Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ethiopia 2014 - Day 3 part 1 - Korah

Korah...the forgotten area of Addis Ababa. Literally forgotten. Ask a random stranger on the street where Korah is and they will have no idea what you are talking about. Describe it as the "leper's colony" and they will wrinkle their noses and make a gesture as if to say "go away I have no idea." Korah is the outcast community of Addis Ababa that has existed for over 50 years. It originally was a place for lepers and their families to go live and simply survive by digging through the landfill which is situated right in Korah. Now, people with tuberculosis are also inundated throughout this area as they too are considered outcasts by their own families.

This is one of my very favorite places to visit while in Ethiopia. While many people see Korah as a place of sadness, I see a place of God's HOPE. While lots see this as a place of destruction and disease, I see this as God's way of showing His REDEMPTION AND HEALING. He is at work in Korah and is using a man named Pastor Tesfaye as one of His vessels.



this is what severely jet lagged Kelly looks like standing with Pastor Tesfaye...ha!



We started today by heading into Korah to Pastor Tesfaye's income generation office building. There, we listened to his testimony all while watching an older man, who is a leper, draw the most beautiful patterns on cloth for the women to embroider later on. We also were re-united with David and my old friend, Teddy!!! Teddy is near and dear to our hearts and is a great kid. He lives alone and has had a very rough year. Although he is already sponsored, we still asked Teddy what we could bring him on this trip and the one thing he asked for was a blanket to keep warm at night. You need to know that most kids his age are asking for shoes and money (which I understand in their living conditions), so for Teddy to simply ask for a blanket...well, my heart just stopped and I couldn't stop thinking about him being cold at night.
Anyways, back to Tesfaye...  Tesfaye grew up in Korah as a Christian Orthodox believer - meaning he believed only the Old Testament and was still waiting on the Messiah to come. He dug through the trash every single day as a way to eat and survive and was very sick. One day, a teenage kid from America came to the trash dump and met Tesfaye, saw that he was very very sick and promised him that he would find him a sponsor. Tesfaye did not really believe it, but sure enough, the kid came back the next day and told him that he had talked to his neighbor back in America who was a doctor, told him all about Tesfaye and how sick he was, and the neighbor agreed to sponsor him. This was the physical push that he needed as his needs were being met in this way. Then, our friend, Bissy who is an amazing man of God continued day in and day out to witness to Tesfaye (even getting beat up along the way) until one day Tesfaye surrendered his life to Jesus and has not looked back since. Today, Pastor Tesfaye has 3 churches in Korah and runs the sponsorship programs for the families there. He makes sure the people who live in this community (120,000) are well taken care of and their needs are met somehow.

intricate drawings for embroidered items

TEDDY!!!!


just being silly, and Teddy...well, not so much until after the camera snapped. Ha!


After hearing this, we set off to walk the muddy paths of Korah and meet families who need sponsors. Families who are desperate for help. For someone to come alongside them, help carry their burdens, and love them through their pain and struggles. To be the hands and feet of Jesus...













The first place we stopped in was the home of an elderly couple. They were approximately 65 years old. The man is crippled and cannot work anymore and the lady has leprosy and cannot work either so she sits out everyday and begs. Their children live far away and they never see them. A few of us went inside of the home which was basically an 8x8 mud hut with a small mattress in it, and a narrow bench. We told the lady that we were going to search very very hard for a sponsor for her and that God had the perfect one already picked out. We gave her protein bars, 500 birr ($25) and I prayed over her and her family. After this, her husband arrived from being out begging and she told him what had just happened. I was in another lady's home but when I came out, I was told to come over there as the man wanted to do an Ethiopian blessing over me. Bissy, our friend and guide, translated for me and told me that he was saying that he was asking The Lord to give me a long life, to bless my family and my children with wealth and health, and that I would live the rest of my days with good health as would all of my descendants. I was humbled for sure!





We also visited another lady who needed sponsorship. She is 31 years old and has 6 children (well, technically pregnant with her 6th). Two of the children live with her, two of them live in the countryside with her family, and one of them died either in childbirth or shortly thereafter. This lady was so so sweet. She had the most beautiful countenance, was so thrilled to be considered for sponsorship, and grateful for our visit. Pastor Tesfaye told a bit more of her story and immediately a few gals on our team jumped in to sponsor her together. They could not hold back! I love seeing the body of Christ actually BE the body of Christ and not just talk about it!

Shelly and Connie with this precious soul!


Next, we made the trek over to visit mine and David's sponsor family. Meseret Bekla, Negest, Johannes, and Pedros!!!! I could not wait! The closer we got, the more my heart started to pound as I have been waiting a whole year to see this family again. We brought some goodies for them and I could not wait to just hug them and love on them! When we got to their house, we found out that only Negest (12 yrs old) and Johannes ( 6 yrs old) were home as Meseret and Pedros (age 4) had to go to the countryside to visit Meseret's father who was in kidney failure and his health was not looking good. We went in and sat with Negest and Johannes and spent time with them catching up and asking them questions about school, their health, their family, friends, etc... We gave them their new clothes and shoes along with the things for Pedros and the BIRR for their mommy. When it was time to go, there were lots of tears. Negest had tears streaming which made mine come. I thought I would be fine until I saw hers. Oh how I love this family of ours! Sponsorship doesn't just change their lives...it changes yours too - I promise!!!


after initial hugs and reuniting, we began doling out the gifts!
 Look how patient they are - almost overwhelmed...


We were talking about school and hearing about Negest's studies 
through Pastor Tesfaye who was translating for us.


Here we are talking about how Chloe sent those bracelets that are in her hands for her to wear and give out to her friends. They say "I love my BFF." I told her what BFF meant and that Chloe had one too and was wearing one just like it and thinking about her.


Here, it is about time to go and I wanted to encourage Negest to keep working hard in school, to keep helping her mom out like she has been and to always always trust Jesus to help her because He will never ever leave her or forget about her...that He loves her so so much. She started to get tears in her eyes at this point.


Here, Johannes is counting to 10 in English for me :)


Here we are watching videos of Chloe and Brody - they giggled so much at these!!! 


Now it was time for Johannes's turn for his goodbye encouragement talk. I told him to keep being a big boy and keep working hard in school. I told him I was so proud of him for learning how to count to 10 in English and learning other words in English. I told him that I wanted him to also help his mommy out when she needed it and to always trust Jesus to take care of him because He loved him so super much. He just grinned as always and gave me a hug :)


Saying goodbye is never easy, so I promised to see her again 
next summer (but secretly I'm hoping it's before then!)


And then the tears flowed as the grasped my neck even harder and would not let me go. 


Sweet boy getting ready to put his things on the mattress so he could go back outside to see us off.


Day 3 part 2 will follow soon... for now, if you are interested in sponsoring a family in Korah, the lepor's community or a child on Entoto Mountain, please email me at KBlevins@ordinaryhero.org



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