By Hannah Ownley
Mission Trip Participant
I have been here for almost two days and so far the experience has been absolutely amazing. I have certainly fallen in love with Ethiopia and the people here.
Since arriving, I have been able to see the city by bus, spend a few hours at Hannah’s Hope, and go to a church service where I worshiped with several hundred Ethiopians!
I knew that coming here, I was going to have a bit of a culture shock, but when I arrived it was even more of a surprise than I expected. God never calls us to stay in our comfort zone!
I would be lying if I told you that I thought Ethiopia was beautiful. The streets are filthy, there are many animals roaming around everywhere and there is this awful smell. I was shocked to see people freely and openly using the bathroom right on the side of the road. When walking down the street in Addis Ababa, you have to be aware of your surroundings. Cows like to stand in the middle of the road like they own the place. I tend to laugh every time I see one just standing there. Kids fill the streets trying to earn money. I have noticed that shoe shining is really popular for younger kids. I have seen kids anywhere from 6-18 doing what they can to earn money. Also, you see many kids playing soccer, sometimes right in the middle of the highway (no joke).
Besides the huge culture shock, I LOVE IT! Everyone that we have met or come in contact with is amazing. You can tell they are genuinely happy that we are here. They are overly willing to help or assist us with anything. Before coming here, I was very worried about the language barrier, but that has not been a problem. I am completely shocked by how many know English. Everyone is so welcoming.
Several hours after arriving in Ethiopia, we were able to spend some time at Hannah’s Hope! Although I had been up for nearly 48 hours at that point, I was still completely stoked! We had a tour of the home; it was so nice. I was able to hold and play with the babies. I immediately fell in love with each one’s sweet face and adorable personality. At one point, I did get a little emotional where I needed to step away from the children. It was most certainly not from their living conditions or lack of love that they are shown because they are provided for both physically and emotionally at Hannah’s Hope. There are many “special mothers” at Hannah’s Hope that bathe, feed, and love on them all day long. You can see that these wonderful ladies truly love and care for these children. But knowing that the kids could have grown up without a forever home was really difficult for me. During my short time here, I hope to show these kids so much love.
I was warned that my heart would be broken over and over again while on this trip, but I was not prepared for it to be completely shattered just within the first few hours of arriving. I do hope that my heart continues to break for these children and people in Ethiopia. God has certainly put orphans on my heart and has led me to Ethiopia for a reason. I pray to continue to be humble about this whole experience. The reason I am here is to show these children God’s amazing love and mercy. I can sometimes get caught up in the selfish side where I like the “feel good” part of helping someone or the “I’m doing such a good thing…look at me God!” As hard as that is for me to admit, it is true. So my biggest prayer is to stay humble and remember that I am doing this solely for the glory of God and for His kingdom. God chose me to be HIS hands and feet in Ethiopia. What a huge honor. I cannot express how grateful I am for this opportunity.