Ordinary, Together

Ordinary, Together

Brennan Manning says in his book Abba’s Child, “We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life.” Sitting in the living rooms of the families that have been created by obedience to God and through His love for all people, I have encountered the most beautiful “ordinary”. My new friends here give themselves over to a fullness of absolute joy in moments of gathering, deepening relationships, and celebration. 

A theme I have experienced since coming to Jesus is that this life with him is not easy. It is simple, but not always easy. That theme continues and is abundantly clear here – life here, for these people, has not been easy. But they rejoice in the simplicity of their love for each other and of their love for God and His unending love for them. 

The most overwhelming moments of connection with God I have felt since I’ve known Him have been in the realization of the ordinary. Being here brings an overwhelming “dose” of that realization… He is the same God here, there, and everywhere. We, his most prized of all creations, are the same everywhere – designed, loved, and saved by the same grace. There is a “filter” that seems to cover all of life… that screen is set aside when you are ignoring the complexities of life and embracing the ordinariness of life… afternoon coffee and conversation, laughing, sharing with ordinary people on ordinary days. Worshipping together, learning together, and just sitting and resting in the realization that we belong to a God who loves us. All of us, everywhere, we are His people and He is our God. He tells us in John 14:18 – He will not leave us as orphans, He will come to us. And He has. 

For Him, for all of this, for this understanding – my heart is overflowing with gratitude I can’t contain. 

If the “rest of my life” was only today… Encountering Him in the ordinariness of life would be enough. Jesus is more than enough. 

– Mindy



I came to Addis Ababa thinking we were coming to help and love on all the kids at bring love in. But no, we created friendships that will last a lifetime.

There were two girls in our arts and crafts class, named China and Kal. They both really kept to themselves at the beginning of the week. I think this is because they knew it was going to be heart breaking to see us leave if they connected with us.

After a few days they started showing their love for us. They called my mom (Charity) “mom”, and me their sister.

To be honest I didn’t think I would create strong friendships and relationships with the kids. I made lifelong friends that mean the world to me only in one week.

Seeing other teammates create strong bonds with other kids. It was so cool seeing how they bonded and interacted with each other.

It was heartbreaking for me when I saw all the kids crying because we were leaving. One of the girls started crying into my shirt because she didn’t want us to go. It is so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

– Brya

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

We are sitting at a high school boys soccer game, watching them play on a dirt field without cleets, with mismatched shorts and no shin guards. But these boys play with such passion and a love for the game that none of that matters to them. They have the most enthusiastic cheering section, filled with their brothers and sisters from Bring Love In. It is in this moment that I experience a different kind of joy than I do at home. Laughing and cheering with the girls on the sidelines was so special. Salem taps me on the shoulder, looks me in the eye, and says, “I love Kevin Durant.” I start to tell her how cool that is and she grins and says, “when you come back, bring me his jersey.” I am kind of caught of guard by her request, but then I giggle a little bit and tell her that I will absolutely bring her a jersey. She then goes, “no, no, no. Write it down so you won’t forget”. 

It’s moments like these that make this trip so incredible. Moments giggling in the kitchen with kids who are beyond eager to learn. Or sitting in a tiny living room of a home filled with kids who want to invite you in. To serve you coffee and popcorn and share their time and talents with you. It is hard for me to express the things that I experience and feel here. No matter what I say, I know that I can not do this place justice. I can never accurately paint a picture of its beauty. I know that the Lord is teaching me so much, but to be honest I’m not sure what all of it is yet. I am leaving this place humbled because the people here have given me more than I could ever give them. I have created real friendships that make it hard to say goodbye. Goodbye at least for now. I pray that I can come back and give these kids another hug. Come back and laugh with them again. Come back and give sweet Salem her Kevin Durant jersey. 

– Sara

Hugs, Kisses, and Ro Sham Bo

Hugs, Kisses, and Ro Sham Bo

As most of you probably know, our trip started off in a way that didn’t line up with our original plans. We got stuck in Seattle a couple extra days before getting on our flight to Dubai due to a problem with our visas. Although it was hard, it was also a wonderful gift. I was barely acquainted with a lot of the team when this trip started. And now that I see how busy our time in Addis is, I realize how wonderful it is that our team built close relationships during those few days in Seattle.

Now that we’re in Ethiopia, I can tell you that Addis is truly a place with a beautiful culture and beautiful people. Not just the wonderful staff and kids at Elevate Orphan, but everyone, is so kind and friendly and hospitable. The number of times people I didn’t know have come up to me and shook my hand and introduced themselves to me and then went about their day or played rock paper scissors with me through a window at a restaurant (which happened during dinner last night) is more then I would’ve ever guessed or imagined. They hug and kiss cheeks and show their love for each other in such a close and intimate way. And I love it.

There is a little girl at Elevate Orphan who embodies this love in such an amazing way. Her name is Danawit, she was adopted from the goverment orphanage during COVID, and she is a very cuddly little girl. She will give hugs and kisses and will rub your cheek and be held and it is such a beautiful thing to see.

This closeness that I have experienced during this trip and in this country has had a great impact on my heart and I want to spread that love unapologetically wherever I go.                                                                 

“Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9

– Love, Jane



My heart has broken into a million pieces. But each time it has been put back together piece by piece as I see and hear the stories of the children.

A calm, most gentle, loving soul sat next to me the other day and told me his story. His life is one I cannot fathom. But to be trusted to listen and share his story is such an honor.

David was born in a village where at 3 years old he was tasked with being a Shepherd. He would protect the family’s sheep and cows from Hyenas. Fighting off hyenas was less scary for him than getting whipped by his father, if one of the animals was hurt.

At 5 years old his father got into a fight with the neighboring tribe. They told him that they would kill his son. His father left David at a monastery. He described it as “a place that old people go to wait to die”. When he arrived there, they asked him his name. He had a tribal name, but when they asked he knew he wouldn’t be seeing his family again so he said “David”. He had never heard the name before, but it came to him at that moment. 

A year later he ran away. He hid in a semi-truck and travelled to the city, where he lived on the streets for over a year. At 7 the police found him and he was deposited into a government orphanage. He was there a year when his name was called. He was adopted by Elevate Orphan.

In his short life, he had fought a lot. One day he remembers having a horrible headache and waking up in the street. He still suffers from migraines. Now at 17 he is going to be a senior in high school. When he reads he gets a migraine, which has made school a challenge. Despite the migraines he has applied himself and received good grades.

David has met his father and learned that his dad told his mother that he died the day he took him to the monastery. His parents are divorced and David has not yet met his mother. When she got word that he was with Elevate Orphan, she didn’t believe it, she still believes he’s dead. David is hoping to finally meet his mother when he graduates from the university and is independent.

As an orphan the children do not know their true ages or birthdays. Elevate Orphan applies for birth certificates for the children. David can’t wait to get his, because then he will be able to apply for a passport and be able to travel. His first stop will be Miami and then Bozeman to visit Journey Church.

He hopes one day to write a book about his life. I told him I would love to read it!

All 70 children at Elevate Orphan have a story to tell. The ache of being abandoned never leaves, yet the unconditional love at Elevate Orphan is prevalent. David means “Beloved”. Every child at Elevate Orphan is beloved, dear to the heart.

– Charity



Look up – always.

Too often when things don’t go as I planned I get frustrated, angry and impatient; in a word, selfish. My plans are the best for me. What this trip has reminded – yet again – is that God has plans for us his children that may not be what we would would choose but are far better then we could know. There are lessons and plans for us that He will reveal in His time when we stop, listen and surrender.

This is my fourth trip to Ethiopia and it got off to a rocky start. We faced several roadblocks getting here and more than once before we finally arrived I thought about turning around and heading home. What joy I would have missed had I followed my plan!

We’ve been working these incredible kids for 7 years and have watched them grow from young children into young adults thriving in God’s love. Some have graduated high school and left for university with futures they never could have imagined before being a part of their new forever families in Bring Love In. Many of these beautiful children had pasts we could never imagine and trauma that only God could heal. This trip we began to hear some of those stories, told by the kids themselves, and it touched me in ways that are profound and transformational. They are not my stories to tell, but theirs, and a few willingly shared those with us on video. I know it will be a blessing to all who hear. Stand by Journey family!

So as our time here continues, I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that God is in control and that is enough. Thank you, Lord, for you hand in our lives and your love in our hearts. In this crazy and chaotic world, it is all we need.

– Chuck

Miracle cookies

Miracle cookies

July 13, 2023
How do you explain chocolate chips to someone?

I love cooking! I’ve learned that it’s my creative expression that allows me to disconnect from my stress and make a gift for others to enjoy. I admit that I also love to hear people say how good it is. I have the ability to follow a recipe well enough to make it taste good. So it made sense to me to volunteer to lead cooking with the kids in Ethiopia.

The challenges that arose in Ethiopia around cooking pushed me outside of my “recipe following box” and gave me the opportunity to really consider why I am here. It’s not about the perfect recipe or the skill of cooking or even the English teaching – it’s about so much more.

From the moment we entered Bring Love In, in the rain, the kids all lined up, smiling, hugging and handing us roses, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance. It’s so much and even though we prepared as much as possible in our team meetings – feeling it in that moment is hard to put words.

I was partnered with 7 teenagers and a small kitchen with unknown ingredients and tools. I knew it would be different but I was not feeling super confident in my own abilities in a new and different place. I quickly learned it really didn’t matter. This really isn’t about me. The energy of the kids, their laughter, questions and how they shared with me – the sound of how they pronounce Kate, ‘Kuh-Kate’ it’s beautiful. Learning about them, their favorite foods, Shewa is a cook, he’s quiet and more reserved then the other kids. He listens closely and I notice him reading through the cookbook. Ruth loves Will Smith and Fresh Prince of Belair and we talk about our favorite movies. Akele is an outgoing leader. He charms one of the other girls to write his recipe in English for him and tells me with a smile, he’ll do it later because he’s washing dishes now.
All of these kids are beautiful, smart, talented, accepting and loving people with fantastic senses of humor! They tease each other, connect and play just like teenagers at home. Their actions and body language understandable to me beyond any language barriers.

As I spent my first full day in the small kitchen filled with kids, mixing and laughing, I paused and soaked it in. “I’m in Ethiopia right now. I’m making chocolate chip cookies with these kids.” My body filled with tingles and I felt tears of joy welling inside. I don’t ever want to forget this moment.

The cookies turned out beautifully! The smell of Ethiopian crushed chocolate and sugar filled the three floors of Bring Love In and the kids and other members of our group swarmed our window and door asking what smelled SO good and wanting a taste. Ruth, one of the ‘master chefs’ as we call each other, tells me in a sly conspiratorial tone and pointing to the biggest batch, “Kate we will keep all these for us and then eat them all!” We laughed.

One little girl stuck her tiny hand through the kitchen window and almost grabbed the hot pan with cookies on them. She cried out in the most heartfelt Amharic and Ayda, another ‘Master Chef’ spoke to her and translated to me that she “NEEDED the cookie soooo bad she did not care if it burnt her!” It was a beautiful moment, I felt privileged to be in the presence of it all.

At the end of the day I felt God was telling me, again, to let go, remember who is in control and be present. My continual prayer to Him, I am willing to go. Use me.

He is the One who made those cookies taste so good!

Kate aka katie

Ready or Not?

Ready or Not?

In preparing for our venture to Ethiopia, I have been asked over and over again how I’m feeing about the trip. The truth? I’ve been conflicted and feel as if I am caught between two worlds. On one hand, I know what traveling to Ethiopia holds. It’s my Kingdom Come. It’s where I feel the tangible presence of the Lord and His love. On the other hand, I am comfortable at home because I am in control of everything. I’m in control of my marathon training, my grad school courses, my daily rhythms with my two-year-old and husband. So when people ask if I’m ready, my answer is, “No, absolutely not.” Why? Because I’m caught between two worlds. I’m caught between the comfortable, idle life I live in the bubble of Bozeman, Montana and going to Ethiopia disrupts that. I lose control, and I immediately feel uncomfortable. This is so so good. 

There’s a song by Hillsong UNITED called “Ready or Not”. The song repetitively asks, “Are you Ready or Not?” Not only does the repetition of that question force me to sit with it, but it helps me realize that God will do His work whether I’m ready or not. “Take your time, if nothing else, just come/Are you ready?/Come now, bring your hopes/Your dreams, your doubts/Your scars…There’s no place like His presence/There’s no time like the now.” I have been listening to this on repeat, holding fast and faithful that there’s no time like the now; there’s not place like His presence. So here I am, taking my time and trusting that He will do His work with the kids at Elevate Orphan and in me…ready or not.

– Jourdan

Love so freely given.

Love so freely given.

Words don’t usually escape me when I put them to paper. I have been struggling for days as to what I need to express publicly about the remainder of my time here in Addis.

Last week, the energy in the classroom was always palpable. The kids were so excited that at times, it could be difficult to get them to focus on their studies. But the love they choose to so freely give was a breath of fresh air. How can you turn down love so freely given? (A question I often ask in regards to Jesus). 

Fast forward to this week, and the older teenagers are quieter and more reserved while in class; the main reason is because they don’t want to make mistakes while speaking English. But the deep thoughts and beliefs that they have already established in their identity as God’s children will blow you away! We come to teach them English but they teach us so much more in return. 

These are future movers and shakers within Addis, Ethiopia and the Heavenly kingdom! I feel blessed and honored to have the opportunity to see it in action. 

Bring Love In is an organization that has so many moving parts:  Counselors to help guide these kids through traumas, widows to help raise the children in a strong Christian home, and hundreds of volunteers. The concept that Jessie and Levi came to is amazing and so well thought-out. An organization that is lead by Ethiopian Christian professionals that know the culture and can help make changes will be a ripple effect for many generations to come. 

See you at home!



A moment full of gratitude. One that was experienced sitting at the back of a van as the landscape of Ethiopia flew past beyond blurred windows. Yet my eyes in this moment weren’t focused on the myriad outside but on the rear view mirror at the front of the van. Ishy’s eyes captivated me. These beautiful brown eyes are ones full of compassion, devotion, and love. Eyes that radiate with God’s love and are a window into his humble servant heart. 

A moment full of tenderness. One that was experienced as the ever present clouds let the sun pierce through. Leaning against the window sill, I welcomed the delicate warmth against my skin, keeping my eyes closed as footsteps came from behind. I opened them to find Miki resting his elbows on the edge next to me. I do not remember the brief conversation that took place but what I do remember is the gentle gesture of his hand as he reached out and moved one strand of my hair out of my face. 

A moment full of companionship. One that was experienced as the invigorating mixture of Ethiopian spices and onions permeated the air. For close to four hours, Yeshi and I sat in the same wooden chairs around a pot of simmering Doro Wat. We began with the sun beating against our faces and eventually found ourselves enveloped in darkness. Our time was spent enjoying the simple pleasure of one another’s presence. 

Moments like these are powerful because of the One who made them. Their transformative power may never be revealed, yet we need only pray to have the eyes to see and the heart to know that God weaves Himself into each moment. He abides in the ordinary day to day; He abides in our  relationships; He abides in our hearts; He abides in the moments. 

Beautifully Broken

Beautifully Broken

“I’m in Ethiopia,” I keep telling myself. The first few mornings I would wake up and remind myself of that. One day when we were in the classroom teaching, I bent over to pick up a piece of trash and I said to myself, “I’m in Ethiopia picking up scraps in a classroom just like I do at home.” The task was so basic, yet so profound. How is it I find myself in a classroom teaching English to students in Ethiopia? Life is a journey, and not always an easy one

In coming to Ethiopia it is so much easier to ‘see’ and experience the brokenness than it is at home. But, are we really that much different? When looking at my own life, the reason I’m even here is because God has been able to use my brokenness to get ahold of my heart. July 18, 2016 is the day sweet freedom and total surrender entered my life. It does not come as a coincidence that God has brought me here on that date 3 years later. His timing is so perfect and he is so faithful and good. When I had no control over things going on in my life, when I was at my breaking point, when I was totally broken and had no more strength, that’s when God broke through. It took God giving me the permission to let go of control and to totally and fully put my trust in him. I now live in his freedom. I am free to love; I am free to have compassion; I am free to be who he made me to be.

So, I’m in Ethiopia. Yes, I can see the brokenness, but I can also see the beauty in the smiles and hugs of the sweet children at Bring Love In. I see the beauty in the moms as they bring us lunch and make us coffee and popcorn. I see beauty in the lives of those who work with the kids and families year round and those who so graciously host and drive us. I see beauty in the lives that are changed through the love of others. 

I’m in Ethiopia, half way around the world in a completely different culture. Our lives are so different and yet they are so the same. We are all broken people who need the love, grace, and mercy from an amazing Savior! The more broken we are, the more God’s light can shine through us.

God is at work. I saw a beautiful display of his love and forgiveness in action. Yesterday as we were getting ready for lunch, some of the students who were a part of the altercation Carl talked about returned. They had time over the weekend to process all that had happened. They came to personally apologize to the team. They began to shake our hands and say I’m sorry. The handshakes quickly turned into hugs. One of the girls began to cry. How neat to see she had been broken and that love began to break through.

God is so good. It has been such a blessing to be a small part of these children’s lives. They have so much love to give. May I be able to love others so freely.


“I just want to learn English.”

“I just want to learn English.”

Darik. Say that name to me and I have mixed emotions. On one hand I feel complete and utter joy. On the other, a feeling of anxiety begins to rise. 

Joy:  Darik was explaining something to me. I can’t recall what exactly we were talking about, but he was walking me through something—an explanation probably. Once I came to the realization he wanted me to find, I jokingly retorted, “Darik! What would I do without you? I’d be so lost. Thank you for helping me.” Darik tilted his head at me and wagged his finger, “No, Jourdan, you would be lost without God.” 

I just smiled and hugged him fiercely. You are so right, child. Joy.

Anxiety:  I am sitting at a table with Sitota, Aysema, Maye, and Darik. All of them except Darik are what I would identify as emerging English learners. They have a difficult time finding words to speak, so they resort to answering in Amharic. Needless to say, I try my best to help them one-on-one; however, Darik demands all of my attention even though he is the most advanced English speaker at the table. As I help Sitota and Aysema speak and write a list of animals in English, Darik takes Sitota’s notebook and puts his in front of me, proudly displaying his list of 25 animals, 15 more than what we tasked the class to find. “Jourdan, is this correct?” Sitota erupts and there’s a heated conversation taken place in Amharic between Darik and her. I try to save the situation but there’s no going back. Similar situations like this one continued to take place at my table throughout the day. 

It was an incredibly difficult day for me. I was so frustrated with Darik for not being patient, for not letting me help his sisters with their English, because he wanted all of my attention. 

Fast forward to the next morning during our devotion. The big idea for the morning was patience and Kelly said something that stuck with me:  I think about how God is so patient with me, even after all these years. 

Patient. God is so patient with me, so why can’t I be patient with Darik? I was convicted and humbled to the core. I prayed that God would help me be more patient with Darik. I prayed that prayer so hard. 

We finally made it to the school that morning and I pulled Darik aside, “Darik, I’m sorry for not being patient with you yesterday while I was helping Sitota. I want to be able to help all of you, but I can’t. Will you forgive me?” 

Darik just smiled and said, “No problem, Jourdan. I’m sorry too. I just want to learn English.”

All he wanted was to grow in his English. He desired to learn and that’s why he wanted my undivided attention.

I could go on and unpack all that happened in my heart, but I’m going to leave these stories as they are because I believe God is at work. He is at work here in Addis through Bring Love In, and he is whispering to us in the smallest of ways. What we’re doing here matters because God is at work indeed.