Today we set out to serve the women who carry the large bundles of wood, eucalyptus sticks and whatever else would beenfit them to take to the market to sell. Our first priority was to get to them, give them a break and wash their tired feet. Once we did, we fitted them with a pair of clean socks and a gently used pair of shoes. A crowd would gather each time that we stopped, but we gave these women 100% of our attention. We wanted them to know that they did not go unnoticed and that we saw the heavy burden that they carried. Our intentions were to meet with these women and see which ones had a home and an area to house a donkey. After meeting with the women we went to the market area to find donkeys. To our disappointment, they had no donkeys worth buying that day. However, while our translator was negotiating a price and looking for donkeys our driver hopped out of the van and walked a short distance. He scooped up a sweet little boy that was probably about three years old who was wearing a shirt, a tattered sweater, no underwear, no pants and no shoes. Sami opened the side door of the van and sat him down. Little did this sweet little fella realize, he was about to get a makeover. Sami pulled his shirt off, while others cleaned him with wet wipes. They put on what was probably his first pair of underwear, a new shirt, some pants, socks, shoes and a jacket. He just stared around, probably wondering why on earth these people were caring for him. We did not buy any donkeys that day, but we were able to let that sweet boy know that we saw him, we cared about him and we wanted something better for him.
On our way back from the market it began to rain. As we turned the corner, we noticed a woman carrying a huge bundle of eucalyptus branches. We stopped and our incredible translator hopped out and offered for us to carry her bundle on the van and give her a ride to the bottom of the mountain. It took six men to put the bundle on top of the van. We didn't leave before we sat her down and washed her feet. We told her that she was an angel and that we were blessed to serve her. She was clearly overwhelmed with it all. There were 14 people focused solely on her. Once she had on a fresh pair of socks and some new shoes, we loaded up to head down the mountain. She shared with us that she can earn about 80 birr a day by bringing two of those heavy loads each day. That is roughly $4 a day. She shared that her 19 year old son was a taxi driver that was involved in a traffic accident and because there was a fatality in the accident, he was taken away to prison, so she was left alone to care for the rest of her children. We asked her how much her expenses were and we were able to give her a few months worth of living expenses. Many on the team felt led to give, so we are not even sure how much we gave her, but we know it was enough for many months ahead. Once we reached the bottom of the mountain, near the market, we stopped to let her out. Again, six men worked to pull this heavy load from the van and held it while she tucked herself underneath and tied it to her back. It is unimagineable that she could carry that heavy load, but she walked away smiling and we all walked away amazed.
Because we couldn't find donkeys, Our translator suggested that we go to see how we could help a woman that he has been ministering to. She is a widow and mother of four. She is Muslim and lives in a Muslim community and gets very little help for her family. By God's grace, she and two of her children were home and she invited us in. The sweet woman shared with us that her major concern had been sending her children to school. It cost her 700 birr (approximately $36) a year to send them to school, but because she was only able to find work ever-so-often, she had to take them out of school. One of our team members gave her enough to pay for school for the entire year and extra for expenses for their family. We didn't say one word to her about Jesus, for her and our own safety, but I don't think we had to. Instead of saying His name, we simply loved her in HIS name. We prayed silently over her children and her home and simply hugged and kissed them, gave them clothes and shoes and love.
After leaving the Muslim community we stopped in for our final visit at Restoration Orphanage. Definitely a bittersweet moment. We were sad for it to be our last visit with them, but there was joy knowing that most of them would be in their forever homes before we would make it back to Ethiopia to see them again. Such sweet faces and such lucky families who will soon be welcoming those bright smiles into their forever-home.
We planned our day today. We got one thing accomplisehd that we planned. God had different plans. We followed His lead. He blew our minds. He doesn't always ask us to make the game plan, but he does want you to show up for the game. This team showed up today. We let him lead and we simply submitted in obedience and allowed him to use us to change the world for a few, while He used them to change the ten of us forever.
I couldn't get pictures to upload from today but here are a few from our past couple of days at Shashemene and passing clothes out to the children we met on the road.