Derek went on the trip to our care point wondering if he'd be bored while in Ethiopia. He wasn't. here's his blog post:
What I took away from the mission trip…
When people ask me how my trip to Ethiopia was, I give them a very general “It was really good. It was eye opening and life changing.” While this statement is true, it just scratches the surface of how I really feel inside about my trip. I hope you don’t have lunch plans cause this could take a while. Just kidding…
The weeks leading up to this trip I was really getting excited and ready to go but deep down inside the devil was working on me I think. I had this feeling that I was going to get there and not want to be. Was I wrong? Finally getting to Kombolcha after 15 hours of plane travel one day and 8 hours riding in a sardine can the next, I was starting to feel that this was going to be AWESOME. When we pulled up to the care point and there were kids there to greet us as we got out of the vans like we were famous was a really good feeling. I shook so many hands and still hadn’t got in the gate!!! Once in the gate I heard clapping as I walked down this path in the trees. It started out a faint sound but as I got closer the volume got louder. As I walked into the “church”, which was a cleaned out chicken house, the noise was incredible!!! So many hands clapping and kids smiling at me was a little overwhelming. I stood in front of these kids and just took it all in. WOW!!!! As I stood there, I was scanning them looking for the girl Deanna and I sponsor. I couldn’t find her though. After we got introduced to them, we went out to hug and meet them. I shook their hands, fist bumped, and hugged so many of them as I could. Greg and I started a huge rock, paper, scissors game. I’m not sure who was winning because there were so many playing. The ladies in our group were taking pictures and hugging as well. Thank goodness for digital cameras because the kids love to see themselves in the pictures after you take them. During this time, I’m pretty sure Sandy hugged and kissed every single one of these kids. IMAGINE THAT!!! Here was another warm fuzzy moment for me. Getting to interact with them was a blast. I was still looking for my sponsored girl and couldn’t find her. I felt down a little bit cause I couldn’t. Where was this face on my refrigerator???
The next morning when we arrived, the kids met us again at the gate like the paparazzi. Before we got started, the kids sang a few songs in Amharic. That was a joyful noise to hear. This is how each day would start. Then a Bible story would be told, we used the Easter story. After the Bible story, the kids would break down into three groups to go through a rotation of stations. There was arts and crafts, recreation and a care package station. The care package station was where the kids would receive gallon Ziploc bags packed full of stuff. Toothbrushes, underwear, t-shirts, beef jerky, granola bars, toys, stuffed animals, small sewing kits for the girls and flashlights for boys just to name a few things. Also in each one was a picture and a note from who packed the care package. Arts and crafts had different projects for them each day…salvation bracelets, foam cross necklaces, decorating t-shirts with puff paint, and prayer journals. Recreation had different games to play each day too…various parachute games, playing with Frisbees, jump rope, volleyball and the kids taught us some of their games. Each day was split into two sessions, morning and afternoon. Throughout the day, there were so many hugs and so much love shown.
With the outline of the week done, I want to tell you really how my trip to Ethiopia was. On our first full day at the care point and in the first rotation of stations, I was flapping my arms with the parachute when one of our other team members came up to me and said that our sponsor girl was at the care point station waiting to open her care package from us. I FINALLY got to meet Seada!!! As I walked over to where she was, I realized that she looked totally different from the picture I had. As I got to her I bent down and hugged her. Now I had a body for the picture on my refrigerator. We sat down with her and watched as she unpacked her care package. She was like a kid at Christmas and couldn’t get the items out quick enough. She took the picture out and looked at the picture and then at us. The smile on her face was huge. Another member of our mission team had someone make and donate dresses for the girls. We helped her put it on and her smile grew bigger. With her new dress on over her dirty and torn clothes, she was happy!! We moved on to our letter which someone translated for her. As I was sitting listening and watching her, the tears grew in my eyes. After she had the letter read to her, she went to Deanna for a hug. Then she came to me for one. We had pictures made and then more hugs. Then I had to go back and help with recreation and Deanna back to arts and crafts. But instead I had to go and sit on the porch and gather myself. I had known her for maybe five minutes and she felt like a daughter to me. As I went back to the rec. group, I now had this feeling this was going to be a good week. I played and grew close to all of them but there was a different connection with Seada. Every time she was in looking distance we would make eye contact and just smile at each other. Since she was our sponsor child, we got to go and see her house and her family. I had said before we went on this trip that I wasn’t sure I was ready to see that but our day had come to take our visit. As we were riding to her house, she was entertaining herself with balloons. She blew one up for me and her. Well, the van stopped outside this gate and we were there. The gate was a rusty piece of metal roofing and she opened it and it was like another village behind it. We walked down the path with little Seada leading the way. We reached this mud house and this woman came out with a smile on her face. We walked into this small room and sat on mats they used for beds. It was an 8’x8’ room. That is the size of my bathroom at home. We talked with her, Seada, and her older sister, with the help of a translator, for just several minutes. This was her house. Just this very small room with two mats on the floor, a raised bed and a small hutch with their belongings in it. She shares this room with her mother, a 15 year old sister and a 9 year old sister. Her father passed away sometime from sickness. They would use the front porch for their kitchen. Her mother didn’t have a job but would buy things at the market and resell them for her income. She was doing this to put food on the table. We told her mother that we love and pray for Seada and her family. Her mother told us that she was very grateful and gave them hope. When we were done talking, we went out on the porch and took some pictures with them. After the pictures were taken, I hugged all three of them. The hug with Seada was very emotional because I had this pain for her. I picked her up and just held onto her tight as I was telling her that I loved her so much. The emotions got the best of me and I had to get out of there. I pretty much ran back to the van and got in and just balled. Deanna took some more pictures of her house and then walked hand in hand with Seada out of the gate. I saw her face and just couldn’t imagine living like that. What I just saw is what I call Ethiopian reality. It makes me very grateful for what I have and what I take for granted.
Another thing we got to do was attend a Wednesday night prayer service. I don’t have the slightest clue what they were saying as they were singing but Jesus was in the room. You could just feel him there. One of the deacons spoke and was really thankful that we were there showing God’s love to the kids. It didn’t matter that they were a different race, spoke a different language, and lived different lifestyles…they still need to be loved.
On the last day, you could tell there was a different feeling in the air. Since this care point was the farthest one out, not many teams come and see them. When they do come and visit, they just stay a few hours with them. We had grown close and very attached to these kids but especially Seada. As the day wore on and the time running out, the kids would just cling to you. I spent most of my day right next to Seada, holding her hand, letting her sit on my lap and hugging her. We had a huge feast at lunch and then played some of their games with them. Then it was time for our good byes. Each team member spread out and the kids came to us with tears in their eyes. I hugged and cried with so many of them. The pain was ruthless. My heart had been ripped out of my chest. As I hugged each one, I told them that I love them. Then my little Seada came up to me…I picked her up like I did on her porch and hugged her telling her how much I loved her and just wept. She also was crying also which didn’t help. I watched as the last of the kids walked out of the gate and cried. I already missed them…these kids have been forgotten and we went and gave them hope.
Derek and Deanna's blog is: http://doitfortheorphans.blogspot.com