DownLine Team: Closing Days

The following is an update from DownLine 2011 Team, a small group from DownLine Ministries in Memphis, TN, who will be serving as short-term missionaries at Onesimus Children Development Association and throughout Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 2011. We’ve invited our ministry partners to post their trip updates and prayer requests here on the TFC blog. You can learn more specifically about the goals of the trip by going to this post. Enjoy their journey and all God has in store...

By Nicci Feathers

Wrapping up our final days in Ethiopia is tough. SO much happened!

Friday morning, we woke up knowing that our hours were limited in Addis and we had to get everything squeezed in. Jimmy, John, and Ed had another meeting regarding some business ventures for the ministry. To my knowledge, God blessed this meeting in the same ways He had been working throughout the week. He has big things planned for the future of this ministry and He allowed many seeds to be planted. Shad, Jason, Dr. Scobey, Dr. Cattau, Aileen, Sylvia, and Dr. Rice all explored Addis Ababa to learn more about the culture and its history while Karly, Kelly, and I spent the day at the boy's halfway home.

On a personal level, I had been waiting for this time ALL week. It is one on one, life on life, and just pure bliss! While we were there for at least 7 or 8 hours, I, truthfully, can't tell you how we spent our day. All I know is that we played, we sang, we ate, we danced, we laughed, and we loved. The best part about being with the children is that they have absolutely ZERO expectations. I sat in that living room covered up in children- one braiding my hair, one talking to me in very broken English about futbol, one playing with my I-phone, several dancing around me, and it was without argument one of the best times in my life. We didn't look at a watch. We didn't need a moment alone. We were all -children and "foreigngies"- (this is what we are called) completely invested in our final hours together. I have this vivid picture of heaven and what it will be like and it is very similar to that day.

Late in the afternoon, we gathered as a team at the seminary for our farewell ceremony. In true, Ethiopian fashion, they were completely gracious hostesses and our evening was delightful. Together, we fellowshipped with food, laughter, praise, worship, and even a little bit of tug-o-war.

The tug-o-war was great fun! At first, it was the Ethiopian men vs. the foreigngy men. After our guys beat the Ethiopian team twice, the women wanted a chance to redeem themselves for the Ethiopians. Well, no redemption was had because we won TWICE! Hearing Nega laugh throughout this competition was so heartwarming. His laugh is so contagious and his presence just fills a space. He is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. It truly was just a joyous time. We sang around the campfire and John Ozier killed the sheep for Alemayu to prepare it for all to enjoy. It was pretty tasty, I might add. At the end of the evening, as we said our goodbyes and our eyes filled with tears, we rejoiced even still for all that God had done throughout our time there and all that He is continuing to do through this ministry.

Our final day was spent preparing for the trip home and wrapping up the final details. I was able to spend some time with a very busy Nega to discuss the future for a tutoring program. When they find the children living on the street, it is common that they have not been attending school and they are very behind. It is our hope that we will be able to develop something to bring each beneficiary up to the grade level necessary so that they will become whoever they desire to be and that their education will offer a bright future. My prayer is that God will have His hand in this the same way He has in every other aspect of this ministry.

Coming home and back to this reality is not easy. Each day, I wake and think about those precious faces and wonder how they are spending their day. I pray that God is speaking directly into their little hearts and filling them with His hope. While it is easy to get distracted and believe that something is hopeless and impossible, I have to remember just how big our God is. He is a God of hope and a God of endless possibilities. His grace provides. 

Overall, the trip was amazing! Our team worked so well together and whenever there was a task, it got done! Each person invested their all into Ethiopia and we each came away fulfilled by what God is doing there. While we are back on U.S. soil, your prayers are still very much appreciated. Please pray that God provides each of us with answers as to why He took us to Addis Ababa and showed us a little piece of the pain He feels each and every day for the depravity of man. Pray that we will know what to do with those answers. Please continue praying for Nega and his tremendous staff. Lastly, please always say a special prayer for those children as they come to know Him and as they learn to live a new life through Him!