This summer, two students from Union University traveled to Addis for six and a half weeks to intern for the TrueLight Childcare Project. While there, our interns visited the homes of the families you sponsor to hear their stories. One intern, Lizzie Bird, shares about her experience:
I am so fortunate to have been back to Ethiopia for the second time in two years! I am thankful for everything True Light Childcare does for poor families in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am so thankful that God would choose a lowly being like me to join in the amazing work he is doing in the hearts of those people in Addis.
We had a few days off work when we first landed to get adjusted to the time change. After a few days we started our work, which consisted of 8-12 home visits per day. When we visited a home, we would interview the child and the family to write a report to send back to sponsors in the States. Nothing will ever prepare you for the poverty you see when you enter these families’ mud homes. It hurt my heart to see how badly they are in need. But the worst part of it all was the fact that I couldn’t fix their problems. However, I could love them and show them an unconditional love that I have experienced myself. The love of Jesus. Even though I couldn’t help them physically, I could pray for them. I felt so helpless, but I have seen firsthand how powerful prayer is.
It’s a powerful thing when you share a verse or a testimony with one of these families. Because they sit in awe of you, and they soak up everything you say. Even if a family didn’t pray to receive Christ, a seed was planted in their hearts that day. I’ll never forget one young girl who did pray to receive Christ. This girl in particular was deaf, so our friend Courtney (she knew sign language) translated. We listened to her story and talked to her about the Lord and the good things he promises to those who love him. She was so overwhelmed with so much information, but she became a Christian that day!
We visited over 200 families in six weeks, but there is one family in particular that stole my heart the moment I met them. As we walked into Lidet’s small, mud house, her mother and father scrambled around to make the single room more tidy, and her father even ran to the store next door to buy us drinks, which is a huge sign of hospitality. We listened to her family talk about how hard it is for them to pay rent each month for just one room. I listened to her father almost break down in tears because he didn’t know where his income was going to come from. I listened to them tell me about Lidet’s tonsillitis and how it affects her appetite, which is why she is so small. I also listened to them tell me about how much they loved their daughter and how they would do anything for Lidet to succeed. It’s so rare to find a family like Lidet’s, because in the midst of their suffering, they are thankful and hopeful.
As we walked away from her home, I asked Nati, our translator, if she had a sponsor. I was so surprised to find out that she did not, so that day I decided that I wanted to be the one to support Lidet. I decided that I wanted to love her, and show her that love every month.
Fast-forward a few weeks to our last day working. That day in particular, all the children in the program came to the office to get measured for their school uniforms, and Lidet just happened to be there. This day will forever be etched into my mind because the emotions I felt were so overwhelming. I told Lidet I wanted to sponsor and support her and love her, and do you know what she said to me? With tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said, “Thank you. I love you so much.” She gave me the biggest and tightest hug. I honestly never wanted that moment to end, because in that moment I felt pure joy.
I wondered why God even sent me on this trip. What was my purpose here? Of course, it was to aid the TLC project, write reports, and share the Gospel. I also think he sent me there to learn about myself and to grow as a person. I believe he sent me back because he knew how much love I have in my heart for Ethiopia and for the families I met. Like I said earlier, I am so thankful that he would choose me, send me, to do this work. For that I am forever grateful. Ethiopia has a special place in my heart, and it always will. I pray that one day I’m able to go back, but until that day, I will wait patiently. I will live in the moment, and try to show the love of Jesus that I have in my heart. Never ignore a calling God has placed in your heart, no matter how terrified you might be. Chase it with all your heart, because God always has a plan, and he will bless those who follow him closely.