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Two nights ago my sisters and I were texting back and forth with my parents.  This conversation would have been like any other evening, but this time we were asking for updates, checking in on their location, and  asking if they were anywhere closer to being home.
Let me explain.

My parents have been in Africa, in both Ethiopia and Tanzania, for the past three weeks.  Even though they travel there annually, I still get nervous when we go a few days without hearing from them.  Most of their trips in the past consist of a medical team performing physicals, surgeries, and the like in a clinic and orphanages in rural Tanzania.  This trip was a little bit different.  It was their first time in Ethiopia, and they were spending time meeting and researching where they can continue serving and giving to this country and its people.
To say I’m a proud daughter is an understatement.

Even though I’ve never myself traveled to either of these countries, each time my parents go, they come back changed.  I know it’s said often, but I think it’s safe for me to say that while yes, they go to serve and give of themselves, they come back having received much more.

I love how God works.

 I want to share a portion of an update from my parents, while they were spending time with Project Mercy, in Ethiopia:

We were amazed at the poverty of the area; in fact I think that is what our brains aren’t quite able to quite comprehend yet.  We walked a dirt road about 1.5 miles from the compound to the location of the hospital.   … I don’t know if I can adequately explain the living conditions – it is absolutely mind boggling.  The houses are either the traditional tukul, which is a round hut made of eucalyptus poles and then covered with straw mixed with the soil and cow dung.  Many of them (most of them in that area) share the space with their cow, goat or whatever animal they have during the night hours.  The ‘step up’ from the tukul…or the modern house was a rectangle mud hut made from the same materials but usually with 2 rooms so the animals slept in the separated room.  They cover the floor with a mat woven from a plant called a ‘fake banana’ plant.  A softer mat is woven from a different fiber on the same plant – and they unroll those on the floor for sleeping.  All the farming tools were handmade; some carts had handmade wooden wheels.

Even reading the description–as she continues, she describes the school, the hospital, the roads, the water–it is difficult to read, knowing that it is not just in other countries that these conditions exist, but also right here.  Right outside our front door.

Each of our hearts are tugged in different ways, right?  It’s how we listen to those gentle pulls that matters.

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I recently had someone say my parents had been added to his hero list.  I couldn’t agree more, but they are not the only ones.  When I first learned about Noonday Collection and the hope they are providing to so many–they were an instant hero list addition.

 I first learned about Noonday back around Christmas time.  I wanted to compile a group of companies that give back and give more, so I wrote about it here.  I asked many of you for suggestions and Noonday was one I kept hearing time and time again!  After researching a bit and looking through their collections, I knew I loved their mission, vision, and heart.  As you look through the individual collections you’ll be amazed at the stories of hope that accompany them–they are so much more than beautiful jewelry.

I specifically chose to share a story from Ethiopia–I know this post is getting long, but keep reading!  I have some beautiful jewelry up for grabs!

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Just outside of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, looms Mount Entoto. Once home to emperors and monastaries, the sacred mountain now houses a community of over one million Ethiopians with a positive HIV status. They have flocked to the mountain seeking the waters that stream and pool there, which are considered healing and holy.

However, some have found true healing in a small outreach working on the mountain: the Entoto jewelry workshop.  Entoto makes sure that those living with HIV are assured access to the life-saving medicines that reverse the course of the disease. By taking the antiretroviral medications, HIV becomes almost undetectable in the bloodstream. The disease does not define these women anymore.

 Now, the women earn a dignified income by making distinct accessories. Each bead in our Ethiopian collection is created from artillery shells that farmers find in their fields from former war conflicts. Once used as a means of violence and destruction, these shells are melted down by village artisans, made into beads, and given a new beautiful purpose when created into the pieces you now wear. Noonday Collection partners with these women by creating exclusive designs that tell a story of powerful redemption. They receive a living wage, health care support, and also educational support for their children. 

“I have new dreams for my son,” says 26 year old Emebet, pictured above. She has been working for Entoto making jewelry for 6 years. She came to the mountain 9 years ago when she discovered she was HIV positive.  Unlike most women who come to the mountain from far away, Embemebet grew up in the capital city of Addis Ababa.  Her journey wasn’t very far to the mountain, but it was still a painful journey. Her previous husband didn’t tell her he was HIV+ and she didn’t find out until he passed away. Her current husband also came to the mountain to seek healing. They have been married 5 years and they have a miracle baby together, Yabsera, after suffering the loss of two babies before him. Her disease, which used to define her, is now not even a daily thought. She enjoys working alongside the other women in the thriving jewelry workshop. 

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Their newest collection launches today, and you guys??
It. Is. Gorgeous.
Absolutely gorgeous!

So without further ado, I want to show you the 2 bracelets I am giving away today!
2 bracelets.  2 winners. Also?
Mother’s Day is around the corner!

{And yes.  I did a little photos session for the Colette headbands the same day we took these photos, so I probably should have been smart and changed my clothes!  oops.}

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One of you will win the Very Versatile bracelet, and one of you will win the Tessa Bracelet!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will take one of everything, please.  However, the real question is this:

are you listening to the tugs and pulls on your heart? Or are you quieting them because they are too risky, too “out there,” too insignificant, too simple–too whatever.

Whatever the excuse–it’s not the truth.  So let’s start listening to the tugs and pulls and do something about it.

xo.
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I know this week has been full of features–I hope you loved the Colette from Oh Sweet Joy and Noonday Collection!  More Kacia and Harlow and our boring lives tomorrow, this weekend, and the weeks to come!

RachelRowlandPhoto be sure to check out Rachel’s new blog design!! 

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