“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:5 (NIV)
On May 26th, 2014, I started a one-month journey to Ethiopia with Buckner’s Project Go missions program for college students and young adults. I had dreamed of going to Africa for as long as I could remember and my time was finally here.
After many hours in flight and a complete lack of sleep, I finally made it. From the moment we were picked up at the airport, we were greeted with true joy by everyone that we met. Forget Disney World – Ethiopia was the happiest place on earth.
For the first two weeks of our trip we spent our time in Addis Ababa, the capital city. We worked in a children’s home and in the schools teaching English and leading the kids in crafts and recreation. Our time spent at the children’s home resulted in strong relationships with the children.
One little boy, Abti, immediately grabbed hold of my heart. Abti is 7 years old and is the sweetest and goofiest kid I have ever met. He has a laugh that radiates through the room. Every day before we left, Abti would find me and ask, “You tomorrow?” to make sure we would see each other again.
Our last day together was heartbreaking. As I rode back to my hotel, my mind raced and the tears fell. I gave my heart away to this child. My team would be traveling to a new Ethiopian city the next day, where 200 more children were waiting for us to share Christ’s love. How did God expect me to start completely over? I had nothing left to give and no love left to share.
When I left Abti I thought I never could love another child the way I had fallen for that precious little boy. Part of me was angry at God. Why would He send me all the way around the world just to have my heart broken? Yet the more children I met, the more I was filled with a new love for each of them.
With each city came new children, new experiences and new heartbreaks. But each time, God placed in me a new heart to give, and gave me strength and joy to pour into the hundreds of children with whom I worked.
From this trip I learned I am nothing on my own. My heart is a vessel that is quickly emptied, but my heavenly Father is always ready to fill it again until it overflows with his amazing and bountiful love.
Kristin Prestidge served with Project Go in Ethiopia in summer 2014. Learn more about the program and apply by March 1 at www.buckner.org/projectgo.
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