Words fall short, but I'll try anyway.

Selam, friends and family!

I arrived back to New York City last Tuesday night after two weeks in Ethiopia.  Since then I’ve been going through what they call “reverse culture shock” or “re-entry” and trying to make sense of all that I saw and experienced.  This is the time I really start to process it all and seek the LORD on what it means for my life here in the States.  If I’m being honest with you, I’m not sure how to begin to write this email.  I’d love the opportunity to talk to each of you, answer any questions you have, and share with you my heart for the people of Ethiopia.  I’d love to be able to put my experience into words and allow you all to see and understand each moment.  I’ve come to learn, however, that experiencing it for yourself is the only way to truly understand.

I saw things during this trip that would never have affected me had I only heard about them.  To see and experience them first hand was overwhelming.  There was a constant battle within between staying, seeing and letting it affect me or closing my eyes and running away.  At the end of it all, I can no longer live a life of ignorance to the pain and suffering that exists in this world.  I also know that I do not know the whole of it.  I have only scratched the surface.

As I was at church on Sunday, the pastor was teaching on Psalm 8 and David’s question, “What is man that you are mindful of him?”  We are created in the image of God and we are precious in His sight.  As the pastor put it, no matter how mentally handicapped or intelligent, no matter how rich or poor, black or white, our God is mindful of us and we are precious to Him because we have been created in His image.  That brought great comfort to me as I thought of the broken, hurting and impoverished people of Ethiopia.  Our God has not forgotten and He certainly has not ceased to care.

Alongside the poverty and pain is that ever-perplexing joy I see in the Ethiopian people.  There is a love and appreciation for the things in life that truly matter.  Time is given freely, there is no rush to move onto the next thing, and relationships are stronger for it.  Children with tattered clothing and bare feet laugh and smile and giggle.  Women whose pasts can only be described as horrific lift their hands and their voices and praise God for His goodness and grace in their lives.  There is a hope in the people of Ethiopia that is contagious.

I was able to see a woman I had met last summer who had completed the Women At Risk program and is now working in the kitchen at a cafe they opened, Sisters Cafe.  I saw joy in her face, I could see the transformation that had occurred, and I saw her proud to be working a respectable job and even more proud that her two daughters were in school.  Organizations like Women At Risk are being supported financially by Mocha Club.  The more support they receive, the more lives they are able to touch.  As the lives of these people are touched, they go back out into the world, sharing their hope with others.

I also walked alongside my friend Cliff and watched God transform his life.  Cliff came on this trip having spent much of his life in church, but always keeping one foot in the world.  He was a self-admitted partier who cared for nothing more than going out and drinking with his friends.  During our time in Ethiopia, God showed Cliff the emptiness of his life hitting the bars and going the way of the world.  He showed Cliff the infinite treasure we have in Christ.  This past Sunday, Cliff was baptized by our co-leader, Cole, back home in Colorado.  As I spoke with him Monday night, his words were drenched with love for Jesus.  This is not the same Cliff I met on day one.  Cliff is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Mocha Club has a saying, “I need Africa more than Africa needs me.”  I was yet again reminded of this truth.  Our hearts are forever changed, our eyes forever opened.

It seems as though I learn more every day as to what my time in Ethiopia means for my life here in New York.  I believe that I am to tell the world what I have seen and what God has done.  I believe I have a responsibility to be an advocate and a voice for those who have no voice.  I also continue to see the depth of Christ’s love, and begin to better understand what the apostle Paul meant when he said he considered all things rubbish in light of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:7-14).  I press on to know and to treasure Jesus more with each day.

Please pray for the people of Ethiopia and pray for the members of our team as we return to life in America.  I hope to post prayer points here on the blog by the end of the week.

If you want to be a part of the work Mocha Club is doing to bring hope and healing to the people of Africa, you can join one of my “teams”:
Join me in supporting Orphan Care & Vulnerable Children:

Join me in supporting Child Mothers & Women At Risk:
Or, if you prefer, you can create your own by visiting http://mochaclub.org.
Thank you all for your support, prayers, encouragement and love.  I am humbled and words will never be enough to express my gratitude. Egziabher yimesgen!!! (Praise God!!!)

For He will deliver the needy when he cries,
The poor also, and him who has no helper.
He will spare the poor and needy,
And will save the souls of the needy.
He will redeem their life from oppression and violence;
And precious shall be their blood in His sight.
Psalm 72:12-14


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