When did you visit Onesimus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia? I went for the first time in June 2010, and then again in December 2010.
Did you visit with a team or individually? The first time I went was with my church on a short-term mission trip, the second time was mostly individual.
What was the purpose of your trip? In June 2010, my main function in the team was to do dental screenings, since I'm a dental hygienist. Basically, I gave the staff an idea of how many children had obvious dental issues and advised them on which ones were in the most need. This function required me to kinda have a records system in order to keep track of the children.
When I went back in December, my main function was to improve the initial “records system” by including additional information like full name, family status, and personality traits. This information will hopefully be used to better equip the staff in Ethiopia and here in the states.
Was this your first trip to Ethiopia? June 2010, was my very first mission trip, my first time crossing an ocean, and only my third time on an airplane.
If yes, did it meet your expectations? Nothing about Ethiopia has ever met my expectations. I packed an entire suitcase full of food, thinking I would have nothing to eat. I ended up giving it away. I love the food. I slept like a rock. I was never sick. The temperature was great. I loved it there.
Did you have to raise support money for this trip? If so, how was that process? I did have to raise support for my June trip. I sent out letters, had yard sales, and removed wall paper among other things. It was stressful but I made it harder on myself because I wasn't trusting God like I should have been doing. In the end, I actually didn't raise enough money but God blessed my teammates with an overflow of donations and they were kind enough to let me receive some of that awesome blessing.
When I went in December, I prayed about it really hard, gave it to God immediately, and didn't worry about it. Within a week of my initial prayer, I received a bonus at work and an unexpected escrow refund check. God works fast and my December trip was paid for without me having to write a single letter.
What were your first impressions about Addis Ababa and Onesimus? Well now you're going to get me talking about my kids. :-) The journey from Memphis to Ethiopia was hard for me. I had sprained my ankle the week before and had never had a flight before that had lasted over 3 hours. My ankle was swollen and I was miserable and tired when I arrived in Addis Ababa. When we made it through security, all I kept thinking was, “have I made a mistake?”. Then I saw them, the children. They were there to greet us. They had been waiting for awhile to meet our team and suddenly I forgot about all those “problems” I thought I was having. We all rode back to the guesthouse together. They never stopped touching us. That's kinda how the rest of the week went. When the children were around, everything made sense. I knew I was supposed to be there.
Describe an experience you had while at Onesimus that impacted you. I got to know one of the older boys, Esayas, about midway through my first week. By the end of the week, we had really formed an amazing bond and he really opened up to me about his life and some of the things he has struggled with. I was so humbled and overwhelmed by his trust in me, I also shared some things I had struggled with when I was his age. This is not something I normally do with people so I knew it was God encouraging me to share with him. In December, when I saw him again, he remembered our conversation and said that it had helped him. I praised God for that.
What did God show/teach you during your time at Onesimus? He taught me that He is always in control and I don’t have to worry because “He’s got this”.
What is one thing you want everyone to know about Onesimus?
It's an amazing ministry that God is using to save the street children of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and then, have those same children bring His Name to others.
Is there one Onesimus staff or child that you really connected with? If so, what drew you to him/her and what did you learn about his/her story? Esayas, we both had similar family circumstance and we both are underestimated.
[Since Kelly's first and second trip to Ethiopia, she has traveled a third time with her church to serve The Forsaken Children and our partner ministry, Onesimus. She continues to develop relationships with the children and staff. Each time the Lord opens up more opportunities for Kelly to share His love and gospel boldy. To read about Kelly's first and third trip in more detail, visit the Short Term Missions Blog.]