Ethiopia 2009 - Pt. 3
Sunday was rather uneventful. Apparently on Sunday the orphanages are closed. So, we went to church in the morning, but that ended up being a tour of the church building rather than a church service. In the afternoon we visited a couple museums and a zoo. In the evening we went to a restaurant and watched a musical group perform. Day 2 was in the books.
Monday morning we all were excited to find out that we were going back to the "Hope for the Hopeless" orphanage that we briefly visited on Saturday. That would be in the afternoon. In the morning, we visited Hope for the Hopeless street ministry. It is a small compound where homeless kids or kids in distress can find refuge.
As we entered the compound and began greeting the children, I was immediately drawn to a boy who was hobbling around with a walking stick. One leg was clearly nonfunctional. The majority of my time was spent with this boy and another, who just happened to be his roommate. I'll call the lame boy Jay and the other one Jerry (as a side note, I know the boys' names, but I'm not sure I have permission to make them public). Other members of the team and I played soccer with Jerry, who was playing goalie and using the gate to the compound as a goal. He was a tough kid - diving for balls on the rough cement. How many times do we take grass for granted, or get annoyed when we have to mow? A few minutes later I noticed he was not happy anymore and had gone over to stand by one of the workers. Thinking he was physically hurt, I approached them and asked, through the worker, if he had hurt himself. The worker asked him and then gave me the explanation, "He (Jerry) said that when people care for him like this, it makes him think of his mother, who died." I didn't have any words at that point; I just gave him a big, long, tight bear hug, then kissed his head. He hugged me back tightly. I decided to take a couple pics to let him see himself on the digital screen. Below is one of those pics. You can see the pain in his eyes. He smiled and then left for a while. He had gone into the living quarters and, since our team was mainly in the courtyard, I wasn't sure whether I could follow him or not. I turned my attention to Jay.
Despite being limited to the use of one leg, Jay was quite nimble. He was able to climb trees and was also very coordinated with the walking stick. I felt led to ask him if I could pray for him. He walked over to a place he could sit down, and pulled up his pant leg. I didn't expect to see what I saw. I'm not a doctor, but it seemed to me that his leg was badly broken (I'm talking both bones, at an angle of 50-60 degrees). As I prayed, I felt the tangible power of God go into his leg. I can count on one hand the times I've actually FELT the healing power of God, and I believe Jay felt it too. After I prayed, I tracked down the director and asked for more detail. Jay's leg was indeed broken, and it had happened two years ago. TWO YEARS!! In addition, the director said that if he falls or hits it wrong, he gets "wounds" (meaning the bone(s) break through the skin). I was floored. Something that could/can be fixed so easily in the states had stolen two uninhibited play years from this precious boy. I just wasn't sure how to react. Part of me was very angry, part of me just wanted to bawl, but before I could decide how to react, there was Jerry again, tapping my arm. He gave me a drawing that he had made, and on the top was "I love you Mark." I smiled, told him I loved him too and then gave him another hug. Between Jay and Jerry, I received 6 drawings. Look me up 50 years from now, and I will still have them. They are priceless.
By this time, people had gone back to the living quarters, so I followed Jay and Jerry back there. It was at this time that I first found out they were roommates. They had a small, dark room with a bunk bed and a bathroom. It reminded me of a prison cell, but it was much smaller and less clean. They were both proud to show me their beds and wanted pictures taken. They pointed out various belongings and I smiled and complimented them (they knew a little bit of English - "very nice" was understood). Despite what little these boys had, they were the sweetest boys you could imagine. I wanted to give them something, so I found a couple sheets of paper and wrote them both the same note. It was something like, "I am very happy to meet you and spend time with you. You are valuable and God has a great plan for your life. I love you." When I gave them the notes, they made a beeline to one of the workers so he could translate it. As he read, their faces lit up like they had received a million bucks. We hugged again and then all the children sang for us. After the singing, Jay and Jerry, still beaming, came up and asked, "Tomorrow?" I had to tell them no, we weren't coming back tomorrow because we had other places to visit. Their smiles faded a bit. Everyone said goodbye and we left. On my Facebook page I described the kids as being "Easy to love, hard to leave." This was one of the prime examples.
*** As a side note, I did not feel it would be appropriate for me to ask Jay if I could take a picture of his leg. However, I did ask the director to see if he could take one and email it to me. Once I have it, I plan to hook up with another team member and start a fund raising campaign to get Jay's leg fixed. Thus far, the director hasn't sent me anything. I will keep you all posted.