Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Visit to Merkato

The following was written by one of our sponsors (we'll call her CC), who traveled to Ethiopia about a month ago. She got to visit with her sponsored child at Merkato while she was there. Be sure to watch the YouTube video of her singing Jesus Loves Me with her child, Fikrte.  It will make your day.  :)

God is good! It blows my mind when I think that last June, I was chatting in a park with a stranger (Daniel) who told me about the precious kids in Merkato, and less than a year later I was standing in Merkato meeting my sponsored child, Fikrte!!!! What an incredible experience! 

Two very kind staff members from Children's Hopechest accompanied me to the Merkato Care Point. They told me Fikrte was waiting for me and was very excited. I was so eager to meet her, that I didn't even stop to look at the outside of the building or take note of the surroundings, I just quickly followed them through a small room with benches and into a much smaller office. A tiny, beautiful girl was sitting in a chair and the translator introduced us. The girl in the picture that I had prayed for and thought about so many times was real!!!! The love I felt in that moment was overwhelming. I grabbed her, wrapped her up in my arms and told her that I loved her. 

We spent the next hour talking via the translator and playing with the goodies I brought her. The joy on her face as she opened each surprise was one that I will never, ever forget. My eyes are filled with tears just thinking about her sweet face. I took a Polaroid camera and a little photo album and we had a blast taking tons of pictures. I printed them out, put them in the album and gave it to her. She was elated! Fikrte told me she wants to be a doctor. I applauded her.  I asked her if she prays to Jesus and she started singing a song about Jesus in Amharic to me. It was beautiful! I told her that I am a vocal teacher and asked her if she wanted to sing with me. She did, so we sang Jesus Loves Me together…so special! 

The time flew by and the facilitators told me she had to walk home. I asked if I could walk her home and meet her grandmother who cares for her. They said yes! Fikrte and I walked hand in hand all the way to her home. Prior to the trip, I considered myself fairly educated about the extreme poverty in Ethiopia, but you can't truly understand until it is staring you in the face. It was shocking. We weaved through rocky, dirt pathways and eventually arrived at her "house." It was one tiny room made of tin. The facilitators introduced me to her grandmother, who graciously invited me in. Fikrte's grandmother had decorated the dark room with posters of Jesus and I could see that she had taken great care to make it a home. As I looked at the dirt floors and tried to ignore the almost unbearable smell of sewage, I noted that their entire house was the size of my closet. We have so much. Through the translator, Fikrte's grandmother thanked me for all I am doing for Fikrte and said she loved me. She said she asked God to bless me. 

He already had. 

It was soon time for me to say goodbye and I couldn't hold back the tears as I held Fikrte in my arms. I told the translator to tell her I was crying because I was happy, and she told me she loved me. When we were walking away, she ran out of her house, smiled the biggest smile, and yelled ciao. I memorized her face.  As we walked the narrow path back to the Care Point, I cried the ugly cry. I kept saying over and over, "We have so much." 

I was broken. I grieved for the people who have so little and repented for taking for granted all God has blessed me with.  

The meeting with Fikrte was life-changing for me, and I'm praying I can return to Ethiopia and see her again soon.

Your sponsorship money is life-giving to these kids and their families. Thank you for giving. If there is any way for you to meet your sponsored child in person, I urge you to do it! Your little one will know, without a doubt, that there is someone who loves them, who believes in them, and who is praying for them. It will change you. I'm praying that God will bless each of you and your sponsored children. 

Thank you Daniel and Sarah for your passion for the children in Merkato. I'm thanking God for that conversation in the park.

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