Archive | Children of Ethiopia RSS feed for this section

Last But Not Least

27 Sep

Number 200.  Somewhere in the past that became a goal and now it has been reached.  At the end of all things comes a time of reflection.  baby three 001What does Baruk see as he looks through the glass?  He is four years old.  Maybe just a white man with a camera?  He loves setting behind the wheel and pretending to be a big man driving a car.  Although he was among the least a couple years back, he is no longer there.  His future is as bright as his eyes and smile.  His mom is a single young woman, hard working, intelligent, and courageous.  She awakens early and comes to clean the neighboring office building.  Then she comes to work and makes purses.   Because she has committed herself to a positive new direction, God has given her a new heart.   Her son does not have to know being last with no opportunity.

Along the way, while writing the blog, what have I learned while standing on the other side of the glass and presenting snapshots of a different world?  Opportunity…the possibility of a hopeful direction.  Comparison…viewing those opportunities in light of the chances we perceive others have or do not have.

When we have been given a life where opportunity exists, it is almost impossible to comprehend a life where opportunity does not exist.  There is just not a framework for comparison.  In some ways we all take turns setting in someone else’s car, looking through the glass, and pretending to be in their world.  Only as adults, we do not do it in innocence, we do it by comparing.   It is said, “Those who compare themselves by themselves are not wise.”  Is that not a part of what we refer to as culture; a group of people living within and maintaining a certain set of standards by doing just that?

It is a two edged sword.  There is comfort and security in staying there.  With the have-ers.  The true have-not-ers make us uncomfortable to think on.  But the other edge, as we look among ourselves, we begin to worry that we are, in fact, a have-not-er living in the midst of the have-ers.  And then we want more so we can be sure to stay with or above the other have-ers.  And opportunities to share with the have-not-ers slip away.  Continuing opportunity must be preserved.  There are those looking through the glass and pretending that one day they will be like us.

As I think on the white man with the camera and what God is working on in him, I am so thankful that God has given me a chance to take some “pictures.”  A have-er with the have-not-ers.  That, in allowing me to do this, he has chipped away at my have-er status.  He has allowed me to experience the lives of the have-not-ers, and be a part of sharing opportunity…the possibility of a hopeful direction.  Along the way, I hope that my sharing with you has allowed you to be sifted in just a fraction of how God has sifted me and will continue to sift.baby three 006Yesterday, I helped Tadelech and her new son return to their home after he was born the day before.  She came to our clinic in labor. He presented himself to the world face first and got stuck in the birth canal.  It seemed that a C-section was the only possible life saving choice.  While we waited for the doctor to come to perform this our staff prayed for his opportunity…for life.  The midwife made another attempt to re-position the baby to crown first and get him unstuck.  And he moved and entered the world.  In many ways we are like him and God attempts to re-position us.  He wants us delivered, His Crown first, for His Glory.

After this photo, we arrived at Tadelech’s home.  Eight feet by ten feet.  Mud floor.  Mud/manure walls.  Tin roof lean-to.  Two other children.  Comparison.  Will the future bring more opportunity for a have-not-er?  This is where Baruck started, with the last but now he is not the least.  Tadelech’s son is.  But we continue to share hope with hearts.

As for me, will I stop writing as I stop blogging, probably not, maybe I will write a book.

Dare to Care

2 Sep

A couple of months ago while I was recovering from shingles and had trouble sleeping at night, these song lyrics came to my mind based on an experience that occurred on a night visit.  For some, it will be too raw.  I am very sorry, I am not trying to cause offense so please forgive me if it is a step past your comfort level.  Actually, it really ought to be more than a step past.

Dare to Care

1.  She lived down on the street by the bus depot, near Addis’ biggest shoppin’ district, Mercato.

Her eyes were dark as coal and as deep as a well, but they had to hide the secret of her own private hell.

She fluttered to the window of the van I rode; a beauteous butterfly in flirtatious mode.

One hand on her hip and the other in her hair, “Don’t you think I’m pretty, Do you care to dare?”

She should be playin’ dollies and with teddy bears, she should have a momma doin’ her hair,

And she should have a papa protectin’ her fair; when people hear her story, do they dare to care?

2.  Her eyes were dark as coal and as deep as a well, but they tried to hide the secret of her own private hell.

She flaunted and she primped with ‘perience past her years, but behind those smoldering orbs; I could see all the fears.

I rolled down the window and I beckoned her there, I asked, “Where are your Mom and Dad,

Do you care to share?  Do you care to share?”

She should be playin’ dollies and with teddy bears, she should have a momma doin’ her hair,

And she should have a papa protectin’ her fair; when people hear her story, do they dare to care?

3. Her eyes were dark as coal and as deep as a well, but they could not hide the secret of her own private hell.

A tear ran down her cheek as she started to say, “Mommy died of HIV and Daddy ran away.

My brother’s only four, hid behind that seat, and if I just pull a trick, he’ll be able to eat.”

With burning eyes starin’ into I don’t know where; “Just to be curious, what is the fare?”

She should be playin’ dollies and with teddy bears, she should have a momma doin’ her hair,

And she should have a papa protectin’ her fair; when people hear her story, do they dare to care?

4.  “I know that my body’s not what it will be, but I have hidden treasures I am sure you will see.

Delights that pretend men want me to bare and share.”

Hardly able to breathe, I asked, “How old can you be?”  When she said her answer, I heard Holy terror.

“I am 16, good Sir; I’ll have you to know,” but those deep dark pools said it just wasn’t so.

She should be playin’ dollies and with teddy bears, she should have a momma doin’ her hair,

And she should have a papa protectin’ her fair; when people hear her story, do they dare to care?

5.  I asked again kindly, “How much younger is your frère over there?”

Her eyes were dark as pools and deep as a well.

How much older would they get?  It wasn’t hard to tell.

She answered my question.  I did my math then; to my horrification, she was only ten.

She should be playin’ dollies and with teddy bears, she should have a momma doin’ her hair,

And she should have a papa protectin’ her fair; when people hear her story, do they dare to care?

6.  For food worth two bucks, she took the HIV dare; another mouth to feed, …for love; she had to share.

How much did it cost her to strip her soul bare?  What if it was my granddaughter standin’  there?

When I share her story, do I dare to care?

Really dare to care?

She should be playin’ dollies and with teddy bears, she should have a momma doin’ her hair,

And she should have a papa protectin’ her fair; when people hear her story, do they dare to care?  Please.  Dare to care?

You Keep Me Hangin’ On

2 Aug

IMG_3909

You have heard the expression, “Children raising children”.  In American culture, it can refer to a young unwed mother giving birth before graduating from high-school.  Sometimes it is an older sibling daily caring for a younger sibling while a single parent is at work.  In Ethiopia, it can mean an older sibling caring for a younger sibling because the parents and grandparents are dead.  Imagine your life, if at the age of 9 or 10 you were left with no adult relatives and the responsibility of a three year old brother to support.   Imagine if the keep-me-hangin’-on was not just a ride along a rough path, as in this picture, but to life itself.  It gives another perspective to the phrase, he aint heavy, he’s my brother.  LSM’s work includes sharing hope with hearts for kids in this same situation.

Fidelity

18 May

I typed the word fidelity onto a document and right clicked it to check for words that mean the same.  It was an impressive list; loyalty, faithfulness, reliability, trustworthy, dependable, devotion, commitment.  We use this word many times to describe a monogamous marriage  relationship.  Sometimes banks use it in their names; First Fidelity or maybe, Fidelity Savings and Loan.  Sometimes the words on the mean-the-same list are also used to describe “Ol’ Blue”, the hound dog sleeping on the porch.  Whether it is marriage, money, or man’s best friend, fidelity comes down to relationships.  I have heard the question, “Is it a religion or a relationship?”   Does fidelity fit into this question’s answer?  Does it fit into our culture, our values, and our ethics?  Our personal lives, our spirituality?

LSM’s mission in Ethiopia involves sharing hope with some of the world’s most vulnerable kids.  We can gain access to these lives through impacting the lives of their mothers, women who are commercial sex workers.  “Shermuta.”   One question being asked of us repeatedly which may only indicate curiosity,  “Where do all the clients come from that occasion and support these ladies as they cling to their needy lives?”  “What is with the men, (what about fidelity)?”  It can be in our nature; if we can identify a root cause as being sin which is beneath our dignity, then we have permission to dismiss ourselves from involvement with relief of the pain it is causing.   While men of infidelity may be a contributing cause, it should not be a scapegoat.  Non-involvement is not what is meant when God’s Word asks us to, “keep ourselves unspotted from the world.”

These kids of our mission, the vulnerable, they are a consequence of fidelity, or rather a lack of it, but they dare not be dismissed as inconsequential on those grounds in self-righteousness.  The consequences that dictate the doom of their lives, the HIV, the probability of becoming orphans; these catastrophes are beyond their control.  Men of  infidelity, while it is only a part of the story, cannot allow us to sit in judgement and indifference and dismiss the opportunity and responsibility of  offering future hope and sharing it with innocent hearts.

Our religion or our relationship…our values and our ethics…our response and our calling to follow The Example.  We are part of the Marriage Bride.  The money in the bank is not our own.  Our fidelity should go beyond that of a sleeping hound dog on the porch.

Its My Party

2 Mar

IMG_0013“Moriya Kids”

LSM has eleven ladies whose lives have turned 180 degrees in the last year.  They are now employees of our Moriya Purse business.  This group of 11 ladies is collectively Mommy for 18 children.  Some of these children are showing their faces in the picture.  The one bending over has a special hello for each of you.  If you could know her, her enthusiasm would definitely share hope with your heart.

So You Think I Can Dance

26 Feb

IMG_0071
“Happy Feet”

This isn’t a ’60’s sock hop in the Adams Central cafeteria, but it was just as much fun.  Actually there isn’t even any music playing.  It is a footwork game the girls at Children’s Heaven play.  Glad someone did not cue up “Hang on Sloopy”, the years may have melted away more than they did in this moment.  Present moments make future memories that share hope with older hearts and younger ones at the same time.

Now, the Cheerleaders

23 Feb

IMG_0074
“God is Good!  Fight, team fight!”

The uniforms don’t match but the spirit in the hearts does.  When they cheer the rafters rock reverberating from hearts filled with hope for a bright future on God’s Team.  God is good bringing these special little ladies into LSM’s sphere of influence.

Starting Five

21 Feb

IMG_0069

Move over I.U.  Here is some tough competition for you in the NCAA tournament.  We are pushing the committee for honorary number 1 seed in the Midwest.  This is LSM’s starting five, and these guys are undefeated.  We won’t mention that they have no victories either.  It does not matter to us that they would rather kick the basketball than dribble it.  In our league, they score points for eating a banana and a cookie.  Rebounds are measured in overcoming adversity and assists happen in smiles that share hope with hearts.

Story Time

18 Feb

IMG_0018

“Bible Heroes”

Whether it is the men in the story or the man telling the story, male role models are desperately needed in the lives of the children in our programs.  Many of these children will have no other opportunity to hear a man tell a story of a Bible hero in an entertaining manner.  Our counselor, Getahun is sharing eternal hope with hearts by providing a male role model.

More Than a Game

16 Feb

IMG_0015

“I Got It!”,… “No, I Got It!”

Some of our beneficiary children have got it…HIV.  But here they are yelling about the falling shadow of the ball next to the girl in the dark jeans.  They are having great fun learning a new game at the Christmas party.  The following week the test results came back.  If they were HIV positive, after counseling, and if they were over 15, by guardian consent they were told.  Then, the falling shadow was not a volleyball.  Our goal is to transform their thinking: from devastation, to hope with early diagnosis and Anti-retro-viral therapy.