own calendar — with 13 months; their own year — it's currently 2003; and their own time — 6 a.m. is their midnight. The national language, Amharic, has Semitic roots, like Arabic and Hebrew, and a unique alphabet. (Rest assured, English is widely spoken.) Roughly two- thirds of the people are Ethiopian Orthodox — a creed with its own rites, different from those of the Russian or Serbian Orthodox churches — while a third is Muslim.

A trip to Ethiopia, then, is less like a sojourn in Africa than a visit to some far-flung island, where everything is strange and compelling.

You'll need a couple of weeks to even begin to do justice to this sprawling country — bordered on the north by Sudan, on the south by Kenya and Somalia and on the east by Djibouti and Eritrea, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.

Roads are generally poor, and it can take long hours or even days to travel several hundred miles overland — particularly in the April-September rainy season. Luckily, Ethiopian Airlines — widely considered Africa's premier carrier — operates flights from the capital, Addis, to the main must-see sites, including Lalibela.

Addis is a sprawling city of congested thoroughfares and hidden residential neighborhoods with narrow streets that dissolve into thick mud every time it rains, and it can seem a dismal place to start an Ethiopian sojourn. But resist the temptation to flee, and the city will open to you, revealing scores of cute cafes, hot nightspots, chill lounges and gourmet restaurants.

Top suggestions include Eyoha or Fasika national restaurants, where remarkably athletic dancers showcase the country's unique shoulder-shaking traditional dance styles as diners tuck into heaping plates full of local delicacies.

Ethiopian cuisine, which is heavy on sauces and served on spongy crepe-like bread called injera, leaves no one indifferent. You either love it or you hate it. Love it, and you can eat like a king, splurging on multidish meals of wot, a sauce of goat or lamb, and kifto, marinated raw meat. Made from an Ethiopian grain called tef, injera is eaten at every meal and also serves as cutlery, used to scoop up the juicy sauces.

Hate it, and you stand a good chance of shedding some serious weight. Besides a dozen top-notch places in Addis, restaurants serving foreign cuisine are few and far between. Order the spaghetti marinara in some provincial town, like I did, and you might find yourself using scraps of injera to scoop up earthworm-sized bits of cold pasta drenched in what appeared to be ketchup.

But there is some decent Italian food to be had if you know where to go. Indeed, the best foreign cuisine in Ethiopia is a result of Italy's brief occupation of the country in the 1930s. Try Castelli, an Addis institution that has been serving up an antipasti buffet and fresh pasta for generations. Another option is the Ristorante da Bruno, which has won well-deserved acclaim for its wood-fired pizzas.

Another legacy of the Italian presence are the coffee houses that serve up strong espressos and macchiatos. At Tomoca, you can get vacuum- packed bags of Ethiopian grown beans roasted to perfection in oversized colonial-era machines.

Vegetarians be warned: Ethiopian Orthodox adherents normally go vegetarian twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, and fast for the 56 days preceding Ethiopian Orthodox Easter. But for the month after Easter, so-called "fasting foods," or meat- and dairy- free dishes, are scarce.

For all-night dancing, try Club Platinum or the Gaslight, at the Sheraton hotel, where the mix of Ethiopian and R&B beats is infectious. Just be aware that at both establishments, as in other clubs across Ethiopia, most of the women on the dance floor are prostitutes.

Addis has the best shopping in the country, with a wide range of regional specialty products and styles. Try the area around Piassa for the heavy silver disc earrings from the northern Tigray region and Persian Gulf-inspired necklaces in oversized beads of silver and resin — all sold by the gram.

After a few action-packed days in Addis, you'll be ready to hit the road.

Most visitors head north to visit Ethiopia's tourist triumvirate — Bahir Dar, Aksum and Lalibela, the crown jewel. Ethiopian Airlines sells multi-leg tickets from Addis with stops at each site.

A winding complex of 11 churches cut out of the rust-red granite tucked into a wind-swept moonscape, Lalibela is frankly astounding. Legend claims it's the work of angels, but in reality the complex was commissioned by the powerful 12th-century King Lalibela and picked out of the rock with hammers and chisels over decades.

The roofs are at ground level, so to reach the churches — clustered in two separate sites — you have to climb down steep stairs cut into the rock and worn smooth by a millennia's-worth of bare feet. Priests swathed in cream-colored robes live inside the cool, dark interiors, lit by sunlight that filters in through cross-shaped windows sliced into the rock walls.

The most impressive church is Bet Giorgis, or Saint George, a towering structure with a floor plan in the shape of a Greek cross.

The churches are still used — during the Easter period, tens of thousands of pilgrims converge on the site — so you can't visit them without a guide.

Bahir Dar is perched on Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. The once-mighty Blue Nile Falls has been largely choked to a trickle by a dam, but dozens of monasteries and churches dot the lake's islands, making Bahir Dar well worth a visit. Built mostly in the 16th and 17th centuries, some sites have fantastically painted interiors and ceilings. Boat tours will take you from island to island, but some sites are off-limits to women.

Axum, near the sometimes volatile northern border with Eritrea, was the capital of an empire that flourished for centuries beginning in the fifth century B.C. Ruins of what was a major hub on a trade route between the Roman Empire and India can be found in the outskirts. Towering obelisks and remains of royal tombs and ancient castles are now UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Head south of Addis for the country's best safaris, at the Yabelo or Stephanie Wildlife Sanctuaries or the remote Omo National Park. The sprawling park, which covers some 15,400 square miles, and the surrounding Omo Valley region are also home to a patchwork of tribes: The Mursi are known for their elaborately scarified bodies and oversized clay lip plates, while the Hamar people are herders with distinctive clay-colored rag-doll braids. They are known for their bull-jumping ceremony. (An initiation for young men, it's exactly what it sounds like.)

With all these possibilities north, south and east of the capital, the hardest part may be deciding where to go.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's been awhile since I've posted photo. So here's a pictorial update of life at the House of Howlett!

 My own little Wild Things.

 Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?

Oh, and by the way--we put our beloved house on the market, and sold it on the second showing. We are moving in 2 weeks! (The new house has--drum roll--a laundry room that's not in the basement and an office for Dave....
and it's closer to all of our schools and jobs!) 

Abby was not too chicken to dress like a chicken for Halloween...
she even wore this costume to school! 

They're shakin' their tail feathers! 

Bereket ran like an Ethiopian at his school's jog-a-thon! 

Eyelashes to die for! 

He raked all the leaves while Lil Sis looked on adoringly. 

Abs as  the "Good Neigh-Bear" at Longmont's Halloween parade.

A Dad and his Littles. 

They're just waitin' for a parade. 

Here comes Sissy's school! 

Al and BFF Morgan dressed as "black-eyed P's." 

All four of the Howlett kids, after the parade. 

World's most beautiful butterfly! 

 Allison's friends threw a surprise birthday party.

She's 15 now! 

She really liked her birthday cake! 

Our annual chili-eating-trick-or-treating-Halloween at the Webers'.
Yes, the hippie in the back is an elder at our church! :-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gifts We Want To Deliver To Ethiopia--Will You Help?

I asked for, and just received, a list from Desalegn that details the types of things FOVC and the orphans there most desperately need at this time. Here it is!
  • clothes (gently used or new, boys & girls)
  • shoes
  • sneakers
  • jackets & sweaters
  • skirts
  • jeans
  • socks
  • underwear (new)
  • towels
  • watches
  • earrings, necklaces
  • hair do-dads
  • headbands
  • deoderant
  • soap
  • shampoo, conditioner
  • body lotion
  • toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • educational games for little children
  • first aid kits
  • school supplies
  • notebooks
  • markers, pencils, pens, crayons,
  • mathematical sets (flash cards?)
  • books for library
  • office supplies
  • printers (very important)
  • printer inks for HP Laser Jet 1010 and 1005 series
  • photo copy machine (very important)
  • laminating machine (very important)
  • digital video camera (very important)
  • digital camera
  • rechargeable batteries (AA type with 220v charger)
  • AA batteries for digital cameras
  • another laptop and desktop computers for office use
  • blankets (can be bought in Ethiopia)
  • bed sheets (can be bought in Ethiopia)
  • beds (can be bought in Ethiopia)
  • mattresses (can be bought in Ethiopia)
  • kitchen materials (very important and can be bought in Ethiopia)
  • adding machine
  • coffee machine
  • staplers
  • toys
It's a big list, but it should be easy for Team Tasfa to gather lots and lots of these items. Please let me know if you can help! If we all do a little bit, we can make a HUGE difference!

with so much love,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kids Sponsored!

Some FOVC kids have already been matched with sponsors. What are you waiting for? They are all in such desperate need. Since Shanto is in such a remote area of Ethiopia, it is an area that is not served by foreign aid, or by aid organizations or NGO's. These kids are all in such desperate need, and they are depending on us!

Here's a note from Desalegn about the meaning of  "Seeds of Hope:"

Thank you so many million times for giving this great name for our (FOVC's) child sponsorship program. It is really very blessing name.

By the way Seeds of Hope stands for "Yetasfa Zer" in Amharic and it has much blessing meaning. Some times due to heavy drought and lack of regular rain the farmer uses his all seeds for feeding and some clever farmers save a few seeds for sewing (it may not be more than 10 gm, imagine how small it is). Now that small amount of seed which helps to revive again is "Yetasfa Zer"/ Seeds of Hope in our context!

So thank you for this name. You are always great for us!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Sponsorship Insights

Dear Ones,

Please see Desalegn's blog post here.

I'm not much of a cry-er, but this one tore me up.

Humbled. Amazed. Grateful. Even broken. Thank you, God!

We are thinking of naming the sponsorship program Seeds of Hope. Here are some of the children the government has just referred to FOVC. As you can see, these kids are hungry and they hardly have clothes to wear.

Please contact Sharon today if you will plant a seed of hope!