I am hesitant to put out our itinerary only because I completely expect to emerge myself in Africa time and the way of the biblical disciples, which to me means, entertaining less concern with being in specific places at specific times and accomplishing our “to do” list and more about following that still quiet voice of God guiding us each and every day. That is not to say we have not planned. We have planned and prayed and scheduled and emailed our peeps and changed the plan and prayed some more and repeated that process many times. We have big dreams and ideas and hopes in our hearts for what God is going to do in us and through us while we are in Ethiopia. HOWEVER…
We won’t allow our plan to keep us from stopping alongside the road. We are ready to put the plan on pause at a moments notice when God directs us to stop. We are in unity to be patient on Him and wait in his presence. God Loves us so much and he Loves the beautiful people of Ethiopia and this trip will be an outpouring of His love, kindness, tenderness and generousness for all of us. The anticipation in my soul is rising.
After landing on Thursday night we will be whisked away to the Baer family home. Delighted to see these friends! Friday we hope to gather and organize our thoughts, our 600 plus pounds and catch up with a few friends. On Saturday we will journey to Alex’s hometown in the countryside where we helped the village put in the spring fed well. This will take between 8 and 12 hours of driving on the very broken roads that are under construction. It was reported to us that on our visit last year, it was the first time the village had ever had a foreigner or white people in their village. The people were very gracious even though we looked a little scary to the children!
Sunday morning we hope to arrive at the church in the village, share with the people and pray blessing over their community. We will venture the 1 hour hike down into the valley to see the well and complete a ceremony with the villagers. Ashebir, Alex’s brother, managed the project and worked diligently for several months. He dug by hand, brought in supplies on donkey back, rode the bus for 12 plus hours to get water samples tested numerous times and just poured out his heart and soul for his community. Ashebir never gave up. We get to congratulate him on a job well done and pray blessing over him.
Armed with a potty, sleeping bags and camping rolled up mattresses, we are ready to sleep in “mama’s” home in the countryside. Yes, our bags and clothing are sprayed with special repellents to make us less likely to get Malaria from the mosquitoes or so many of the other bug born diseases. We are also taking the Malaria meds, have had the Yellow Fever shots and so many others. I can only imagine what it will be like to sleep in the jungles of Africa. Not so much the physical aspects that could be compared to a hike in the mountains and sleeping under the stars, but the spiritual aspects of breaking down barriers. Traveling from one world to another yet being in unity because of our love for Jesus. Of course, I am only imagining what it might be like….
Monday we will check out the sanitation, the school situation and the local clinic. We will try to determine if there is a need that God would have us to partner with or if our work in the village is completed with the well. Tuesday we will travel back to the city. Wednesday and Thursday we will be in Addis and we have several stops and people we would like to see….waiting on the Lord for the specifics.
Friday we will be partnering with Six Baer Essentials and Sally as we will be delivering approximately 160 chickens and 10 baby sheep to begin a sustainable farm animal program. Sally has been working with the local government to identify some of the poorest families who will agree to pass on the baby chicks and push the program forward. This is an incredible beginning. We have had many wonderful people give chickens and I can hardly wait to take these pictures and post them for the families giving and receiving!
Saturday we hope we will get to catch up with Kimberly and Aser Heye who have been serving as part of a two year committment. They are from the Beaverton Oregon area which is so much fun for us! Aser was extremely instrumental in helping with the integrity and governing of the funds being distributed for the well. What an amazing blessing we could never have anticipated. Kimberly and Aser, in addition to their “giving jobs” also volunteer with Children’s Heaven and we hope to see this lovely group.
Sunday and Monday we will be hanging out with Jerry and Christy Shannon of Embracing Hope. They are living in Kore or Korah, the garbage dump of the city. They are privileged to love on moms who are trying to make it and support them through a comprehensive day care for the sweet little children. They have just been granted by the government permission to double the size of their program so we are bringing a portable crib, vitamins, cloth diapers and towels that will contribute to the start-up of the expanding program. What an incredible privilege to peak into their lives and spend time with their family.
One of the most heart pressing thoughts that God brought to me after our last trip was to acknowledge the families that are living in country and have volunteered to give up their American lifestyle for themselves and their children in serving some of the “least of these”. I think it is SO important that we encourage, pray for and remember these children and their parents. To get to visit them in just such an honor.
Tuesday will be our final day, rounding up the last moments, saying good-byes, walking in God’s plan and ultimately leaving the country. We will be back in Portland on Friday for any of you would like to greet us as we return.
Today is one of those where all of a sudden it hits me and I feel like I have forgotten to breathe. Immediately I take a deep breath and steady myself. I won’t say it’s panic. It could almost be considered nervous, or excitement or absolute delight, but not exactly. Most of all it is just that feeling of constant butterflies in my stomach and the anticipation of what is next. As if the biggest event of the year is the stage in front of me and it’s almost time to take my place with the other participants.
Clearly this trip is going to be different than all others. God has given me strong friendships in Ethiopia, a beautiful friend who is extremely gifted to travel with, amazing friends cheering me on from home and abroad who have given sacrificially to represent and my rock solid family who loves me and sends me with their blessing. I can hardly describe the gratitude I feel to so many. I must thank God himself for aligning so many beautiful pieces of this puzzle. My dear elderly neighbors who are taking the children to school each day, two grandmas who are helping with meals and transportation, a hubby who will be doing laundry and picking up so much slack. For friends who have rocked my world with donations…over a half of a ton worth of donations to take in our totes on the plane and funds designated for all kinds of wonderful projects. I am so anticipating the sheep and the chickens in Daley…delivering the diapers and towels in Korah, the beautiful blankets made for children from so many places in Ethiopia yet with a similar walk in life.
So what about all of these treasures, what is the big deal? This is what I have been asking myself. Why is it so important to me? Why do I get these butterflies when I think about the totes and bags that are so carefully packaged? I guess to me, I believe they are treasures from the hand of Jesus delicately and preciously appointed for a person in Ethiopia. They are not random or leftovers, they are intentional and purposeful packages of love with big intensions. They are love gifts from Jesus.
What are we without God’s love…nothing. And to me, these gifts are God’s love with skin. For many weeks I am the planner, organizer, helper, encourager and friend but for 2 weeks I get to be the skin. The contact. The person who acts in Jesus name. With all my heart I want to be like the disciples of the bible, the ones who walked the dirty roads, simple men with trained eyes to see people the way Jesus would see them. Yes, the disciples didn’t get it all right and they made lots of mistakes and so will I. But, they gave of themselves, shared Jesus’ love. Thus the butterflies…my weak legs and the anticipation of the stage, the opportunity and the beautiful people I am about to encounter. Deep Breath….