Ethiopia 2009 - Pt. 8
Well obviously this post was a long time coming. Part of the delay was due to having much on my plate (helping a friend in need, attending to work-related issues, and helping my mom who was recently hospitalized), but I also think a big part of it was that I wanted to HAVE to revisit my experience. I guess the fear was that if I "finish" writing about my Ethiopia trip, it will drift farther and farther from my mind. Maybe the trip in general will, but finding a way to minister to people in need will not, regardless of where or who those people are.
Friday morning, as usual, I awoke at 5am and got up to spend time alone with God. The first thing I noticed was that my neck was much better and I was so happy and thankful. However, there was a sadness in my heart because I knew that it was the last time, at least for this trip, that I would sit at the dining room table with a cup of coffee and my Bible, feasting on God's Word as the daylight began to pour into the room. Often I would look outside the sliding glass door as the grass and flowers vibrantly glowed in the early morning light, and just dwell on God's goodness, faithfulness, love and grace. I just listen. We live such busy lifestyles in the U.S. that often just "being" in God's presence, crawling up onto His lap and laying our heads on His shoulder, is something that rarely happens. Too often we race through the One-Year-Bible assigned reading, offer up a few petition prayers, then rush off to the day's tasks. I want more. I need more. Early mornings are the first fruits of the day, and for me at least, it is a very special time.
One by one, people stirred, music played, dogs barked, more coffee brewed, and the room filled with the awesome individuals that together made our team. I missed them already. We all finished breakfast, loaded up the vans, and took off for the first location, Kechene School. It is a school supported by outside sponsors so that the students can attend free (it is in one of the poorest areas). As with previous sponsored places, the difference was very clear. The children had uniforms, well-stocked and nicely-decorated classrooms, and they proudly sang songs for us with a robust enthusiasm that is rarely seen in the U.S. We hugged them all, said goodbye, and headed to the next orphanage, Kebetabshay. They had a larger campus than previous places, but for good reason as there are 150 children who live there. We went around and visited with the children and, once again, there was one child in particular that stood out. He didn't know any English, but he understood my smile and recognized love, and that speaks volumes. Our last stop was Moses School, but no kids were present. This is a true orphanage in that the children live there, but "School" in their name is not quite accurate because they attend school elsewhere (which is why the kids were gone). We just took a short tour of the facility and then that was it. It was hard to believe we were finished. It was rather anticlimactic due to the kids being gone, and it just left me with that "This is it?" kind of emptiness. After lunch we went to a couple market areas and everyone did souvenir shopping. I really didn't have much to buy so I used the opportunity to read more. We went back home to the Cherokee House, had dinner, showered, packed, then had a "debriefing" meeting. After that, we headed to the airport. Our flight left at 1:30am. After a total of 54 sleepless hours, I was back in my own bed.
I have heard it said that you can leave Africa, but Africa will never leave you. Having now been there, I understand this statement, and I completely agree.
To those of you who supported me financially and/or in prayer, THANK YOU! You helped inject these kids and orphanage directors with hope, and you kindled within me a desire to do more. We serve a faithful God, and I know He will richly bless you for caring enough to help others. Again, on behalf of myself and all those who were touched, THANK YOU!