It’s Friday, July 7th, our last day in Dessie with the children of Hope Enterprises. How does one prepare his or her heart or mind for this day? It’s simple, one can’t. Our minds will not be able to reconcile all we have seen and experienced. Our hearts will break as the gates of Hope close behind us when we leave tomorrow morning. We may not ever see these beautiful children again. We have developed special relationships with the children of Hope and have grown to love them and cherish their company.

Today, just like the previous days, was filled with fun activities as the students once again arrived at 7:00 a.m. in the rain. But, it’s not about the activities. It’s about the relationships we have built with these wonderful children of God and the ability to love them.

As the clock ticks away and the hour draws near when the children will be leaving “Hope” and going home for the day, my eyes fill with tears. I sit in my room alone trying to protect myself from getting any closer to the children. I think about all the amazing connections that we have had with the Dessie kids, even though we don’t speak the same language. One instant connection was made through football. The kids know all about the World Cup, the teams and the individual players. Throughout the week, as different games are played, the students joyously yell out to us, “Portugal,” “France,” “Germany,” and “Italy.” We joyously yell back and lift our fisted arms as they do. There was also an immediate connection through Ethiopian and American song and dance. And, most importantly, there was a special connection through Jesus Christ as the children asked us if we loved Jesus and pointed to the crosses around their necks.

Tomorrow we head for Addis Ababa, but where are we really headed? What are the next steps we are going to take? What is God’s plan for us now that He has blessed us with this extraordinary experience?

I decide that it’s time to go out to the playground and stop trying to protect myself. The tone has changed. Children have little pieces of paper in their hands and ask all the team members for their addresses so they can keep in touch. They too know we are leaving tomorrow and they are sad. In the midst of the address frenzy a child asks Rachel to get her Bible and to read specific passages. As Rachel is reading John 3:16 another child asks me to get my Bible. As I walk to the guesthouse I hear a little boy singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Could it be that our team fulfilled its purpose in Dessie at the Hope School? Could it be that we drew these children closer to Jesus. Only God knows.