Where do I begin in this story? I have re-typed this sentence three times already as I remember that this story actually started earlier than this event or that. This story actually probably began on my first mission trip to Mexico with my family as a ten-year-old when I was introduced to the world outside my middle-class bubble, but let's start a little more recent than that. Let's back up to sometime in 2006.
Soon after we got married, the Gathering (our wonderful church) started a relationship with an organization called Food for the Hungry (FH). FH is similar to World Vision, Compassion International and the like. They are a child sponsorship agency that works around the globe to take care of children. The Gathering began what FH calls a Community to Community project in the village of Zeway, Ethiopia. The Gathering community committed to sponsoring 100 kids in the Zeway community. Eric and I chose a little girl name Liya, brought her picture home and put her up on our fridge. Soon we added Atsede and Shimelis to our fridge. Then, when Atsede graduated, we added Gebabe. We looked at their pictures each day and prayed for them and their families. In my heart began to grow a desire to meet them some day.
I brought it up to Eric and he said he would think about it, but his enthusiasm was a bit lacking. So I set aside the hope of going to visit our Ethiopian "kids" with a prayer. "Lord, if you want us to visit Ethiopia, put it on Eric's heart. I'm going to wait for him to bring it up and take that as a sign that you are for this."
About a year later, Eric and I began talking about getting pregnant. We started to make a list of the things we wanted to do before we had children. I asked Eric what he wanted to be sure we did before kids. On the top of his list was "go to Ethiopia!" I was ecstatic and we began making plans to apply to go on the next trip the Gathering was planning.
In March of 2008, Eric and I joined the team of people who ventured off to a new village in rural Ethiopia - Belo. It was an eight hour drive from Addis, the capital of Ethiopia, literally off-road. As in, there were no roads. FH had begun a new program in this area of Ethiopia and they were hoping that the Gathering would begin sponsoring kids in Belo as we had in Zeway.
|A very blurry picture of the other car on our "road"trip. It's hard to keep a camera still with the lack of road.|
|The Husband, ever the animal lover, befriended the donkey who lived on the compound where we stayed. He also befriended the goat which we ended up eating on the last night. Not kidding. Kind of wish I was.|
We visited schools and churches in the Belo region. We spoke with and prayed for leaders in several communities. I had the wonderful opportunity to use my teaching experience to teach a few English lessons in some schools as well as speak encouragement to a group of girls in one school.
Then, we had the surreal experience of visiting the children whose faces had been on our refrigerator for over a year:
|Shimelis. Our boy. His name means "defends a thousand." We think he'll live up to it.|
|Atsede. Our beautiful girl. Yes, I was crying. It was overwhelming to meet and touch the face I had stared at on my fridge for so long.|
Check in tomorrow for part two!