There is a wonderful body of believers at Brooklake Church in Federal Way, Washington who have ‘adopted’ one of our project areas – Shashemene – and they now support 53 families there on a monthly basis. Earlier this month, a mission team from Brooklake traveled to Ethiopia and several team members got to meet ‘their’ families for the first time or be reunited a second time. Here are two of their stories…
by Wolf Samuelson
My family has been sending monthly support & praying for a single young mother of twins in Ethiopia for over a year and now it was time to see her face to face. Wagayehu (Wa-guy-yo) greeted us outside her house holding her adorable girls, Yebser & Feven. She is a petite, beautiful woman with a big, yet shy smile. We immediately hugged then she invited us into her small, one room home with a thin twin mattress on a rough concrete floor, a small table, a storage tub and two chairs against the wall - all in a space no bigger than my walk-in closet back home. That alone brought tears to my eyes.
We crammed into her home and sat down to talk. I began by giving Wagayehu a picture of my family, just like we have a picture of her back home. She said she loved it so that she can see our faces as she prays for us. Then I started to deliver the gifts that Launi had put together for Wagayehu and her girls. We got to share some laughs as I modeled a scarf for her. As we continued to share with each other she began to say how thankful she was for my family. I told her that our family needs no thank you. The reason we support her is not for recognition or thank you’s; it is simply our way to express the love Jesus has first shown us.
We wrapped up our time by hearing the dreams she has for herself. She said she loves to cook and would love to start a restaurant. I told her how I love to cook and eat! She said that when she opens her own restaurant, that my family was invited to come and eat. We prayed and said our good byes with tears and hugs. It was a powerful moment that will forever change me. All I can say now comes from a widow we visited later. “God is a history maker!”
by Anna Jones
This year all I thought about and looked forward to was seeing Firehiwot again. So much had changed in a year. An entirely new home was built, she now has a job cleaning the city offices, and her family is more healthy than ever. She’s even getting educated so she can start a small income-generating business. For me, much of the original anxiety caused by me wondering what she’d be like and how she’d act towards us was now gone. Last year we had such an amazing experience meeting her that I knew this year would be a “homecoming” of sorts.
We pulled up to the house and were barely out of the van when Firehiwot came running through the gate to greet us. The same as last year, she immediately leapt into my arms and started kissing my cheeks and saying “I love you, I love you!”. It was a long lost family reunion. We were filled with joy to see each other again… Firehiwot had baked a huge circular loaf of wheat bread (typically reserved for major holidays). We all sat around enjoying popcorn, coffee and special bread.
God has truly given us a miraculous gift in allowing us to sponsor Firehiwot and her family. My life is forever changed through this experience of sponsorship. My wise Kenyan son once told me that “the hand that gives is the hand that receives”. Never before has a saying been more true. The more we give to Firehiwot, the more we receive in God’s grace and love and the more our faith grows. I am so grateful for Firehiwot and her family. They are our family now, too!