Some of the most delightful stories come from the unexpected stops on our journey. Some ideas were penciled into the margin of the schedule but it was not really known how the thoughts would play out. Each and every day God was faithful. I will never forget meeting Hannah for the first time. I had heard plenty about her from my friend Kimberly Heye. Kimberly is a missionary in Addis Ababa with her family and is from the Oregon area where I live. The friendship that God has brought me through Kimberly is astounding and there will be more about her to come. Kimberly had told me about Children’s Heaven where the girls who are from families that have been torn apart by death, disease and poverty, come to find life.
Kimberly told me about one little girl named R*. Her mother had passed from Aids. Her father’s whereabouts was unknown and she currently lived with her grandmother. It really is a question of who is taking care of who. R*’s grandma had a stroke that nearly killed her except that R* ran for help and they were somehow able to stabilize grandma. Barely keep her alive. She is mostly paralyzed and has continual mini strokes. R* lives in fear of how long her grandma will last. See, R* is sick herself with a disease that will probably kill her. If grandma passes, where will she go? So in the process of hearing this story several months before my trip, Kimberly asked me if I would like to sponsor her and help her stay in Hannah’s program. God softened my heart toward R* and I wept. I Could Make A Difference. Me. Just one family changing the life of another. The work isn’t done. R* is still sick and grandma is still on the edge but we will take one day at a time and commit to walking this journey with her. Embrace compassion for her and not look away even when it is painful.
You can imagine the delight welling up inside on that beautiful Saturday morning as we approached the courtyard where the girls were waiting. Many of them with similar situations to R*. They were busy about their morning preparing the coffee for ceremony, practicing their singing, braiding each other’s hair and playing ball in the courtyard. Hannah’s face shone with the radiance of Jesus himself. She had chosen years ago to stay in Ethiopia when the US embassy had given her an ultimatum to choose one country. As a US citizen she left behind her own grown biological children in the US to live the life of servant and mother to the girls at risk in Addis Ababa. I was excited to meet my precious R* for the first time.
It was here that we were able to share with Hannah and the girls several gifts. We brought oranges and bananas and water provided by the Wilson family. We left beautiful colorful children’s bibles from the Drummonds and pocket bibles from the Callens. We left vitamins, small hygiene items for the girls, balloons, small toys and marbles and some other items to be used as rewards. (Hill family, Glen, Sheri Moore, Jessica Bridges) Remember, each day we would pack our tubs that would fit in the van and we continually prayed that God would show us who the treasures were for. Some of the donations we brought were predetermined by special requests or needs. But there were also some items that were sent with us and we knew God would show us once in country. On this particular day I asked Hannah, is there anything else you need? Would you happen to need blankets?
Around 2 weeks before I left on the trip, Beth Yancey at Horizon had asked me to share at the One Mother to Another group, about what God was doing with me as a mom and in my ministry life. There were several “ordinary moms” just like me who God had directed them in reaching out. This is where I met Tammy Fraser. God had been directing Tammy to put together blankets to send around the world for orphans. It started with just a few here and there and by the time I met Tammy she had given through her ministry around 800 blankets! She offered to send some with me on my trip in just two weeks. We made room .
Now, here I am asking Hannah, and she tells me that the social workers had just been out to all of the girl’s homes and they knew which ones did not have a blanket in their home. Oh my goodness. A blanket. Not a single blanket. I went out to the van, gathered all I had and brought them into Hannah’s tent covered office. Her office help began to count the girls from the list. I counted blankets. And as God would have it, the number of blankets that Hannah needed matched exactly with what I had. Exactly. Every child who needed one, got a blanket that day. All of them orphaned by at least one parent. God cared. God knew. God put the pieces together.
I left that day so full and thankful to God for loving me so much. For caring about each one of us from the US to Africa. I thanked Him for quickening other’s hearts like Beth and Kimberly, like Tammy and the Wilsons. Like Nancy and the Hills for listening to God and for partnering for a purpose bigger than what we could even had known or planned for.