Where to Begin? {so what did you do in Ethiopia?}

I’m home and happy to return to the joy and chaos of family.  Stepping out of my role as Mom for nearly two weeks is a challenging feat yet I am always amazed how God equips and provides even when the days leading up to departure make me wonder what I am doing. Returning is never easy and neither is the question, “So what did you do in Ethiopia?” I warned my teammates that the question would come often and that there is generally little time to give the long answer that is etched on my heart.

What did I do in Ethiopia?  I wrestled. I wrestled with the poverty and sheer hardship I witnessed. I wrestled with the injustice of mere children who everyday are drawn into cycles of servanthood, marriage, pregnancy and prostitution. I wrestled with the issues and lack of education, voice and equality faced by women.  I wrestled with the idea that millions do not have clean water, proper sanitation,  health or dental care to keep them comfortable or extend their lives.   I wrestled with exhaust, crowded crazy traffic, livestock running wild, no telephone service and many angry chigger bites. I wrestled. I wrestled with real people and their stories of survival, difficult daily life and how their faith and perseverance carries them through.

So why do I go? Of course that is the follow-up question.  I go because I have literally been transformed by God’s call in my life and I am supposed to champion the solutions to injustice, poverty, violence and pain He has shown me through the organizations I am now deeply connected to. It may sound like crazy talk but it’s the only way I explain why going matters and why I believe others should experience the same feeling of wrestling and tension.   You see deep inside I am always loaded with fear and many unanswered questions. It is likely you are too. Aren’t we all? Will we hear the right call and is it God’s call or will we instead do what we want to do and miss the challenge set before us? It’s easy to be gripped by such thoughts and even easier to say no in response to fear. But we do what is asked in order to glorify the one who calls us. I am a work in progress but beginning to get right with that notion. Sometimes it is not about being correct or perfect in our understanding but instead it is all about obedience to get to the point of understanding and radical trust.  We can be weak in ourselves yet rest in the understanding that God’s got it. I also go because I find Ethiopia to now feel like a home away from home. I see regal beauty and I continue to be inspired by the people who seek God is absolutely everything, their next meal and certainly in any opportunity bestowed upon them. This reliance and gratitude has taught me so much and shown me where I lack.  I go because there is so much for me to learn from a people I have so grown to love.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

I go because I have been connected to such beautiful people and stunning places of refuge for those in need and I’ve been asked to share their challenges and successes with others. I have been asked to engage others in the fight and show them the on the ground people, ministries and safe places where God reigns and redeems.  As I scroll through the hundreds of photos I see poverty and brokeness but the overall theme is one of beauty, deep faith and the people who long to have someone come alongside to provide a hand, not a handout but a hand.  In less than three years I see so many changes with the people we partner with in Addis Ababa and beyond. I long to share their stories with the hope of reminding us that God chooses ordinary people like you and like me to be his messangers of hope and his deliverers of support, prayers and ethical solutions.    My eyes have been opened and I cannot pretend that I have not seen.

Let’s begin with the Chapa Carepoint…

This is the Chapa Carepoint. Here young children begin school and receive uniforms, education, food allocations, community connection and discipleship for local leaders as well as the Children's Hopechest staff who visit the Carepoint monthly. Chapa is growing in the number of children they can educate and serve due to monthly sponsors. More kids are waiting and sponsorship is $34 per month.
This is the Chapa Carepoint. Here young children begin school and receive uniforms, education, food allocations, community connection and discipleship for local leaders as well as the Children’s Hopechest staff who visit the Carepoint monthly. Chapa is growing in the number of children they can educate and serve due to monthly sponsors. More kids are waiting and sponsorship is $38 per month.

 

Her name is Semirete and she is so precious. Her eyes just sparkle and she is a smart student. Semirete might not be in school were it not for sponsorship. In Ethiopia there are schools in place but all studetns are required to have a uniform, shoes and school supplies that must be supplied by family or caregivers. We sponsor Semirete and we are eager to see her become a strong and faithful woman in her community.
Her name is Semirete and she is so precious. Her eyes just sparkle and she is a smart student. Semirete might not be in school were it not for sponsorship. In Ethiopia there are schools in place but all students are required to have a uniform, shoes and school supplies that must be supplied by family or caregivers.This is not possible for many or the boys in the family are sent to school while the girls remain at home to work. We sponsor Semirete and we are eager to see her become a strong and faithful woman in her community. Looking forward to sharing more details about her and meeting her family in the rural countryside.

 

This is Soloman and he attends school at Chapa due to sponsorship. We have watched him grow and remain healthy over ht epast couple of years due to the Chapa Carepoint and all that is provided for him and his family. It is likely he will stayin school and mature into a leader in his community.
This is Soloman and he attends school at Chapa due to sponsorship. We have watched him grow and remain healthy over the past couple of years due to the Chapa Carepoint and all that is provided for him and his family. It is likely he will stay in school and mature into a leader in his community.

 

These little charmers followed me around on our first morning while I snapped photos of the clean water stations and latrines now installed at Chapa. He was so proud to sit atop the water ing station and have his picture taken. HIs smile is radiant and he is another example of how pouring into the children through education and protection creates healthy children with a hope for a future.
These little charmers followed me around on our first morning while I snapped photos of the clean water stations and latrines now installed at Chapa. He was so proud to sit atop the water ing station and have his picture taken. HIs smile is radiant and he is another example of how pouring into the children through education and protection creates healthy children with a hope for a future.

 

The children begin their day lining up and singing the national anthem. It is obvious that they are so filled with pride about their country, their school and their opportunity to attend school thanks in part to sponsorship dollars and the annual visits we make to connect and help the Children's Hopechest leadership to further dream about what is next for this rural and needy community. These children have such a bright future!
The children begin their day lining up and singing the national anthem. It is obvious that they are so filled with pride about their country, their school and their opportunity to attend school thanks in part to sponsorship dollars and the annual visits we make to connect and help the Children’s Hopechest leadership to further dream about what is next for this rural and needy community.
These children have such a bright future!

 

Perhaps you too are wrestling with a call in your heart. Whatever it is I want to encourage you to go deeper and ask for clarity. God is the great provider of truth and purpose. Thank you for reading and please if you are inspired by the hope and promise of all God is doing in the small rural village of Chapa in the southern region of Ethiopia please share their story.  To learn more about children in need of sponsorship and next steps for the Chapa community please click here. Stay tuned as I have so much more to share.

Peace and Grace,

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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