Well it is now Friday, our last day with the kids! I don't know that we could have ever prepared ourselves enough for this day. Our day was amazing and beautiful. I know I have used these words a lot, but I don't know how else to describe it. We arrived at the care point and were greeted like every other day. Kids were everywhere blocking the door way, just waiting to touch us whether it be a high five, a hug, a kiss, or a hand on our arm. They were waiting to show us that they were wearing their new stuff for their sponsor families pictures. We were greeted every day with so much love! All of the kids were happy and just wanted to be close to us.
After loving on the kids for a a little bit, Benjamin and I took Kalkidan aside and gave her the new shoes. I don't know for sure, but these may be the first new pair of shoes that she has ever had. She was so excited, smiling from ear to ear! I gave her the sandals first and she tried them on and smiled. I then asked her to take them off. She looked confused, I gave her a pair of socks and asked her to put them on. After she had them on, I pulled out a pair of sneakers. I put them on her feet. Her face lit up, she was so proud. She walks over 20 minutes to school everday, and good shoes are going to be so much better for her. She decided to wear the sneakers and put the sandals in her back pack to take home. While we were alone with her, Benjamin gave her one of his t-shirts that he had worn this week. He asked her to give it to her little brother. She smiled and said thank you! He then gave her a stuffed animal that he received on the airplane, also for her little brother. It was so hard knowing that we had given Kalkidan snacks, a care package, and shoes, but her brother was home getting nothing. We asked Kalkidan each morning and afternoon if she had eaten anything at home that day. The answer was always the same, No! She only had the snacks we gave her. She was only eating a small amount once a day at home. My heart breaks, I know that we are planting seeds, we are sharing God's love, we are giving hope, but I wish we could do more! These kids are amazing, they have so little but they truly shine! They have so little but they would share every little bit they have. They simply want to be loved.
It was soon time for the camp to begin. We started with our Bible story. We started with the Bible story about foot washing. You could see the small snickers on the kids faces when we told them that we were going to wash their feet. We had the kids sit on benches, we kneeled in front of the kids, and washed their feet. It was amazing, the kids were embarrased in the beginning, but soon enjoyed it. We washed the feet of the church leadership, and then they started washing our feet. We were all equal and one, just loving one another. We then painted all the girls toenails, and a few of the boys that wanted their nails done. The girls then wanted to paint our team's nails. Many of the guys were good sports, we had some with pink toe nails and blue finger nails. Benjamin was even a good sport, Kalkidan wanted to paint Benjamin's toe nails pink. He let her, yes he came home with pink toe nails. We then moved onto face painting. We started painting flowers, hearts, and simple things. Benjamin then came up with the idea of painting the Ethiopian flag on the boys faces. They loved it! They loved being with Benjamin. During all of this the Ethiopian music was playing and it was truly a big party! I was so proud of Benjamin, he washed feet, he painted nails, he painted faces, and he truly got it and loved on the kids!
Time for the feast! We were giving so many donations for the feast. We were able to buy 6 lambs, lentils, and all of the food for the feast dishes for all of the kids to eat off of, bowls and rags for all of the foot washing, soda for everyone, and bananas and oranges. The kids had bananas and granola bars for snacks each day. On the last day they were given oranges. Some of these kids had not had oranges in over a year. The funny thing about the oranges, they were yellow and green, not orange. They looked like oranges on the inside just not orange on the outside. I was told they are a little more sour, not quite as sweet as our oranges. The kids were given full plates of injera and all the traditional Ethiopian foods, a bottle of soda, and an orange. They looked so happy eating. I stopped by to see Kalkidan, and she took a bite of her food and fed me. It was so sweet, this was the best meal she had in a long time and she wanted to share it with me.
Soon after the meal, the kids began to cry. Some were sobbing. There was a bench with Carey Douglas sitting in the middle. She had crying kids to both sides of her, she had crying kids hanging over the back of the bench, and kids kneeling in front of her crying. She just sat there touching them and silently reassuring them that they would be ok and that we would be back! They knew that since the feast was over, that it was soon going to be time for us to say good bye. We started handing out the give aways. The kids each got a hygiene kit filled with a wash cloth, a tooth brush, tooth paste, chap stick, pens, band aids, soap, bandannas, and sunglasses. I can honestly say the kids loved the sunglasses. All the kids around the room had sunglasses on. They were very excited about their colorful bags full of goodies. They then received inflatable globe beach balls, hackey sacks, and wooden recorders. After the hand outs it was time to say good bye. It was so sad, some kids were trying to hold the tears back, some had tears flowing, and some were sobbing. We held them and cried with them, telling them that we loved them and that we would be back. We loved on the kids and said our good byes for a long time! I held Kalkidan in my arms loving her, telling her that I would be praying for her, that we loved her, and that we would be back. Crying even harder than Kalkidan, was my Aunt and Uncle's sponsor child. She was sobbing, saying but we are relatives. I promised to pray for her, and told her too that I loved her and promised her that we would be back. After the last kids left, we were cleaning up in the church. I noticed that Benjamin was not in there with us. I walked outside and found him on the steps with tears streaming down his face. He hadn't cried up to this point. He was so sad. He asked, why do we come here and make things so fun and make the kids so happy all week and make them cry when we leave? Maybe we should make them mad all week so that they are happy when we leave. Rob Tennant, told him that it was good for the kids to experience God's love, to know that people love them and pray for them on the other side of the world, to be able to trust that we would be back (they have seen our group 3 times now), and that we were giving these kids HOPE!
After cleaning up, we headed back to the hotel. Fikre found a person with a camel and asked if Benjamin could have a ride. The guy said no that he had to get to work. A little while later we passed a river where a camel owner was washing his camel. Fikre jumped out and ran down to the river, the guy agreed to come to our hotel. He showed up about 45 minutes later and gave Benjamin and some of the other team members a camel ride. Benjamin was thrilled. He had been asking for a camel ride all week.
We then headed back to the church, for a meal with the leaders. They had prepared a full meal, a coffee ceremony, popcorn, music, and a camp fire. We have met some really nice people. It was hard to say good bye.
When we got back to the hotel, there was a surprise party for Benjamin and Josh. Benjamin was super excited, when he saw the cakes, he said “for me”! Thank you to our wonderful team. We didn't have forks, but Benjamin had fun eating his cake with his hands. We soon headed to bed as we had to be on the road back to Addis by 6am.