Team Ethiopia: The First Taste & Reflections

The following is an update from Team Ethiopia, a small group from Central Church in Memphis, TN, who will be serving as short-term missionaries at Children’s Home Ethiopia in June 2010. We’ve invited our dear friends and ministry partners to post their trip updates and prayer requests here on the TFC blog.  Enjoy…

Today marked our first real taste of the work we are doing here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We began our first work day today at the Drop-In Center. We arrived at the Center around 9am and after being greeted and introduced to the staff and children, we hit the ground running as a team. Here is a short list of the activities we did today: VBS Lesson about being chosen by God and who God chooses - not picking the strong, rich, and mighty, but often using the least of these and the least expected, Dental Hygiene Lesson - showing the kids the plaque on their teeth with a very cool rinse and then teaching them how to properly brush their teeth, Games/Activities like Simon Says (or Nega Says is actually how we did it, since Nega is the Center director) and soccer tennis with a beach ball, and most importantly we loved on the children and simply enjoyed their presence. We arrive "home" back to the SIM Guesthouse at 5pm - greatly enjoyed dinner and finally some rest. It was a great day, one that makes us look forward to tomorrow.

Below are some reflections from each team member regarding our first day. When asked to write a short five sentence bit or so regarding their reactions about the first day, this is what we came up with... enjoy.

1st day - Monday - Reflections from the team:

KELLY D -What an amazing day!  These children are precious and they are so grateful for everything you do with them.  I love them all already and can't wait to see them tomorrow.  With our "normal" lives, I think we get used to people demanding more and more from us and it makes us immune to simpler things.  All these kids want is love-and they don't demand it or even expect it.

K.C. - I realized how small my faith is. I rarely believe God for the impossible. The problems facing these children and the staff seem so impossible. Dealing with sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, rejection, not attention.  Yet God has met their needs through the incredible staff here.  Sharing images of my family, hugs, games and time seemed to meet the kids hunger for love and attention.  Just showing up and being present is how God used me today.  God used me today when I didn't feel like I could be used.  He's bigger than I thought.

KARA - I was excited to meet so many people today that I have seen in pictures and heard their stories.  The kids were wonderful and fun.  There were a few I immediately felt connected to which surprised me.  My biggest challenge today was the extreme sleepiness I felt from lunch on.  I felt that I was unable to interact as well as I would like to.  I am hoping another night's sleep will enable me to really be present tomorrow.  These kids are so hungry for attention and I want to be able to give it to them.

JOE - Today was interesting. After living in Ethiopia over the past year, you'd think nothing much would be new for me in this country. Well, this was my first experience leading a team of fellow Americans as they ministered to the Ethiopian children I've spent my last 16 months getting to know and love. I never realized how challenging leading a group would be. The challenge is not because of the group, but because of me. I am a chronic people pleaser and I found myself trying to make everyone else comfortable. Imagine trying to make a group of 8 Americans comfortable as they meet about 35 street children for the first time. Not going to happen! I learned today to relax my control and let God worry about whether the team is comfortable or not.

LIZ - Our devotion this morning was on faith.  With that in mind, I tried to go into the day with no expectations.  Well, I was blown away by how beautiful the children were, in the faces, and in their spirits.  I quickly learned that the word "love" has no language barriers.  I was overwhelmed by the work AND the workers of The Forsaken Children!  The team was asked to "live outside themselves" today.  To describe how well the team did this, I would need a video of each member as they interacted with the group.  God has truly blessed my time so far and I so look foward to the rest of the week!

BONNIE - Where do I begin?  We were greeted at the airport by five of the children we are working with this week.  They brought us roses and greeted us warmly with hugs and handshakes.  I was so surprised by how affectionate the children are.  They seem to be so eager for love and attention.  What an honor to be able to spend time even if we're just hanging out!  I've mostly had my hair played with.  Fun stuff!

TOM - Having been to Guatemala and Kenya I had a good idea of what to expect as far as poverty and hunger.  I wasn't prepared for the children's need for attention, love and affection.  I was pleasantly surprised as to how well I responded to giving that love.  There were some mighty big hugs today.

KELLY McGOO - God has shown me how much in my life I take for granted today.  I see adults who have everything that could enable them to provide a better life for others and waste it.  I feel as if I have been one of those people.  Yet these children have little to nothing but they tackle life with a smile and energy that I've never seen.  It's encouraging to know that they are teaching me more about love and Christ than I could possibly teach them.

HEATHER - I'm exhausted, emotionally drained, and burning with a passion for the goals, mission, and vision of The Forsaken Children all in one. Today's first experience truly working with the children and staff at the Drop-In Center has left me with great anticipation about getting up tomorrow and loving on, playing, and working all over again. Something that resonates with me tonight, and brings tears to my ears both of joy and yearning to do more is the reality that this ministry is providing a time and place for these children to be just that - children! As soon as they walk into the compound, you can see the change... from holding the weight of the world on their shoulders out on the streets of Addis Ababa to stepping into a place that is safe and gives them love, encouragement, adult care and supervision, food, studies, teaching of God's word, and essentially the RIGHT to be a child!