This past weekend we got an awesome opportunity to travel 4-5 hours outside of Addis Ababa and spend quality time with Nega (Director of Onesimus) and his wife, Emebet. The weekend was designed for a three fold reason: one, Mr. McGoo and I would have a chance to see some of Ethiopia outside of the city (and capital) of Addis Ababa and get a better feel for the country as a whole, rather than a simple bird's eye view of the capital only; two, Mr. McGoo and I would get some non interrupted time to visit with Nega and Emebet, building our budding friendship even further; and three, much more importantly we could pay for a weekend getaway for Nega and Emebet - allowing them time to rest, relax, spend time together, and have a quiet time away for the Lord to recharge them again for the great and busy ministry they are running in the city.
We traveled to Lake Awassa and were able to stay at a wonderful resort. The hotel was right on the lake, with a beautiful view of the lake shown threw a glass wall surrounding the lobby. The place would have easily costs $200+ a night in the US, but we were able to get it for the weekday rate of $55USD per night, which included a gourmet breakfast (all you can eat) in the morning, access to their pool, sauna, steam room, and gym. It was a DEAL and we were able to spoil Nega and Emebet while there. We had a wonderful time all around.
As we left the comforts of Lake Awassa and began our travels back to Addis Ababa on Monday, my heart began to become heavy again. We traveled 4-5 hours through the countryside of Ethiopia, passing small town upon town built around the precious need of all people: WATER. Between towns the shoulders of the roads were filled with people walking: some walked with massive plastic jugs hoping to find a destination to refill their water jug, others walked with the livestock they kept (goats, cattle, donkeys, etc), others walked from school in their uniforms heading home to eat lunch (hopefully) before going back for the rest of the day, others sat on the side of the road hoping to sell some of the produce they had or the product they made. We passed grass houses and mud huts, often with naked little ones running around in their "yards". We passed a world that America does not know. We passed a world and a society that many do not think of as we enjoy the comfort of our couches and our HD Tv's.
The further we went and the more the images filled my heart and mind, I yearned to better understand, to love, and desired to help provide. The more we passed through these people, and through these towns, and I saw child upon child, my heart became even more burdened.... LORD - how do I help? Lord, what do you want me to do? How can I help make more opportunities? So many are not looking for handouts (although many beg without other options), so many simply want their work to lead to some sort of provision, even what we take for granted at home... WATER. They are not even asking for running water - just an opportunity to obtain CLEAN WATER, drinking water, and maybe walking less than 2 hours to get it for once. I felt the Lord stirring me again, "oh Heather, how silly are you at home... how much of my blessings do you take for granted daily?!"... and I began to think of my backpack in the back of our vehicle, currently filled with 3 chilled bottles of water that I had collected during my stay in Lake Awassa. Three bottles I would be able to replace as soon as we arrived in Addis Ababa, or even purchase again when visiting the next town. Three bottles that could make a difference to someone else.
That was all the stirring I needed - I didn't know what the Lord had for me tomorrow or how I will help and make a difference the next day, but I knew I could make a difference at that moment. I asked Nega (who was driving) to find the next child on the street that was alone (knowing I did not have enough to share with everyone, I didn't want to stop by a group). Thirty minutes to an hour later, Nega asked me if three children were okay (funny that I had 3 bottles, right - God is so good!). I quickly responded "YES" and before I knew it we were pulling to the side of the road onto the shoulder. Hysterically and thankfully, the children began to take off running away from us as soon as the car was coming to a stop. This excited me because I'd want any child to run from a stranger, even knowing their intentions... however, as we yelled to them and showed the bottled water out of the car window, one brave young girl - she was probably 7 years old, if I had to guess - made her way back to our car, snot all over her nose (a common thing, I find myself cleaning snotty noses regularly in Ethiopia, ironically I love every bit of it). Her friends/family stopped their running to watch. We handed her two bottles of water to which she smiled and quickly began to step away. We then grabbed the third and last bottle and called her back, Nega telling her that Jesus loves her and God loves her the entire time. I'm not sure that she understood Amharic, as they often speak a different language in the countryside, but I am confident of this, God called me to give, I did, and He'll provide His own word to this young girl and her family even if we do not have the correct translation that day. She smiled and walked away.
My heart smiled as we drove off, and yet I look forward to how the Lord will open up doors for me to make a difference through Him tomorrow - regardless how small or large, I'm willing. I said earlier that "I didn't know what the Lord had for me tomorrow or how I will help and make a difference the next day, but I knew I could make a difference at that moment." That's my challenge for you today - what is the Lord asking YOU to do today to make a difference for Him and those around you??? TODAY, not tomorrow, or next week? Often we get so scared or petrified by the large nature of so many things in this world (war, famine, poverty, orphans, etc) that we do NOTHING... but be confident in this, it is not within our own strength that we accomplish a good work, but God's strength within us. At the same time, God simply asks "who will go?" or "who will do?" (Isaiah 6:8), not HOW? - He will provide the way!
1 Peter 4:8-11
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully adminstering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
(We have a choppy video of the little girl and us giving her the water from the car, but for some reason trying to upload our videos onto the net depletes our internet connection greatly - therefore those will have to be shared once we're back in the States.)