Before we knew it, it was time to come home. I in no way expected to feel the way I felt about leaving and was surprised to feel great sadness that we had to leave. I have never experienced the amount of joy and love I had in just one short week of my life. It was by far the hardest and most challenging week of my life, but there was peace and joy knowing I was right where God wanted me to be.
So with those feelings in tow, we headed off for our last day of ministry. Our first stop was back up Entoto Mountain to check out a Saturday morning feeding program that Ordinary Hero sponsors. About a year ago, Ordinary Hero was on Entoto Mountain and encountered all of these very hungry children. Now, as a start these children are able to come in every Saturday and get a meal. All of these children are also eligible for sponsorship. It is a very humbling place to see these kids who eat very little but refuse to even open their bags of food because they want to take it home and feed their families. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING KIDS SHOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH!
This sweet little girl captured my attention the second we walked in the room. She looked up at us with her little eyes and smiled at us. Such a sweetheart!
This was one of two rooms filled to the brim with children very hungry and ready to eat!
First this boy stood up and shared his story with us. He had to quit school to take care of his family but he is hoping he can find a sponsor soon and resume his education.
Finally it was time to pass out the grub. You can see in the picture that some of the kids wouldn't unwrap their food so they could take it home. Some only took a couple bites before packing it back up so they could share the rest with their family.
These boys approved of their early lunch!
After feeding the kids, we headed back down the mountain. We were on a tight schedule so we didn't get to help as many woman as we would have liked but as we drove down the mountain we saw several woman with loads of Eucalyptus leaves on their backs. These woman carry these heavy burdens once or twice a day down this very big mountain to collect around $1 a load for their families. I can only imagine how difficult and painful this has to be for them. A lot of them don't have any shoes. Several of the woman are elderly, some are very young and pregnant. It's just crazy!
This is the team working to lift the burden and put their loads on top of the van to help them bring it down. If you remember earlier in the week we visited a pottery facility at the top of the mountain. That ministry is working to train these woman in other skills so they won't have to do this to make a living.
There really is a tiny woman under that huge load of branches.
Then it was off to watch some soccer. The boys from Hope for the Hopeless were able to start a soccer team sponsored by (you guessed it) Ordinary Hero! This was the first time an OH team was able to cheer them on and it was great! We had heard all week from Pastor Fekadu that these kids were really good but seeing them in action really proved it. They won their match 2-9!
Peter really connected with the girls from H4H which was great because the boys tend to get all of the attention since they are much more out going. The girls are much more shy and standoffish.
This little girl is named Rahel. She really bonded with me over the course of the week and always tried to find me when ever she saw we were around. It was very, very difficult to say goodbye and leave her.
We also bonded with a little girl named Marari. She stole Peter's heart.
The boys warming up before their game. Then the camera battery died - boo!
Then the moment really came where I had to start saying my goodbyes. It's hard to explain but we really connected and bonded with these kids in a very short time. Every time we saw the kids we had to spend about 5 minutes giving out hugs to ALL of them, and then I found myself having to give them all one final hug and I didn't want to let them go. I got all motherly for them and wanted them to know that they were loved. I will never forget them.
Our time in Ethiopia is something I will never forget. Even now, I know this is just the beginning. I know that our feelings of processing our time there and coming home are normal. However, our reaction doesn't have to be. Most people are able to transition smoothly back into American culture. We have no desire to let that happen. I'm not angry that we are blessed with so much when others have nothing. I'm not angry that kids here take everything they have for granted when kids in Africa know pure joy with nothing. I got a small taste of what life living within God's will feels like. We got a small taste of the purest and simplest form of joy. Our hearts were broken over and over again for what breaks God's heart. This isn't the end for us. We will not conform back to American standards of living. Instead, we sit here with arms open to whatever God asks us to do moving forward. This last year as we prepared for this trip, God told us over and over again that this is just the beginning and we've taken those words to heart. This is just the beginning of something wonderful!