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To Be a Valentine

14 Feb

IMG_0061

“My Valentine”

Left side.  Leaning forward.  Chin in her hand.  Her name is Eden.  She wants to be a psychologist.  Her favorite sport is basketball.  But when she said her name was Eden she became my valentine.  To bad there wasn’t an Avia, Aira, or Saylor.  Then I could have had four valentines.  But one here helps me remember all at home.  Happy Valentines Day to all my Sweeties in Indiana.  Each of you will know one day just how much hope you share with my heart.

Back to School

14 Feb

“Distributing School Supplies”IMG_0081

LSM staff is busy at our school break party handing out supplies to the children of our beneficiaries for the spring school term.  Opportunity for an education is an open door for an opportunity in life.  We also provide a tutoring service for students with a desire to excel.  This is our way of sharing hope with heart’s for bright days ahead.

Awards and Motivation

10 Feb

“Job Well Done”Good job

Praise and rewards go along way to motivate both the receiver and those witnessing the exchange.  After the hard work done in the fall semester, the young man here gets a good-job pat on the back and a gift…nothing electronic…new shoes.  Others, watching but not pictured, hope to achieve the same results by their future efforts.  The witness on the left has some time to wait before school days begin in her life.

Party Chow Line

8 Feb

Chow line

“Party Food”

LSM helps our partner organization provide one meal a day for each of the 81 girls who come…every day but Sunday and Monday.  Plus core essentials for the home where she lives.  As evidenced by the full plates, nobody leaves hungry.  Full tummies open hearts to hope.  By the way, the new shirts were also provided for this special occasion by our program.

Dazzling Smiles

6 Feb

Dazzling Smile“Dazzling Smiles”

The gifts in the goody bag at the Christmas party included a toothbrush.  So we had to brush away the candy and cookie sugar bugs.  This is as close to dentistry as I have come in a long time.  I think these young ladies were satisfied patients.

New Direction

2 Feb

How does one evaluate energy expended related to results hoped for.  If a project takes two to four hours and produces few results, was the project a foolish expenditure of energy, a fools errand, or were the hoped for results just an unrealistic expectation.  Writing a blog is like that.  So you will see this blog going in a different direction for a little time.  A writer without readers is like an orchestra playing in an abandoned warehouse.  And this blog is no literary orchestra, I know that. Christmas gift in Ethiopia

A writer who is focused on his perception of what former readers found to be  irrelevant relevance is like listening to that orchestra warming up. It is the age old question, “If a tree falls in a woods is there any sound…if a blog post falls in the woods is there any vision.  Updated vision, new focus and new direction.  I will try to post some relevant pictures with  the bare minimum of verbiage.  Short and easy to read.  If the picture shares any hope with your heart share it with friends.  This pix is titled, “Christmas Present in Ethiopia” .  Her name is Nigist.  It means Queen.  On this day at the Christmas party at Children’s Heaven, Nigist was a queen.  She wouldn’t have been any happier with a gift of diamonds and pearls.  Nigist shared hope with my heart this day.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

15 Dec

Is it hard for you to tell which of these girls might already be HIV positive?  It is for me…I wish I could say none of them were.  Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss but it is not an affordable luxury.  There is a different and harsher reality here.  We had a meeting with the parents and guardians of these beautiful young ladies to explain the advantages of testing early to evaluate their HIV status.  The picture below does not contain the whole group of 81, ranging from 6 to 18 in age.  They came to this place today to be together in a safe environment to have fun.  It is a place for smiles, giggles and laughing.  It is a place to be a part of a group where poverty is the norm and where not having a dad or a mom or either is also the norm.  It is a place where it is OK to wear clothes that are just “new for you”.  It is a place where they will have a chance to eat a meal.  It is a place where they talk about their favorite sports, hobbies, their favorite subjects in school, and what they want to be when they grow up.  And it is safe to say that the older ones talk about boys.  The younger ones would still say, “Yuck!”

When they grow up…

For those  who have not yet reached their fifteenth birthday, they will not be told of the results.  For those past their fifteenth birthday they will be informed after counseling.  It is not easy to be fifteen and hear such news.

But there is hope with anti-retro-viral drugs and nutritional supplements.  That is why 75 out of 81 of the girls have been given permission for the test.

We are investing in their future by investing in their nutrition, spiritual life, education, safety and health.  We want to share hope with their hearts and give them a chance to share future smiles and dreams and to enjoy a place where they can come and just have fun.

girls having fun at CH

Trumping Complaint

5 Nov

How many times have you heard someone begin a statement with the words, “For now…”?  For now, I am married to Arnold.  For now, we are living in an apartment.  For now, I am working part time.  For now, I am driving a 1998 F-150.  For now means, “I am not there yet.  Wherever there is.  But it is definitely not here.  There is a differed gratification that requires being patient, or possibly, an expectation or apprehension that yields…not so patient.  When it really is, not so patient, there is an unstated discontent that borders on complaint that has mastered our peace.

Yesterday was Orphan Sunday, in the USA at least.  There was a statistic in an email that stated, 143,000,000 orphans in the world today.  That may be an old statistic by now.  At the least, it is rounded off in one direction or the other.  So maybe 143,000,137 children this morning said, “For now, I don’t have a mommy and daddy.”  And tomorrow morning, most of those same children will say the same thing.  Or worse.  “For now, I am naked, or hungry, or homeless, or a slave.”  Their here does not even have a there for comparison.  They live without hope.  Some have never known it.

Of all the things that we have to wait on,…many times impatiently,…our here is not there, our pursuits and our putting-up-withs are delayed to the point of discontent; to stare at the hopelessness of no love, no security, no home is truly beyond our comprehension.  Even trusting for a better future exists in having hope.  Hope for a change.

For now, Orphan Sunday has past.  Does the for now of the present in our lives have any room for the future there where an orphan will see a future hope for the first time in their life.  Sharing hope with hearts in the lives of the fatherless happens when each of us commits to replacing petty discontents with the passion for the things that produce discontent in the heart of God.  The orphans of Ethiopia and the World bring no gratification to our Heavenly Father.  Many of our complaints are in the same category.

Wish I Woulda’

6 Oct

Some people call them regrets.  Other may say, “If only.”  We travel through actions and choices in our lives processing varying degrees of remorse, guilt, and shame.  Either we have done something we wish we hadn’t, or we leave something undone in the wish-I-woulda’  column.  From experience, it seems that repentance restores a sense of peace in the former case. In the latter case, we are left with wishbones, candles on birthday cakes, and shooting stars in hopes that we would have a chance for a do over.  Time machines only work in movies.

The mandatory medical checkup was over and I was standing outside the private hospital waiting for a taxi back to the compound.  The report that was scrambling my thoughts was a mixture of good news/bad news.  Blood pressure…high.  Everything else…normal, including chest x-ray, urinalysis, and multiple blood tests.  I even heard the humming tuning fork with both ears and knew that I wasn’t color blind.  All that, plus consultation with a physician, cost less than $30.00.  Full price, not just co-pay.   “Better than Obamacare,” I congratulated myself.

She was zig-zagging through the crowded street carrying something in front of her under a blanket.  Dressed in the shabby dirty rag dress of the poverty-stricken countryside.  Maybe twenty years old.  When our eyes met, she altered her course, tentatively approaching.  It was then that I could hear the baby crying.  A very young baby has a unique sound.  She brought her hand to her mouth.  The word hungry in Amharic, was a whisper.  I took out my wallet and gave her a small denomination note congratulating myself on my generosity.  “Geta te barek.” she  murmered.  Oh, “God Bless you,”  I reflected because I understood her words.

Then she turned and quickly disappeared…my self righteous pride drained away.  Face slapped by the conviction of misappropriated vanity.  On her back, hidden from a frontal view, was the twin of  the one crying at her breast.  A voice was prodding my soul, “What kind of blessing have you just been given in the cost of your medical care?” and, “What kind of blessing did you just share?”

By retreating into the world of how much of my money I saved for myself, I had missed the opportunity to share real hope with a heart.  My gift could have been multiplied by one hundred and it would not have begun to make an impact on my life.  Maybe its, “Been there, done that,” you say.  I hope this wish-I-woulda’ moment will spawn new opportunities with different outcomes.

When Daddy Smiles

20 Aug

At the end of the morning it was still “Thumbs up,” for good health.  These girls came from Children’s Heaven for health screening before school starts.  Even though we are still waiting for our license, we wanted to have our first trial run for new patient protocols at the clinic.  We were treated to singing in the waiting area by those who were waiting their turn to be evaluated by the pediatrician.  The morning was a blessing for all the staff.  We had a chance to get a little taste of the potential the clinic will have as part of our overall ministry here. 

One of the surprises of the morning was when one of the girls came up to Susan and said, “I love you.” followed by, “Jesus loves you.” in sign language.  They had remembered those lessons from the time of teaching in July shown in an earlier post.

The hardest thing about the morning…the little girl on the right in the back row, shortly after the picture, pulled on my sleeve and motioned like she had a secret.  I bent over to listen, expecting the Amharic language.  She asked in her best English, “You be my father?”

The little girl, back row, on the left showed me a few new playground dance steps that accompany an Amharic nursery rhyme and almost every girl wanted her turn to dance with the old man in the red coat.  The little teacher asked for round two, and three, and four.  Then she asked, “You tired?”  At least I could answer that one.

There were lots of ballerina twirls and little princesses wanting hugs and praise.  What was the truth reinforced in my heart shared by The One sharing hope with hearts?…every little girl needs the praise and hugs of the man she sees as daddy…even if it is only for a brief moment.  So, papas – Hug your daughters today and tell them they are special.  Do not let the moment get away.

For me – too soon it was gone.