With everything regarding the adoption done, we spent our last day in Ethiopia as missionaries, serving the people of Addis Ababa. Friday morning, we all gathered in Joey and Destiny’s living room with some of the people that help them out in their ministry. We started with a study of Isaiah 58, and discussed how we would pray and live out that passage in our lives today.
A group of us would go out, with our focus being to feed the hungry. They would find someone who needed to be fed and buy a meal for them – and eat WITH them, getting to know them.
Another group would go out with the focus on rescuing the oppressed. They would be meeting street children and empowering one with a shoe-shine kit and teaching them how to use it, so that they can begin to make money and pull themselves out of poverty.
The third group (the one I was in) was charged with clothing the naked. We all put on a second shirt so that if we saw someone in need, we could literally give them the shirt off our backs, hopefully blessing them with something they really needed.
We took public transportation to downtown Addis Ababa, and we walked. And walked. And walked. We walked past the homes of the homeless:
We walked past young mothers and their babies. This is Sunshine. She has twins. She just finished feeding this one… her other twin was sleeping on her back.
Destiny happened to be wearing a maternity top over her blue shirt, and she felt drawn to this woman on the side of the road. This is where she lives and works. She makes beaded bracelets and necklaces. She is also 9 months pregnant.
Destiny gave the woman her shirt, and she talked with her for awhile. They she prayed with her, and the woman asked if she could maybe come back and visit her again.
Destiny promised she would… and when she returns, she plans on bringing her some things that will help her with her new baby.
Hopefully by making and selling this jewelry, this young woman can make enough to survive. At least now she has Destiny to check up on her…
Then we came upon a man with no face. His nose and upper lip were missing, perhaps a result of an accident, or perhaps by some form of mutilation which is sadly still prevalent in certain areas of Africa. He was very sad, exiled and ridiculed on the side of the road.
When he received his shirt, however, he smiled the most amazing smile I have ever seen. He put on his shirt right away and felt so much joy, and probably for the first time in a long time, acceptance. The group reminded him that he was a child of God and he would always be loved.
It was a very hot day, and when we came across a man lying on the ground in the sun, Joey gave him water.
And when we passed by a young boy preparing his cart of cabbages to sell, Gerald wanted to thank him for being a hard worker, and he gave him his shirt.
We encountered a young girl working as a shoe-shiner. Not many girls are working, so it was nice to see her trying to make a difference. She received a shirt, too.
And then I came upon this little one and her mother. I gave her my bandana.
And I gave mom my shirt. If you look closely, you will see that mom has another baby underneath her shawl. Baby looked to be about 6 months old but was probably much older, nursing on her shriveled breast. I wondered how much the baby would eat today.
Joey and Destiny went to a nearby shop and bought them some bread for the family to eat. The girl broke the bread and shared with her mom, and they probably had their first meal in days.
Being out there on the streets, meeting with people who are daily battling disease, oppression, hunger, and the elements, made the stories of the Bible, including Isaiah 58, a reality. Whoever says that the Bible has nothing to do with today’s world needs to look outside themselves for a moment and realize that there are places in the world RIGHT NOW where these things are taking place. And we who are blessed to live where we don’t have to deal with those kind of things need to step back and ask ourselves if we are doing enough… are we content with just knowing that we don’t have to witness the poverty and oppression that are going on right now? Or will seeing these images spur on something in your heart, knowing that it takes so little to do so much?
I know that my heart has been forever changed.
After a day of living out Isaiah 58 with our team, we all met up for a late-afternoon meal and discussion with the group. This is Alex, a young man who was rescued off the streets and now heads up one of Joey’s street ministries, getting the children together to play soccer and learn about God. Alex is one cool guy.
We had a huge meal – so much left over that we filled 8 to-go boxes that Alex and his friends passed out to hungry people around Addis.
Nebeyu did great giving back to others, and it was wonderful to see the way the young kids shared in the street ministry.
And I taught Nebeyu a very important game:
SLUG BUG. hahahahahaahahahahaaa
When we got back to the house, Wendi got her hair braided, too…
Isn’t she adorable??
And then it was time to pack up and say goodbye. Joey spoke words of encouragement to Nebeyu…
and we all loaded up the van to head to the airport. There were lots of hugs, lots of tears, and lots of promises to keep in touch.
When we arrived at the airport, Nebeyu’s pastor was there… and he gave Nebeyu a special gift: a bible, in Amharic. This way Nebeyu can read along at church with Rick and Wendi, and hopefully through his Bible studies and prayer time, he won’t lose his native language.
We loaded our bags…
and said goodbye. Pochi gave us all big hugs.
We got into the airport to head home… all was going according to plan, until we got to the check-in counter.
Apparently all of us had seats on the plane - except Gerald and Nebeyu. After lots of negotiating, we ended up sending the Cross Family on the originally scheduled flight, while Gerald and I stayed behind to take another one a few hours later. I was sad that I could not go on the plane with the Cross family and document Nebeyu’s first airplane ride, or his first moments on American soil, but kind of excited about our 7 hour layover in London…
The story isn’t over yet!