Ethiopia 2009 - Pt. 7
Thursday morning we shopped for mattresses and blankets for the Shallom Street Ministry that we had visited on Tuesday. The kids were not there because they were out doing work organized by the director. Therefore, the actual drop-off was fast, but the process of buying the supplies took the whole morning. I awoke VERY sore in my back and shoulders from tossing and spinning so many children the previous day, so the break gave me a chance to try to stretch out the kinks.
We had lunch at a carepoint called CFI, and the kids were as nice as could be. The carepoint is in a nicer neighborhood and the house was two-story. I went to walk up the stairs and banged my head HARD against the ceiling (the ceiling/stair design was such that the ceiling height did not change to leave headroom as people begin to climb the stairs). If it had been drywall, I would have busted a hole in it, but it was cement. I was stunned for a moment and actually thought I might have broken my neck. It was tingling and in tremendous pain. The rest of the afternoon and evening I had a very hard time turning my head to the right.
Our next stop was Brother’s Church where we met some of the people in the same community. By that time, I had a migraine-level headache, on top of the intense pain in my neck and my sore shoulders and back. Every balloon I blew up made my neck feel like it was being stabbed. But, I kept going. After everyone had balloons I sat on a chair and thought I'd catch a minute or two to relax. A girl came up to me and, with a big smile, proudly showed me the stickers she had received. She asked my name, how old I was, if I had any kids, and so forth. She was probably around 7 or 8 years old and knew English pretty well. I asked her the colors of various balloons and she told me the English color as well as the Amharic. What I thought might be a 5-minute conversation turned into 30 minutes. After the first several minutes I think she could tell I was not 100% and asked how I was. I just told her I was tired (I still conversed with her as I would have if I was 100%, it was just harder to do). She smiled, took the stickers off her shirt, and gave them to me. I was floored. I could tell by the way she showed them off when we met that they were important to her. And yet, she was willing to give them away simply to brighten my day. The amazing thing is, her generosity is typical of the Ethiopian people. Most Americans would not give up a couple cups of coffee a month to FEED an orphan for a month, and this girl gave away something very special to someone with a headache. That just breaks me. As we were going to the vans, I tried my best to tell them the stickers were hers, but she insisted that I keep them. She stood there and waved at me and the rest of the team until we disappeared from view. Someone asked me recently what the number one thing I took away from the trip was. Tough question, but this girl's gesture was probably it, because she was so willing to sacrifice for others despite facing much deeper needs herself. She "took us to school."
Our final stop for the day was Kolfe, and all-boys orphanage. The term "boys" is used loosely because many are men (up to age 25). They are not turned away just because they turn 18. They know they can stay until they are able to adjust and afford to live on their own. I had good conversations with two boys. I sat on one boy's bunk as he showed me his entire photo album and spoke of each picture. I could tell it was special that someone showed an interest in him personally instead of just looking around and leaving. I spoke with another "boy" who I would guess to be around 20 yrs old. We had a great conversation about many things, then the subject turned to his lame legs, which had been that way since birth. He said he had been taught that since he was born that way, God must want him that way. I respectfully disagreed and told him that God is a perfect, loving Father. I described that even myself, as an imperfect father, would never, ever want something like that for my sons. I could tell it gave him something to consider.
We went out to eat for dinner and it took a LONG time to get served...like two hours or so. Going to bed that night was bittersweet; sweet because I needed it, but bitter because it would be our last night sleeping in Ethiopia. It seemed to go by so quickly.