I wake up to another beautiful day that God has blessed me with, but for good reason, this day feels different. Today is our last day in Addis. I am overwhelmed with the feelings of happiness, sadness, joy, excitement and nervousness swarming my heart. Not only because I will miss the kids at Bring Love In, but because of the many relationships that were built during this trip. The relationships within our team, with the Bring Love In staff, with our house maids( Tesfu and Messi) but most of all, my relationship with the Lord – these are relationships I will cherish forever.
We decided to use today to go to the market and finish buying gifts for our loved ones. The market is something I have never experienced before. There are little tin shacks lined up right next to each other down a street, that are filled with scarves, woodwork carvings, paintings, machetes and so much more. The street is filled with young kids begging for food or money and it completely breaks my heart. The drive to the market was an experience I will never forget. Not because of the drive itself, or even the city for that matter, but because of the reflection I was able to have on the way. I will never forget the smell of Ethiopia.. yes, I said it.. the smell. It is a pungent mix of diesel exhaust, cows, sheep and dirt. It is so distinct and definitely something I had to get used to, but oddly enough, it’s something I will miss. I thought about the two weeks we had just spent teaching English to the kids at Bring Love In. It was so much harder than I had ever imagined! I remembered all of those kiddos and the incredible impact they had on me. Every morning, I was welcomed by a huge smile and the biggest hugs! The kids were so excited to see us and to learn.
In one of our meetings leading up to the trip, we talked about poverty. Now poverty in the most recognizable sense would be material poverty, or the lack of material things. But did you know there is a more broad definition of poverty? Poverty can be defined by so much more than just material. There can be emotional poverty, relational poverty, and spiritual poverty. At first I thought this trip would be hard on me because I knew we were going to a very poor part of the country. I knew these kids were once orphans and that they came from broken homes, so the one thing I did not want to do was have pity on them because of the lack of material things. After spending so much time with them, I realized that they were the happiest people even though they lacked those material things. The reason? I would suspect it is because our happiness does not come from the things that we have. Our happiness comes from our relationships. Not only relationships with other people, but most importantly, our relationship with God. Those kids have a relationship with God and that’s the reason for their happiness.
It’s funny that when most people think about a mission trip, a majority of the time we think about how much we are going to help and bless the people we are going to serve. But it’s pretty incredible how much they all blessed me. My heart has been broken and I have grown closer to the Lord. My life has been changed. I could not have gone on this trip without all of you who have supported me. I am beyond grateful for every single one of you. You will forever be in my heart and in my prayers.
Love Always and God Bless