What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this week than by sharing a love story that resulted in a marriage at one of our CarePoints in Ethiopia!?
Children’s HopeChest is a relationship-centric organization; and often, during the course of community partnerships, the two partnering communities become like second family as relationships deepen and more time is spent together. Today’s blog is written by Robin Bracken, who co-leads a partnership with her husband Travis. While leading their partnership with Holeta CarePoint, a couple on their team became so close to their friends in Holeta, that they couldn’t imagine having a marriage ceremony without them.
Here we are today telling you about a love story that only God could have orchestrated.
Travis is the youth minister at our church, so we have been able to watch Caleb and Caroline grow up. When we went on our Vision Trip with Children’s HopeChest, Caroline was the first person to come to us wanting to go — a 17-year-old girl who was brave enough to step out of her comfort zone and get on a plane and travel to Africa. (Not to mention that she had never flown before!) Since then, Caroline and Caleb have been very influential in our Children’s HopeChest ministry. Between the two of them, they sponsor five children.
So, our first CarePoint trip in December 2015, Caleb proposed to Caroline while the kids were singing and dancing while holding signs that spelled out, “Will you marry me?” Caroline knew in her heart that she would someday live in Ethiopia (or wherever God would lead her on the foreign mission field.)
After spending a week at our CarePoint, we were able to end the week with a wedding celebration! Travis officiated the wedding alongside Alex, Ethiopia Program Officer, and our CarePoint’s pastor. And as Caroline stated, the choir, kids and church people greeted us in the middle of town and escorted us to the church for the wedding. We were able to praise God and preach the Gospel in the streets of Holeta all because of the wedding.
But I will let Caroline tell you the rest.
“As a little girl, when I pictured my wedding day, it certainly did not include riding in on a horse, having not only one, but two translators, or being 8,000 miles away from home. Yet on December 2nd, 2017, I got to marry my best friend, in my most favorite place on earth. It was more special and meaningful than anything we could have ever imagined or planned for ourselves!
Leading up to this wonderful day, Caleb and I were supposed to get married a year prior, here at home. Due to a few different things going on in life, we decided to postpone. In the months before our trip to Ethiopia, we were debating on when and where we wanted to get married. One day in August, Caleb said to me, “Hey, we should get married in Africa!” (If I could go into all of the details of why we postponed getting married at first, y’all would see just how special this was to me that Caleb suggested this).
We both love Holeta with a deep love—one that makes the people there truly feel like family—a love that makes us earnestly miss being there when we are in America. This love for their community is what really drew us to say ‘I do’ there. Our wedding included many memorable things, but our favorite was the church choir and the church’s leaders/members walking through the town singing and preaching the Gospel as we arrived. Our five sponsor kids were the cutest flower girls and ring bearers! We even got to eat a wonderful Ethiopian feast for our reception. And most importantly, my dear husband and I vowed to love each-other for the rest of our lives in front of God, and our other family, that just happens to be on the opposite side of the world! We could not have asked for a better day. Everything about it was amazing—ugly crying when the church presented us with a letter of thanks and an Amharic Bible, having “ Oceans” sang in English AND Amharic (thanks Robin and Muller!!)—and finally to just being surrounded by kids and adults that represent such a big part of our lives.
December 2nd, 2017 was truly a day that meant so much to us, a day that we wish we could relive, and a day that we will always hold close. God knows how to give you what you want and need, even when you don’t realize it!! We thank all of the HopeChest staff, in America and Ethiopia for their amazing planning skills!” -Caroline Esuary
God is always in the details, and it will definitely be a day that we as a community will never forget. All praise, glory and honor to the Lord our God! Hallelujah! – Robin Bracken