My August 2022 Trip with Addis Jemari
By: Becky Highsmith, Team Leader
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” — Psalm 126:3
Traveling overseas to a developing country is always an adventure, especially on a short-term mission trip. This was my fourth time traveling to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, my third time traveling with Addis Jemari (AJ), and my first time leading a team of people to experience Ethiopia for the first time.
You can check out what our team did while we were there over on Instagram: @addisventure_gvl
Returning is always challenging, especially when the time comes to process and talk about the trip with others. My first words when someone asks how the trip was are almost always “hard, but so good”.
Let’s talk about the “hard” of going on a trip to the other side of the globe to work with impoverished children and families. I believe that we, as Americans, are living very comfortably. When we are hungry, we stop and get something to eat at our nearest fast-food restaurant or in our refrigerator. When we are ill or hurt, we go to the doctor for answers. We have houses with air conditioning, hot water, and comfortable beds. We live on predictable schedules, and things usually go according to our plans. But when you leave the comforts of home, I believe you experience something really special. Sure, it’s hard (and scary, nerve-wracking, etc.), but it’s when you are taken out of your “comfort zone”, that’s when the magic happens. You are literally being stretched in every single way.
Mentally: You are using your brain more because you don’t have instant access to Google on your phone.
Physically: Your body is tired, and sleep isn’t the same when you are not in your own bed, especially when there is a call to prayer at 4am. Yes, 4am.
Socially: You are spending all day with other members of your team and with Ethiopian nationals and the people AJ serves (who are amazing by the way!)
Emotionally: Seeing extreme poverty and the burdens that many carry in a developing country on a daily basis and reckoning that with that pure joy and amazing hospitality that you are being given.
Spiritually: American Christianity and churchy ways of thinking are being challenged. Seeing God in a global way always shakes my faith a little bit.
Now you may be asking, why would I want to ever experience this stretching and leave all of my comforts to do something hard? That’s where God meets you. He does it on every single trip, and my faith is built in ways I can hardly explain. He promises to meet you in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12: 9 & 10b says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest in me. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I wonder if that’s what we are missing in America… do we have so much abundance and comfort that we don’t have a chance to rely fully on God’s power and strength?
The “So Good”
I’ll never get over the way that God moves in Ethiopia. So many good things happened in the seven days that we were on the ground.
We had such large numbers of children show up to the Family Empowerment Center during camp days. (Praise God!) There were so many children that the idea of being inside the whole time was not realistic. However, God held off the rain so that we could enjoy the outdoors every day. He did this even when the weather forecasted rain each day. It’s currently the rainy season in Ethiopia, and the days prior to our trip and the days after our trip were very rainy, but camp days were dry. I’m convinced that He did this to show us His power and love. I will add that our God has a sense of humor as well. The moment that we began our ending farewell party to say goodbye to the kids and staff at the center, God let it rain… and it rained hard.
To experience the joy that the new children in the AJ Family Empowerment Program had in the midst of their dire physical needs gives a typical American moment to pause. You wouldn’t think that by looking at them that these are the kids that the government has identified as being most vulnerable and at-risk. Our team was able to see and play with all of these kids in their very first days of the three-year program. I don’t even think they were able to imagine the help and hope that is coming their way being in this program. It’s exciting to think about the growth of what’s coming.
Being with the Ethiopian staff and walking alongside the Addis Jemari family for a week makes you feel so loved and at home. The hospitality of the Ethiopian people is something that always amazes me.
Addis Jemari has created a true family inside the AJ Home. Sisters that love and look out for each other, and even get into typical sisterly arguments! The AJ girls are loved, and they are thriving. It’s been a joy to see them grow over the past three years that I’ve known them. The housemothers and AJ Home Director love those girls fiercely. One of my favorite evenings at the AJ Home this trip was sharing a meal and opening the Bible together during their weekly Bible study.
There are so many other good things that happened while we were on the ground. I would love to invite you to be part of what Addis Jemari is doing in Ethiopia, whether that is through praying for the many needs, supporting them through one-time or monthly giving, or going on a future trip to see the program with your own eyes.
It really is remarkable and life-changing, both for the beneficiaries as well as the supporters. May we stand in awe and continually search to know this “Big Global God” that loves to show his power and love, especially when we are at our weakest.