So much has happened in the Henderson world in the past six weeks and with the busy season of the Holidays I haven't had time to even process most of it much less sit down to blog. A few amazing things have taken place and so here is a small glimpse....
The day after Thanksgiving David traveled to Ethiopia for ten days with several guys from our church and a friend from Knoxville. The trip was more than he could have ever imagined it would be. Other than bringing home a nasty bacteria in his stomach it was a perfect trip for him. He visited with our missionary friends Trent and Carmen, spent a day with our extended family on Zadachu island and even got a quick visit in with Garrett's best friend Lemme in the orphanage where Tia and Garrett lived for several years.
He so enjoyed the day that he had on the island with Tia and Garrett's birth family and it was the highlight of the trip for him. The community on the island were thrilled when David's small boat pulled up. He was greeted with joy and the people of the island were so excited to show David the new wells that had been installed since his last visit to the island 18 months earlier with our family. What a joy for David to walk from well to well with the Zay people who knew that we as a family and as a community had cared for their very basic need of clean water.
David was thrilled to see that Werke (Tia and Garrett's birth mom) looked very healthy and well fed. As many of you know she had been very ill a few month ago due to not having enough food to eat. Tia and Garrett's siblings on the island all seemed very happy and healthy as well which was a great relief to our family. Only three of their six siblings were on the island because three are away at school and David made arrangements to visit with them on another day.
While on the island the island elders called a meeting in Werke's hut where they met with David much like the day when our entire family was there. David was able to ask them what needs they continued to have and those needs seemed to have stayed the same. They shared that they still need medical care and help with a way to grow more food. There is only one rainy season a year on the island which means only one harvest. This is not nearly enough food to feed the island for an entire year and with the help of irrigation their lives would be completely changed. David made a promise to continue working on these needs. I can hardly wait to see food growing there year round and a medical clinic up and running.
Prior to leaving from the island David wanted to have a few minutes where he could talk to Werke and so he, our good friend Brent, Nicco, Abraham (our newest friend), Werke and Ahitu (Tia and Garrett's oldest sister) went into Werke's hut. David was able to share about Christ and His love for Werke with her. Our new friend Abraham (who works with E3 partners) was able to help translate the gospel. It was in those precious moments that Werke prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. With David there (I so wish that I could have experienced these moments) not only did Werke say yes to Jesus but so did Ahitu.
We are so thankful that this people group who have never had the chance to hear of Jesus, now have heard and not only have heard but that He lives in them- out in the middle of a small lake on a very small remote island......... HE IS THERE!!! We are also thankful for our new friends at E3 partners who work in that area to share Christ and to disciple those who trust Him. Please pray that Werke will be a light in a very dark place. Pray that she will be just like it says in Matthew 5:15- "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden"- Pray for her as she experiences this new life in Christ that she would know of His love for her and for her family. Pray for Abraham as he travels to the island every few weeks to encourage and teach more of God's word there to Werke, Ahitu and others that I know will trust Him soon.
When David called to tell me this news I cried tears of sweet joy. One of my greatest fears had been that something would happen to Werke and my son and daughter would ask if we had shared Jesus with her. I was so thrilled at this news that I spend much of the afternoon rejoicing and praising Him for the grace and mercy He gives to anyone who is willing to ask.
It was so neat to share this great news with Tia and Garrett when the arrived home from school. Garrett's first question was, "Mom, did dad buy Werke a Bible? She doesn't have one and so she needs one." I then reminded my sweet son that his mom couldn't read and that her language isn't written down it is just spoken. With tears flowing down my face I promised my son that somehow we would get God's word to her. I am praying and believing that someday this will happen- I know that this will take a miracle- I have seen more than enough miracles on this journey that He has had us on.
A few weeks after David's return I had tucked the little girls in bed and I was getting ready to tuck Garrett in. As I walked into his room he looked up at me and said, "Mom, I am ready. I believe Jesus died for me and I want to ask Him to take away my sin." David was out at a meeting and so I sat down beside him trying not to cry like a baby, placed his Bible on my lap and started to talk with him. As we were talking Tia opened his bedroom door and came over to sit on the bed with us. (This NEVER happens- Once in bed in our house the kids rarely get up- not really a rule just how it happens usually) Tia didn't say a word she just listened as I continued to make sure that Garrett understood. Garrett then alone prayed the most amazing, heartfelt prayer that I have ever heard.
As he finished Tia said, "Mom, I want to pray now. I believe that Jesus died for me." She then bowed her precious head as my tears dropped into her curls and she prayed for Jesus to forgive her. By this time all six kids were gathered around me and my heart was about to beat out of my chest- For me this is all I have longed for...... to know that all six of my precious gifts from God would know Him. Not know about Him but that they each would chose to follow Him with their lives. God is so good and His love for us never fails- whether we live here in our comfortable home in Harrisburg, NC or if we live half way around the world in a mud hut on a tiny, remote Zadachu island where basic needs are a daily struggle- He is there willing and waiting to adopt us as His very own.