Monday, October 4, 2010

{Home}




Yes, we are home.
We have been home for 5 days and each day I have thought about writing about our experience in Ethiopia and each day I end up with no words to descibe the emotions we are still feeling.

Those of you on F*cebook have seen some of the pictures. They tell more than I could ever write. God has already used some of those photos to draw people in and start to break for Africa in a beautiful way. And yet, each child has a story and a name and I know that God wants me to share those someday too.
Someday in the future.
Today, everything is still raw and we are slowly attempting to get back into the reality of life, but of course are finding it somewhat impossible.

A few days before we left Ethiopia, I was sick and had to stay back while everyone else was out for the day. While there was pretty much no internet connection the whole time we were there, the Lord led me to write out a little of what I was feeling that day. I am choosing to include it here for you to catch a glimpse into our time in Africa. There are SO many stories and hundreds of pictures, but for today this is what I keep coming back to...


Monday, September 27, 2010

Today I am sitting here alone in the guesthouse while the rest of the team is off ministering at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts school. It was certainly not in my plans to be sick and need to sleep most of the day, but I guess God had different plans. I have been able to rest a lot, read, and reflect on the past 8 days.





I am still not able to put into words what I am feeling right now, but I know one thing for certain- this trip has changed my life. I am no longer the same person I was when I got onto the airplane. Nothing can come close to this trip to Ethiopia. I once thought I knew about orphans and vulnerable children. You know all 147 million of them- how I was somehow going to take a statistic and change the world with it. I thought maybe if I read enough books, memorized enough scripture, went to enough conferences, watched enough videos, adopted enough children… that somehow it would make me an expert advocate for the orphans of the world.


It took a trip to the other side of the world for the Lord to show me that it wasn’t enough for me to simply read about His heart for the orphan, but that He wanted me to see for myself. And oh how He has opened my eyes and truly broken my heart. Being here in Ethiopia has transformed the way I think about a lot of things, one of those things being how I am living my life.

If I am truly going to choose to remember each of the precious children I have met, it is not possible to live the same way ever again. How could it be?




I have seen little ones of all ages run more than a mile to follow our van in hopes of interacting and checking out the white people. I have felt the touch of thousands of little hands that have not been washed in days or even weeks, and witnessed their yellow smiles as I touch them and hug them right back- and felt the most joy I have ever had in my life while doing it. I have been mobbed by hundreds of little bodies who want to make sure they don’t get skipped as I place a small sticker on their hand or face. I have seen dozens and dozens and dozens of toddlers crammed into a classroom the size of my bathroom, sitting more patiently and still than most adults I know. I have sung silly songs and played duck duck goose more times than I can count and yet they never tire of the same thing over and over. I have been there when hungry children were fed a rare delicacy- meat, and watched them savor every last bite and pour water into their cokes to make them last longer. I also was watching when one of the older, experienced ones scraped the leftover crumbs and bones into a bag and hid it under his shirt to take to his room for later. I have seen the longing eyes as the children ask about my family in America and wonder why I can’t bring them to live in Ethiopia. I have heard the stories first hand of their parents who have died and left orphans behind. I have been asked more than once by a weary mother if I would take her baby and raise it and have seen girls only 6 or 7 years old carrying babies on their backs. I have seen smiling, radiating faces in the midst of horrendous circumstances. I have become best friends with the most amazing boys and girls this world has ever known and have openly and bitterly wept at having to leave them behind. I thought I was the one who was coming to Ethiopia’s children, but clearly these children have come to be part of me.






May I never forget their faces.

May I never forget their stories.

May I never forget their names…

Kebrom, Zelalem, Meheret, Nadi, Samuel, Johannes, Temsgan, Hanna, Betty, Henok, Lemlem, and so many more- YOU have changed me.
Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart to what God sees. My heart and my life are broken forever. May you always know how much you are loved, by me and the others and most importantly by the Father who sees and hears you.


9 comments:

ryan said...

Thanks for sharing, Candice. Very moving. Amy and I can't wait to go there next year!

Ryan

Michele said...

Your story journey is a beautiful one. tears, my friend. I cannot imagine being asked by a desperate mother to take her child. How could that not change you forever.

Alicia said...

i loved reading and looking at all your pictures from your trip. WOW. i love seeing what the Lord is doing in your life - what an amazing experience. thanks for sharing!

abigail mortenson said...

Candace, Thank you for writing this. I feel the same way- I still can't put into words how I feel about my time there. But one thing I do know...the people there are so incredible and they blessed me so much. I came away with gifts of love from so many children and it has changed me. I'm looking forward to reading more as you process and I'm thankful to know you!

Jason, Kelly, and Luke said...

Candace, thank you so much again for your honesty. What you have scene and witnessed there...well I don't know what to say. May God be with you and continue to be with the people of Africa. Thank you for your service to those children and families.

whitneyanddaniel said...

I love hearing your heart. It is truly the Father's heart Candice <3

Christi said...

Amen sister! LOVE your heart and LOVE all that the Lord is doing in and through you! Can't wait to see what HE has in store!

-Christi

Jenn said...

How sweet to see how God has imprinted these faces, lives and experiences on your heart.

Ally said...

what a beautiful letter that is truly written from your heart. Thank you for sharing a piece of your trip with us. Boy, do we sometimes have things so out of perspective! God has certainly used you to touch my heart today.

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