My eyes aren’t as fresh as the 10 Americans I came with, so I notice people/smells/sounds differently than they do, and this is fun for me. What was once novel to my senses is still novel to them, so I get to experience their reactions, their confusion, their delight and frustration by observation. We have the sweetest, most sensitive team in Ethiopia right now. All ten of them (or 11 Americans + Aki, Yossi & Masti) care deeply for the people around them and it’s a wonderful thing to experience. Bob Goff talks about this idea of “leaking Jesus” in his book, Love Does. This is what I’ve seen for the last 10 days – people (Americans & Hybesha) leaking Jesus all over the place.
I feel compelled to tell you a little about why I love these people. I suppose because today I get to turn them loose with my co-leader (Sara) and go back to the States I’m feeling a little nostalgic 😉 So, in Leslie-esque style:
Noah is hilarious, very few people have made me laugh in Ethiopia like this 17-year-old, goofy, pretend-quiet, very tall young man. Obviously his parents are quality humans to turn out a guy who can deal with/laugh with 9 older “sisters” for 2 weeks. Aki calls him Giraffe, which makes me giggle every time I hear it. Everything is nice for Giraffe because this is Africa (TIA).
I know Jesus had a plan for Libby to be here, despite our best efforts to screw it up, and everyday I’ve thanked Him for his hand in securing her passport from the USPS at 4AM on the Sunday morning before we left. She is 15, fantastically observant, and brings the fun to the party. We would not be the same without her.
Some people have exactly the right energy for a moment, and for us this is Alex. If someone needs love, she is there with a smile that can light up a room, she is there to hold a hand, she is there for a hug. She doesn’t have to ask, she just does it and it’s right. This is a wonderful gift, Alex. Thank you for sharing it, and please don’t stop.
We’ve always had at least one individual on each trip who has a soft, malleable heart and takes every moment and wrings it out for all it’s worth. I think this is Brandi. When we talk together at night, we know Brandi has taken the best moment of the day and hung onto it. Often compassion is painful – blessing and a curse – but if Jesus is anything it’s compassionate, and so is Brandi.
If you get a chance to see Carly work with her physical therapy skills, you know she’s in the right profession. Her gentle and sweet demeanor combined with her intelligence brings some serious skill to the table. Jesus makes everything new, and Carly has the talent to be his hands in that. I wish we would have caught Addis’s broken arm a little earlier in the healing process, but I’m thankful in particular to see Carly love him in the way only she could.
Insight lives in Sara. In every discussion, she has fresh perspective. Some of this probably comes from well-travelled life experience and some probably comes from a seasoned relationship with Jesus. In both cases, we’re all better off for it. Sara will also pick up the reigns when I fly off, and I’m very grateful. The rest of the team isn’t ready to leave (obviously neither am I, am I ever?) and I am so thankful they have more time here together.
Jesus has used the last two years and my [six] times in Ethiopia to make some pretty significant life|heart changes. Some people are always looking for the way God will use them and satisfy the specific purposes resting in them. Some people aren’t aware of these purposes and some people are, and Jackie is so aware. To see her seek and question God is reminiscent of my own time here so I’m particularly thankful for the opportunity to share a room with her and dissect every moment of every day. Cheers to verbal processers!
As our default male leader of the team, Eddie has revealed himself to be extremely wise & intuitive. Not much slips by him. He has a low tolerance for injustice and an overflow of compassion, which, for those of you who know me, ring clearly inside me as well. Not to mention, he has navigated 9 female teammates flawlessly – you might even think that he likes us 😉 He and Leslie are a great match – [obviously] Jesus knew what he was doing bringing them together.
One of my favorite things about Leslie is her photographer’s eye. I absolutely believe in creating art is a space where we are very close to God, our creator. I don’t know how to explain it better than that, but I think she would know what I mean. Her photographs are evidence of her skill, but they’re also evidence of her heart – she sees the beauty in everyone. Jesus makes beautiful things, everywhere, and Leslie sees them.
There is always someone that everyone loves and for me, this is Nat. We have this saying, “heart of gold” in English, and Natalie unquestionably has one. Her sweet affection is evident in every conversation and I know people walk away from her feeling loved. I’m not sure if this can be taught or learned, but I do want to be more like Nat.
If I explained why I love and am thankful for each of our sweet Hybesha (Ethiopian) friends, I’d never wrap this up, but if you have met Aki, Jossi or Masti, you have met the sweetest, most selfless men. They take care of us and watch over us like little mother hens and they’re quite adept at “herding cats”. We couldn’t do much of what we’ve done without them and their pre-existing ministries. Aki is so passionate about loving people tangibly and meeting the needs, one-by-one, of the people around him. Yossi can make anyone feel understood and accepted – Hybesha or American. He’s so good at navigating and bridging our cultural differences. Masti knows how to have fun and enjoy life. He’s always smiling and laughing with the people around him and you know how this energy is the kind you like to have around. They are all close to the heart of Jesus.
All Sons & Daughters says in a song,
It’s for freedom that I’ve been set free.
This group of people is free and full of love. I love this team because they’ve shown, in beautiful fashion, that Love Does. See you at home, sweet friends!