First of all, I would like to say I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get pictures and stories up from my recent trip to Ethiopia! It has taken me awhile to process all of what I saw and experienced in Africa. I don't know exactly what God is going to do in my life regarding missions in the future, but I'm learning to trust Him more in that area, that He'll work all the details out (and already has!). This post will probably be very long, but I want to give you a snapshot into all God did in Africa.
After taking a tour of the Fistula Hospital, we ate lunch, then went back to our guesthouse to settle in and take a nap.
This is where we stayed the first and last parts of the trip.
Our bathroom, complete with no toilet seats or shower curtains!
"Break our hearts for what breaks Yours..."
There are no traffic rules in Ethiopia...just "suggestions." This is one of three stop signs I saw, along with four traffic lights, and no speed limit signs. Their driving is also much louder than ours..I rarely went 3 seconds without hearing a honk.
This was one of many heartbreaking sights I experienced in Ethiopia. I can't tell you how many people I saw lying facedown in the garbage, on the side of the highway, and in the grass.
We also saw many herds of animals walking in the middle of the road. We occaisonally had to stop and wait until they passed...
Many, many sheep...our translator actually bought two one day and sent them to a slaughtering house and we then served them. One of the places we served them was at a lunch for some widows. There was a bowl of what looked like beef, so I asked a lady if it was infact ground beef. She replied, "No! Its the sheep intestines, stomach, and liver." She then picked up a piece, ate it, and said "Mmm, that's a piece of intestine. You can tell by the texture." After that, I never ate anything without being sure of what it was!
A typical street in Addis Ababa.
We saw many, many mistreated (according to American standards) and stray animals. You can't feel sad for them though when you see how many orphans there are that need to be taken care of first!
These smart car-ish things were a common mode of transportation.
The second day we went to Kore, which is a village surrounding a dump. In this dump is where these beautiful people got all their belongings: food, clothes, things to sell, you name it. This village is where the outcasts live: the lepers, the sick, those with AIDs, and those even poorer than the average. We stayed in Kore for two days (it wasn't enough!!). The first day we worked with the women, and we had an incredible and extremely humbling experience when we washed and anionted their feet. We explained how they are washed, or cleansed, from the sins they have walked in in the past, and that the Lord anionts where they will walk in the future. In each place we went, when we introduced ourselves, we would say that we live in America, and God spoke to each one of us and told us to come here and see them. They seemed so in awe that God would speak to American women on behalf of THEM, some whom were lepers and felt so unworthy. Each of them cried as we washed, anionted, and prayed for them. This was a chaotic yet beautiful moment as we hugged and cried with around 80 women. We also gave them a new pair of shoes. One lady in particular hugged me for about 2 minutes and would not let go. We then have them a new skirt, shirt, pair of underwear, socks, and a hairband. They LOVED the underwear!! As you can see below, they held their underwear up proudly! I will never take for granted such simple pleasures such as being able to wash my clothes again.
The next day we were with the people of Kore again, except this time we worked with over 350 orphans who live in the village. We loved on them, played with them, did crafts, told Bible stories, and laughed with them. This was an amazing day! Walking into the Church and seeing 350 precious children running up to you, kissing you, clinging on to you, wanting to be held, and simply wanting love was unforgettable. One of the most overwhelming and life-changing moments for me.
The bathroom in Kore.
The next day was a Sunday, and we visited another church, and it lasted 5 hours! What an amazing expericene seeing these people worship the Lord. They were so on fire and passionate, yet it is so true that the Presence of God will show up anywhere because we met in an old cow stable. In the picture below, the children are doing a skit. The little boy with the white shirt and tie on was playing the pastor. :)
After church on Sunday, we traveled about two hours to this remote village. We were going to visit Pastor Zerahun's home. He pastors a church of 50 people (The church is less than 2x the size of my bedroom!) and he built the church himself. It is about 10 yards away from his home, where he, his wife, son Samuel and baby daughter live. We had a baby shower for their baby, except they didn't know what a baby shower was. When we arrived, they only thing they could envision was that we were going to literally give the baby a shower! It was very fun to play games, have fellowship, and eat a meal with this amazing family.
Village kids outside Pastor Zerahun's gate. They walked all the way to his house with us!
Playing baby shower games :)
Getting ready to head out for the day!
The next day we went to a home for young moms. If any of you have heard of the New Beginnings Home in Puyallup, its the same thing. We met these moms, all of which have come to Christ since moving in, and played games with them, and laughed with them. At the end each one of us one the team prayed for one of them and it was an incredible experience!
Later on that day we visited the one of the YWAM orphans and widows homes. This was one of my highlights from the trip. The first day at the orphanage we just played with kids before their bedtime and toured the orphanage. The nannies are SO amazing and loving to these kids; these women are so selfless. The next day we went back to the orphanage and we focused on blessing the nannies. We wanted to have a special time with the nannies, and since the nannies take care of the kids, all the kids came too! We all held a baby (or two!) and sat in a circle speaking life into these ladies. We gave them new clothes, had snacks, told a few Bible stories, played some games, worshiped, and washed their feet. Since we had enough people on our team, one washed and one prayed. Some of them understand English, so it was so meaningful that they knew what we were saying to them. We helped get the kids downstairs for bed...the end of such a fun day! I especially fell in love with one little guy..he was the littlest there and about 3 months old. He fell asleep in my arms a few times and smiled EVERY time I talked to him. I was so ready to convince my parents to let me bring him home! The next day was our last at the orphanage. Some of the very neediest widows live at the orphanage, but others are simply supported by YWAM and still live in their homes. Our driver, Agenyo, went and picked up all the widows from their homes and a special lunch was prepared for them. We had a great time serving them, sitting with them, holding their hands, rubbing their backs; they loved it all! Looking at these widows' wrinkled faces and white hair, I could help but wonder their stories. What each of them had gone through to make it past the average age of death in Africa. I was sitting with one very old lady, rubbing her back and holding her hand, though we couldn't understand each other. Her bones were sticking about 6 inches out of her back, and she was so skinny. I later found out she couldn't even walk. We gave each one new scarf after serving coffee and popcorn; they were thrilled! After we handed out all the scarves and the women put them on (with joy!) there were a few left-over so Mallory and I asked for them to put them on us. They thought that was so funny! We then gave them each a ring pop and told a Bible story. They all sat there like toddlers with pacifiers..completely mesmerized by our story! Of course, after helping all the widows downstairs and into the car, Mallory and I just HAD to sneak back into the nursery to hold some babies before we left! I was so amazed by the people at the Widows and Orphans Home and even met some kids who are coming home to Tacoma. It was so fun to be able to tell them I know their Mommy and Daddy and they love them and are coming soon!
Relaxing by the pool one morning before heading out...it's so hard suffering for Jesus sometimes! :)
The next day we headed way far out (quite a drive!) into a remote Muslim village to encourage some Christians there. We served lunch, played with the kids, did some Bible stories and crafts, and then washed the women's feet and prayed with them. When we washed these women's feet, not one of them didn't weep. We had a translator so we prayed for each one and they knew what we were saying. It was SO amazing and a Spirit-filled time. We also handed out clothes and toys for each child there.
Grinding coffee beans by hand to serve us coffee. Wow!
New clothes for everyone! So much joy!
The next day we went back to Pastor Zerahun's house to have a fun afternoon with the widows and orphans that YWAM supports in his village. We brought clothes, crafts, Bible stories, and food, and we all had a great time! We met inside the church and also taught the kids some songs (below)!
The bathroom outside Zerahun's house.
We had extra clothes so we got to hand them out to other village kids and share the Gospel!
The last day we headed to a feeding program that feeds 1,000 lunch in one hour! We helped prepare the meal and serve the soup, although not everyone on our team could handle the smell! We made it through though and blessing these precious people was worth it!
This little girl was sitting all by herself so we went over and talked to her and learned that she had no parents. About an hour later, we saw her on the streets while we were shopping. It almost brought me to tears that she had followed us there.
Our team! I miss these ladies!
I honestly could not have imagined a better fit for a team. Our team leaders (Mark and Liane) were AMAZING and I feel so blessed to have gotten to know these women. We all learned from each other and I am so glad we experienced Africa together. It is true that I felt like I recieved so much more than I gave away. I am so ready to go back to Africa and am praying for what the Lord might have in store! :)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."