Archive for October 2009
Addis Life magazine, run by Aman, is having a casting call tomorrow. They aren’t sure how many models to expect, but I will be acting as a bouncer 🙂 I think I can do that.
A casting call bleeds into what I have on my heart and what I am working on through Beza. I am praying hard for the right people to come into this project for the kids that are passionate, driven, mature, have mentoring skills, and know their Bible. Maybe I should have a casting call for the street children project? Of course I would let in more then just beautiful women :-), I think… I thank God for my love to network and meet new people and am hoping it will lead to meeting the right people.
I am not just praying for bodies though. I am looking for a cohesive group. There are two successful projects addressing the street children issue in Addis that have stood out. How did they start? One was started by 10 Ethiopians that rebelled against church because of their hunger to serve street children. 12 years later they are reach thousands of kids, winning awards, expanding into different arenas and not slowing down. The second one started with 12 Ethiopians giving up everything to live with each other for a year. After the year of studying the bible, learning about themselves and one another they began a street children project. 8 years later they operate a library and three different homes for street children, orphaned boys and girls. These are good models and something I would like to emulate.
I have faith that if I am patient and focusing on my relationship with God people will come. So far, I have met one ferenge who says she will leave if she doesn’t get plugged into a street kid project soon. I also just met a young man named Ermias. He handed in a proposal to Beza to creatively petition the government for their housing resources and use that to provide shelter. His idea is huge, plus it would benefit needy church members along with the street children.
One major difference between Habasha and the American life I am used to is the use of “visions”. This has been something that has challenged me. They talk about it so much over here and everyone has one. Last week’s sermon touched on vision and unity. For me, I am struggling with everyone having their own vision and wondering where the unity is. I think most people want “THE VISION”, but we can’t all have it. That is part of the problem I have seen with some of the street kid organizations. I think visions are valuable, but I wonder if the human element makes a mess of them. If everyone has their own vision that is somehow tied to their ego, then there is a problem. I think I am designed more for unity to come before the vision instead of the other way around. To me, vision is frightening word. I think I would prefer to use the word “purpose”. I think the word vision can lend itself to an individualistic mindset. On the other hand I think the word purpose forces us to seek God more to find out what our purpose is. If God wants me to take out the trash for this project and that’s it, then I will. But if I am chasing a vision that I have not completely established in Him, then it will hurt everyone.
On a lighter note: I have started getting back in the gym, just about mastered the travel in mini bus taxi’s, start language class on the ninth, and have bought a few groceries finally. My life is regaining a tiny bit of order.
Finally, one of the kids, nicknamed “China” is in jail. Details are always impossible to get accurately but we think he got caught stealing. That means he is really going to jail, for year. Every day that goes by without us figuring this thing out is very challenging, especially when stuff like this is happening.
Yup that is right, this is how I feel about the happenings in Ethiopia. There are a lot of things adding up during my time in Addis Ababa, that an average person like myself says “ how the heck is this going to happen”. Well, here comes the best part. The more impossible things seem, the better! Bring it on. How better to show God’s hand in building up street children then to have the odds fully stacked against you. When things seem tough and impossible it encourages me that I am on the right path. I truly believe that the best things in life don’t come easily. I can’t remember any time in my life where I was like “ that was an awesome experience, and soo easy”. No, it is more like “ wow, that was hard, but getting through it was so rewarding”
So what is so hard?
The first thing has become clearer during my time here and I need to tread lightly. Let me call it the “Powers That Be” for now and trust you will pick up what I am referring to. One intelligent leader here actually compared the “Powers That Be”(PTB) to China. I wouldn’t go that far, but the attempts to control everything is making it harder for people to start things like we are trying to do for the kids. The PTB is restricting NGOs(non-governmental organizations) from receiving more then 10% of their income from outside the country. Considering NGOs represent the biggest income earner in the country nfrom outside resources, it is quite a limitation. On top of that PTB is restricting churches from getting involved with NGO/development type work. Simple playing soccer with the needy and providing meals could be construed as “ development work” which would require registration as an NGO. So the PTB and the hesitation that ensues because of it, has helped in delaying steps by the church to potentially start something of our own for the kids. BUT!! Let me switch from PTB to PTL(Praise the Lord). The church has met with some quality legal reps to determine that the legislation does allow the church some clear and great avenues. So this is a huge step to figure out where we are going and how we are getting there. With all this said, I still didn’t touch on corruption which has a big role.
The second thing is where or how to find the team of people that have passions and availability that match my own. I don’t pretend for one minute to be capable of doing anything for the kids without a quality team in place. I have spent time with a few organizations already interviewing them and learning from them and the one common factor is that there was or is a team of people passionate about accomplishing the mission or vision. So another PTL: The pastoral team here has felt the need to lead by example. So our next step is to set something up where the pastoral team can serve the street kids breakfast combined with some learning and playing opportunities. I have no doubt that this is huge in finding those with the passion needed to see this project through! There are a lot of people around with passion for the kids, but there are other factors that honestly make me feel like I am on an island. It may just be a product of me not seeing the opportunityso I take my feelings with a grain of salt. Plus, teamwork is always hard. Finding those “good fits” is a big challenge with added dimensions in Ethiopia of different cultures and communication styles(and hard languages! lol).
The third thing that is hard, is understanding how all the people doing things in Addis Ababa for street children can be combined to grow into a “mega-helping children beast”. I love the idea of unity and think the Bible is very clear in its request for us to be unified. That is a part of why I can’t stomach too much politics or the labeling of different denominations. Those represent division in my heart and mind. So I have met with about four organizations or people that are taking actions to help street children in Addis. That is awesome and I am SO encouraged by all of them. It seems that each one has different core competencies, one place has a library for street children, another has a huge soccer league, another has housing, and I think Beza has great legal services and human resources. Well today there are little to no signs of partnerships. My brain churns for a way to come together and build each other up!
Finally, this might be a selfish thing. Without a clear defined vision, this project will more likely fail. Well, I can’t say I am a visionary so am challenged to come up with a clear model that outlines the dreams and ideas I have running through my head each day. I am surrounded by “visionaries” though so hope to rely on them to help. I really hope to be a key leader in this project so feel the pressure of needing to come up with the vision. I don’t want to lead out of pride, but instead want to put my commitment and determination to good use as I hold those values as key to long term success. This challenge helps me stay focused on my faith. I know that through my faith, God will provide any model, structure, people, or resources needed.
I haven’t blogged for a week, but the above represents the challenges that have come up lately. I love that there are things that seem impossible, because I KNOW God is going to “get’er done”.
PS: A little shout out for one other impossibility. Highest pay roll? Most famous team? Multiple hall of famers? More then formidable pitching staff? Most home runs hit in the entire league? SO WHAT!! Yankees will PHEEL THE HEAT! GO PHILLIES! I think I will get to watch the first game! Sleeping at a friends house to catch the 3am start here! Pray that comes true please! 🙂
Thank you all again for support and everything you are doing!
So in the spirit of my Philadelphia Phillies going back to the world series, I broke out the two gloves and baseball I brought. Me and a couple of the other ferenge guys went to a “meadow” near the “T.K” building which houses the church office, old sanctuary and the “Addis Life” office. The T.K. building is where I spend most of my time. (My Phillies won last night and I would trade a toe to watch it but no such luck anywhere here).
Anyway, this baseball catch was by far the most unique of my life. I love me some baseball and having catches. So picture this “meadow”. It was unfortunately referred to by a friend here as the “bathroom meadow”. Behind a big billboard is a field with sheep, cows and street people all over it. It is where you will often find someone taking a quick whiz or obviously a cow doing what they do. It also happens to be where “The Crew” has set up shop. They have moved so many times and now they have a makeshift tent type thing in the field.
Ethiopians are not shy when it comes to staring. It escalates for ferenges but they stare at everyone. So imagine me and another ferenge about 6:6 throwing a baseball which probably less then 1% of the people had seen before. I admittedly don’t mind the attention, it offers a great opportunity to make them smile or laugh. It is a TON different then in the inner cities of the U.S.
I escaped most of the “piles” on the meadow until the end. We also had fun with a hawk that kept diving at the ball thinking it food. I had so much fun teaching some of “The Crew” and other random street folks how to use the glove and throw the ball. It is so much fun, they had know idea how to use it. Some put it on the wrong hand, backwards, or were just scared of the gloves. At different times there were about 15-25 people watching, a sheep near bye, poo on my shoe, a hawk diving at the ball, and really big hard biting ants that made it really far up my pants(serious ouch!). This catch was different, heh? I ended the day with letting them try to catch one of high pops. Meaning I would throw as high as I can and if they caught it in three chances they would earn a birr. Unfortunately they didn’t come close so I may have to change the game around so it’s a more kind to them.
I love the bonding that sports can bring. I dream of a day here where I can utilize good land to teach sports and play what they all know, futball.
Going camping about four hours away with the Entoto team this weekend. Should be fun.
This is the name of the gentlemen who runs Hope for Children of Ethiopia along with about 9 other Ethiopian men. I think it is an awesome name and a catchy title 🙂 He along with Yonas came to eat dinner with us last night. It was about 15 kids, and 8 adults. The dinner went well. We have more work to do though. There are a lot of balls being juggled right now so it will take time to catch all of them.
Since I am sitting next to Isreal (Gazacho’s cousin) right now, it reminded me to give you all an update about last night’s dinner. I think Addis Ababa might just be the Washington, DC of Ethiopia and maybe Africa. It is a big city, small town. There are a lot of people connected in some way and everyone seems to know everyone. I have been here for two weeks and while sitting at a coffee house today I ran into about 10 people I know, out of an estimated 7 million. It was fun and reminded me of DC. I plan on getting to know everyone in the city! The dichotomy of this culture and my role here is fun to observe and be a part of. One of the ten people was part of “The Crew” while a couple other folks were part of an “entourage” for someone well known.
I will write more details about the kids as they get ironed out. Thank you for your prayers on this matter. There are some sensitive governement issues that may play a big role in this at some point. I will wear out my prayer welcome, by asking for more about that!
All prayers are important. Though it is hard not to think the prayer needed today is on the top of the list. I humbly ask all of you to say some prayers for our meeting tonight. We will be introducing “The Crew” to HFEC tonight! It is a little overwhelming at this point, as I am not up to speed here so really can’t add much value. BUT that is part of the fun! Because I am not up to speed I know I have nothing to do with the good that will come out of it. This is very different from my time in corporate America, where I often took credit for good work, or hard work. My pride grew with me success, but in Ethiopia, my pride will shrink as we are successful. AWESOME! Well good bye to pride and hello power of God.
We also had lunch with kids on Saturday. 16 kids and a more then usual amount of five adults. It was awesome. It is great to be getting to know these guys more. It is also fun, watching about 2 hours of ordering enjera, organizing the kids, washing hands, etc, to watch the food(which was SO good) disappear in under 2 minutes. It was a lot of food too, wud(means expensive). I have mastered the art of receiving HUGE handfuls of enjera from “The Crew”.
On Sunday we heard a ridiculous testimony from Benny Prasad. This dude created a bongo guitar and has traveled to 222 counties trying to share about Jesus! This type of stuff motivates me. There are a lot of amazing stories around here. I tell my story here and people ask “and?”.. LOL. One thing I thought of during his talk was I need some t-shirts that say “Thank You Jesus”.. One main reason for this is because I am not good(yet) at testifying with my mouth. I prefer to lead by example with my mouth shut. If anyone is interested in creating, finding some t-shirts like that I would be much oblidged.
Pastor Z also spoke to having a cause on Sunday. In summary if we define and pursue our cause God will bring “dominion” under us. meaning we will have everything we need to pursue that cause. I actually get teary eyed as I write how thankful I am to have found my cause after 29 years. I easily would trade the first 29 years for what I have experienced in the last 1 year. To have the passion for these street kids and really street kids all over the world is a huge blessing. I pray I don’t get weary, side tracked, discouraged during my pursuing my cause of building up street kids!
This blog was deep-ish.. SO, let me holla, GO PHILLIES AND E-A-G-L-E-S! YEAH PHILLY SPORTS! Was awesome reading about it this morning!
The above means hello in the local language and might shed a tiny light on how big of an adjustment I am making and the information/cultural overload I am experiencing.
The greetings in Ethiopia are important, long, and very tough to learn. The above is only the beginning. One greeting is normally like “T’ena Yist’llin, Dahna naw, Igzer yimmasgan, Abaruk.. PHEW!! Translated: Hello, are you well, thanks be to God, are things fine? All this while doing the European style greeting, but with three kisses instead of two! I have not even attempted a full greeting yet, as the above doesn’t come near giving the spoken words justice! Exploding consonants, different endings depending on gender or number of people.. jeesh! Its fun though!
So what am I actually doing here? Well, the adjustment is slow moving and difficult. Just getting around, getting things I need to live, understanding the culture are immense tasks. I JUST took the bus taxi’s home from the office today for the first time, phew again! It is a lot of fun for now, but not easy.
There seem to be an infinite amount of things happening at Beza. #1, Aman(my boss, or bosses boss) just launched a new secular magazine called Addis Life. It is amazing and probably the most high quality(or one of the best ever) magazines to come out of Ethiopia. It is exciting and fun to observe. They got interviews with some of the most famous Ethiopians in the world, amongst other awesome focuses. Check it out http://www.addislifemag.com. Also, the organizing of the “Outreach Office” is just starting. Anna will be the lead in there and that’s where I will set up shop.
Right now, once I can get my head above water, my roll is to work on building the partnership with Hope For Ethiopia’s Children(HFEC). As that is the primary focus, I am also going to be working on networking with ALL the organizations around Addis that are doing God’s work and building up this city. Beza (and I), doesn’t have intentions to re-create any wheels. There are a ton of successful outreaches serving the MANY needs of this city. Beza, has a relatively vast amount of resources, in terms of people with servant hearts, financial blessings, communication vehicles, and ability to get the word out all over the world.
Partnering with HFEC is definitely what I am most excited about. We will be introducing them to “The Crew” on Monday. HFEC is doing an incredible amount of good, so we hope to build a trusting and lasting relationship where Beza can help expand the amazing efforts of this blessed organization, while HFEC “shows us the ropes” of serving street kids, child laborers, and prostitutes. We hope to integrate “The Crew” into their model and I also hope to volunteer their each week.
Yes, I mentioned “The Crew”. The group of about 10-15 boys I just adore. I have bumped into parts of the group at different times since being here. It is such an encouraging, smile producing, love fest! “ Mr. Adam, LUDAKIDS!”.. Yesterday I took about 7 of them to lunch, because I was free and needed a lift. AWESOME, 7 non English speaking, hungry boys and me! We hardly know what the heck each other is talking about, yet I think all hearts are filled during those precious moments. We try our best to communicate and try teaching each other words? We don’t stop laughing! Most of the conversation is centered around my “talek”(yes that means big) arms. They get a kick out of American muscles, while I tease them for their “tanish” muscles. After lunch we played foosball under the bridge they often hang out under. It was great. We are playing soccer tomorrow, and then introducing them to HFEC on Monday. PLEASE join me in praying for “The Crew”, that they will find comfort at HFEC and that lasting, life saving relationships will be formed!
Thank you all! I added my African phone number and mailing address and would love to here from people!!!!
It has been close to a full week since I arrived in Addis. I have spent the week just observing my new home. I definitely still feel like a foreigner which is only exasperated by the constant screaming of “Ferenge”.
There are very few if any similarities between the home I left and my new one. One of the fun differences is how I get around. There are taxi’s everywhere.
There are the taxi’s that look like Volkswagen vans that fit anywhere from 15-23 passengers. These cost about 10-15 cents American, about 1 or 2 birr Ethiopian. These are fun, one guy yells out the sliding door where the destination is, so I am tasked with understanding enough to get to the right area. IT gets crazy when there are big groups of people as the pushing and shoving gets intense. It’s every person for themselves. Luckily I have about 80 pounds on every Ethiopian so no need to push.
The other taxis are small sedans, all of them are white and blue. These are “contract taxis” and are much more expensive. These cars are left over from the 1970 communist error. It is unbelievable how they are able to keep them running. You normally are able to see every single wire, piece of tape, and other random things holding the steering column, radio and more in place. The taxi I took yesterday had smoke coming from somewhere inside the car, it was funny. I am forced to haggle with these drivers in an effort not to pay the inflated “Ferenge” price. My “coworker” Anna has an amazing/cheap spirit and will argue over what translates into one penny. LOL. It is helpful though.
This environment is a harsh one for an American to get used to. The noise and pollution is overwhelming at times. Each and every car and truck emits huge plumes of black smoke. Most Ethiopians honk like they would die if the didn’t. IT is uncanny how close the people, cars and animals pass each other without many accidents. We are talking inches. In each drive we nearly clip another car, person or donkey. that brings me to the other entertaining observation. It is fun to watch a group of run away cows, donkeys or sheep and the cars trying to navigate past them while blowing their horns as if it would help. Addis is a very busy city so it is really like having them break free near Chinatown in DC or something.
My mom was always amazed at all the people going/walking somewhere in DC. Well, Addis makes DC look like a quiet rural area. There are hundreds of people walking on each and every block. It seems that the 4 million inhabitants are fit into a city that designed 4 thousand.
Finally, I got to have lunch with two of the boys yesterday and ran into the entire crew last night. They were working, holding a tray of cigarettes and gum and trying to sell them(conveniently) to the best looking young women. Boys will be boys anywhere in the world I guess. OF COURSE I didn’t encourage them 🙂