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Ethiopia service trip daily blog: Simpson describes final day before return home

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Maclin Simpson helped deliver basic necessities to residents of Ethiopia on Sunday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Maclin Simpson helped deliver basic necessities to residents of Ethiopia on Sunday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
This week, eight Wildcats are taking part in a service trip in Ethiopia. Throughout the week, the student-athletes will take turns describing their experience. Please note that these posts are the personal reactions of the student-athletes and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Kentucky and UK Athletics. With the travel party set to return to the United States on Monday, Maclin Simpson writes about what he saw on Sunday.

Maclin Simpson (swimming and diving)

I woke up this morning feeling mixed emotions about the day ahead. On one hand, I was excited for another opportunity to serve the people of Ethiopia with a group of friends I would consider family. On the other, I was anxious because I knew that my expectations were about to be shattered into a million pieces, yet again turning my world upside down.

The day started just like any other. We had breakfast at the guest house followed by a quick meeting before we set out. After reconfirming our flight information, we had about an hour or so to kill so we made our way over to the zoo. I use the term "zoo" loosely because it isn't comparable to anything you would find in the U.S. More or less it was just one massive, circular cage with about ten lions that looked like they could eat any one of us without a moment's hesitation. Regardless, it was still a cool experience.

Then it all changed.

The moment that we got out of the van at the community center, we were swarmed with loving children. It was unbelievable to see the pure joy in their faces just to hold our hands and walk with us. Our task was to fill bags with assorted basic necessities and deliver them to widows and other families. Throughout our time there, the one thing that was constant was how gracious these amazing people were. It didn't matter who we were, just that we came. To them, we were an answered prayer and a gift from God. Every home that we visited (most were about half the size of a dorm room, dark and housing up to seven people) we prayed over the people about whatever physical or emotional discomfort was troubling them. Each time, without fail, they would tell us how much they loved us and prayed that God would bless us and our families. It's incredible that a village and people in such desperate need of financial capital were so content with human capital. The last home we visited was of a widow who suffers from tuberculosis; Jarrod Polson and I literally had to chase after her because she was so excited to invite us into her home and introduce us to her children. We sat, prayed and shared a hug that could have lasted a lifetime. It is those types of moments that make me realize how much of a gift from God life truly is and how much I take for granted on a daily basis. We all left that village changed and with memories that we will never forget.

Tomorrow is our last day here. I am going to miss this place and will forever be grateful for the opportunities given, experiences had, but most importantly for the people that I have met and the relationships I have formed.

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UK Athletics. I often read what people say about their experiences after visiting my country (Ethiopia). Time and time again the one thing that keeps coming up is how gracious and genuinely friendly the people are and the impression they leave on those who get to meet them. As an Ethiopian that does not surprise me at all. In fact, I expect it. I wish other schools/universities do the same. As this young man articulated, it is a lesson that can not be gotten in a class room. I have made America (USA) my home for a very long time, but think of Ethiopia every single day and wish I was there despite its short comings. I know I will be happier. perhaps the time has come for me to head to my second home.

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  • KHalid: UK Athletics. I often read what people say about their experiences after visiting my country (Ethiopia). Time and time again read more