I thought I knew what I was getting into. After all, I had been to Ethiopia twice before. Ethiopia already held an eternally special place in my heart, but when returning this time with Children’s HopeChest on a Vision Trip, God left a new marker on my soul.
As we visited CarePoints available for partnership, unsponsored locations, I wasn’t prepared to be greeted by large groups of children singing their hearts out to welcome me. I was stunned to discover I was swallowed in a sea of people, longing to be touched, loved, or simply seen. I vividly recall one particular mother who kept thrusting her crying daughter at me, just aching for me to hold her as if I carried some magical hope for a better life. I was ill-equipped to offer the kind of comfort I longed to provide. And I certainly was not prepared to be pursued as a solution to their desperation, mostly because I knew I wasn’t the solution. I was grossly uncomfortable with the thought that anyone might think I actually was.
On a visit to one of their homes, I brought cooking oil as a gift. I wanted to bless the family welcoming me into their home. I set the oil on what I thought was a table, only to have it break and drop to the floor. I was so awkward. I lost count of my epic fails.
I wasn’t the solution. They didn’t need my touch or my gift. They needed something else.
As our Vision Trip progressed to other sponsored CarePoints that had been involved with a healthy HopeChest partnership for a few years, the solution became vibrantly clear. The solution was a Community-to-Community partnership. Partnered communities didn’t appear to have children with the same distended bellies or improper clothing. They carried schoolbooks in their hands and gave tours of their new classrooms, crop fields, and community kitchen with pride. Even more than any of the physical discrepancies and developments I could make out, I could see that they had dignity. They had a relationship with their own story of hope—with indigenous CarePoint leaders who were equipped to empower these little faces with the talents they had been given by a God who loves them so deeply. At CarePoints with partners, these beautiful faces were given a chance to do more than survive, they were given tools they need to thrive and succeed. And I was given a chance to do more than offer hope. I was given the opportunity to be invested in their own transformation as well as my own.