Well, it’s Friday and our mission is about over. We all feel comfortable that we have accomplished what we came here to do.
Hey! Hey ! Hey! From team Ethiopia to all our prayer warriors! We are FANTASTIC! No one is having any stomach issues at this time. Today was our last day of our VBS program with the children. It was awesome.
Today was the first day of being with the children and it was such a blessing! From the minute we drove into the Lutheran church the children were there smiling and waving. As soon as we stepped out of the van the children were right there laughing and hugging us. Their smiling faces were enough to make me forget about everything that we had passed on the way in. All the traffic, rain, and gloom were suddenly gone and all we could see were the bright smiling faces that welcomed us. Having the children be so open to hugs and holding hands was something I had never experienced before and it was one of the best feelings in the world. To see the love that they had for us even when they did not know us was something that I will never forget.
Church Day! This is a special day for us because we get to visit the International Evangelical Church (IEC). Most of us have been to this church before and all of us admit that we are able to see what the true Christian church should look like. You would not believe the number of nationalities and ethnic groups that are represented. A true taste of heaven!
What a day we have had! 24 hours of flying and we are here safe and sound. Thank you to all of you who prayed for safe and smooth travel because those prayers were answered. Every flight, every ticket, every security check, fell right into place with no problems. God didn’t stop at just our physical needs. He allowed us to experience His creative power in a magnificent sunrise at over 35,000 feet, above the clouds.
As I sit here in the terminal at Dullis International Airport, I have a strange grouping of emotions. I've already seen God's amazing provision even before we have left the country. Our flights were pleasant and on time, or team slept well and we're in good spirits. All 14 of our checking bags are accounted for and ready to go. No one is sick, no one is tired . . . God is amazing.
Team Ethiopia, a short-term missions group from Central Church in Collierville, TN, is now on the ground in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and ready to serve! Here is an update from Lana on Sunday, day three of the trip. I hate to admit this, especially being called to come on this trip, but in all honesty, I am not a pray-er. I do not pray much, and when I do, it is usually for others. I had a difficult time trying to decide on information to share with you. So while typing this, I asked God to help me push out my negative thinking at the moment and to help me organize my thoughts to share things about the whole team and not just about me and my selfish problems.
Thanks to Madison Frey’s and many others' prayers, the team was able to have a restful night, and we were all excited about the agenda for the day. This morning was sweet. Each morning we enjoy the sound of a an unknown man singing his praises, a lullaby of words that I do not understand, but from the cry in his heart and the depth of his tone, I know it is one of love.
After eating a delicious breakfast of thick waffles, fruit, fluffy eggs, and buttered toast, we met together for our daily morning devotional led by Liz from 1 Samuel 3:8-9. Joe and Kelly gave us the reminder to continue to challenge ourselves to focus on the reason why we are here and try our best to disconnect with the outside world, besides limited updates to family. I also discovered that during our morning devotional praise song, that Ben has a voice like Keith Urban.
The morning remained cool and crisp as we gathered together to attend worship service at the International Evangelical Church. We were all honored with the chance to see Dr. Ernie, Anne, Morgan, Meredith, and Madison Frey again. It was a joy to hear Dr. Frey speak the message to a church filled with different cultural backgrounds and walks of life; we met people from Australia, Asia, Europe, and other countries in Africa.
Dr. Frey’s message, titled, “More than Enough,” from Matthew 14:13-21, was passionately delivered and reminded us that we are “right in the middle of where God wants us to be.” “We have to conquer our lives with a childlike faith.” His message was perfect timing and just what Team Ethiopia needed to hear before we start our week of service and ministry to the children.
After service the team fellowshipped together for lunch. At our separate tables we were able to bond more with one another.
Afterwards, we headed on a search for a field to hold our bible school for the kids in tomorrow. The location God provided for us was more than we could imagine; a perfect size campus with two large play areas and several classrooms and a gorgeous sanctuary. This is my first mission trip, but I could feel Kelly’s excitement and thankfulness for God exceeding our expectations and needs for this mission.
After this amazing high, we returned to the guesthouse to rooms filled with our lost, late luggage. We finally had our supplies and equipment we needed, and we also received letters from our loved ones. We shared letters with one another, laughed and cried; the room was full of blessed feelings of love and gratitude.
After dinner together Ben led us in yet another emotional and reflective debriefing. These debriefings are the perfect part of the day; they are much needed. The team becomes organically honest and open to the questions asked each night. It’s a beautiful thing to see how different team members have been helpful towards one another during our journey with Christ. We are all on different spiritual levels but with the same purpose. Howard has been a father to all of us - his knowledge and encouragement has been instrumental to everyone on this team. The biggest inspiration to all is how amazing, the young ones (Lauren, Natalie, and Katie) are able to interpret their feelings and how awesome it is to see how mature they are in their passion and love for God mixed with their genuine bubbly personalities and laughter. During this night before our big day, we shared crazy moments, first time experiences, and heartaches. We were also blessed with three additional team members: Misty, Anna, and Liz #2; they will be joining us again tomorrow as we serve God and his children.
To end the night, we celebrated Meme, Ben, Ernie, and Nega’s birthday with a first class cake, baked by our one and only…Joyce!! We are now off to bed.... We are looking forward to loving on the kids tomorrow, allowing God to show his love through us. Thank you again for your many prayers and the ones you all will continue to say for us tonight. I am praying as well!
Team Ethiopia and Lana
2 Corinthians 8:2, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty, willed up in generosity!”I think this verse sums up everything that we have experienced and the hearts of the children! Today was so encouraging and very affirming that what we are doing is making an impact! We all enjoyed so much of the kids’ love and affection through their contagious smiles and their heart melting hugs!
Finding the words to share with you is difficult. We have been in Addis Ababa for 48 hours and I think it is safe to say that all of us are feeling completely ruined-- so much we can't even comprehend it all. YET! Today was our first official day at the drop-in center. Our morning began with greeting the children...
There is no way to prepare your heart for this. You have to experience it. 24 hours into our trip and our eyes are wide open and our ears are listening. Tonight, Britainy received a letter from her sister in-law, Sally Townsend, and we think that it sums up exactly how we are feeling after our first day in Addis- we thought it was perfect to share.
God is our potter. He is in complete control of our circumstances. (Jeremiah 18) He definitely reminded the team of this yesterday. While we wanted "our" plans to play out just like the itinerary read, God was quick to give us a gentle reminder that He is in control. His plan is bigger. His plan is better.
The team is currently sleeping in Frankfurt, Germany (3:05 am there) at a hotel. The schedule for tomorrow, Saturday is breakfast at 8 am (1 am Central Time), team devotions, leave the hotel at 10:30 am (3:30 am Central Time), flight out of Frankfurt at 1 pm (6 am Central Time) and arrival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 9 pm-ish (12 o'clock noon Central Time). Please pray the flights go according to plan this go around! The team is excited and ready to land on African soil.
Team Ethiopia 2011 has officially departed Memphis, TN and is on their way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were sent off by a good group of family and friends that not only helped reduce over weight bags (the team took sixteen bags, 50lbs each - 12+ of those bags were filled with supplies to give), but also prayed with them before they left.