Beckett is a junior at Southwest Baptist University (SBU) in Bolivar and the daughter of David and Donna Beckett. She is majoring in sports management with a concentration in administration and business.
SBU sponsors mission trips each year, and this was the first year that the college sponsored a trip to Ethiopia.
This is the third mission trip that Beckett has participated in at SBU. The other trips were to Houston, Texas, and Baha, Mexico.
"I cannot explain how blessed I am to have served in Ethiopia," said Beckett. "The people there were great, and it was an experience that I will never forget. God blessed me with great support in prayer and finances in order to make this trip happen. I have a huge heart for missions and now for Ethiopia. God taught me a lot of things while on this trip, and He is constantly teaching me more each day as I surrender to Him."
Nine team members and two leaders traveled to Ethiopia on Jan. 3 and stayed through Jan. 21. The trip involved 30 hours of plane travel.
While in Ethiopia, the team partnered with Blessing the Children International (BCI) whose main purpose is to serve the people and the country of Ethiopia. BCI runs a sponsorship program and BCI Academy, which is a school for kindergarten through seventh grade children. The program's mission is to work with orphans and impoverished children for ministering to their physical, mental, social and spiritual needs.
The group was able to do home visits every weekday. BCI has five social workers who are responsible for a certain amount of children, and for them to be in the sponsorship program, they have to attend the church that the social worker is assigned to. The five churches are spread throughout Debra Zeyit. The child must also attend a school and be open to the Blessing the Children International program.
"Ethiopian culture is very different from American culture," said Beckett. "I feel like Ethiopians are a lot harder workers than Americans, even down to the very young children. The people's work ethic is way higher, and they are proud of what they do. Most of the baskets and jewelry that are in their houses are all hand-woven and hand-crafted. The things that they make are beautiful, and they are humble when someone tells them how great they look."
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major problem in Debra Zeyit. Most orphans have lost their parents to HIV or their parents are HIV positive. When children sponsorship is being decided, HIV is looked at. The parents who are HIV positive and the children who are HIV positive have a better chance to be chosen for the program. Also, the family income is a factor. The less the income, the more likely they are to be accepted into the sponsorship program.
The team of 11 was able to split up into different groups each day and serve Debra Zeyit in different ways. The group did house visits, teaching several classes at the school and serving the city. The visits were held during school hours, but when a family knew that the social worker was coming, the child would stay home from school.
Beckett is one-third sponsoring 6-year-old Yakob. There are five people in his family plus another woman who lives with them. They live in a typical African mud/hay house consisting of two rooms, a bedroom and a family room that has another bed.
Yakob's father runs a horse carriage as a transportation service, which is the only source of income. The family will make approximately $10 a month. Both parents are HIV positive and are often tired and find it difficult to care for the family. The father also has eye problems. Yakob runs errands to help his parents.
"Ethiopia was definitely a life-changing mission trip," said Beckett. "Each time I go on a mission trip through the university, I feel super blessed to attend a university with such a great opportunity. Each and every trip I attend, I learn a lot, but this trip taught me so much and opened my eyes to God's will for my life and where He is opening doors."
When Beckett left Ethiopia, she left with only the clothes on her back. She donated her other possessions to the children in need.
Beckett will be presenting a program on her trip at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12 at the Monett Fundamental Methodist Church and at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Crane Fundamental Methodist Church.
Beckett is also accepting donations for a box she is sending to Africa. Children's vitamins are one of the top needs. Those wishing to make donations can e-mail Beckett at Live4Him159@yahoo.com or call her at 417-669-7550.