Seeing the Bright Faces of Ethiopia's Next Generation

Our feet crunched on the dry eucalyptus leaves in the forest behind our house. In the distance, we could hear the rushing water of the stream that runs through the large compound we live on, nestled deep in the mountains of southern Ethiopia. It was a Saturday afternoon, and we were playing with a bow and arrow that Oliver had made from sticks and string he had found. 

As we took turns shooting, we suddenly noticed a small face peering at us through the trees. It was Ebenezer, a young Ethiopian boy from the village that surrounds our compound. We had met Ebenezer a few times - a sweet, quiet, compassionate boy who works hard every day to carry water and sell eggs for his family. 

He crept closer and closer to us as we continued to shooting. Finally, after Oliver had fired an arrow, Ebenezer raced to grab it and bring it back to us. We offered to let him take a turn, and a huge grin broke out on his face. His first try landed a few inches in front of his feet, but it didn’t take long for him to get the hang of it. After a few minutes, we looked up and to our surprise there were now many more faces peering at us through the trees. We could hear the eucalyptus leaves crunching as almost ten more Ethiopian boys and girls crept towards us, hoping to be included in the fun. 

This joyful afternoon in the forest was the beginning of something amazing, something that is growing even as we write this newsletter. For several months, we had been praying for Ethiopian friends for Jackson and Oliver (we listed this as a prayer request in our last newsletter). God answered our prayers and yours, and then He did even more - more than we could ask or imagine. 

What we have realized is that our home here in Ethiopia is surrounded, literally surrounded, by many very poor but very joyful families. And most of these families have kids Jackson and Oliver’s age. These kids are deeply interested in our family. They are longing for affection, affirmation, love, and role models to look up to. Every day of the week, with shining, eager smiles, they slip through the trees around our house, and they spend time with our family. They play soccer with Jackson and Oliver. They play frisbee with Brad when he gets home from the hospital. They bring eggs and bananas to Bethany and sit on our porch talking with her.

Not only have we gained amazing friends for Jackson and Oliver, but God has also opened up a whole new ministry field for our family. In addition to serving at Soddo Christian Hospital, we now have the immense privilege of pouring into a generation of young Ethiopians. And while we love each and every one of these kids, we have to admit that little Ebenezer will probably always be our favorite!

On tough days - when the power goes out, when the water stops working, when we get another new Ethiopian illness, when work at the hospital seems overwhelming - these kids are part of what keeps us going. We’re not just ministering to them, they’re ministering to us!

With love,

The Canfields

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