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Month: July 2018

Anticipation

Anticipation

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope!” 
- Jeremiah 29:11

Today we made our final leg of the trip and touched down in Addis after two full days of travel – after circling Addis a few times, we landed amidst a bumpy thunderstorm.

The feeling of being back is truly indescribable. The first thing that came back to me when I stepped off the plane was the smell; the smell of Ethiopia is so incredibly unique – there is no way to really describe it, but I love it, and I missed it. As we walked out of the airport and started to see familiar faces such as our drivers; Ephraim and Ishy, everything finally became so real, that we are here! We finally arrived in this perfect place! We loaded 35 bags of donated luggage full of clothing and shoes for the children on top of our vans, loaded up and headed home. The feeling of being here was surreal, it felt as if we almost never left. Adjusting into simplicity here takes no effort.

We arrived at our guest house and so many familiar customs came back to me, things like not being able to flush toilet paper, carrying a bottle of clean water to the bathroom with me when I brush my teeth, and electricity to name a few. All of which I take completely for granted in my everyday life.

These next two weeks I get to experience a God fully present in front of me in every single moment every single day. I get to experience life, love, friendships, hardships, faith, personal and spiritual growth all with no distractions. As we prepare to see the Bring Love In children tomorrow my heart is nearly overwhelmed by the amount of joy that I know is to come. To keep this simple, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here! I will be still in the waiting as I watch God work through me, with me and beside me during this once again life-changing experience.

Love,
Kirsten

Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11

In preparation for this trip, I reread my journals from 2016. One sentence said, “Relationships are what matter.” Man, what a reminder that was. A prayer I continue to have throughout this journey is a mind that is open and intentional. As we entered the town of Addis all the familiar sights and smells brought me back.
Though it was the same, it all also seemed so different. This time I wasn’t just seeing all around me, but I had an eye locked on the people. I forgot how many there were. They wander the streets all day and night. I couldn’t help but tear up as I thought about the 6 million stories and lives here in Addis, now mine included. But where does mine even fit in? On the first day back I found myself thinking, “what in the world am I doing here?”

This is a scary thought when you have just spent 3 days traveling to get halfway across the world to a place familiar yet so unknown.
During this trip I have so far questioned my purpose in every way, but have remained focused on trusting God, knowing He is in control and taking in all that I can.

Today, our first day with the kids, was one of excitement, love, and learning. Not only was the learning done through what we are teaching them (English and Bible stories) but it was done in rebuilding relationships with the kids. It took a bit for our group to warm up, but once we were started, the kids began their ruckus. After school, we had the opportunity to visit one of the families’ homes. The mother prepared a coffee ceremony for us. This included corn on the cob, eaten mostly piece by piece rather than big bites, mixed nuts, popcorn and dark, rich coffee. It was amazing to see all she did to provide us a welcoming and how she so selflessly served us while we visited. On the way walking to the house I walked with Aida and we chatted quite a bit.
Though there was a significant language barrier, I enjoyed sharing stories and laughing with her.

Following the gathering, I spent the car ride conversing with our driver Ishy. He told me his story of coming to Christ and how it has affects him today. He said that it was a mission group that returned year after year that showed him the love of Jesus, and he realized that was what he wanted all along.

Today gave me some purpose.

The song lyric that keeps reflecting in my head is, “God you don’t need me, but somehow you want me.”

This is so true regarding the place I am in. The weight of the world is off of my shoulders in knowing that God’s will can be fulfilled no matter if I am here or not, but I want to be a part of it and so does God.

So, as I end my day, I no longer ask, “what in the world am I doing here?”, but rather, “what in the world are you trying to do through me, God?”

This question may never be answered, but I know God has a plan in it all.

– Josie

Arriving

Arriving

After hours and hours (and then a couple more hours) of travel, our team is on the final stretch today, flying from Dubai to Addis Ababa. Friends old and new await us there, and we are expectant of twelve very full days.
Our team is made up of third, second, and first-timers. High school age to middle age.  Married couples, friends, an entire family. While this trip is certainly about the ways we will spend our time and energy serving alongside our friends at Bring Love In, as well as several other Ethiopian ministries (more on that to come), it is also a journey that joins our group together in an unforgettable experience. No one goes to Ethiopia and returns home the same person. Some have unexpected disruptions to their lifestyle after returning home. Some see every person they meet a bit differently. Some experience a slow-burning shift in perspective that takes years to germinate. Toss in a healthy disenchantment with consumerism. All are changed.
The ripple effect of decisions is felt clearly on trips like these. One couple’s wild calling from God and their subsequent decision to follow it are what created Bring Love In. Other ministries all over the city, in Ethiopia, and around the world have similar stories. Chains of life-altering events are created when people decide to do something good. It’s true that bad decisions can have equal effect on the world around us. But we’ve probably read enough bad news for the day, right?
When people are able to take even a small portion of their time and energy, focus it away from self-interest and towards a need they find in the world around them, the Kingdom of God breaks through.

We’ve just left a country where many children are neglected, abused, abandoned, and simply not cared for. In every state in the union, the foster care system takes on more kids every day. In Montana particularly, the need has grown exponentially in the last decade. Today, we’ll arrive in a country with millions of orphans and its own great needs, but also some of the closest family bonds and welcoming people that you will encounter in this world. The lesson is the same everywhere: family bonds hold societies together.

By looking out for children – truly caring for them – wherever we are, we prove with our actions that we want to see God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Look for a pond, so to speak, where you can throw in even just a pebble. Your act of kindness and mercy is a simple, small (and yes, let’s be real, sometimes costly) decision that will ripple through someone’s life.

– Logan

Praying Blindly

Praying Blindly

Carl and I were sitting in the fire tower on top of Garnet Mountain (I know, right?) when our dear friends asked us what we were most looking forward to in going back to Ethiopia. That wasn’t a hard question for me to answer as I responded with an answer that surprised them. “I want the God I experience in Ethiopia to be the God I experience here. I can’t wait to encounter that God.” Let me back up for a second.

Upon our return to the United States last year, our team had a follow-up meeting and one of the team members (who is coming with us again this year), made a comment about how tangible God feels in Ethiopia and she said that exact same thing; “I want the God I experience in Ethiopia to be the one I feel here.” The group nodded in agreement as we all understood exactly what she was talking about.

In that conversation with our friends, I came to a realization that I am craving an encounter with Jesus. I am craving to feel Him and know Him in the way I do when I am in Ethiopia and with the kids. More importantly, I am excited for God to invade my heart and teach me how to be more like Him. Our friends beautifully asked why it is that we think we experience God differently there and we proceeded to brainstorm all the “American things” we could blame for disrupting any encounter with God: The glorification of busy, the grip of consumerism, and the misconception of comfort and security. All these things get in the way of depending and relying on God because it makes us the god of our own hearts.

As I have been reflecting on the conversation we had that night, I keep praying that God would open my eyes and reveal what exactly is keeping me from “experiencing” Him here in the United States. I keep praying that He would provide clarity in the prayers I’m praying and that He would help me know how to bring Him back; and then, I find myself randomly asking God to break my heart for what breaks His. I don’t even know why I am praying these things, but I know He is pulling me towards Him…and I’m going. I’m running.

I have absolutely no idea what God is going to do while we are over there, but I humbly ask that you would continue praying for us as we all begin to break down any walls in our hearts and experience Him in radical ways. Pray for healthy relationships among our team of 18 and pray for the kids of Bring Love In. Whatever it is that you feel compelled to pray for, even if you don’t understand why you’re praying for it, pray it big because He will answer these prayers one way or another. Our team thanks you for all your support as we begin this journey.

I can’t wait for you to meet the rest of our team,

Jourdan