Why We Go… {reflections of my time in Ethiopia 2015}

Every year I am overwhelmed by wonderful friends and family, followers of Begin With One and curious others asking, “So how was your trip?” Legitimate question of course but never easy to give a simple answer. Every trip in many ways is fantastic and life altering and every trip in many other ways is filled with moments where I feel like my chest is caving in and I cannot breathe.

For me Ethiopia creates a contrast in my very soul.

While on one hand it is refreshing to be immersed in a very spiritual culture I adore, where we are treated with great kindness and hospitality by generous and grateful people, yet our team journeys into the hard places where the stories of hardship are raw and often without resolve. We see tremendous struggle and suffering, people lost without families, healthcare, justice or their next meal.

We meet many longing for hope.

But still I attempt to answer the questions often wishing I could take those asking on the journey beside me to see what I see.   I am honored and grateful to go, to serve, to learn, to embrace, to mourn, to listen, to support, to create, to laugh, to engage, to avoid, to worship, to partner, to stretch, to cringe, to comfort and most of all to SEE with eyes that dream of solutions, protection, unification and education.  For it is in the going and experiencing not just the breathtaking beauty,warm climate and deep history, but the pain of loss, no resources, survival choices and more. It is the painful moments myself and our team are witness to that lead us to drive change and action.

This year I have returned home burdened in a whole new way. I am burdened to help with the tremendous work I see in several of the organizations and mission families we partner with who have given their lives to serving in Ethiopia and beyond. They are praying and listening for the right direction and the right people to be brought into their fold to allow them to help the last and the least from street children, trafficking victims, prostituted women and the child abandoned due to unimaginable circumstances and or beliefs. I’ve returned burdened to help generate the resources they need to get to the root of the problem and to rescue and restore one child and one women at a time.  Now more than ever I am convinced that God delivers myself and a willing team back to Ethiopia, to further convict us so that I {we} will return home, grateful for the gifts we have been given and ready to be the voice.

Once our eyes have been opened we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

This year I returned home to a challenging health condition with one of my kids which of course we are all struggling to make sense of. And while there is sometimes nothing gained in comparing our story with the story of another, I will tell you that when the Chapa village women joined us for community time and several shared their stories of raising up to ten children alone due to the death of husbands,  I nearly gasped. Perspective.  As the women shared and then humbly lowered themselves to the ground and our group of women prayed over them individually, I could not help but feel deep gratitude for the sisterhood connection with those women.  So many of us wonder if God sees us in those hard moments. And while it is easy to see our lives as radically different they are really so much the same. We are all just believers wrestling with the story of our lives, searching for purpose and hope.  What happened in those moments of confession of fears and sorrows was a deep connection and as strange as it was to compare a few personal stories of hardship, it felt as if God used some of the words a few of us shared to break the barriers, allowing the women into the daily loss and burdens of our lives.  We were able to begin to express just how much we desire their connection and their prayers. The partnership that began last year was strengthened and we ended our time together committing to pray community to community. The transparency in those moments has carried me this past two weeks and I continue to think back to the raw faith those women shared even while fighting deep and winding battles. They are willing to be filled up, poured back out and filled up again by the light only God can deliver. They have so much to teach us.

I invite you to take a look at what the Holy Spirit did the day we were brought together. After worshipping and sharing they broke out in song and raw celebration.  This is just a glimpse into our journey back to Chapa. I hope it helps explain why we go and why we feel committed to return.   For nine years the community of Chapa began to pray that someone would be sent to help them with education in their village. For nine years they were faithful in their plea. To see the fruit of the Begin With One Children’s Hopechest School/Carepoint is nothing short of a miracle. So thank you for asking, thank you for partnering and thank you for believing with us that listening, learning and engaging with those most vulnerable in Ethiopia will bring solutions, hope and a future.

Now turn up your volume cause this is good stuff! Wish we had captured more.