By Rachael Burnett We have had a wonderful day— restful but full at the same time. We had a great devotional time this morning led by Liz and then Kelly M. passed out some of the letters that were collected from family and friends for each team member. Those letters were a huge blessing to each of us—just what we needed to hear! Several of us read a letter aloud and it was amazing to see how the words written to one person could be so encouraging to others, too. I know Nicci and Candice were especially grateful to have some special encouragement after being here for a couple of weeks. If you are reading this and you took time to write a letter to one of us, THANK YOU. God used your time and words to bless us greatly. It was such a perfect way to start our day. And thank you Heather McGoo for coordinating the efforts to collect the letters. You are appreciated!
After our devotional time, Candice and Nicci took us on a walk through the streets of the area surrounding the guest house where we are staying. To say that this was an “eye-opening” experience for most of us is an understatement. Many of us were intensely struck by the severe poverty of the people. Of course, many of us had heard stories and seen pictures, but I don’t think it is something you fully grasp until you are face-to-face with it. I know the word “poverty” can be such a detached buzzword—detached in that we (I) can often forget that this “condition” of physical poverty is attached to real faces, people with eternal souls that God loves. When we remember to attach faces to this “problem of poverty,” I think we are moved to remember James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I know this conviction happened for many of us today.
Later we met up with the Frey girls for lunch. (Ernie Frey was the Senior Pastor of Central until last summer when he and his family moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to serve as full-time missionaries.) One of our team members Bree has been staying with the Freys for the past couple of weeks, and she joined us today. It was so great to get to spend time with Anne and the girls today! After lunch we all went to visit Onesimus’ boys half-way home. This was an awesome time for the “newbies” to meet some of the kids and for the “veterans” to reconnect. We met Nega and Emu’s little boy Benjamin, who is 7 months old. He is such a cutie, and we all enjoyed passing him around! I was absolutely blown away by the hospitality of the house parents; the mom roasted, ground, and brewed fresh coffee and popped popcorn. Each of the kids shared a little about themselves and their schooling. For me, it was neat to finally be able to put names with faces of many of the kids I have been hearing about. It was so incredible to hear how they have grown and developed—socially, academically, and spiritually—through Onesimus’ programs. The kids sang and danced—pure joy. We are looking forward to seeing many of them throughout the rest of the week!
Before dinner we had debriefing led by Nicci. It was an awesome time to share about the day—highlights, low points, lessons, and who we most appreciated—lots of emotions and especially a sweet time to share with the Freys. Then we had dinner, and Kelly D. surprised Ben (her husband) with a 30th birthday party! We celebrated with a delicious cake baked by Joyce that made the flight—intact—all the way from Memphis!
We are headed to the early worship service in the morning and then to have lunch at a lake about an hour outside of the city. Thank you for your prayers. Pray we’ll be energized and ready to love on the drop-in center kids come Monday morning!
Blessings to you from Addis!