Editor’s Note: Dana McIntosh was on our Mocha Club Ethiopia trip #3 from July 17th-26th, 2008.
Dana with some children in Ethiopia
When I decided take this trip to Ethiopia, I had no idea God would use the Ethiopian people to help me see things about myself and about Him.
There are many scenes from my two weeks there that will be forever etched in my mind. I will never forget the huge smiles of those children who gathered around the buses upon our arrival. I will be reminded of the huge circle we made in the middle of the field, where we held hands, skipped around, with children singing in their native tongue. I will remember the church filled with so much rejoicing that my Bible vibrated. But, most importantly, I will remember the laughter of the children who seemed unaware that they had life-threatening diseases, were covered in mud, or had little to go home to.
To be honest, I wasn’t especially compassionate about the children at first. Everything I was seeing was exactly like the pictures I had seen on TV, but now it was in my face. The difficult images were confronting me, telling me that this impassioned, complacent person was not the person I wanted to be. I prayed that God would lift me out of my complacent state. It wasn’t until the next day, when our group was praying for the adoption process in Ethiopia that God spoke to me saying, “You should care about these orphans, because you used to be one.” It was then that being a child of God made sense to me. I began to see these kids through His eyes, and I wanted to give love and time to them, because I realized that is what I had been given by my Heavenly Father. He has fathered me, redeemed me, and restored my once-broken relationship with Him.
One of the obstacles was that my tendency to want to “do” things and talk to these kids through the language barrier kept me feeling like my time spent with them was wasteful. I prayed that I would learn how to be still and just be with them. I wanted to be able to show them a love that didn’t require words. At one of the orphanages, a little girl sat by my feet and dropped a ball through my hands for what was probably an hour. Her face lit up with joy with every drop of the ball, as if every time she did it was the first time. I realized God was telling me, “This is what I desire with you. I want you to just be still, sit at my feet, and forget all the distractions around you.” I was welcomed by these kids, not because of what I have, but because of who I am. And God thinks of me in the same way.
For me, this trip was more than just 10 days in Africa. This trip made me happy, made me sad, and made me see my God. I believe great outward change will come from the inward transformation I experienced when I was there. As I come back into American life, I have the great responsibility to act on what I experienced in Africa.