The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
We are leaving in just a few short hours and as expected, our hearts are heavy. We have spent the last week forming life-long friendships and relationships with the people of Addis Ababa. For me, goodbyes are always difficult. But, this time, I think it's the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. We love these kids and these kids love us. So, being uncertain of your next meeting is hard to process and leaves you feeling pretty hollow. Luckily, God fills us up and I am feeling fairly certain that this is not "goodbye" for any of us but, simply, a "see you later"!
We spent the morning at a university, in the middle of the city, watching the championship soccer game of the Onesimus tournament. Many of the children attended the game and we were, once again, covered up with love and affection. It was such a blessing to spend our final hours together with the children.
As I looked around at these children, I could only thank God. Thank Him for giving us such a blessing. While the despair is so large here, God is showing up and showing out with this program (Onesimus). Speaking for our entire team, I would say it is such a humbling experience to see it all in action ~ God's great work in action. As Nega, Director of Onesimus, said last night at the farewell ceremony, while Ethiopia may not have as much as America in a monetary sense, God is here. God is right here. And... He is showing off in a mighty, mighty way!
As we sat at the soccer fields for several hours, we were swarmed by the children who understood that these were our final times together for awhile and they were just as sad as we were. At one point, a little boy, sitting in my lap, said in his very broken English, "My happy is no." That's how we are all feeling at this point. We are not ready to come home. We are not ready to come back to the comforts of our lives. We are simply not ready to leave the children who we love so much. So, while we must return to our everyday lives, each of us will leave a big part (if not all) of our hearts behind in the great African nation of Ethiopia and with the children of Onesimus.
As our hearts have truly become connected with this ministry, we pray and invite many of you to join the team of ministry partners financially supporting this organization and helping make all that we saw this week happen! The Forsaken Children has just launched the Chicks for Change Campaign to fund the start up of the Kota Ganate Hatchery, which has the potential in one year's time to cover 20% of Onesimus' expenses. We encourage you to give what you can and spread the word about this campaign because the children of Ethiopia have impacted you this week through us!
We love and miss you all and we will see you very soon! Thank you for your love and encouragement along the way!
Team Ethiopia (Nicci)