The January Christmas trip to Ethiopia is such a special time with the P61 sponsored children, and this past trip was no exception. There are so many things about our Christmas trip I would like to share and trying to decide what exactly to tell you has proven difficult for me…
I could tell you about how this January Team in previous years has consisted of 20-24 people and ours was having trouble finding more than 6 committed members for months. How Melissa and I prayed God would send team members, how we cried in frustration when the people came and went with the breeze, and how we ended up at the very last second with a team that can only be described as the 12 perfect team members God chose for this year.
Or, I could tell you that 20-24 team members means you get to pack sponsor gifts and team supplies in 40-48 large duffel bags; with a team of 12, you only get 24. How when we looked into the Sunday School classroom FULL of hoodies, quart-sized gifts bags, and carnival supplies and prizes, our team prayed that God would multiply space – AND HE DID! It seemed to be the reverse of the Loaves and Fishes story when we managed to get 400 gifts and all our team supplies into 23 black bags. That’s right, ONE LESS than we were allowed to take.
Maybe I should tell you how AWESOME our morning devotions were in Ethiopia. How we spent every morning as a Team in prayer, lifting up our praises and burdens to our Heavenly Father KNOWING He was answering them before they were even uttered. Singing worship songs, being still and hearing, crying out to Him about the things weighing heavy on our hearts: reconnecting with children at the Boarding School we had previously grown attached to, locating our sponsored children and spending Christmas with them, having to say goodbye to one special group of children in order to go do it all over again with the next group, praying that the sick family members of our sponsored children would still be alive and doing well, or that those families in Korah who were down on their luck would still have a home, for our families back home and a sick team member that God stilled so He could conduct business from a bed in the guest house. Even praying that a precious little girl who know one seemed to know (but has been a part of my daily prayers for 2 years) would somehow find her way to our path, and she did! God was there with us every step of the way orchestrating our days so that we would see Him in all we did. Jodi Quint prayed for unity in this team, and I personally cannot think of a better word to describe what we experienced together…
No, I think what I need to most convey about this trip is how much these precious children have grown!
- Physically, yes! They are bigger, their hair is longer and healthier, and the whites of their eyes are whiter and brighter.
- Mentally, yes! Their English is drastically better and they are learning SO MUCH.
- Spiritually, yes! They are now sharing with us how God is working in their lives! The Christmas Program they put on for us was so moving and done by the kids all by themselves.
But even more than that was the growth we saw in them from the selfish, almost greedy children a few Christmases ago, to loving, giving, patient kids! Two years ago, they fought over their gum and candy wanting more and more. They refused shoes that didn’t look the way they wanted even though they only had one shoe on a foot. They hadn’t had much before being sponsored, and they wanted to make up for that in one Christmas party with us. This year was different! We saw them patiently waiting for their turn, then sharing their gum, candy, pencils, and toiletries. They received hoodies that may or may not have been what they would have chosen, but they were grateful for them. And, we saw how the BEST gift they received was the letters and pictures from their sponsors! They showed them off to all of us, telling us all about each of you. They held them to their hearts and kissed them. They TREASURED those MOST! They are SO HONORED to be sponsored by you. They want to meet you. To see you, to hug you and tell you themselves how much they love you, and they wanted to know if we knew each of you so that they had that connection! They view their sponsors as a part of their family, and they want to know that you see them as part of yours, too. Please know how special you are to each one of these precious babies! Know that they love you and how thankful they are to have you in their lives. Know that they long to meet the sponsors they haven’t seen face to face. You are a God-given gift to them, and they see you as just that!
If you haven’t had the opportunity to go to Ethiopia and meet your sponsored child(ren), I encourage you to pray about going. I encourage you to look on the P61 website to see when upcoming trips are scheduled and try to join one of those. It may be out of your comfort level, or something you don’t think you can afford to do. Please commit it to prayer and see where God leads you. He will provide the funding if you can’t afford to go. I see it as something you can’t afford NOT to do.
I know I will be going back next January for another AMAZING Ethiopian Christmas. Want to be a part of our team?