Hana: “I was born in Ethiopia where I lived with my grandmother for twelve years. I then moved to Paris, France to live with my mother. I moved to America at 22 years old to meet my dad. Then while serving at a restaurant, a young man in the room caught my eye whose last name I now have. Our journey together has been one of discovery. Our Ethiopian culture is ingrained in us. However, we have lived over a decade in America where we are raising our two boys. My time in France and my husbands time in Dubai during our teenage years certainly left an impact on us--we now embrace three separate cultures.
What has left the greatest impact on us, however, has been our faith in God. We were raised to follow a religion based on rules and tradition, but what we have discovered together is that true freedom and lasting peace comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is about a personal faith, a bold faith, that has resulted in us living an inspired life.
This journey together began a couple years ago on my sisters wedding day. This life changing experience occurred as I was running late to her wedding and on the way I saw a homeless mother with her baby. There was something tugging at me that would just not let me ignore this situation. Suddenly being late to a wedding did not seem significant compared to the opportunity in front of me. The mother was experiencing obvious health problems, convulsing and shaking, while attempting to hold her baby. I jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped and proceeded to make sure this woman was okay. I had seen so much homelessness growing up in Ethiopia that it would be easy to become numb to the needs of this world. Instead, however, I know it was God speaking truth into my life that He has a greater purpose for us here on earth to serve and love others. From that day forward my husband and I have committed to our faith in God that gives us the strength and wisdom to guide our decisions and serve faithfully. It felt so much more real when we began to view our Christian faith as a relationship, and a lifestyle, instead of traditions and rituals.
One thing I really want people to recognize about us is that it doesn’t matter our ethnic or cultural background, our destinies are linked. It doesn’t matter what similarities or differences we have, God has created us to be family that includes all our differences in backgrounds and colors.”
Efram: “Family is a powerful concept in Ethiopia. I have felt that people sometimes think that I am stuck up being from West Africa. However, once you get to know me you realize this isn’t the truth. At times Ethiopians may spend more time around people of their same culture, however, this is often because of the strong sense of community among one another that is evident in Ethiopia including in even the largest of cities. For example, Ethiopian children are really raised by the village. There is a sense of family among the neighborhood which we value. So we want people to know that whatever our differences we are family.
If we could change the world it would be by helping people to show more love among one another instead of all the bickering and fighting; there is always something dividing us. Instead of wars over our differences we would learn to love the differences! This is our heart. This is our story.” (Efram)