Grace and peace to you from Ethiopia-the last leg of this African trip! I started my journey in Addis back at Onesimus, the ministry that works with street kids that I have served with several times before. They have 11 new street boys coming to the drop-in center routinely, my 4th round of boys! Though my time with them was shorter, it was still a joy to be back. The drop-in center staff (including several social workers) are now having weekly team meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and reunification plans.
I taught a lesson about building your foundation on the Lord. It was taught through an art activity which presented a lot of opportunities to gain insight in a non-threatening way to a variety of areas-such as self-image, how to cope with anger, and perceptions. The purpose was to give the staff more tools to reach these kids.
I spent a little bit of time following up with the social workers, Ali and Mesfin, who I have done some training with in the past. Mesfin spoke about the value of learning about attachment and how that has helped him relate to and set boundaries with the street boys. Ali discussed how the training was very applicable and important to his ministry especially in regards to burn out and self care as well as working with the kids. He also said both halfway homes were still using the counseling manual that was created when I was here in 2014. And with having new staff, He said they could use more training.
Some topics he requested training on included First Aid training, medical and wound care, leadership skills for social workers, and more information on listening and good communication. He also shared how in 2014 all of the kids in that cycle of street boys were reunified with their families for the first time and how he attributes that to playing, teaching, and counseling. He realized how helpful it is to give them full attention and that if as a staff they invest in the kids, they then see successful reunification. He does believe they need to work on follow up-how to sustain those families and help them purposefully spend time with their kids. Sometimes you do not know the effect you have on those you train and other times the Lord makes it perfectly clear just how valuable the time is in investing in the Ethiopian staff.
While here I was also invited to speak to a small group about culture shock. There were 13 of us that night. It was a good opportunity to share about the different stages of culture shock and talk through some practical ways to overcome it. I also spent quite a bit of time with a variety of missionaries (over 14 families) from multiple organizations.
As a reminder, Ministry Care is not just for working with nationals but also providing care for missionaries as well. I am reminded by the Old Testament in Exodus when Moses needed assistance in having his arms upheld for victory in a battle between the Isrealites and Amalekites. This story is the perfect illustration for my vision for Ministry Care.
Ministry and missions can be very challenging and we need others who are willing to come alongside us in those challenges to provide encouragement, a listening ear, and at times to uphold one another to be effective in the vision and callings God has given us.
Daily life on the mission field can be very difficult.
Imagine with me your daily stressors in the US. Now add in the stress of navigating a culture not your own. For example, we have very direct communication in America and that is not the case here, where communication is much more indirect. Add in the stress of learning a new language, traffic hassles and driving (magnify any big city traffic in the US by hundred) You cannot be as independent and often must rely on others, and even simple things such as throwing the toilet paper in the trash or in the toilet require thought.
Another example of challenges and frustrations in the daily routine involves cooking. Often you may not be able to find the ingredients the recipe calls for and have to learn to substitute. Then the power goes off and there is no real back up plan-you cannot just call for a local pizza delivery. And sometimes you have water and sometimes you do not. And when you finally do have water and can now do laundry, the power goes out!
This has been common in the last 2 months in Africa. These are variables most missionaries are trying to navigate daily and this is without adding in their ministry stressors that can be many. It is hard to understand all of this if you have not lived through it. Burnout is a common and real struggle for many missionaries.
Having been on the mission field gives me a unique perspective. One of the missionaries shared that I was going to be good at ministry care because I have a listening ear and people can talk with me knowing I can relate to the stress and pressure of life as a missionary and I have experienced trauma on the field. And they know that I am going to point them back to God.
I become a safe place for them to share as most deal with fear of failure or comparison of ministries and I can come alongside them as one outside of their organization to share in their struggles. In the various conversations I had with missionaries, they were quick to open up about the struggles they face: with ministry, communication, homeschooling, culture shock, transition, etc. I am thankful for the opportunity to have spent time with them in the past month, hearing their concerns and burdens and knowing how to best pray and stay in touch.
I also spent 10 days in Southern Ethiopia, in Chencha, with my friends Jon and Jess. They are working on an income generating project that is an apple farm as well as honey in that area. This project will feed back into Onesimus. It was exciting to see how far they have come on the farm in such a short amount of time. They have had multiple challenges over the last few years getting this project up and running, so it was a blessing to see the Lord moving.
The prayer requests for them are: they need a road built leading up to the farm so please pray the different things involved in that will come together quickly and smoothly. There are 3 different people groups in this area: the Bele, Dorze, and Sharma. Pray the Gospel is spread through these 3 groups and that they can work together in unity as the farm moves forward.
While in Chencha, we met up with a variety of other missionaries and shared a Thanksgiving meal together. There are so many things to be thankful for!!
Goodbye’s are always hard. At the farewell ceremony I realized the impact the Onesimus staff has had on me and vice versa. One of the staff said he is grateful that I am always prepared when teaching and I always have a plan. He also admires the passion, experience, and love that I bring whether working with the kids or the staff. Another staff said thank you in advance as he knows I will be back to do some teaching in the future. My heart is full. I am grateful for the Lord and His guidance and provision during this time. He is so good and so gracious and I am so blessed to be following Him, wherever He may lead!
Many blessings and thank you for your support,
Ministry Care is a 501c3 non profit organization; therefore your donation is tax deductible. If you would like to invest in Ministry Care, checks are payable to "Ministry Care" and sent to:
14934 Pacer Ct.
Carmel, IN 46032
Donations can also be made online through Givelify at: www.ministrycareinternational.org
Thank you for your support!
Misty Bodkins has a Master's degree in clinical psychology. She has worked both stateside and internationally doing counseling, training, teaching, and research. Her passion is working with people who are in crisis.