Today was the LAST day in Ethiopia. It was bittersweet with tears and laughter. We headed to Entoto – up the mountain – to do the Street Race associated with the “Run Your Street 5K” with the kids.
We were a little bit ahead of schedule to meet the kids, so we stopped part way up the mountain and took pictures. There was a pedestal there that we all climbed up on and pretended to be Super Man flying through the city! We also prayed over the city with hands held high as we asked God to bless the city and to bring the people of the city to Him and specifically to protect and comfort the street children.
We saw the local women climbing down the mountain with huge loads of sticks/wood on their backs. I don’t know how they do that. It looks like the wood weighs about 3 times as much as them or more. And they walk ALL THE WAY down the mountain to deliver it. Along with the women were also donkeys carrying loads of leaves, hay and sticks. It really is quite surreal to see the delivering of goods in this way but so amazing that they are able to complete those tasks and then climb back up the mountain and do it all again.
When we got to the football (soccer) field, we had to wait for the kids for a little while. They went to an Ethiopian Orthodox Church Museum to tour around while we set up the games. While waiting, we played volleyball with the local kids there. They really had a great time and so did we! But we couldn’t wait to see our kids and play with them for one last day.
When the kids arrived on the buses, they ran off the bus and ran up and hugged each one of us super tight! It was wonderful! We set up the race for the kids around the football (soccer) field and then the kids played a football game also. Then we played a “staff against the kids” game in which we were attempting to beat the rain more than anything else. The kids won!!
It was kind of a crazy good bye to the kids. Some of us didn’t quite realize that we were saying goodbye and missed the chance to hug the kids we connected with most one last time. It’s always a sad feeling to leave the kids unsure of when we will see them again.
When we got home, we had a wonderful surprise from the staff waiting for us!! They did a closing coffee ceremony complete with cake, worship in Amharic and gifts. Kanu thanked us each for being a part of their ministry for the week, Alex accompanied the worship song with his guitar, and Taye gave an incredible message on Hebrews 12:1-4. It was a great reminder that the race is not complete and when we fix our eyes on Jesus even as we struggle against sin, He is always with us. Tare also thanked us for doing our part and for continuing to come back each year and bringing our best to the kids and the staff. It was a beautiful, sad celebration as it was time to say goodbye to these wonderful, dedicated, God-fearing people who serve the street kids and at-risk kids on the streets of Ethiopia each and every day.
As we headed to the airport, we were met with no wrinkles in our plans. We made it in plenty of time, got checked in, went through security and then boarded the plane as we all sat reflecting on the week we had just encountered. No matter how many times each of us has gone – first, 4th or 8th – we all took away something new and different from this week.
We all made it back to the states without any issues with flights or luggage, so praise the Lord for that!!
Thank you all so much for your prayers all week, we definitely felt them!
Cathy and Team Ethiopia