7/20/15 Update by team member, Sarah Obujen (Sarah will a High School Junior this Fall, and this is her first trip to Sintaro)
Selam! (Hello in Sedama-the local language spoken in Sintaro).
So far my trip here in Ethiopia has been eye opening, fun, and full of adventure. Today was our second day in the village, and it is packed with reading letters, hut visits, showing the Jesus Film, singing, etc. When we pulled up to the village, we had kids running along both sides of our bus shouting and waving. As we continued down the road the amount of kids grew and the yelling got louder. I couldn’t keep the giant smile of my face as I waved out the bus window. When I got off countless outstretched hands greeted me. I grabbed as many hands as I could and gave them a squeeze. Adorable faces grinned up at me, and I realized that my heart is totally captured by these kids.
We first hand out name tags for each of the 150 students. We each grab a stack of name tags and start calling out the names written on the tags. This is no easy task, especially for me. I take my best guess at each name but typically I wasn’t even close. Luckily the translators, school teachers, and children are willing to step up and help me find each student. During the controlled chaos I was able to find and meet my sponsor child, Zena. She was very shy and first and tentative about approaching me but, I saw her watching me from a distance.
We make our way down the “road” (a term to be used loosely) and to our first hut for the day. During hut visits, we are able to meet the sponsor child, their family, siblings, and any animals that share their home with them. We have the opportunity to ask them questions, and see what their living conditions are like. We are able to visit three huts today, Wondi, Lori Larson’s sponsor child, Zena, my sponsor child, and Kassa, one of the sponsor kids that VBS raised money to support.
Today, visiting Zena’s hut especially touched my heart.
She was finally coming out of her shell, and she and I held hands the whole way to her hut. When we arrived he mother came out to greet us, and three kids followed. I greeted each of the kids by shaking/squeezing their hand and hugging the mother. The family then led us inside her hut, and pulled out small wooden stools for us to sit on. Inside the hut it was very dark but you could see it was clean and organized. The huts here in Sintaro are made out of tree branches and mud for the walls. The roof and made out a thick grass and tree branches.
Sitting near Zena and her family, and an interpreter I began to ask them questions. I came to discover that most of her kids attended the public school, which is about a two-hour walk away. Her eldest son went to school in Awasa, but became sick and couldn’t attend school anymore; instead he found work in the city. The family owns crops near her house, where they grow false banana and other crops. They also have a cow that sleeps in their hut night so the hyenas don’t attack it. I also found out that the new water distribution point is close by to their house, and it is an easier route then going to the old water. I am so excited for the family to have clean water.
Zena then gave me a tour of their hut; I saw their small sleeping area, and their kitchen right next to it. The kitchen/bedroom was blocked off by a weaved wall of sorts. They also had an area set up for the cow with tree branches and a spot to tie him up at night.
Just as we were finishing the tour, Zena’s father came racing in the door with Zena’s brother. They both still held farming tools in their hands, and were sweaty and breathing hard. He told me that he was working in their fields but then he heard that we were here so he sprinted back. He thanked me multiple times for visiting with them, and for providing Zena the opportunity to go to school. This pleasantly surprised me, because on Zena’s information form, it said her father was “tired” and did not work. I was so excited to meet him and have my expectations blown away. He was fantastic to talk to, and I know that he is an amazing man of God.
I then asked what I could be praying about for them. He asked me to be praying for continued health, food, and water for their family. He was also very grateful that their kids were able to attend school and that God has continued to provide for their family. He wanted me to pray for their family and the village for peace and prosperity. Once he had finished, I prayed right there with the family, holding as many hands as I could grab. It was an amazing experience and I could feel God’s presence in the moment.
God has been stirring my heart for this village, these beautiful people, and especially Zena and her family. I am so pumped to continue to serve God this week, and see how He works in my life, the villagers’ life, and the lives of my team.