We asked the team who traveled to Merkato to share a story about their time with the children that particularly impacted them. Here is what Koelle had to say about a moment that she will never forget:
My favorite thing about the trip was the total lack of personal space -- that constant press of happy, excited little bodies, and the warmth of a greeting exchanged with my Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ. I myself, am a very 'huggy' person by nature, so I just loved how affectionate the culture is there. No matter what I was doing - face painting, nail polish, participating in a coffee ceremony, and even just walking around - some happy little person would be grabbing for my hand to hold or my lap to sit on. If those were occupied, an arm would get slung over my shoulders. One day I even ended up covered in kisses from the top of my shirt collar to the top of my head. It was so great! And it wasn't just the kids, either. The adults were just as warm and welcoming. They were always greeting with an embrace and a series of cheek-to-cheek kisses. I enjoyed the welcoming, loving spirits of the people so much while I was in Ethiopia.
My absolute favorite 'lack of space' was during the church service at Merkato. It took place in a tiny room, stuffed with people in rickety plastic chairs. You could feel the warmth of the people on either side of you and behind you. The sheer joy of worshiping together (no matter that we didn't know the words), and closing my eyes, listening to the exotic sounds of worship in a foreign tongue, and hearing God whisper, "This is a glimpse of eternity". The entire room literally bounced in worship, and I could not help but think of Revelation 7:9-10:
|Koelle painting nails at Merkato|
|Koelle painting faces at Merkato|
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."