Sponsor and guest blogger Megan Crowell reflects on her visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this year. Megan and her husband Steve had the opportunity to meet with Covenant Mercies staff and their sponsored child, Tamrat, in his home.
Our oldest son was born in Ethiopia and it was a privilege to take him back to his birth country to connect with the people and culture. We have been looking for an organization to partner with in order for our family to be a part of bringing helpful resources to Ethiopia, and we are happy to partner with Covenant Mercies. It’s an honor to be able to be a part of the work that is taking place in Ethiopia through the faithful service of the staff that tirelessly works with the sponsored children. We were able to see firsthand what a big heart the in-country staff has for the families. You could tell that they are not just social workers, but people committed to bringing dignity and excellent care to mothers and children. Covenant Mercies is filling the gap to provide social services in a country that needs help to care for its most vulnerable families. They provide access to schooling, tutoring, groceries and healthcare, which are all vital to help these children grow up to be everything that God had designed them to be. Instead of worrying about finding basic necessities from day to day, these children have a chance to be healthy and to go to school to learn.
Visiting Tamrat and his family was a great experience. My husband, our oldest son, our friend Michael and I joined three of the Covenant Mercies staff in Addis Ababa and took a van ride to a small neighborhood in another part of the city. The homes were made of sticks and mud, and organized in a semi-circle. We arrived before Tamrat and his sister had walked home from school and were greeted by his mother. From her one-room house she hosted us and we were humbled to be the recipients of such kindness. We experienced firsthand the hospitality of Ethiopia as she lovingly prepared green coffee beans and roasted them for us. Although we couldn’t communicate with many words, she was the ultimate host. She told us that she was able to send her son to school and to provide food every day because of the Sponsorship Program. From one mother to another, you could tell how relieved she felt to know that every day there will be food to offer her children.
When Tamrat and his sister arrived we greeted them– his sister took the lead and he shyly followed. We felt awkward and he giggled as our greeting was translated. He brought out a few small glass marbles to play a game with his friends and we were able to join in the game and connect– each of us speaking in our own language but communicating through smiles, eye contact and gestures. His sister jumped right in to help her mother grind the coffee with a mortar and pestle, and after the coffee brewed over the small eucalyptus charcoal fire, they invited us to sit and join the meal at the table. We enjoyed coffee and tasted the delicious dinner she prepared.
Around the table we told stories and laughed together. We offered Tamrat’s mother a woven basket as a gesture of thanks for welcoming us in to her home and we gave Tamrat school supplies, which made him grin. Before we left, we were able to pray with the family for health, for provision, and for them to trust in the saving grace of Jesus.
Although we live far away, we wanted Tamrat to know that we pray for him and support him as friends. How do you communicate to a young boy that they are precious and valuable without words? I hope we did that with smiles and a willingness to join in and play. What was amazing to see is that although we only had a short time to spend with them, the in-country staff was so kind, caring, and affectionate with the family. They freely gave out hugs and encouragement, and you could see the family had a connection with them. Their work day went longer than normal– not because they get paid for extra hours but because they truly care for these kids. So we will keep praying for the staff– that God will use them and these opportunities that they get to spend with families on a regular basis to bring the light of the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus to the children and guardians in their care.
Tamrat is not just a picture on our fridge, or just a name we ask God to bless at night before our children drift off to sleep. He is a vibrant young man with a beautiful family that we were able to meet in person. We are glad that we get to support him in a small way, that will hopefully impact his future in a big way.