I didn’t know what to expect when I got on a plane to go to Ethiopia. I had just been given the last minute opportunity to join a Summit team headed there to work with an organization called Children’s HopeChest, and for some reason, I felt like I needed to go. On our second day in Ethiopia, we walked through crowded markets on dirt roads to get to Ehite’s home. Ehite has seven children, one of whom is Robel, a sponsor child of our teammate Rebekah. When we reached the doorway of Ehite’s home, she greeted us with an enormous smile and many hugs. She welcomed us inside, and as we began to sit down, we quickly realized that our whole team wouldn’t be able to fit. Ehite happily gave up her seat and stood in the doorway, and the smile never left her face.
She began to tell us her story. She told us about her family that disowned her when she chose not to practice Islam. She told us about her husband and seven children, who all live in the one room home with her and who she loves with every ounce of her being. And she told us about her faith in Jesus, the hope that keeps her going every moment of every day.
Before we left, she began to pray. In her prayers she thanked God for bringing our team to her home. With tears rolling down her cheeks she thanked Him for people who wanted to travel across the ocean to be with her and hear her story, because even her own parents had stopped coming to see her. It was a beautiful moment, a moment that is difficult to explain, but it let me see a glimpse into God’s plan for this trip, for this team, and for these people.
As our team said our goodbyes to Ehite with tears and hugs, we were overwhelmed by this opportunity to be invited into Ehite’s home and into her story. All of us were changed by it.
I had been to Africa a couple of times before this with Summit. When I got on the plane to go to Ethiopia, I was wondering what would be different. I wondered if God would show me something else this time. To be honest, I think I was limiting him. I had my own ideas of what people learn when they are in a third world country. I knew what He had taught me last time, and a part of me thought this trip might be the same. But it wasn’t. God gave us opportunities to sit and be still and hear stories, and He opened my eyes to things He hadn’t on my other trips. Where I had limited God in my mind, He showed up in such beautiful and tangible ways with people like Ehite. Her story, and the many others that we got to hear, made this trip such a unique and incredible experience for all of us, and I will always be thankful for our time in Ethiopia.