Archive for January 2010
For those of you who aren’t aware of the title’s meaning, it is just like Nike’s “just do it”… sort of :-). It originated from a comedian from the southern part of the USA, I believe. To me it means action!
The NGO proposal has been approved that covers the Entoto Mountain Project and can allow us to move forward with the Change Ministry(name of our street kid project). To be honest, its hard for me to believe. Granted, I have only been here for exactly four months now, but it feels like a life time. The learning curve and growth has been SO steep!
I am so thankful that this thing has been approved! I have mentioned before that I might lack a little thing called patience. I am an action guy. Thinking and planning that borders on inaction drives me crazy. But, the approval is HUGE and exciting. I truly think that when we take steps of faith, God honors it with His action. Let me quote Mark Batterson again, it shouldn’t be ready, set, go, our faith means it should be GO, set, ready. I mention this because I was all for getting a house for the boys and had started the process. Though without the NGO approval, it was a leap. Well, as the realtors are looking for the house, the NGO finally gets approved after three long months of waiting. Nice!
So now what? @$#%@# WOW. There is so much to get done now. Things are going to start moving fast. We have so much to figure out. First the house, then we figure out how to analyze 25 kids educational needs and status, have preliminary healthcare examinations, find social workers to get profiles done on each of our boys, hire a guard and cooks for the compound, find tutors, find volunteers, set up structured events for the boys, find funding, ok I have to stop cause this list goes on forever. You get my point? Overwhelming, yes. But thank the Lord.
Today was crazy. First another kabot(hard!) Amharic class, then one meeting, followed by a meeting with Elias(the boss of all the Beza outreach). He only gave me three pretty nice sized to-dos due in ummm 24 hours. Then followed by an “African Arise” conference, where I had a chance to meet Pastor Randy Harling. Wow, things are moving. Hoping my corporate America work ethic kicks in again!
I am excited, anxious, and more. It is almost a numb feeling. Like I have said before though, my feelings mean squat, they are fickle. Though I pray everyday for strength and wisdom. It is all about these young men and I believe BIG things for these great young men.
PS: One fun Addis Ababa weekly fact: I saw three men this week in the middle of the street with not a shred of clothes on. Not exactly the Garden of Eden. Addis Ababa = well developed African city, donkeys and goats on city blocks, unreal traffic, random nudity, and an extremely hospitable culture. Good times, great mix.
Ok, so I took the easy way out to find a catchy title that would encourage people to read this post. Ha, I have little shame. I am writing about a very wonderful weekend, with our boys, Impact Youth, and some other really good news. I will start by explaining the title.
Hospital visits are becoming more of the norm with our boys. I think we are up to five different boys in the last couple months. On Friday, Nebu’s head was huge so of course we were alarmed. Fortunately this wasn’t the police again, it was unfortunate accident with a pole. Birukti took him Friday and got an xray. I took him back for results early on Saturday. After being yelled at by the Dr. for not having a shaved head, finding a hair cut place, we were able to have his head reexamined and there were no signs of anything but a big blood build up outside of the skull.
In Ethiopia, the doctors seem to lack a little thing I call compassion. So, the doctor began to slice, poke, and squeeze Nebu’s head. Blood went everywhere, it was brutal. Nebu was VERY strong(or Tink’areh) and so we left without a swollen head, a large head consuming bandage, a ruined Christmas shirt(from us) and got some ice cream. (did I really just go from a selfish, well to do, single guy in DC, to a father/mentor figure to 25 boys? Holy macaroni Batman!)
This underlies a great weekend. On Friday, the boys were wonderfully behaved and they really seemed to start understanding that fighting will bring its consequences. They then heard from Robert(from Holland, electric speaker) and we ate some great Habasha Migib(Ethiopian food).
From there I had a meeting with Impact Youth. This is an organization started by Koni, Ermias and a few others that houses and builds up older street kids, orphaned boys, and orphaned girls. They are BY FAR, the best example of how we ALL should be living. They are the most humble, honest, compassionate people I have ever met. What they are doing to raise some misfortunate youth, boggles my mind. Not to mention, they have been the first organization to say to me“ yes we would love to help you, anything you want”. Thank you God for these wonderful examples. Ermias has agreed to start looking for a house for me and the boys, wow. I guess that is an “Open Door” from God that I will obediently walk through.
So after the hospital visit with Nebu, I met 17 other boys to take them to the opposite end of the city with my helpful buddy Camden. We rented a mini bus for 5 birr a piece and enjoyed some boisterous Teddy Afro sing alongs on our way to soccer. Our boys were going to take on the boys of the Entoto Mountain project. The best part was before the game, when Bihalu, responded to my “don’t fight speech” with “we shouldn’t even have to be told, we should know we aren’t supposed to fight”. Well, that precluded the most peaceful day of my three months here. Not even a face to face argument, are you kidding me? Of course my boys won the game, though of course I love the Entoto boys too.
We followed that with some good food at the Entoto compound and more peaceful fun with all the youth of “Change for Change” and Entoto Mountain Project.
It was a great weekend but here is some more of the best news. Our proposal was finally reviewed and handed back to Elias after more then two months of no action. It isn’t completely approved but after he makes some edits, we should be able to move forward. It is a GREAT sign.
Thank you Lord for this great fulfilling weekend.
This post is mostly a prayer request. I need discernment like I have never needed it before. Aahh wisdom, I fear you will escape me.
I’ll start with saying that the discernment I used to make the leap to Ethiopia, was my best showing. Before then, I often fell short. Namely in relationships. But, through the process of moving here, I worked my butt off trying to make sure it was not “Adam-made”. I am as confident as ever because I succeeded. Well, actually God made it “freakishly” clear to me.
Of course I always need discernment. But I am now considering renting a home so that boys can have a safe place to come and with God’s favor, live there. I can’t even write enough to express how strange that sounds in my ears. I feel like God is putting urgency on my heart.
I have written about the proposal, NGO status, and needing the people(especially Habasha folks). I still have faith that all this will come, but without a place to provide some structure and opportunities I fear it is too hard to get this started. These things are just not progressing for a variety of reasons.
Why is it urgent? First, the kids are being beaten on a frequent basis. We are making trips to the hospital on a bi-weekly basis. Some of the beatings are coming from “authorities”, possibly because of the elections coming. Besides rumors, there are laws being put in place to “lower” the amount of people on the street. The problem is that the solution for these people is lacking. Second, it seems extremely hard to encourage people to volunteer and to get the word out when there isn’t the structure like a house would provide.
Trust me, I know very well that doors need to be opened before I step through. I learned a ton from my Aetna experience in waiting for doors to be open. Though I say this, I still fear that my “bulldog” approach will kick down a door or two. So as I begin to take some major steps, I ask for prayers that doors will be opened only by God and that they may be clear to me.
Like anyone might guess, there are some major risks involved. The biggest being financial. If I get a house that would suit the boys, it would quickly diminish the funds that have been so generously given to me. I also ask for peace of mind. I signed up for this, I knowingly chose to give my life for these boys. That doesn’t mean I won’t wonder how the rest of my life will look if I end up providing a house and living with 25 boys. A wife, trips home, travel elsewhere, my education and more are some of those things that I would be leaving to faith.
Thank you all again. I will have faster internet soon and plan on giving better at updates.
PS: I had a great celebration for what I would argue is the most amazing man to live since the Bible times. Martin Luther King, Jr. was unspeakably bold and brilliant. I am so glad I have finally spent the time reading about him.
I am behind on all types of communication, sorry.
Last weekend, was an amazingly fun weekend. We partied while serving so many! We were celebrating the Ethiopian Christmas a couple days late(it was January 7th). 1st was the Entoto Mountain Project, then Christmas for 27 of “The Crew”
Let me start with Saturday. The Entoto Mountain Project is the other major outreach under Beza. It is just an amazing project, with great leaders, God’s favor, serving “outcasts” with HIV using income generation projects like making coffee bean jewelry. It is the project we visited during our mission trip in March. Elias, Eden, Anna, Giovani, Fekadu, Tamara and many more serve beautifully. They threw an awesome party and served 250 people, along with gifts for the many many kids.
I can’t write enough good things about this project and the people that have put in so much work to get it to where it is. Wow. I also thank God for a shining example of how serving projects should be. It is so encouraging. Their jewelry is very popular and perfect fit in the culture and history of Ethiopia.
During the party, we got to see some unreal dancing and cultural fun. There are quite a few regions in Ethiopia that all have their own cultural distinctions. Besides accents and languages, the dancing and celebratory times are good indicators of which region is being represented. I got to see an amazing display of culture. It wasn’t a show, we were a part of it. We saw about four styles of dancing, one group of men keeping the beat with a guttural sound not like anything I have heard, songs with one leader and 200 responders and probably about a millions smiles. Wow, it was so awesome being near something so raw, new, real, joyous, inclusive, spiritual, and service oriented. It is one of the best examples of “loving one another” and community I have ever witnessed.
Second, was our party for the boys. Birukti did a great job in organizing it. We also got help from Pastor Z, and a group of Beza young professionals who call themselves “Destiny”. It was a great party. We had more kids come then expected. We planned for 25 but got 27 or 28. We had a really good meal for them and got them new clothes. It was awesome, seeing them come out of the house in their new attire. We have some handsome young men here (not looking forward to the expected girl issues later on, ha).
We kept it relatively simple, but had fun playing cards, dancing, eating and hanging out. I had the task of transporting those kids to the party zone. Wow, that was fun and stressful. 27 kids, mini bus taxis and an hour commute. Minus one typical run in with an obnoxious, accusing Ethiopian, we got there safe and had fun doing it.
It was a great Christmas weekend. I can’t wait to build on it for next year. I expect it to be bigger and better.
I am picking some positive stuff to write about above and it truly was awesome, but let me be me, real and tactless. Things are hard right now. My frustration with a ton of things grows daily. This isn’t a party, SO tough at times. The feelings of being powerless to help these boys, the adjustment to some very .. um “rough” cultural norms, bureaucracy and so on. Tough questions and self doubt knock at my door. They come daily and I battle hard.
27 kids who lack the feeling of being loved unconditionally, wanted or respected. I’ll gladly fight my daily battles to build them up. Washin feet, you before I, we before me, HE is our example. Yeah! Just got my first “blog tears”.
The Holiday season is officially over now that Habasha Christmas has passed. I am happy to move on and get started on 2010.
I also just returned from an amazing 10 days in The Congo(city of Kinshasa). It didn’t take over ten minutes there to realize what a stark contrast this new place was compared to Ethiopia. The beauty of The Congo surpasses all the other places I have been. It is covered in rich rain forest with so much exotic plants and animals. I saw a large blue and orange lizard from my walk on the tarmac from plane to small airport. I have never seen such green: huge, hulking trees, a huge variety of amazing flowers, along with a bird in every bright color, very naughty monkeys, and lizards of all kinds.
Unfortunately when you look past the aesthetics you will find a country overwhelmed with tragedy. From your typical white colonist(Belgium) to the ruthless rule of local supported people, this country has been pillaged over and over again. The Congo is one of the most torn up countries in the world and it is reflected in peoples faces and actions. The smiles are much less frequent (then in Ethiopia). I even missed the yelling of “ mondelli”(white person in local language) which I am accustomed to in Addis. In comparing the Ethiopian culture to the Congo culture, it is clear I am fortunate to have such a unique, hopeful, prideful, culture to be living with.
I spent half a day with some street kids near the American Embassy(where my friend works) too. It was fun. They speak French and Lingalla, I can’t say I picked up much but we taught each other some words. We played some soccer with tightly rubber banded plastic bags, while the embassy guards threatened them. The street kid issue in The Congo is harsher then in Addis. The kids there are commonly thought to be “ demon possessed” and are frequently herded up in cages and supposedly sometimes killed. I can’t even explain what my insides do with this type of information, I actually wish Jesus would have just punched some people so that could be my option too But mostly, seeing and hearing the things I do, just makes me feel so honored and really prideful that I will spend the rest of my life looking for solutions for these boys. Of course I want to save them all, do more then I know is possible, but humbly I wait for God to put the pieces in place to make small strides.
The bubbles? Well, though I was in The Congo, as foreign a land as I could have been, I was still in a nice American bubble. It’s interesting to think that since I have taken one giant leap out of the one I grew up in, I will never see “the bubble” the same way ever again. Since my friend works for the Embassy in Kinshasa, she is unable to take the public transportation(um the most fun part of Addis) among other safety restrictions. She also has a huge variety of American conveniences. It was awesome to feel that comfort again and to just learn more about how Embassy’s work. It amazes me how “the bubble” can be transported to a completely different country. I love America, I really do, but I am so glad I got out of my bubble. I wish there was a way to mandate each American to spend some real time outside of there’s. Sure, everyone has missions and callings to stay in America. Families, helping the needy in America, good jobs are all great reasons. But, there is sooo much more. God created all of it. There is something about seeing other cultures, then also seeing how American’s are viewed in other cultures, that opens the mind. I think “the bubble” is great for some people, it’s the comfort in “the bubble” that lulls us to sleep that I just have a REALLY hard time with now. Maybe, just maybe someday I will have enough wisdom to find words that encourage people to step out, take a risk, serve the world, and learn more about God’s earth, the good and the ugly!