Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ethiopia Highlights Part 1

So, Xavier and I were blessed to be able to go on a mission trip to Awassa, Ethiopia October 1-11th. We went with an amazing team: Ryan & Britany Krause, Vanessa Mauk and Cheri Rogers. Our mission was to visit Ryan & Britany’s CarePoint at Alade Genet, to spend time with the children and to dream with the leaders about the future of the kids. It was an amazing and memorable experience, and I am so thankful I got to go with him! Xavier has a very loving and selfless personality and was such a great asset to our team. Along with being helpful with the team and relational with the kids, he also provided much needed comic relief at stressful times. Here is a recap of our trip:

Thursday, October 1st
We left Buda to drive to Houston for our first flight. We prayed with our families before we left and said our good-byes. From Houston, we flew to Los Angeles to board our international flight. LAX was stressful to say the least; the international terminal was extremely crowded, and we had a teammate who was in pain. It was only by God’s grace and sheer determination that we boarded our Ethiopia Airlines flight (which, by the way, was a 20 hour flight). The flight was long but uneventful. It was hard to sleep, but Xavier and I binge watched the movies and TV shows available. Before we knew it, we were there.

Saturday, October 3rd
 We arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 6:00am their time. We breezed through immigration and customs and were ready for pick up at the airport at about 7:00. Our team members who have been before said it was the easiest time through customs and immigration they had experienced. It was also the first official stamp in my passport, which was very exciting. (and Xavier’s too—have I mentioned this was his first plane trip ever?) So, at 7:00, we were ready, but no one was there to get us. Our cell phones didn’t work, so all we could do was wait. It was the first time I realized I was very far from home, and I really had no control over my circumstances. It is a very strange feeling.
At about 8:00, we met Semeret for the first time. She was our guide/hostess/translator from Children’s HopeChest. She wasn’t late—they thought we’d be longer going through customs and immigration. She took us to our bus/van, a 12 passenger type and introduced us to our driver for the trip, Dougie. They took us to our guest house, where we stayed that day/night.
OMW, traffic in Ethiopia is so different!! They basically just go where they need to and everyone adapts. There are cars, people, animals and bajaj (basically a covered tricycle with a backseat). To us, it was like Frogger in real life.
At the guesthouse, we met the final member of our team, Cheri from Washington State. She joined us to bring her ministry, Desta Girl, to the Alade Genet Care Point. (Go to to find out about it!
We rested for a while, ate some breakfast, then went to visit a family that our team sponsors. That experience was a first of many and was very eye opening. There were 3 siblings, whose mother had died and the fathers were uninvolved. They basically live on their own with neighbors and a hired “nanny” who stays with them part time. Thanks to the sponsorship, they are doing well, going to school and having a safe place to live. At this house, we experienced our first coffee ceremony. This is something Ethiopians do to show hospitality to their guests. The coffee beans are roasted, then ground then brewed. It is DELICIOUS! They also serve popcorn, a wonderful combination.
That night, at the guesthouse, we slept great. I was so thankful for a real bed to lay in. We also had a wonderful fan, which was just the right amount of white noise and air circulation. 

 Sunday, October 4th
We got up, got showered (hooray!) and ate breakfast. We packed up for the next leg of our journey, a 5 hour drive to Awassa. We left the large bustling city of Addis Ababa and headed out to the country. There were many sights along the way; people on donkey carts, goats, cows, sheep and people. The landscape was very beautiful, with mountains, lakes and farmland. Awassa is a large city, but not quite as active as Addis, with a huge lake as its centerpiece. We stayed at the Lewi Resort, which was lakeside and very beautiful. There were free roaming monkeys on the property, and many days we ate outside by the lake. We ate a late lunch lakeside and enjoyed some settling in time. We left in the late afternoon to go meet with the church leaders at Alade Genet to discuss our plans for the week.
As we drove out to the church, I had all kinds of feelings—anxiety, excitement, anticipation. I’ll never forget the large hill pulling up to the Care Point; what a majestic backdrop for this location! When we arrived, there were all kinds of surprises! The children were there, and they had prepared a show for us! There were signs, music, dancing and a coffee/popcorn ceremony. It was seriously, hands down, one of the most memorable moments of my life. This was it—all that we worked for, prepared for, traveled for. It was even more glorious in person than the pictures we had seen.
And that wasn’t the only surprise they had for us; after the performance, the church leaders took us on a tour of the Care Point. There were some things we expected to see: the water point, the new church building being built, the new classrooms. But we were blown away by the additional things: showers, latrines, playground equipment! There has been some serious progress in the last year!
We met briefly in the office with the CarePoint leaders, Melkamu and Marnesh, and the church elders and leaders. Then it was time to go to the resort and get some rest because Monday morning, we start our time with the kids!

On the road to Awassa.
Lake Awassa from the Lewi Resort.

The children greeted us when we first got to the Care Point

This is the new church building that is being built to replace the small turquoise church that is being torn down to build the new road. Above the porch is the Pastor's office.

Xavier got Pepsi instead of coffee.
Coffee ceremony!

This is the water point that our community funded last fall.


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