Since we moved to Ethiopia nearly four years ago we have not been back to America for as long as we have been here this time (almost 4 months!), and I have to say we have never been more ready to get back home. If there ever was any doubt that our family feels that home is in Ethiopia now, just ask one of our kids, they are jumping up and down excited to finally get back to where we belong. That being said, goodbyes are always hard.  We spent yesterday at a wonderful party put on by Jessie’s mom, saying goodbye to everyone, hugging and re-hugging people who we aren’t going to be seeing for a long time.   It was kind of sad. The kids then got on video chat with other family who are out of town, and later that evening we went and said goodbye to everyone at our church, they had us come up and talk about where things are at with the project (whoa 45 kids! are you kidding me! God is so good.) and then they prayed for us, sending us off into this next phase of our lives.  We feel so blessed to have such an incredible support network behind us.  We could never do what we do without our home Redeemer Christian Church. 

Tomorrow morning we leave.

And I don’t think I have mentioned her on here before but we are bringing Emma back with us as Bring Love In’s first intern!   Pretty neat huh?

Emma goes to Redeemer as well,  let me have Emma share in her own words why it is that she is coming with us.

I  grew up in a huge loving Christian family who always pushed us towards our dreams. When I was in 6th grade Africa as a whole was put on my heart. I had a few opportunities to go to different countries in Africa, but none worked out. When I was 16, my family decided to adopt from Ethiopia. I was going to go with them to pick up the two newest additions to the Cantrell family. After I was saving, and had gotten some of the immunizations, it fell through and I stayed home. I figured that that was what my heart for Africa was. I always continued praying for Africa, and I realized my prayers were narrowing to Ethiopia where my brother and sister were from. In January of this year, I had my next four years planned out: Graduate high school in May, 2 years of Community College, Nursing School. February rolled around and when people asked me what I was going to do after I graduated I started answering with “I don’t know yet.” Mixed emotions came whenever I thought about the future. Then one day I was cleaning the women’s restroom after youth group, and my Jr. High youth pastor/”big brother” asked what was up, and we started talking about the future. He asked me what my options were that I would want to consider and when I replied I added “go to Africa” at the end of my list. I hadn’t thought about actually going for months. I had no idea where it had come from. He told me to pray about it and tell my parents, and over the next weekend I had told both my parents and they fully supported me. I had realized that over the last few weeks I had been having dreams about Ethiopia and the Benkert family specifically. When I told my dad he said “Do you want me to talk to Levi?” And 15 days later, I got a message from Levi. From there it has been praying and preparing to go to Ethiopia. Not just from there, God has been preparing my heart for years. So now I am preparing to leave everything I know. My house that I have lived in for 17 years, my family, my friends.. Change has never been easy for me. But I know that with God on my side, that I can move across the world to be His hands and feet. He has provided in every way possible.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m scared.

But…

Deuteronomy 31:8

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Emma is going to be helping with all sorts of things at the project, as well as around our house with the kids.  We are blessed to have her come, and excited to see what God has for her in her life.

Lastly, (I have to get all this on the site before we leave) we are nearing the launch of our new website!  I have taken a peak at it and oh boy is it neat!  Any day now you will be seeing the new design, so just to warn you if you come back and things look all different, you are still in the right place!  We are thankful for Ryan Solida and all his hard work to make this happen, he has not charged us a penny (although he could have charged us many thousands for all that he has done) if anyone is ever looking for an incredibly talented web designer, code monkey you just need to look up Ryan and his company Shout It Louder.  On the design side of the site we had help from Brody Harper, and his team over at Skor Inc, some more great people who are over in Nashville owning the christian music industry with their amazing work.  Again these guys are not charging anything either!

It’s like I have been telling you, God is bringing the right people around at the right time to make amazing things happen!

Thank you for all your prayers as we travel back home, there is so much waiting for us, when we left there was only Setota, and no other kids, now there are 45 children in 7 new families!  We are praising God for all that He has done, and over the moon that we finally get to go home and be with our new massive family.

I will be writing more as soon as we land and get our feet beneath us once more.

Levi

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