Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ethiopia Highlights Part 3

Thursday, October 8th
We spent the evening Wednesday night deciding on the other children we should sponsor. It was a hard choice, but Xavier and I were able to narrow it down and agree on 3 more boys. So we took our extra family photos that we brought and wrote notes to each of the boys so we could tell them before we left. 

Thursday morning, we left for the CarePoint. We were giving a lunch feast to the kids that day (which the mothers in the church were preparing), and we decided to do one more activity with the kids before lunch. It involved going into the classrooms and passing out crayons and paper. This was the time where we saw the separation of kids in the HopeChest program versus the kids who were not. (There are nearly 400 kids that attend the school but only 155 are profiled to be sponsored in the program. Once all 155 are sponsored, more of those 400 can be profiled and added. Many are siblings, since they try to prioritize 1 sibling in each family.) As we went into the classrooms, the teachers and leaders separated the children with one side being children in the program who got to do the activity and the others had to continue their schoolwork. It was hard to see and provoked some emotion in us. We come from a place where all are included, all are winners, but here there were no apologies, just separation. If anything, it made us want to push harder to get our 155 sponsored so there will be room for the others. My prayer and hope is that when we return, all will be included.

We enjoyed being in the classrooms and interacting that way. Xavier and I also were able to find our boys and tell them we were sponsoring them and giving them our family picture. How special it is to meet and know the people sponsoring you (and vice versa!). This time is what is fueling our desire to continue to travel every year.

We enjoyed the lunch feast time, where the kids enjoyed injera, stew and Pepsi. There was so much food, and I am sure their bellies were full! After lunch, we met with the Care Point staff, our team and our translators to debrief and close out our time. It was an amazing experience being there, and we left filled with hope and dreams for the future of Alade Genet.

We said our goodbyes and with full hearts, drove away. We enjoyed lunch together, then loaded up to make the 5 hour drive back to Addis from Awassa. We arrived in Addis after dark, ate dinner and called it a night. I remember being happy to return to the guesthouse where we started from and sleep in the same bed. I slept contentedly that night.

Friday, October 9th
Friday we went to visit an established Care Point to get a vision for what a successful Care Point looked like. It was called Trees of Glory and was aptly named. It was in the mountains in a rural area (we did not know when we left that morning how far away it was!). This Care Point was completely self sustaining and had livestock, bio-gas collection, a bee colony that harvested honey, an apple orchard and a large garden of produce. It was amazing. It had a boys’ and girls’ dorm that housed homeless children, a school and a library with computers. Although the American partners had done much to support the CarePoint, it was the vision and implementation of the Ethiopian leader, Semeret, that determined its success. She is the first to give God all the glory, and we were very inspired by her.

Friday night we went into Addis for a traditional cultural dinner, which was very fun. The singing and dancing was amazing. It was hard to believe that the next day would be our last day there.

Saturday, October 10th
We got up Saturday morning and worked on homework! Xavier had a book report due and so we took the opportunity to do his video log summary there. (Bonus points, right?) Then we loaded up to go shopping! We visited Ellilta Products, where local women make scarves and jewelry. If you know of FashionABLE, this is where those are made. We got some fun stuff there. Then we went into the market area and shopped. It was stressful and fun to shop and haggle with our birr. We also bought Ethiopian coffee, which is SO delicious! I am almost down to my last bag.

We ate lunch at a restaurant that almost got our Tex-Mex food right—I ate nachos that were so yummy! (We were really starting to miss the foods of home by that point.)
After that, we went to the guesthouse and got packed up. We had one final dinner with a couple of leaders from Children’s HopeChest, then left for the airport. We said good-bye to Semeret and Dougie and went in. Amazingly, everything went smoothly getting checked in and going through security. We had very little time to wait before we boarded our flight and were on our way home. I slept better on that flight headed home, and the time seemed to pass quicker. Before we knew it, we were in Washington DC, and it was Sunday morning!

Amazingly, we breezed through customs, security and transferring our luggage, then ate breakfast together. From there, we parted ways with Cheri, who was heading home to Washington state. Traveling with Cheri was such a blessing! I am so thankful God put her on our team. I wished I could bring her home with us! Thank goodness for technology and Facebook to stay in touch. We boarded the flight for our leg home, and before we knew it, we were in Austin. Home!

I was so thankful to hug my sweet family again. Our house looked so bright and welcoming, and I was so glad to be there. The rest of that day was laundry and SLEEP. Sleep turned into a theme that following week; it took about that long before I felt normal again.
It was an amazing experience, one I’ll never forget. It will be a highlight of Xavier’s and my relationship with each other and will forever change how we view the world and live our lives. I pray that it will not be the only experience of this kind for us. I pray our other family members will join us in this experience and that our friends and extended family will be affected as well. The Christian life is full of adventure if you will surrender your will to His. And you will never regret the sacrifice and surrender.

This is Yididiya. He is also smart and a strong quiet leader. Don't you love his shirt?
These were Xavier's crew! Fikre in the back was always with Xavier.
I fell in love with Eyuel and his big sweet smile.

Yosefe is our original. He's awesome!
I just love their faces so much!!!

These cute boys asking for "one photo" while we were in classrooms.

This is Nathenael, one of our boys. He is super smart and translates English for his friends.

Thank you to all of you who prayed for us, who supported us and who support the children at Alade Genet. You are making an eternal investment in this community and it will see fruit! You will be blessed and­ they will be forever changed. It’s all about relationship. Our relationships with people, but most importantly, our relationship with God.

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