As we begin the last week of school, we are confronted with mixed emotions. We soon leave the place we have grown to love and called home for three years. Jason and I are leaving meaningful jobs and our whole family has already begun saying goodbye to friends from all over the world.
But know that God has provided for our future in amazing ways!
- I will be starting a new job as a reading specialist at an elementary school in Lititz, PA at the end of August. I am excited to serve in a new school community.
- Jason will be completing a Masters of Divinity and hopes to pursue doctoral work in the area of youth ministry.
- Best part = we get to return to the home and community we have missed over these past years.
We are finishing well! Over the past two months, we have spent time with people who have been significant to us during our time in Ethiopia. Our girls have had multiple parties most weekends to celebrate birthdays and farewells. Since January, we have been packing occasional suitcases and sending them back with visitors. We are being intentional to enjoy every day.
Although we will soon board a plane, we are not finished with Ethiopia. We have been invited to continue as “associates” with SIM and keep our support account open for future ministry. Jason plans to continue teaching ETC’s youth ministry courses in modular format over the summers. Also, Bingham Academy is interested in having me to lead future professional development if my teaching schedule permits. Please pray as we return and adjust to life in the United States.
Last Friday, we visited our Compassion child! In the morning, we picked up our guide who seemed pleasantly surprised with Jason’s Amharic. I caught pieces of their conversation, and they both took turns translating for me. Since many roads in the city are under construction, Jason traversed the confusing roundabouts, side streets, and random obstacles in order to reach to the project. When we arrived, our guide led us through a corrugated metal gate where the little girl was standing next to her father. She smiled timidly, wearing a clean, white traditional dress and a blue scarf. I wanted to wrap her in my arms and ask her to tell me all about her life, but instead, I gently extended my hand and greeted her in Amharic. The girls followed and then Jason as we shook hands and smiled at each other.
We started sponsoring her in honor of my Grandma Betty, just over six years ago. We chose a girl in Addis Ababa who was in the age range of our oldest girls so that they could identify with her. When we first moved to Addis, I assumed we could just stop by the Compassion office and visit since we lived in the country. I later learned, however, that it is actually a 6-8 week process to plan a visit. The organization runs background checks on all of the adults and sets up all of the details of the visit. It protects the children and makes sense.
After the director of the program showed us around and explained the ways children receive aid, we went to visit her family’s home, where her mother was waiting to serve us coffee. She seemed to relax as we entered her home, a small, one-room house with mud walls on the edge of a eucalyptus forest. Divided in half by a sheet, one side of the house contained bedding and the other a set of chairs squeezed together. When we sat down, our girls eagerly gave her gifts: a backpack filled with their own treasures, art supplies, notebooks, headbands, clothes, and a sparkly ruler. Her eyes lit up and her mother grinned as she pulled a raincoat out of the bag. We gifted her parents with coffee, sugar, and teff, a grain used for making injera. Her father put his hand over his heart and thanked us.
Sarah began to get antsy. After riding in a car for more than an hour and listening to the director share details about the project, she needed to run. Anna suggested a game of tag. Jason explained the game to the little girl and for the next fifteen minutes, the girls chased each other under the laundry line, over rocks, and around a few trees in the yard. I even joined them. Later, Jason taught them how to whistle with a eucalyptus gum nut which looks a little like an acorn cap. Lauren caught on before our translator, which made him even more determined to whistle. Eventually, he got it.
We ended our visit by taking the family out for lunch. The little girl’s parents sat on either side of her. Her mother let her order her own orange soda and her father fed her some of the best pieces of meat from the plate. It brought me such joy know that this little girl is loved by her parents, by us, and by God. God has been generous with us and it has been amazing to play a small role in showing His love to this little girl and her family. Compassion is a wonderful organization that uses resources well.