Saturday, October 2, 2010
Sometimes there are people who come into your life and they change you forever. In the photo above you will see a young man named Kediir who has made a huge impact in my life. I have only known Kediir for only a few years and I don't get to see him very often but he will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I met Kediir in the summer of 2005 while in Ethiopia serving at a soccer camp with Sports Friends and at the time Kediir was between 12 and 13 years old. Kediir was on my soccer team for the week and even though we didn't speak the same language I saw first hand him make a decision to trust Jesus with his life. He was from a Muslim family and so his decision to follow Jesus would not be an easy decision when he returned home after camp. It broke my heart the day he climbed on the van with the other guys from my team because I knew that they were all traveling back to their villages where life was going to be even harder than it already was. I cried and prayed for each of them as I knew that I would never see these boys again this side of heaven.
I was very wrong- The next day our team piled on a van and headed out to a few villages to visit a few of the guys who had just spent the week with us. To my surprise one of the first stops was at Kaddir's house. I was so excited to see him again and it was humbling to stand in his small village and meet his family. They were very warm and welcoming and as I hugged his mom I made a promise to myself that I would pray for this families salvation until I returned to Ethiopia the next time.
While we visited with Kediir that day he went into his hut and brought out a bracelet that I had been wearing the entire week at camp. It was a bracelet with photos of Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay that my kids had given me to wear while away from them. I had forgotten that on the last night of camp we had a large bonfire and as we were dancing around I had given the bracelet to Kediir to put in his pocket so I wouldn't loose it. He had also forgotten that he had it and when he left from camp it was still in his pocket. He handed it to me and had a translator tell me that he was so sorry that he had forgotten to return it. I handed it back to him and explained that I wanted him to keep it to remind him that I would be praying for him each day. I knew that he would cherish that bracelet and enjoy it more than I ever would.
In February of 2006, David traveled to Ethiopia and when he visited Kediir he was still wearing the bracelet that I had left with him the previous summer. David had new and updated photos of our four children as well as a few photos of Kediir and I from our week at camp to give to him. David was able to spend spend time with Kediir and I was so excited for the two of them to meet each other. Kediir also shared with David that two of his brothers had accepted Christ and how excited he was to not be the only believer of Jesus in his Muslim family. God was answering my prayers-
Over the next few years David and I have continued to stop by and see Kediir and his family everytime we have traveled to Ethiopia. Now several of his siblings are Christ followers. Kediir and his family are always overjoyed to see us and they usually cry with delight upon our arrival. That was no different when we visited with them a few weeks ago.
It had been over 2 years since I had visited with Kediir and so while we were in Ethiopia this summer a visit with his family was very high on my priority list. I couldn't wait for Megan, Kaylee, Lindsay and Jacob (and my sister Carrie) to get to meet this young man that they had been praying for with me. I couldn't wait for Kediir to get to meet the kids that I had told him about on all of our visits together.
I was so thankful that our great friend (and hero) Nicco had some free time and was willing to travel with us to be our translator with Kediir. We weren't sure that Kediir would even be home but as we got close to his village I saw Kediir walking out on the road. Eskel our driver stopped the van and I jumped out to greet him. Tears filled my eyes as I was so excited to get to spend some time with this young man and his family that I pray so much for. Our kids filed out of the car and each hugged Kediir and it was another moment of disbelief that this was actually happening. A day I had dreamed of happening but never thought would be a reality.
We walked towards Kediir's hut and his family all came running out to greet us. They couldn't believe that we were there to visit. My heart broke as Nicco translated Kediir saying that he thought that we had forgotten about him.Nothing was further from the truth and I made sure that he knew that I would always be praying for him and his family .
We spent the next hour catching up with his family and all learning how to use a whip. (See photo above!) It was such a fun afternoon of laughing, playing and just enjoying being together. We even found out while we were there that this brother-in-law is an employee of Nicco at Nicco's new truck stop- What a small, small world! When it was time for us to go, Kediir went into his hut and brought out all of the photos of our family that we had ever given him. He shared with us how much they meant to him and how he thinks of us each day.
Kediir has recently started his secondary education and is very rarely in his village because his school is a few hours away. I was so excited that he was home that day and I am even more excited that this young man who knows Jesus has and will continue to make a huge impact in his community.
I am so thankful that a few years ago I spent a week of my summer in Ethiopia sharing God's love with a group of guys- I would have never guessed how much it would have forever changed my heart and life!