Last December, I traveled to Ethiopia. I wrote almost a whole blog about it this morning, and then I remembered this letter that I had written. I was originally going to send this to Mocha Club, the organization that I traveled with, but honestly, though every word I wrote here was true, I was far too overwhelmed at what I saw to finish and send it. And even still, it is unfinished. And it will remain that way. (I apologize in advance for the weird, abrupt ending... I will add some pictures to ease your discomfort) I feel like God is not finished teaching me what he needed to teach me from that experience. I am planning on returning to Africa at some point, and I will continue the journey that I started last year. And the new blog that I wrote this morning will be finished and posted in a day or two. But for this morning, you get my initial thoughts of Ethiopia:
Missionary kids know a thing or two about sacrifice. I grew up in New Zealand in a missionary family, and as an adult, I served in New Zealand and China. I am familiar with sacrifice. And before crossing over into another culture, I always expect to give up some things. Comfort. Convenience. Digital communication. Warm showers. But almost always, I gain more than I lose. I find things I didn't even know I was looking for. I always walk away from the experience having gained more than I gave. Here are some unexpected things I found in Africa:
Even in Ethiopia, babies still love to be held. Kids love to play games. Smiles can communicate what words often cannot. Trying and failing is always more respectable than not trying at all. Children's Christmas programs are almost always cheesy. Coffee makes mornings better. Boys love sports. Girls like rings and necklaces. The meeting of a brother in Christ brings an instant connection. Prayers are answered. God still offers forgiveness. Hope runs rampant.
Those who had little were willing to share it. While standing outside homes of strangers, I was invited inside for coffee. I was shown sleeping babies. I was introduced to family through photographs hung on mud walls. I was offered bread. I was kissed on the cheek- right side, left side, and then the right again. I was shown how to make injera in a kitchen constructed out of sticks. I was hugged. I was a stranger, and I was taken in and treated as family.
There are children that need teaching. Patients that need tending. Relationships that need growing. Hunger that needs feeding. Babies that need rocking. Seekers that need guiding. Brokenness that needs healing. Projects that need funding.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.