by Jason Barta

I was excited and tired when I awoke this morning…but first I need to explain about the afternoon the day before.  Joy, Dan, and Steven started their journey back toward Addis Ababa in the late afternoon and I was missing their company.  Miki, Zerihun, and I headed to our hotel for dinner and a well-deserved good night’s sleep when I was informed there was an opportunity for some fellowship that evening with the two of them.  My curiosity piqued as to what this was about, and they said it was football (aka soccer).  Miki’s favorite team, Arsenal, was playing Chelsea.  Without thinking twice, I was all in!  I then proceeded to ask what time I should be back to watch with them, and they replied 10 pm!!  Uh-oh … I should have asked clarifying questions before committing!  My wife will tell you that I am great at committing, but not great at asking questions and pausing before I say yes.

I was in a quandary how to get out of this commitment since by 9 pm I am usually exhausted from the day of travel and visiting churches.  On the other hand, I wanted that time to talk and build relationship with two of our amazing staff.  After some thought I decided I was going to take a nap at 8 pm and wake up at 10 pm to watch the football game until 12 pm and then go back to bed to wake up early, pack, eat breakfast and start my day.  My alarm went off at 10 pm and it was everything I had in me to lift my legs off the bed.  I lay there thinking, “Maybe I should just skip the game,” but I finally staggered to my feet and made it to the restaurant to enjoy the game.  Miki’s team won 5-0 and I was so glad that I was able to pull myself from sleep to enjoy this time with both of them.

I woke up early, a little groggy from the fellowship the night before, to pack and eat breakfast.  On the way to the orphanage, we stopped to visit a church that Grace Community Covenant Church in Washington provided the funds to build last year.

This was my first chance to see the finished product so I can report back to the congregation.  We want to thank Grace for their generous donation and know that this will have a great impact on this village for generations to come.  Grace Community Covenant Church also purchased Proclaimer audio bibles for the listening stations we are setting up this year.  We are focusing on getting the Word of God out to these village churches understanding that the majority of people are not literate.   Being able to hear God’s Word consistently is so important!  Without the generosity and commitment of churches like Grace, this would not be possible. We thank you, thank you, thank you!  Words cannot express how grateful we are for our church partners and donors.

I got to spend time eating bread, corn, and roasted beans, and drinking buna (coffee) with our missionary and church leaders. The hospitality was great and humbling as always.  After time together over a meal we had to head out and make the journey to the orphanage.

It was a long 2.5-hour drive on bumpy, pothole filled “roads”.  It was a relief to arrive at the Joyful Place orphanage and see the babies and incredible staff.  I made a couple babies cry (I am a stranger!) and some smile, but they were cute no matter what they were doing.

Our nurse and nannies do an amazing job with these little ones, and they all looked healthy and strong.  Our cupboards are full of formula brought over by our team from caring people with big hearts for our babies.

It was a long day, but a rewarding one.  Tomorrow, we start the long journey towards Addis.  Heading home is bittersweet as I have made new friends with Dan and Steven, but I am also excited to get home to my family!  God bless you all and I want to say thank you to our donors and partners.  Without your generosity we could not do the work God has called us to do in Ethiopia — so thank you from Ethiopia!