Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ethiopia - Days 6 and 7

July 5, 2013

Entoto Mountain, Ethiopia - the place that has stolen my heart forever and ever. My heart will never be whole again until I can get back there and see those children's faces again. Even then, it will only be whole for the time that I am there.
The mountain is a small, remote area where a very poor population of Ethiopians call home. Many of these beautiful people are HIV positive and most of them are hungry and desperate for basic needs to be met.

Today (day 6) we take the trip up Entoto Mountain where there are mountain women who carry loads of eucalyptus branches down the mountain to be sold for firewood. The loads are 180 pounds and take 3-5 of our men to lift whereas 1 woman carries it herself - hunched over and weighed down. The looks on their faces tell a story though of being more than physically weighed down. They are tired. They are aged well beyond their years. They are worn and heavy burdened in their souls. I instantly think of Jesus telling us to come to Him and give Him our burdens as His load is light and He will give us rest.

We meet three of the women on their way down the mountain and stop them, offering to put their branches on our van and give them a ride to where they drop them off. They immediately smile and look as though we are offering to carry the weight of the world for them - and maybe we were for that day. During the ride, we give them food, toiletries, and some money (they make the equivalent of $1/day) while trying to get to know a little of their stories.

not an unusual sight to see along the side of the roads

these are the eucalyptus branch bundles carried 

these hats are donkey hair hats sold on the mountain

wow...there are NO words... words...

precious women getting their loads lifted

While up on the mountain, we are surrounded by kids. They see our vans pulling up and come barreling towards us as they know they are about to be loved on and cared for. Immediately when we get out, 4 girls come up to me and start doing the hand games and rhymes with me. I learn a few new games and then teach them mine. We are full of laughter and silliness. Next come the group games. I have NEVER in my life enjoyed duck duck goose, and their version of something similar to London Bridges the way I did today. We danced, sang (I even learned the words to their song) at the top of our lungs, laughed, and played for a long time. 

When it was time to go and I found out we would be returning tomorrow my heart swelled. I couldn't wait to get back and see these kids again. Sleep well little ones - see you SOON!

here we here they come - JOY!!!

it's tackle Ryan time!!!


duck duck goose - Ethiopian Style

JULY 6, 2013

I experienced the cliche' of "starving children in Africa" today and it became very personal. Tears welled in my eyes as we began passing food to starving children.

Again we were on Entoto Mountain where a brand new ministry has been started by a local man. He feeds the children, using his own extra money, every Saturday until the food is all gone. Today, it took about 10 minutes before each bag of food was inhaled - by only about 1/3 of the children there. The other 2/3s didn't get any food as there just wasn't enough.

Almost all of the lucky ones who got a bag did not want to share. They didn't know where their next meal would be from so they hoarded it and devoured it. The unlucky, left starving, began crying. It was too much to bear. Several times I heard fellow team members mention Jesus feeding the 5000 and how we needed this food to stretch. One child in particular near and dear to my heart was around 18 months old. When she saw the bags of food being passed out, she instantly started crying and reaching her little hand out. Luckily, she was handed a bag of food and her mother instantly got it and took her aside to let her eat.

After the feeding program was done, all of the children lined up and were brought into a room for a new pair of shoes, a sucker and a book or toy. We were able to give every single child something...but not every child got a pair of shoes as we ran out. As the kids were waiting in line, I locked eyes with a sweet girl who was worried that we would run out before it was her turn. I learned how to tell her "it's okay" in Ahmeric and just kept holding her hand. As she inched closer and closer to the door she laid her head on my chest and I could feel her release a sigh of relief.

We spent 4 hours here today and it flew by incredibly fast. However, as I sit now with my thoughts it seems like we were there 8 hours because of how emotionally exhausted I am.

I will NEVER again say that I am starving as I have NO IDEA what it feels like to be starving. No, I may be hungry but never have I been starving to the point of crying as these precious children have.

God please please take care of these precious children of yours. We did what we could today and it doesn't seem like it was enough. I am trusting you to feed them physically and spiritually.

reaching for the food 

waiting patiently while Mesfin speaks

so many hands - so little food 

lining up for shoes and goodies

this precious little one got no food and was terribly sad, but I think Colleen was maybe just as, if not more, heartbroken than her.

thumbs up because they are getting some new shoes!!!

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