Ethiopia | Trip Recap

Maddie Gibbel  |  CFC Features  |  Missions

Our appearance does not define our status in our community. At least it shouldn’t.

Because of their physical disabilities, children around the world are being rejected by their own family and cast away from their community. Many believe that a physical handicap is because of a curse such as a punishment for the behavior of an ancestor. CURE, an orthopedic children’s hospital network seeks to heal them both physically and spiritually.

I am Maddie Gibbel, 16 years old, and honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Team to the CURE hospital in Ethiopia for 2018. Our goal was to show the children how beautiful and loved they are, despite their physical disabilities. We spent one on one time with the kids as well as led group activities which always resulted in smiles and giggles.

Unlike what their family and society spoke into their lives, we wanted them to know that their physical needs are not a hindrance to the precious joy inside them. Joy truly brings hope. We learned that yes, at times, language barriers can cause difficulty in communicating, but laughs and smiles are contagious and can speak far more than words. These children were at places of complete vulnerability, yet joy radiated from within them.

We brought with us a variety of arts and craft supplies including: play dough, colored pens, markers, clay, paint, paint sponges, coloring books, nail polish, and much more. We also brought legos, building blocks, and beach balls. The kids loved these!

Throughout the week, we got to know each child on a more individual level simply by which activities they enjoyed the most. Fedilia, a precious little toddler whom I loved every minute with, would cover my face in stickers and laugh her little, high pitched, squeaky giggle. Even some of the other children would laugh as they saw me later with animal stickers all over.

When we were able to shift the focus away from the pain, away from the deformity, joy so easily took control of the room. These children loved to laugh. They loved to have fun and just simply… be kids - something they were unable to experience at home. There is something powerful in being able to not only bring them to a place of physical healing, but also bringing them to a deeper understanding of Jesus. An understanding of the Father that will never leave them or cast them away, a Father that loves them in their moments of pain and their moments of healing. A Father that is constant and ever seeking.

To say that I left a piece of my heart there with the children we loved on, would be an understatement. They made as much of an impact on me as I did on them.

The team with CURE Hospital patients