By Rachael Burnett: It's our last day in Ethiopia! We are all packing up now and getting ready to head to the airport; it seems like we just arrived in this beautiful country. We began the morning early at Onesimus with the kids getting ready for the foot race to the soccer field. Nega worked to get the road blocked off, which is no easy task here; traffic is crazy to us Americans to say the least! It is so neat to see how well respected and influential Nega is in the community, and making this race happen for the kids was so special. Half of the team went ahead to the finish line at the field to cheer them on, and the other half of us rode the van that led the way through the street so that we could watch them run. It was so fun to see the kids just running their hearts out--some not even wearing any shoes.
After the race, there was an Onesimus staff soccer match; our own soccer stars Kelly M. and Candice played! Candice scored two goals--one with her left foot! She's a rockstar, and the kids are enthralled by "Rooney" (i.e. Kelly M.). They love to chant, "Rooney! Rooney!" The boys' tournament championship match was next. It was an exciting game, and Onesimus played really well...so well that they won! Everyone went wild as this was Onesimus' first ever championship win! There was an awards ceremony to honor the players and coaches, complete with medals and certificates. Kelly M. spoke for a few minutes congratulating everyone and thanking them for good sportsmanship and fair play (huge concepts for most of these kids!). He also noted that there were more people and players there than ever before (it started in December 2010). It is so awesome to see how The Lord is expanding this ministry!
It was definitely hard to say our goodbyes to all the kiddos. They have stolen our hearts for sure. While sitting in the stands watching the games today, I had kids climbing all over me, holding my hands, sitting in my lap, putting their arms around me, playing with my hair. There wasn't a single minute in the three and a half hours I sat there that I didn't have a kid touching me. They have no understanding of that personal space bubble most of us like to have and that was absolutely okay with me today. Their uninhibited affection and love is such a wonderful and needed reminder of how God just continually lavishes His unconditional love on us and how we need to share the same with others. Though those kids don't really know us, they love us. And I am blown away that our God does know us--every single ugly part of us--and yet He loves us. I hope you take a minute to let that truth sink in today.
Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement as we have been here this week. Please continue to pray for us as we process all that we have seen and experienced. I know I don't want to be the same when I return to the States. To borrow a phrase from Pastor Ernie, I think and I pray that each of us has been "ruined for the ordinary."