The truth is, I’m not ready to talk about it. Writing is somewhat easier, so that’s why I'm choosing to blog. Some of you are going to know what I’m talking about. Some of you will pretend to know, but my hope is that every single one of you will try to understand and see through my eyes.
All my life I’ve had a passion for Africa. I never knew why, but now I do. This trip completely broke me – of all the worldly material things we all have, of my views of this society, but mainly of my perspective. To try to describe what I saw, heard, felt, and smelled so you can understand my brokenness is a near impossible feat. Each day while there, I didn’t think my heart could break anymore, and each day it was. I was angry, joyful, sad, reflective. We mainly worked with widows and orphans through several different ministries. We spent time loving them, hugging them, telling them they were beautiful, fellowshipping with them, and worshiping with them. I can assure that you have never really been prayed for until you’ve been prayed over by a roomful of Ethiopian women. We couldn’t understand a word they said, but we felt exactly what they were praying. It was incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly humbling.
These people have nothing, and when I say nothing, I mean it. Living in shacks, or mud huts, they sleep on the ground and they eat what they can find. Their clothes and shoes (if they have them) are out of size, torn, filthy, and faded. They go hungry. They drink water that could kill them. They watch their children suffer and die from something as simple as diarrhea. They use “squatty potties”(holes in the ground) for bathrooms. They have HIV. They have diseases that could be easily treated if they had access to medical care. In spite of all of this, they LOVE. And they love big, never complaining. They are the most joyful and happy people I have ever met in my life. For having so little in regards to material things, they have so much in their hearts. They are hospitable, thankful, grateful. They would literally give you the shirt off their back, and be honored to do so. They tell you how much they love you, how much they appreciate you just being there, that you are beautiful. They love you for WHO you are, not what you are. You all know how girlie I am, and I didn’t use a hairbrush once or put on makeup. You think they noticed or criticized? Not a chance.
I feel as though my heart is still there, and it’s been a constant struggle since I’ve returned to go back to my “normal” life. I never want to forget the emotion I feel now. The heartache, joy, and humbling. Holding the hand of a leper, waking up to thousands of mosquitos, hugging and kissing a child on the forehead that has HIV, working with a widowed mother with nothing to feed her children, seeing a 2 month old baby asleep on the ground at home alone because her mother is trying to work in order to care for her, sleeping under a mosquito net – these are all things I never thought I would do or see. But I have. And I love the way it has made me ache. I can’t wait to go back (hopefully next spring or summer), and would love for any/all of you to join me if you want your life to be changed.
I have posted about half of my pictures on Facebook. If you don’t have Facebook, I have all of my pictures on my iPad and you are more than welcome to look at them. While pictures cannot convey the reality of it, they can help. Below is a picture of Karine, a little girl that I met and fell in love with and am now sponsoring so she can have 2 meals a day, medical care, go to school, and more. Please let me know if you would be interested in a sponsorship opportunity. Karine is a very sad child, who kept crying, and who wouldn't look me in the eye. The only smile I was able to get out of her in the hours I spent with her in my arms was when she was given a balloon. I cannot wait to get her full profile and future updates.
Over the next couple of weeks, I promise to blog about all of my adventures, in more detail accompanied by pictures but until then, I hope you all can maybe understand a little of what is going on in my heart right now. I’m still processing exactly where I want to focus my efforts, but I think it will be on a clean water project in Ethiopia, where 250,000 children will die this year from a water-borne illness (completely preventable). Here’s a picture of the water the people in a village we visited are drinking.
Thank you again for your unwavering support, some days you all are the only fuel underneath my fire. I’ll close with a few of my favorite pictures – the children of Chuko Weyama chasing after us as we drove into their remote village (only via Land Cruiser) in Ethiopia, at Royal Hope Academy in Uganda, and Shashamene School in Ethiopia. Remember – we’re all called to give, and whether that be working across the world or in your own backyard, I hope you do it, and do it with an open heart and mind.