Archive for November 2009
“ I will move ahead bold and confident, taking every step in obedience, while I am waiting”
This is one of my favorite lines from any song. John Waller’s “While I am waiting”. My experience in Ethiopia and before feels like an oxymoron, stop and go, stop and go. I feel like I am waiting on what the Lord is going to do, while I am also “going”. I have been able to move forward with boldness while I wait on what I believe is going to happen for these boys and more!
My boldness does not come from within me. It comes mostly from God, but there is such a huge piece of my confidence that comes from my support. I feel like I can depend a on a ridiculous amount of people back in DC, PA, SC and wherever if I need it. That is such a comfort. I have continual dreams about the growth of this project for Ethiopian street children. They are so much fun, nerve racking, and more. The one piece that is 100% faith, is the financial piece. It’s something I can hardly get my brain around. Housing 25 boys and looking to grow will take quite a bit of funding, yet I don’t feel anxiety about it. I am so confident in God, but also the amazing people that have been so gracious towards me! Amen.
This ties into another piece of what I have been feeling. At times I convince myself that, I have given up some things, or sacrificed some things to serve God and these boys. I guess from the outside it looks like something, but really I hold on to so much still. Ok, so I took a 90% “pay” decrease, but what did Jesus give me? Um, 100%. It is amazing that while I am in a season of giving that I still can easily see where I still hoard my blessings and can’t let go of 100% of myself. I am so blessed to be giving and serving as much as I am, but it is still not 100%. I want to get there! I also believe that if I give 100% the reward will be incalculable. I pray so hard that my selfishness, my ego, my insecurities, will not limit the blessings for these boys!
I stole the following depressing stats from my buddy Dave Schmidgall’s blog ( http://www.schmidgalls.com/blog) .
Only 5% of American households tithe. “Born again” Christians in America is at 9%. Evangelical Christians are at 24%. The average giving of American church members in 2005 was 2.58% of their income. Giving during the Great Depression was at 3.3%, 27% more than we gave in 2005. Only 2% of that goes to overseas missions of any kind, whether evangelistic or to assist the poor. The other 98% stays right here, within our churches and communities.
WOW. That is so depressing. How easy would it be to tackle all our worlds’ poverty issues with a small incremental increase of giving, ugh. What a punch in the gut. What do we gain when we hold on to our blessings?
Well, I want to boldly and confidently give it ALL to the purpose of God and Lord willing, these children. I will not hoard, I will not pretend I am giving enough, I will keep my heart, ears, and mind open for opportunities to share my blessings.
-I am enjoying Amharic school. I start my fourth week tomorrow. We are getting about 35-70 new words a day. Its fun, just wish I retained more then the bad/crude/funny words.
-Thanksgiving was tough, but I was so blessed. I got to eat a feast twice. Once with my roommates and the other with Dr. Beta’s niece and Nephew, Lilly and Ben Pipe. MY stomach hurt more then ever and it was the best! I shamelessly ate enough for about ten people.
-We are still working on the proposal.
-We are closer to getting temporary housing for the boys. Taking steps to get around some laws that prevent us to do so. It requires individual’s generosity.
-I bowled for the first time in Africa! It was awesome!
-I am fighting all my bouts with “depression”, “homesickness” as hard as I can. I win a high majority of the time.
Best holiday ever. My mouth waters and my heart sinks a little just thinking about it. These holidays will be the first time I don’t see family in my life. I do however get to eat two different feasts, made by Americans, nice! My hod(stomach) still smiles, that’s a big smile.
I have so much to be thankful for, it seems overwhelming. I have been so ridiculously blessed with a great family, great friends, and great church life. I also have been SO blessed with grace. My rebellion was very long, very very contrary to any of the morals instilled in me. So thankful for those years, not to go to waste, but be perfectly used to work with some “rebellious” kids.
Each and every time I think about what I am thankful for, or blessed with, I then think “ ugh, the boys”. So far, I would guess they would be hard pressed to find thankfulness. I want to do NOTHING more, then to be a part of God changing that. Just to think that I had such an amazing upbringing but STILL struggled, and to compare that with what they have been through is overwhelming. I want to MARK this holiday, to examine in a year. Every ounce of my being prays that I will be sitting at a table, feasting, with these boys, sharing heartfelt thanks about changed lives.
Last weekend, was a good weekend with the boys. Thursday, I randomly took four of them to see the touring world cup(that’s the soccer trophy), which is HUGE here and basically only sport enjoyed. We bypassed needing tickets because of my color, then waited a couple hours to get our photo together with the trophy. It was awesome, minus at least three occasions of the boys being accused of stealing from me(VERY frustrating cultural norm). Friday, we had another great breakfast and soccer with The Crew. Saturday was the GRAND finale!! We took them to a free movie at a nice cinema. Along with that, we asked the older, rehabilitated 20 something’s from “Impact Youth” to come and start building relationships with our boys. Unreal!!
Impact Youth is the organization that is lead by Koni and Armiast. These are the same people I met in DC right before I left during their first visit to the U.S(coincidence? I think not, AMEN). I think that was one of my first blogs. These two are amazing and their boys are a HUGE resource. They have been the most down to earth, partnership willing, gracious people/host, and more, that I have met so far. Amazing people who are building up strong leaders. I can’t wait to see what comes from this partnership.
So I give thanks, for the boys, for my blessings, for Impact Youth, for this Impossible Mission. Gobez God (good work God).
PS: Anyone have a nice “extra” camera lying around? Mine broke and they are very expensive here.
My internet has been bad lately so sorry if I am slacking on communicating.
We have had two succesful “breakfast with pastors” so far with the kids. Last Friday one of the pastors named Germa(sp?) shared his story with the kids. WOW. In short, he and his brother were kicked out of their home when he was seven and brother was 1. Long, tough ten years, was saved, now a pastor. One story including fighting a ferenge, before removing the ferenge’s finger for his gold ring!! The kids listend with mouths opened and eyes completely fixed on him. It was awesome and a small dose of what I hope is yet to come.
The proposal is still being worked on, but hope it gets done in the next week. I am REALLLLY hoping that framework allows us to start taking some bigger steps toward the goal.
We looked for temporary housing tonight. It seemed ok, but not sure if it is the route we need to go. Most of the boys are living in a “hut” type house right now. I believe that will help them stay away from abusive police, but more research to happen.
After a week or so of feeling pretty down, helpless and so on, Sunday’s message helped me rocoup. It was about how the battle is in our mind and the blood of Jesus is there to help us win that battle. We don’t need to feel the guilt, defeating thoughts and so on.
That sermon helped me back on my feet and encouraged me to go where I feel the most alive. That is where the kids are. I checked on Alex who was beaten badly by the police. He is AN UNREAL young man, cant say enough about his maturity, intelligence and strength. His arm was better, but Armias(another amazing kid) had a messed up foot. So I took him to the hospital. It was fun and rewarding. His foot is ok, just banged up toe. It is fun getting past language barriers and having success. Seems when I “just do it” God just gets it done! It is also fun causing a scene in a “rich” part of town, with a ferenge carrying a street kid on his shoulders. Would love the SHOCK of that to motivate someone to help.
We will have breakfast again on Friday AND taking all of them to a movie on Saturday.
I love you all and thank you for everything!
Those that know me well shouldn’t be shocked by the fact that most of the words that stick in my brain are not in the “tactful” or “polite” category. Example, Dohma(SP?). It basically means idiot in Amharic.
My loved ones also know, I am a huge fan of self-deprecating humor. Better me then someone else is how I like to view it. So yes, I am a Dohma!! Big time. I won’t claim not to be scatter brained in the US, but it wasn’t this bad. Losing my keys was the norm and forgetting things places was sort of common. Well, in the last three weeks, I have lost my phone twice and wallet once. I don’t remember losing those vital things much in the US. Hard to believe my “scatter-brainedness” got worse here :-).
Two out of the three times my possessions were returned to me in amazing fashions. Addis Ababa has a very non-violent and well behaved culture but the one thing that people warn all the time about is stealing. Even with those warnings, my stuff has been returned. It has been awesome, since losing stuff is a horrible feeling and recouping in a foreign country is SO hard. I really thank God. I love that I can be an idiot, but yet confident his will is going to happen here. I don’t know why I was chosen or sculpted to take this venture, but so fortunate! All he needs from us is faith, well I have that! I am thankful he has shown favor on this dohma.
Tomorrow is another Friday breakfast with “The Crew” and pastors. I am so thankful this is happening and SOOO faithful that something is going to grow from this. Pastor Z already shared a pretty amazing story, about the rest of his Friday, after breakfast last week. Essentially, he shared what he had done in the morning at an important business meeting and some of the men were moved, AMEN.
Last Friday was a great success. We played games, soccer, ate a good meal, and Pastor Z gave a good speech. There was one little “scuffle” but that is to be expected and I kinda prefer the rough edges.
We are still working on the proposal. Beza submitted the one that is more geared towards the Entoto project on Wednesday. That will play a big part in where we go from here!
I didn’t want my last “venting” blog to linger too long. It isn’t anything I didn’t expect when I made this decision. I think I am handling most things a lot better then it might have sounded in last blog. It helped to express what was building up. Also, the 653 (lol) verses that were sent from all of you as encouragement really helped! My favorite is still Romans 5:3,4. Rejoice in adversity, because it builds endurance and character!
TODAY was a big success.We had our first, weekly breakfast/meal with the kids and the 6 pastors of Beza. 20 kids, 9 adults ate and played together on the churches property. There were curveballs, no doubt. BUT, the morning almost went entirely as planned. Nice. We had one unfortunate skirmish with some workers on the Beza churches grounds(luckily I am not signed up for easy, completely smooth efforts and times with these kids). Otherwise, there was soccer, food, a good word from Pastor Z, another game, fellowship.
We are trying to balance short term and long term needs. There are immediate needs that need to be addressed, but legalities make that very very hard. As we look to address some immediate needs of The Crew, we are working on the long term development.
I thought I would list some things we are working on to further the building up of these boys. Please consider in your prayers.
1)Weekly breakfast with pastors: Our hope is to encourage participation by others. Struggle is that even meeting in the same place and helping kids could be illegal here for a church.
2)Temporary housing: Since the kids are being beaten and harassed by the police we hope to just get a safe roof over their heads. We are looking for cheap housing and hoping they will be willing to move in.
3)Proposal: All new NGO’s must file a proposal with the government after Tuesday to follow the new laws for NGO’s. There are strict guidelines. We need to draft one and submit it if we hope to develop something. Luckily the Entoto Mountain gives Beza some experience in writing these proposals, as all old NGO style organizations are DUE by Tuesday. THESE STEPS ARE HUGE!
Thank you lord for this day. Thank you for lessons learned and lessons to come. Thank you for time with the cherished CREW.
I have never been good at sugar coating my feelings. By writing the following, I am not complaining though. I continually feel fortunate to be here, but right now am in a valley.
Things are slow. Forming relationships is slow. The kids are in the same position as when I got here, but now they are being beaten by the federal police at night and their shanty homes are being burnt down. One of them is in jail for a while. Little things take great effort.
But, there is stuff in the works. THANK GOD, but patience just ain’t my virtue.
The communication style in this place is way different then I am used to. It adds frustration, often. There is procedures and bureaucracy at every turn. I feel pretty helpless and each attempt I make to change that gets thwarted. I am a little nervous about language school starting on Monday and what that might cause me to miss.
I do miss home, family and friends that I can share with and have open and honest conversations with. I actually have missed comfort for the first time since being here. I also got a minor sickness for the first time, which becomes tougher with the amount of polution I breath in while feeling bad.
POOR ME, lol, kidding. I already feel better, maybe this is more a journal entry 🙂 I hope by the end of next week, I can give you some positive updates on short term and long term developments for the kids.
My favorite verse: Romans 5:3-5