Sunday, March 23, 2014

{adventures in ethiopia} greetings.

Our trips to Ethiopia each year are in part about fellowship and relationship building. These are "our" children, and this church is made up of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we visit, it's the same children - they are special to us…and we, as humbling as it is, are very special to them. For several of our team, it was their second (or third) trip to Merkato, so relationships were not only being built, but strengthened.

There were many moving moments during those ten days, and one of them (for me) came the day after we arrived. Monday was our first day in Merkato itself, and the day that we were going to do activities and a lesson with the younger half of the children. We were waiting in the church, prepping for the afternoon, and the children were coming into the courtyard to get their name tags, then going up to the community center. As we talked, I heard someone say, "Ben!" and this precious little boy came running across the room and wrapped his arms around Ben. It was Nathan, one of "his boys", who was overjoyed to see him again. I immediately teared up, and couldn't do anything but just watch and smile. A chance to see first hand exactly why we come to visit and hug these children *in person*.

My sister had a similar experience as we walked into Merkato the first time. She heard a little girl call out, "Maddie!" as she passed. It wasn't the girl she sponsors, but another one who remembered her from last year. 

If I came away with anything from the trip, it was the reality that behind every picture on our church bulletin board, behind every sponsor card on church members' kitchen walls - behind them all is real child, a real heart beating, a real eternal soul. They are children, God's children, and He is using us as part of His plan to draw them to Himself. ]

Like I emailed to my sister after I met her sponsor girl, "It matters what we do."

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