I'll be nothing but honest here, as I sat down to tell my "Ethiopian mission trip story", immediately I couldn't do it...not because the people of Ethiopia are anything short of beautiful, but because "I" am not worthy to tell "their" story...it took me several weeks to decide that infact I would speak my mind, and on OUR behalf.
You see, the people of Ethiopia are people just like you and I. Some of the brightest most beautiful people I've ever met. The children are vibrant beyond the most pitiful circumstances. They love deep, they have hope and faith like I've never seen, and it's inspiring. Infectious. My biggest hang up in telling "their" story...was...it isn't "my" story to tell. So, I was scared, and I didn't speak up...until now...because I realized, that's not what it's all about. It's OUR story. I am called to be an advocate. I've known it all my life, but until Ethiopia...I had NO idea as to what or why? My voice is meant to be heard, and I will use it. Coming back to America after Ethiopia, well...it was absolutely devastating. Heartbreaking, but beautiful at the same time. Hard to put into words, but I'll try my best.
Hear me when I say; I am incredibly proud to be an American. We literally live in the BEST nation around. Full of choice and opportunity, despite the obvious shortcomings, but we do. We have issues that anger all of us, but we are able to speak freely about it...right?! Yes. If you aren't sure about what we are afforded then let me tell you a few things that children don't have on demand in their country: Clean water, healthy parents, parents at all, clothes, food, shoes, a house, a bed, medications, hospitals, on and on...these kids, in abundance, requested the most of what you ask!?! Chocolate. Yep, that's luxury to them. Something that I know I take for granted sometimes. When you arrive they hold you, they hug you, they ask your name, and they just want your attention...they crave it, there isn't enough to go around you see. They don't care what you drive, where you went to school, or how much money you make...they just love your presence. I was completely overwhelmed by that, in a good way. I was thankful I carried my sunglasses everywhere I went, mostly to hide my tears. I never wanted any of these beautiful people to think I cried tears of sorrow for them. Although I did, and still do, I wept more from joy. For the smiles in tattered rags with bold gorgeous eyes...for the babies without parents, but loved so deeply by their orphanage caretakers. For each beautiful heart I met. For the happiness that comes without riches. We spend a lot of our lives chasing happiness like its some sort of destination we will arrive at...but in fact, happiness is wherever you want it to be...even in a trash dump community with nothing. God is everywhere, not just in the places we "expect" Him to be. He's everywhere and in Ethopia I have never felt closer to my God.
Another word I use to describe this journey is Peace. In a country full of ruin I felt true peace. I saw individuals proud to share their stories with us...not shame, but hope and faith. You see, we aren't the enemy, we are the hope. We often go hard and fast against one another, but I aim to break that cycle, along with my fellow like minded people. Humans can ban together to change the world, I watch it happen one soul at a time. I was so moved by each person we met, each hug truly radiated love and acceptance. We are on a mission and I hope you'll join us.
My husband and I now sponsor two families...as I looked over each story, it was hard to choose. Hard because we asked ourselves, how could we ever do enough? Seriously, you see devestation of this kind and you want to save them all. But reality is you can't. You can, however, change the world for one.
I had the priceless privilege of meeting a few of these "ones" that the world was changed for. These incredible individuals found hope through being sponsored and went back to serve their communities. They didn't abandon them, they spread their love and gifts all over Ethiopia...from helping with sponsorship, to creating jobs for single women, to feeding programs. Inspirational. My heart is forever changed. So giving to these children means a whole lot more than food, water, and supplies...it means a second chance to shine bright. I'm honored to have them in my life and can't wait to squeeze them again, in person.
Which brings me to my final point, I'll be going back. Absolutely. I left a piece of my heart in fact. I constantly long for the love, spirit, foods, and culture of Ethiopia. To hold tight the hands of the children and hug the motherless. To partner with the women and men who want more for their country, just as I do mine. I plan on beginning my own organization based in the states that will serve many of the less fortunate all across the globe. This is just the beginning and the Lord knows how grateful I am that he has big plans for me and my family.
So...I ask you to join me in changing the world for ONE. I want to see the gap between those who want to make a difference, and don't know how...bridged to the people who do make a difference and want to see others partnering up. Maybe Ethopia isn't your starting place, but I encourage EACH of you reading this to take some time to think about where YOU can make a difference. It may be in your very own household...but I assure you, God has a place for everyone...be bold enough to ask where you fit!
Thank you for reading and sharing a bit of my experience in love, courage, and hope. Bless you. ❤️
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"Never worry about the numbers. Help ONE person at a time, and start with the person nearest you." Mother Theresa