Many people have asked me why we have chosen to take our son, Jesse, with us to Africa. He was only 8 years old when he went with us for the first time. My husband went to Africa by himself in December of 2009 and once he came home and told us about his experience there, my son immediately asked to be able to go. He was persistent for months and so we began fundraising right away. Each trip, the Lord has provided for our family in incredible, surprising ways and grown us closer together as a family.
This has been a journey of faith for our family. I heard someone say a long time ago, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren”. My children must learn to trust and obey the Lord on their own…I can’t do that for them. I also know I can’t be the Holy Spirit for them. I have to trust the Holy Spirit to do a work in their hearts and minds that I could never do. I can guide and nurture them, but I trust that the Lord has far better plans for my children than I could ever dream up. Allowing Jesse to go to Africa was a hard decision for me initially. However, I now see how the Lord is using this to grow a desire in him to reach the lost and broken. He was asked to put into words his thoughts about his trips. It’s short and sweet, but here’s what he had to say:
I just returned from my third trip to Africa. It’s hard to describe exactly what life is like in Ethiopia. Every trip has been so different and each time I learn something new. This year, our team was made up of 11 people. Three moms from Colorado, 6 people from TSC and two teenage girls, one from New York and one from Pennsylvania.
I have learned more from the people I have met in Africa than they have learned from me. The first year I went to Ethiopia was the first time I met our P61 sponsor child, Fikadu, and his family. Although we are the same size, he is two years older than me. During that trip, I felt like we became brothers. This is a picture of the first year we met.
The next year when I went back, it was like seeing my family I had not visited in a while. They had moved into a bigger house and looked so much happier together. This year was the best trip so far! Both boys in our sponsor family were speaking English well enough that we could talk a lot during the week we were there. This is a picture of our family from this year’s trip.
On all three of our teams, I have always been the youngest person. I feel like the kids in Korah respond to me in a different way than they do with the adults. They are always happy to see the adults, but I feel like they play with me just like they would with one of their own friends. Before I had ever been to Africa, I thought they would look at me differently or maybe even treat me differently because I looked different than them, but I found out we are just alike. They love to play games and laugh, just like kids here do.
One of the most important things I have learned is that even though I have more stuff than they do and my bedroom is bigger than most of their houses, they seem happier than most people in America. I think about that a lot when I have a bad attitude or things don’t go my way. I have never heard them complain about the way they live or what they don’t have. It’s a good reminder for me to be satisfied with what I have.
I never thought I would have gone to Africa on a mission trip, but after my first trip, I knew I wanted to keep going back. If you have never been on a mission trip, I think your first trip should be to Ethiopia.