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Saturday, April 16, 2011

It didn't matter if he was scared, he was loved and he knew it!

A team from Missouri travelled to Ethiopia in March and spent time with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory.  For Tammy Flowers, this was her second trip to Ethiopia in two years, and this time she was looking forward to spending some time with her sponsor child, Feyessa, who she had only known through pictures and letters.  Here's Tammy's words about her recent experience in Ethiopia ...

It takes me awhile to process things and make sense of the experiences that God has placed in my path. This trip was something that I happened upon, definitely nothing that I had intended to turn into an annual event. My pastor has recently been urging our congregation to spend more time with God, listening for his message to us. I feel that God has a plan for me in Africa and more so this week than ever, I am hearing that call. I know that it's time to go deeper, that it's time to make lives different.

Our first trip was, for me, an experiential trip. Something that touched MY heart much more than myself affecting the poverty stricken children that I encountered. Upon returning, I made a promise to the children of Kind Hearts school that I would bring back something lasting and tangible that could begin to shape their minds and spirits. This took the form of a children's library.

However, in all the hustle and bustle of planning for the library, I realized that God was asking for something bigger from me. I knew that my primary focus of the second trip, was not to take something tangible, but to begin to forge relationships. That being said, my library initiative although in full swing, took a drop down to number two on my priority list.

Myself, being a somewhat shy and anxious person, had doubts that I could accomplish this feat of developing relationships half way across the world. However, God opened my eyes and my heart, when a small girl from Kind Hearts school ran up to me as we arrived, with her thumbs up saying "Tooty Ta, Tooty Ta". This is the song that I taught them on my first trip. Someone remembered me??? I had made some kind of a positive impact on that child!

This gave me the courage to step outside of my box and get my hands dirty in the work of our Lord. Coming home from our trip this time, I left behind not only orphans that I felt compassion for, but family and friends.

I emailed Karen Wistrom after our last trip with some pictures that I wanted names for. The young boy that met us at the barbed wire gate, Besufekad, became the framed picture that greeted every library donor's thank you card. That face beckoned me back to Ethiopia. Seeing him again this year, his face full of health and humor, was an answer to many prayers.

 Tammy with Besufekad at Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia.

At Trees of Glory, I was immediately impressed by Simeret and her compound. I was anxious to meet Feyessa and had brought several hand picked treasures from my children at home to give to him. Simeret introduced us immediately and he was hesitant and nervous of our encounter from the start.

I decided to give him his space and greeted some other children and gave out abundant hugs. I reached in my pocket for a package of Life Savers and was immediately mauled by every child within a stone's throw. Except Feyessa, he kept a cautious distance watching me from afar.

At home Feyessa greets me each morning as I get my morning milk, his picture is on our fridge :).

This is Feyessa's profile photo, the first photo Tammy saw of her sponsor child.

When I was in Ethiopia in November, I delivered a care-package to
Feyessa from Tammy and then sent Tammy this photo. 
This is the photo on Tammy's frig at home.

He is the topic of daily conversations, prayers and is considered part of our family. We had fallen in love with this young child across the world, it didn't matter if he was scared, hesitant, or shy, he was loved and he knew it!

Feyessa took his small treasures and sat guarded under a bush to explore the contents of the bag with his friends. Every once in awhile, they would peek over their shoulders at me and I would gently wave and their attention was quickly averted. This continued for most of the day.

I occupied my time with other children, always keeping my eye on Feyessa, waiting for any sign of an invitation. Unfortunately, none came on this visit.

At the end of the day, I watched as Feyessa and another boy climbed the hillside toward home. I waved a loving goodbye during their whole trek. The other young boy grinned from ear to ear, waving both arms in retreat, but still Feyessa watched with an uncertain eye. Once he crested the hill, he glanced over his shoulder at me still waving, and he finally gave me a smile and wave that will be etched in my heart forever.

Until I return, Feyessa, love and prayers as always!  Tammy ~

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