Friday, May 2, 2014

Last Blog!

I don’t know how to sum up 8 months …I especially don’t know how to sum them up when they were spent in Ethiopia, with brand new everything. It was an adventure, a challenge, a life changer, and a dream. It was everything I thought it would be and everything I thought it wouldn’t be. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am eternally grateful for being given.  The following are highlights and memories that resonate to be the key and favorite moments of these 8 months…enjoy

I saw many things that reminded me of the brokenness of this earth. My heart longs for heaven in a new way. There were good days and bad days. There were remarkable days and mundane days. There were days where I wanted to run home and days where I couldn’t imagine stepping on a plane.

I laughed and danced with some of the sweetest humans. I cried with them as well. I went to a wedding and a funeral within the first month of living here. I went to the hospital twice. I went to many festivals and holiday celebrations. I celebrated my birthday in the middle of an African plain surrounded by three amazing friends.

I was reminded daily that this life is not my own, it isn’t meant to glorify myself…ever.

I worshipped in a church filled with over 60 races.

Jesus revealed himself to me in new ways daily...through the eyes of an old woman, the touch of a newborn, the noise of a child laughing, and ways less tangible that only the depths of my heart could know. Through every low of sickness, and every high of great joy the Lord carried me through this time away from everything familiar.

I fell head over heels in love with Isaac. His small life has taught me much. Spending each day with him humbled me and reminded me that this journey wasn’t about successfully teaching English to hundreds but absolutely adoring those hundreds with love and grace.

I fell in love with the kids I taught. Their constant desire to learn inspired me to continue on my own path of learning and discovery. Their smiles, laughs and joys are stamped on my heart; they have left deep impressions on my soul.

I watched women leave the deadly life of prostitution and fall into a beautiful life of Jesus, fellowship, and success. Their testimonies of courage and resilience will inspire me forever.

Almost everyday my eyes filled with tears, from laughing so hard. Whether it was a rat in the office, a lizard in my house, Rahel’s pronunciation of the English language or a crazy man proposing to me, each day was filled with hilarious adventure.

Our house was a place I loved to come home to. Our patio served as one of my favorite places. We had parties, we ate meals, I sun bathed or watched the sunset. Our kitchen served as a place for domestic disaster and dance parties. Our doors were always open, and 4/7 nights a week a friend was sleeping on our couch. My iHome became my good friend and an enemy of our landlord. Music always rang through our tiny house.

Rahel and I always seemed to find ourselves in weird situations. Like dealing with homeless men attacking us, taxi’s catching on fire, and going on walks very late at night just to get some chocolate. We became regulars at multiple cafes and the movie theater. We also got to experience Kenya together, a trip that goes down in the books as one of my favorite vacations ever!!!

It really is unbelievable that this chapter is ending. I can still feel the heartache of saying goodbye to home and the wonder of that first day in Ethiopia. It is only by the Lord’s grace and kindness that I had this opportunity and the courage to pursue it. 
And my incredible parents had a little to do with it too…okay…they had everything to do with it. From long phone calls at odd hours, to advice on everything under the sun they have been right next to me through it all. I know a lot of people thought they were crazy for sending their 18-year-old girl off to a new land but I know it is because they trust the Lord first and foremost with everything in their lives. Their love has no end and they are two of the greatest blessings I will ever have on this earth.

Friends, your support meant the world to me. The many emails, texts, and snapchats made this venture so much more enjoyable. I am thankful for you all, and I am SO excited to see you all soon.

I hope you enjoyed following my journey.

For one last time
Love from Addis,

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter in Ethiopia

The last couple have days have been touching ones for me and I have come to this blank word document multiple times, trying to truthfully reflect as well as share with you the events that so deeply moved my heart.

Thursday I attended a maundry service for the first time, most of which I cried through. It was unbelievably beautiful, raw and sweet. It was between the staff and the woman in WAR’s program, a very real comparison to what took place so many years ago. I imagine that the emotions in the upper room and our office were quite similar, emotions of discomfort, disbelief yet humble acceptance of a bold act.  As Cherry washed my own feet and prayed over me, I tried everything to keep from crying, my effort failed. It was a full circle moment of my time here, one I will always remember. As I watched the woman I have taught, have their feet washed, faces filled with awe, I cried more. As one woman put it, “Since coming to WAR and coming to Christ, my life has truly began, I have started to live.” Powerful words which, to no surprise, brought me to more tears. I am grateful and blessed to be apart of this ministry that strives to be nothing less than the face of Christ to these women.
Friday was peaceful, we had no work and I had time to just rest, something my life here lacks often. In the evening I went to my churches good Friday service. I went into it a little bit weary, bringing a lot of endeavors from this season to the cross. As I took part of classic good Friday service activities, a wave of reflection came over me. I nailed my struggled sins to a small wooden cross, my hands were washed and I took of the bread and drank of the cup… reminders of the incredible sacrifice, reminders of how good the Lord has been to me over my 19 years, especially during these past 8 months. Reminders of how far He has brought me and a glimpse full of assurance into the future.

Saturday was busy, it felt like Rahel and I walked the entire country of Ethiopia. What started as a morning walk turned into quite a long, full day walk. We went into tiny shops, ate lunch, drank coffee, and perused new roads and stores. We also filled our fridge because honest to God all that was inside it was cucumbers and strawberry yogurt, I confess that though I have grown these 8 months, I have not grown to love grocery shopping :)

And Sunday, He has risen indeed! Rahel and I dressed up in our best, got into our tiny and familiar cab and drove our 30 minute drive to church. The street corners were filled with the skins of freshly killed goats, sheep, cows and chickens. Not my favorite sight, but evidence to how big the celebration of Easter is here! I really do love the church I go to here and always leave incredibly blessed and grateful for the community it provides, a small taste of home as I meet and greet with people serving here from the US. My afternoon was filled with reading passages from the Word and from numerous books people gave me back in September as going away presents. A quiet resurrection Sunday indeed…

I am closing in on just 2 weeks until my departure and an even quicker date, just 5 days until my parents arrive. It seems unreal. This weekend of pondering and praise has encouraged my heart all the more about my time here. Feelings of sadness have begun to settle in about leaving this beautiful place, but a sense of gratitude and nothing but love for my time here has settled as well. I cannot say it enough, but I am just so thankful for these 8 months, though there have been hills to overcome, they do not define my time or take away from all the goodness of Ethiopia.

I arrive back in the US in early May and look forward to a summer of reconnecting with friends and family who I have missed greatly.

Much love and happiest of Easters to all of you,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3 weeks left

I write this from one of my favorite coffee shops here in Addis. The front window is all glass and I always take my seat in the center, facing outside. My surroundings are quite symbolic of this whole journey, and not to get too cheesy but this is why…in front of me is a taxi stop, sort of a staple for Addis Ababa. All types of people flood into these blue mini buses, heading to destinations all over the city. Homeless mothers stand at the doors begging for food, people push and shove for the last seat, and then the rest of the people go along their days, selling fruit, making tea, or sitting on a rock looking like a perfectly posed picture. This is the life I have lived for the past 8 months, of course I have not fully engaged in a typical Ethiopian lifestyle, but there have been sacrifices and choices made that simply could not be made in the US because they are not available. And then the second half of this picture is what lies behind me, a big tower full of clothing shops and boutiques, a representation of the land I left. This tower, named Gola Gul stands out like a sore thumb, it is the white elephant of Hyahulet the town it is located in. It doesn’t blend, and it never will because what surrounds it is what I described above. Sometimes I feel like Gola Gul walking around the streets of Addis, desperately wanting people to know that I am not just here for 2 weeks to build a house but that I have tried my best to establish a life here…with every shout of “ferengi” (white person) my hopes are slowly pushed down. Even if I lived here for years and years, this is something that would still be shouted and no matter what there is no way I could really ever look like my life is here, at least to the outsiders…

As I close in on only three weeks left this is what my mind wonders off to…the reality that my life has become Addis with bits of America infused into it. I have this weird, paradoxical peace about leaving. I knew from the get go I wouldn’t be able to live my life here forever, and to be completely honest without sounding like this experience was bad, (because it was everything BUT bad) I don’t want to. Those infused parts seem to be tugging my heart more and more with every day that passes, and I truly long for home in a way that is hard to describe. If you have ever left home, to a foreign country, for a long period of time, by yourself, maybe you can identify with what I am saying...

It is so strange how these 8 months went by so quickly; I can’t think to another 8-month stretch of my life that has gone by so frighteningly fast. I think of the cliché “time goes by when you’re having fun” and that describes this so accurately. There have been challenging times but far more have been moments where I feel like I am in a dream…holding Isaac, hearing kids read out loud in ENGLISH for the first time, listening to the testimonies of women once bound to prostitution, now free in Christ…I could go on and on…Glorious moments everyday and this has been MY LIFE for 8 months straight!!! That is an incredible blessing.

I hope this doesn’t seem too flip flop ish, aka: “she’s happy to come home, but she just said these 8 months have been the best…blah blah blah” I will miss these people and this country with emotions I probably have never felt before, but to be home, surrounded by “my people” will be another incredible blessing that I am definitely looking forward to.

Love love love from one super cool coffee shop, in the middle of Addis,

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Joy of saying Yes

In the spring of my Senior year, when this journey really started, I had no idea what this year would hold. And now, as I begin to “look back” on it all, my heart is wrecked with all sorts of emotions but mostly gratitude. A year ago I was in a Social Justice class dreaming of helping women who were slaves to prostitution. A year ago I wrote a paper about how my views of prostitutes changed after watching the documentary “Very Young Girls.”  A year ago I texted my dad in the middle of class, with tears in my eyes saying “I don’t think I am supposed to go to college” The quiet journey of packing up my life and moving to Africa started to unfold in March of 2013. And now, in March of 2014 as I live the reality of serving women who were once in prostitution I am blown away!! The Lord is so gracious and kind.

His holy orchestration of every detail about this year is mind blowing. In August, weeks before I moved I had no house or roommate. Hours after arriving in Ethiopia he provided an amazing house, far past my expectations of what I would have here. He provided a friend to live with me, Rahel. Even days before leaving, I struggled to find the words to tell people exactly what I was doing in Ethiopia. But this is the crazy, adventure of saying yes to Jesus. You don’t always get the details, you sometimes just get the call.

The more I learn to trust God the more I realize that He will provide radical opportunities if I just say yes. One example…a week after I got back to Ethiopia, my “boss” (I don’t know any other word, but basically the woman who gives me projects/assignments) said “Becca we need you to teach a class to woman who know zero English, and its an hour away” I was hesitant to say yes, but I am so thankful I did. This class is full of hilarious, curious, smart women. The Lord has blessed this class and provided me with so much patience and kindness for them. I look forward to Thursdays, I absolutely love going to Sires to hang out with and teach these women. 3 months ago they couldn’t say Hello and now they are reading children’s books perfectly. Amazing, right? It is all a testament to the Lords remarkable ability to work when you say yes to his callings. This is joy!!!

It is a beautiful and scary thing to listen to the Spirit’s woos that come in our life. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always the popular thing. I was one of three students in my graduating class who didn’t go to college. But I have learned time and time again that it is so worth it to say yes.

Exciting things are happening here! I leave for Kenya in 5 days. I am working on multiple video projects. Classes are wonderful and fun, like always. Thank you for your continued support and kind words!!

Love from Addis,