i need africa more than africa needs me.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
sometimes i wonder why i'm in school and why i put so much effort in all this school work. but the other day, i was reminded of how God has a reason for everything. i'm going to travel up to NYC, NY this christmas break through a club at my school, to work in a homeless shelter for about a week. it's the opportunities like this and the doors that God opens for you (the ones you didn't even know were there), that make me so very thankful to be here. going on mission trips to places like ethiopia, it's hard for me to remember that there is SO much ministry and work to be done back here at home. and i am overjoyed and humbled to be able to work with people who have become homeless for who knows what reasons. there are so many opportunities to serve while i'm here in college. often times, i find myself feeling so frustrated that i'm stuck in the library for hours on end studying for a test.
thank goodness for days like today, when i realize how silly my complaints are, and how big our God is. for every door that He closes, He faithfully opens another that is so much better for us anyway.
Posted by Anna Marie at 1:04 AM
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
"You don't have a soul. You ARE a soul. You have a body."
i'm so thankful to know that we aren't made for this world. yes, we have a body. but we ARE a soul. so many times i realize that my flesh is getting to me and i'm getting so caught up in all the things that the world is throwing at me. this week, it's been in having an overwhelming amount of school work to do that i can never seem to finish. it can make me feel so discouraged and unprepared. but i have to remind myself, that even though my flesh is telling me i'm exhausted and i really don't want to stay up for the fourth night in a row studying until 4 in the morning, the Lord will give me strength and he will show me that it doesn't matter what my body is telling me, because it's my soul that counts. what i'm working towards now will help me in serving his kingdom once i graduate, wherever that may be.
"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
Posted by Anna Marie at 7:06 PM
Monday, September 6, 2010
i'm constantly reminded of how much He loves us. i mess up time and time again and he continues to love me.. i am so undeserving. one of my favorite bible verses is ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" it is just humbling to know that its not by what we are doing, because we are all undeserving. but God loves us so much that he gives us a chance to be with him for all eternity anyway.. i just love that about our God.
i've been thinking about all that happened in ethiopia and how i can try to tell all the stories that took place while i was over there. and honestly, there are so many that it's overwhelming. i don't really know where to begin. but i've noticed that God lays one person i've met in ethiopia on my heart for the whole day. i don't know if that makes sense, but for the whole day i'm thinking about that person and praying about them. each person has their own story, and so i'm going to attempt to share each person that is on my heart for that day and hope that it makes sense.
today, it's this sweet lady that i met at the Women at Risk. i'm mad at myself for not being able to pronounce or even try to pronounce the ladies names.. but i'll never forget her. she was one of the women in the program that had previously been a prostitute. she knew small bits and pieces of english but her spirit was so uplifting and positive. i try to think about how i would be if i were in their shoes.. and how i would be after experiencing the terrible things that they've been put through. and i'm not sure i could say i would be as positive and radiant as these women are. she always ALWAYS had a smile on her face.
i get so bogged down in daily life.. i get stressed out easily and school takes over my life. i have to remind myself that if these women who have experienced such hardships can put a smile on their face and remain positive and hopeful, i can do it too. and these women are a constant reminder to me that even if you have so many things in this world telling you that you can't do something, the Lord's plan will prevail. even though at the time they didn't realize how big of an impact they were making, through their actions and attitude, they encourage me everyday to give more, try harder, and love on others constantly because they never, ever give up.
this woman of God probably didn't realize it at the time, but i was taking note of her spirit and joy for the Lord. its humbling to say that even though i wanted to teach her about Christ, she taught me more about Him than i think i could've ever shared, all through her actions. i thought about her all day today, and prayed for her as i did. she is such a precious woman of God and her positive attitude and beautiful smile will never be forgotten.
p.s. ben rector rocks
Posted by Anna Marie at 10:02 PM
Monday, August 23, 2010
A teammate of mine is so talented in filming and photography and she put together a video of our two week trip. to me, i clicked play to watch it, expecting it to be another video of a trip to africa that was full of desperation and sadness.. but what i saw was so completely different. i saw all those little faces that i spent time with. all of those beautiful, happy smiles. and i knew who they were, i immediately recognized them. i saw such JOY and LIFE in that video. i didn't see how sad and deprived these people were. i saw how they were happy, and dancing and singing with joy! i saw what it was like to live for the day and for the Lord and not for money or the things that we have. i saw people who didn't do things to just put on a resume or to get something in return. i saw people who LOVED each other and who did what was right and gave everything that they could.
this post is very hard on my heart for me to write... because i miss them so much. i miss those sweet little faces that i saw in the video. and seeing them moving around and waving at the camera made me feel like i was back in ethiopia again. i want to be back so bad.. i want to make them feel so special and show them how special they are to the Lord. i want to be around people who love the Lord with every last breath they breathe.
i was telling some of my friends how sad i felt being back here. i never thought i would feel SAD to be back in such a comfortable life i live. i don't have to work all day long and serve others all the time here like i did in ethiopia. i get to sleep in a safe house and have running water. i get to live comfortably. going to ethiopia has taught me i don't want to live comfortably again. i want to be serving the Lord and putting myself out there and being an instrument for him. and coming back to a life of comfort and being self serving is frustrating...
i go to sleep and wake up everyday with the faces of all the little kids and streetboys in my memory. i'm so scared for their future but i am trying so hard to trust in the Lord.. it's hard to be here at school when my heart isn't here at all. i'm trying to be passionate about things while i'm here but its hard when the things i care about most are half way across the world. i've watched the video everyday and each time it makes my heart hurt. i miss them so so much. i know God is faithful and i know he will get me through this. he will be the mighty protector and watch over all of the streetboys. it's easier for me to say it than it is to believe it. but i know i've got to trust in him.
i love the quote "now that i've seen, i'm responsible" because i saw so much over on our trip that i never knew existed in the world. such poverty and brokenness. and i know we can help. it's hard to be proactive while you're in college but i also feel like its the best time to get the word out because we are all the same age at the same place. so i pray the Lord will show me a good way to tell everyone about the streetboys. if we are blessed enough to go to school, i'm going to do all that i can to see that they go to school too.
this is the video link, click on it and press play.
Posted by Anna Marie at 5:38 PM
Saturday, August 14, 2010
the streetboys have changed my perspective and outlook on life forever. i'll never forget them
these two sweet little kids came to the compassion school everyday but they weren't compassion kids. their mom recently passed away and their dad had no one to watch over them while he tried to find a job... this is the day we gave them new clothes because their old ones were literally falling off of them. i saw the firsthand effect of the generosity from people at home and how it completely improves the kids lives here.
The market in Ambo
this is sweet adam, who was in my english class. he was the happiest little boy i've ever seen, even if he has almost nothing in his name, it doesn't matter to him. they are trying to show you their prayer wheel we worked on in class
these little girls are from the orphanage Kechene... they have been orphaned because of the aids/hiv epidemic that has hit ethiopia recently.
the women at risk.
The streets in Addis
These two sweet little girls are the kids of the women at risk.. i know that their lives have been greatly changed by their mothers being put through this program.. they get free schooling and child care while their moms go through counseling and skill training to get a job to earn money for themselves the right way.
Posted by Anna Marie at 7:42 AM
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I'm trying to get used to the idea of being home... with everything i've seen and experienced these past few weeks, it's hard to come back here to the life that i left. there was so much i took for granted.. family.. school.. church.. and i just look at how i used to take advantage of those things and it makes me frustrated with myself.
flying home didn't seem like it took as long as it did getting there. i slept about 10 out of the 16 hour flight so that could have been it. the last night in ambo was easily the hardest. i think it was my breaking point, where i was so broken from all of the things i had seen in ethiopia, that it was just enough. i had been praying that the Lord break my heart for what breaks his and that night finally did it.
we were eating with our 4 streetboy friends that we had spent time with the past few days when me and beth asked danny (one of the street boys) what he wanted to be when he became an adult. he told us that he would never amount to anything, and he asked how he could ever amount to something? we were really surprised and saddened by his answer. then he told us he believed the world had forgotten them, all of the streetboys. i immediately wanted to say, no of course not! but then i thought about it.. the boys don't have families anymore and the government won't help them out in anyway. they live on the streets, some starting from the age 8 until adulthood and sometimes even further than that. the government doesn't offer them any type of scholarships for schooling. this breaks my heart so much to say, but to the WORLD, they have somewhat been forgotten.
danny said no one loves them... no one takes care of them. thats when we said no, we love them. GOD loves them. and we think that he is so special and we truly believe he will amount to something someday. and he simply would not believe us. another streetboy said how, how could we ever do anything?? we don't go to school we dont have anymoney. we told them if you pray to God and if you hand your life over to God he will do great things. thats when they told us no one had ever told them how to pray... and they've never owned a bible. we told them how they can pray to God in any place whenever they want. i just hope that what we said stuck with them..
it made me ask myself, why do i have a family? why am i blessed with a home? they are God's children just like I am... saying goodbye to them was the worst. because i don't know if i'll ever see them again. i don't know what will happen to them. i don't know if they will ever get off the streets... and i don't know if they will be taken care of. i know the Lord is telling me to trust in him, but it is so hard to when i'm so far away.
it's easy to say goodbye to something when your heart isn't fully there or when you know you will get the chance to visit again. but with these four boys, my heart was all there. i was there for them and i put every ounce of love and energy into this mission for them. and i don't know when or if i'll ever see them again.
i wish that me telling them how much we love and care about them would be enough. i wish i had enough money to put them in homes and schooling and get them jobs. but my attention and care isn't enough. i will never be enough to save these boys from this dire situation... i have to find rest in the Lord. i have to trust in him. and I have to believe that He is enough. I have to know that he will provide for these boys.
i just wanted to tell you all about the streetboys in ambo. i wasn't expecting these boys to pull the heartstrings that they did, but they pulled every single one of them. i am passionate about showing these boys that they HAVE NOT been forgotten. i don't care what their society or situation says about them. i want them to know they are LOVED by the Lord and by others.
the last thing that one of the boys said to us that night was "we don't care about things. we don't care about the stuff people have. we care about people. and we care about being loved."
THAT is where the heart of life lies.
Posted by Anna Marie at 4:16 PM
Monday, August 9, 2010
i hadn't heard this song yet, but it is a big hit here. it's sung by shakira, and she sang it to africa during the world cup game.. so i've heard it ALL the time. that and justin bieber... i don't know how or why they like him but they loveeeee him! these past few days have been busy.. we went to church with the compassion kids saturday, for their "sunday school" and then we went to real church on sunday.
we have been hanging out with the street boys some and today we are going to teach them some english soon after i type this. the street boys are teen age boys that are homeless either by running away.. getting kicked out.. or their parents have died. they live on the streets and only own the clothes on their backs.
we went to Lake Wenchi yesterday. it's a really beautiful lake that is surrounded by mountains. the only problem is that the road has gotten really bad and we almost went over the side a few times trying to get there. at one point, it got REALLY foggy and we couldn't see where we were going. on a regular basis, the bus had to dodge donkeys, cows, goats, and dogs but it was so much worse when we were driving on the road in the country. so... needless to say, we hit a donkey yesterday. not super hard but... yeah, i wasn't too happy about it. i'm surprised we didn't hit a few cows!
then we went to a place that had a really pretty waterfall and we got to take some cool pictures there. tonight, we are spending time again with the street boys. we've made 4 new friends with some that we hung out with alot these past few days.
tomorrow, we are going back to addis to do some last minute things before we fly out. i have mixed feelings about going home, but i do miss everyone a ton :) AND i can't wait to move in at the village in auburn with 3 amazing girls!!!
i hope everyone is doing well and can't wait to talk to you all soon.
PEACEEE OUT AFRICAAAA...
Posted by Anna Marie at 7:27 AM
Thursday, August 5, 2010
So.. the hotel in Ambo has bed bugs. i didn't know about it until i woke up this morning with a few bug bites. that's definitely my first encounter with them!
we got to Ambo safely yesterday. on the way to Ambo, we stopped at another orphanage in a really poor section of Addis Ababa that has been affected by HIV/AIDS. we also stopped at a place called "Hope Village", which is this place that takes care of women who are considered outcasts from their society because they suffer from different diseases that they can't help suffering from.
we went to the schoolhouse for the first time this morning and afternoon. there were so many kids there it was overwhelming! they ran up to me and i had FOUR little kids trying to hold ONE of my hands. we started the english lessons today.. which was really interesting to say the least. we split the kids into three classrooms and i got the youngest group of kids who couldn't speak any english at all. so today we worked on SIT, STAND, TURN AROUND, POINT. we also broke out the "head and shoulders, knees and toes" song. there are a couple of 3 and 4 year olds that come with their older siblings. i love little kids that age and it was so sweet because they just latched onto us and i got to carry these cute little babies around all day. the kids were super amazed by my blonde hair.. which was fine, except they started to pull at it because they thought it was a wig. yesterday, i let some of the girls go to town with my hair. i looked in the mirror and realized they had braided my hair into small little braids which kind of looked like dreads. i felt super cool haha... until i woke up this morning and they all fell out.
we came back after lunch to the school house to do some arts and crafts - which was again, very interesting. we handed out crayons and you would have thought they were made out of gold the way the kids were reacting. it was cool to see how excited they were to just spend time with us and color some paper plates.
tomorrow, we are going back to the schoolhouse to do some more english lessons and other fun activities. i'm excited to see the sweet little kids again... they said they look forward to us coming for the WHOLE YEAR.
we also start the soccer camp after lunch tomorrow. i've never played soccer in my life so i'm preparing myself for some major ankle rolling and kids pointing at me yelling "FERINGIE" which means white person.
later, we are going to meet with the street boys here in Ambo. these are boys ages 8-19 who are homeless.. it's really sad to hear the stories of how they ended up on the streets. a few of them struggle at night because they get really cold. we would like to buy them jackets but they said to not get them anything too flashy because it may get stolen from them....
i'm learning everyday just how overwhelming this whole experience is. i can't do anything on my own and i am completely dependent on the Lord. HE will be faithful and even though it is so hard to see so many sweet children and people living this way i know that all i can do is spread His message and HE will supply.
these people know this life is only temporary and they live for the day. they are so inspiring.
Posted by Anna Marie at 4:06 PM
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
we're leaving nazreth this morning. i'm sad to say goodbye to the women because i know i probably wont ever see them or their children again. i hope that they continue down the path they are going.
when we went to the place of women at risk yesterday, we taught the women how to sew and cook... and since i can't do really either of those things... i got to play with the kids. we colored and played tag. we played this one game.. which really wasn't a game.. of me chasing them around and tickling them. the joy that these kids have is so amazing. they live for the day and they are so carefree. they just want my attention and love so much and i love being around them.
yesterday, i was sitting with about 6 or 7 of the women with the translator next to me. one of the women looked at me and smiled and said "we like you a lot" in english.. which is a big deal because none of them can speak hardly any english. then, another women says in amharic "you all treated us with respect.. more respect than anyone has ever given us" and i replied "this kind of respect is what you deserve! we only see you as women of God and that's why we respect you so much." she said "you've taught us how to love God more.. and you loved us expecting nothing in return" and it just really hit me then.
a lot of these women growing up lived a life full of people using them and wanting something in return of their love. they never loved them just because of who they are. so i replied "we loved you in this way to show you Christ's love for you." I'm so glad to see that they saw Christ in us..
I played with the children for the majority of the day and it is so funny, when you pull out your camera they all go crazy. they want to take pictures and look at all of them right after. there is this one little boy named Laght, who always sneaks on the bus right before we leave to go home with us. he jumps in all the pictures and he is going to be one heart breaker when he's older. he is the CUTEST little boy, with such joy that it's inspiring. when i was passing out cookies, it was literally a JOB to keep them away from that little boy! he was going crazy and so excited that even though i was exhausted he brought a smile to my face.
i didn't really know what to expect to learn from the women of nazreth.. and honestly i was really nervous about meeting them. but leaving here, i've gotten a taste of Christ's grace and redemption. i know that if i can look past a woman for being a prostitute, i can look past anyone's previous problems and see the person that God created and love them regardless. i'm so glad to be here and so sad to say goodbye to these women. but i know that we made a huge difference in these women's lives and i am so thankful for that.
continue to pray. it's strange not talking to anyone back home but i know that i'm here for a good reason and i know there will be plenty of time to catch up when i'm back.
Posted by Anna Marie at 8:07 AM
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Amisegigala, which means thank you in amharic, is something that the woman at risk says constantly.. They are the most welcoming, loving, and encouraging group of woman I've ever met. I was so nervous coming to the woman at risk place because it is a place where prostitutes get out of that type of trafficing and go through counseling and schooling. I've never met anyone that has been a victim of something like that and the thought that I would meet them was really scary.. SO let me back up and talk about my day :)
We woke up early this morning and attended a christian amharic speaking church. it was amazing to say the least. it is so convicting to hear that there church services can last up to FIVE HOURS. five. i struggle with going to church that lasts more than an hour and a half. they had a thirty minute time in the beginning where they just prayed. then worship for another hour. and then preaching, which broke out into random song and worship. we were packed into the bottom of an old building, and there was over 1000 people there. so many people who were so vulerable infront of the Lord and they didn't care what other people thought. They were going to praise and worship the king that created them. and even though we didn't understand a word they said, it was so moving.
Afterwards, we went to the Woman at Risk where we gave them a spa day. I did manicures on all of the ladies, and they were giggling and excited for the day. It also made me feel convicted because I've gotten my nails and toes done more times than I can remember.. and they were overjoyed with ME (i cant really even paint nails well at all) painting them. The women have been through so much in their lives.. and hearing some of their testimonies yesterday broke my heart. some of the women were sold into prostitution because of a step father or an uncle who wanted to make money..... at the age 13. i told them my testimony and i was more nervous than i ever expected. but i know that the Lord was shining through me and i continually pray that they don't see my kindness but the kindness and love of the Lord.
so the spa was great. afterwards, the woman who runs the place, Abrahett, graduated from college! so we threw a celebration in her name where they got a cake and some cokes (we were soooooooo excited). they started playing ethiopian music and we all stood up in a circle and began to run around and dance. they showed us a little bit of their moves and they laughed as we tried to mimic them. the woman at risk place allows the woman to let their kids stay with themw hile they are provided free child care.. the kids are the most excited and enthusiastic children i've ever met. i painted some of the little girls nails today and you would have thought it was christmas by the way they were reacting.
everytime a little boy or girl looks at me here in ethiopia they wave and smile. i think that kids in the U.S. are so precious and sweet but you just don't see little kids being overjoyed by seeing new people and new faces. (this may be because i'm the only white blonde haired girl here... but still!) the kids are amazing and such an example of the way we should live ourlives. they don't care about materialistic things and they don't care that they have 2 outfits of clothes in their name. they love life and being with other people.
the ethiopian culture is amazing. they are so welcoming and its so humbling how we've come here to serve them.. yet they are continually trying in ways to serve us. the Lord is so faithful in teaching us exactly what we need to know through life experiences and i am SO thankful for this.
tomorrow.. we're going back to the woman at risk and teaching them how to bake and sew.. i'm sad because its our last day with them and we probably won't be seeing them again. but i am so thankful for them. for a long time today i completely forgot that they were ever prostitutes. they were just woman who loved the Lord and I KNOW he would have wanted us to see them through his eyes in that exact way.
the next day, we are headed back to addis, where we will leave soon for Ambo to see the streetboys and the school house of kids. it's very different and hard here. but just pray for our team.. and the people here. i hope that their eyes and ears are willing and open to hear the gospel because we are trying to hard to spread it to them.
Posted by Anna Marie at 12:58 PM
The flight took a total of 16 hours.. much longer than we expected. Updating this blog is going to be much harder than i thought because we have NO internet access anywhere! Today, we went to the market where we got to bargain with the locals and buy some fun souvenirs. It was really eye opening to see the way locals live out here... The first night in from the airport, we were waiting on the side of the road in our taxi van (where we fit 13 people in it) and a little boy around the age 13 or 14 came up to the window and asked for a dollar. It reminded me of my little brother who is 14 and it breaks my heart to think kids his age are having to beg for money just to live..
SO after the market, we went to a place called "Little Ahope" which is an orphanage for little kids who have HIV/AIDS. It's so sad to know they have a terminal illness but it made us want to love on them all the more. There was one little boy that took to me and followed me around. I wish I could've pronounced his name and remembered it! But Amharic and all of the local names are impossible to remember. The little kids have such a hard life with the HIV/AIDS but they were the most joyful group of kids I've ever met in my life. They are such an example of how we should live for the day and for the Lord, not worrying about what we own in our name... And I feel so humbled being around them! We have two translators.. Kiddy and Basil, they're so great and they help out a ton.
Tomorrow, we are traveling to Nazret where we will stay with the "Woman at Risk". These are the woman who were taken out of prostitution/trafficking and put into a rehab program that teaches them life skills to make money for themselves. They make scarves, paintings, sculptures, etc... We are going to have a spa day for them, so we'll be doing manicures, pedicures, facials- Africa style.
These past 48 hours have been SO eye opening. We don't have running water at the house we are staying at right now and we had to go to another team's house to take showers (because we hadn't in two days-woopssss). There are little kids running around with no shoes holding water buckets to earn money washing people's feet. There are loads of people living in little shacks on the side of the road. It makes me feel so blessed in what I have and I can only hope we can spread Christ's name so they can experience the joy we do.
PLEASE keep praying for our team. I'm exhausted and it's day two. Thanks again for the prayers!!!!!
Posted by Anna Marie at 8:51 AM
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This is going to be another night where I sit restlessly, thinking about how I'll be in Ethiopia in two days.. I've been so blessed by family and friends that are sending me to minister and serve to the people of Ethiopia for the next two weeks, starting July 28th. I'm excited to travel over and serve the people of Ethiopia, but so incredibly nervous. I've never traveled out of the country.. and I've never gone too far out of my comfort zone when it comes to experiencing another type of culture. So once I land in Ethiopia, I'm expecting a huge culture shock. But even though that's one thing I'm really nervous about, it's probably what I'm also looking forward to the most. Just thinking about me running around with a group of Ethiopians in about 48 hours brings a smile to my face!!!
This is my very first blog, and I don't really know what I'm doing! But I want my friends, family, supporters, and random readers to be able to follow me along my journey in Ethiopia. I was never an expert writer, and I'm pretty sure I failed spelling a few times in elementary school. But I hope that in me writing this blog, my experience in Ethiopia can encourage you all back home to reach out and serve others in Christ's name. I have a heart for missions and I can't believe I'm about to go on my very first mission trip!
With that being said, I just want to thank all of you for your prayers and your support. I can never really thank you enough for helping me get over to Africa but I can assure you that it would have been impossible without you. I am so incredibly blessed and I am constantly being reminded of it everyday.
Posted by Anna Marie at 10:51 PM