Archive for March 2010
It is amazing to think of all that is happened since I got to Addis Ababa almost 6 months ago. Everyone would probably admit that a lot has happened faster then expected, especially with stereotypes about Africa.
I am so privileged to be a part of something that so far has been smooth-ish and coming together so well. I am trying to enjoy it, but it is hard for me to do that sometimes. Also, I am just about positive that things are going to get a lot harder before they get easier. We have a ton of ridiculously hard work ahead of us.
Thank God it is Friday. This week tested me and ended in some pretty deep frustration. To be doing something so vital for so many wonderful lives adds a unique pressure, but actually keeps me going. If this frustration was from a selfish goal I would stop and try something else. There is no turning back though. I will do anything in my power for these boys. I am still learning some harsh lessons about relationships and culture differences. Things that just make you go “hhmm”? or GGRR!
On the MUCH more rewarding side of things. We started last Monday dividing the boys up into groups of 4, to spend two meetings a week with 7 different leaders. Each leader is responsible to develop the relationships and really focus on who these boys are.
This is the real fun stuff. I have a great group of five kids. Lots of laughs and some really impressive stuff too. We have heard from a bunch of kids that since hanging out with us they have really tried to quit some of their addictions. One of the boys in my group suggested that little by little since hanging out with us and hearing the testimonies every Friday he has been really motivated to stop everything. He says he has stopped doing all the drugs, but just has a very hard time stopping smoking. For me, them quitting smoking is not a priority. I am not here to just accuse them of wrongs and suggest they change everything. I know how tough addictions are! First the love, the Jesus, then in time they will become healthier. I am trying my best at unconditional love, acceptance, and being an example.
Ok back to the boy mentioned above. He is one of my favorites and is actually a HUGE reason why I moved here. He is the one who showed me their homes in a sewer on a median of a busy street. An image that is still carved deep on my psyche. Weird how I can picture every little detail, even the small branches of a lame, small tree near the sewer. He has been with us since day one and is always coming to our events. Funny thing is I am sure he was either drunk or very high the first time we had dinner with our boys a year ago. Now he tells us he has really quit just about everything. Granted, any person working with this population will tell you that they lie for protection. That’s true, but he has a certain genuine quality that is amazing to me. He also does NOT share about his life often. Finally he has been on the street longest of all the kids. So hearing this, makes my heart pump. He is an awesome young man. He has this amazing quality, something in him that comes out in subtle ways(for now, hopefully huge ways some day). He is funny too. Its hard not to fast forward for me. I just have fun envisioning a decade from now, me and this young man working together, families adjoined and so on.
This was therapeutic, thanks for listening!
I have slacked on writing cause it seemed there was too much to write about. I have a ton of stuff going on inside, outside and all around. I decided I would share our plans for the short term and we are working on. Again, this is a product of my “transparency” and I pray it is not risky.
Last couple weeks:
We had one prayer party and one house warming party. We announced to the church our goals and ministry and got great support. The last week we have been calling all the people that signed up to donate furniture or volunteer. It has been awesome. There is a lot more we need of course. We have our first volunteer(about 40 people signed up) orientation next Saturday. We are planning that, planning all the coming activities for boys, learning the legalities(huge deal) of all of this, planning trainings and subject areas and more. I am waiting to move until the house is habitable. Because the house is in a brand new place and much less friends/ferenge services I am hoping to hire a cook before I move. I am not good at taking care of myself soo..
Next month or so:
We are adding some intense/intentional time with the boys to analyze which of them are really ready for the house. This is huge and will be the most difficult task to date. We got some expert advice that made clear we need to have a focused strategy on analyzing(hate that word) and building deeper relationships with our boys. On top of that we need to develop the complete structure for all the volunteer groups (medical, educational, health and sport, spiritual, social work, misc and more). So the next month will be gigantic(ice berg right ahead!) We have 7 main people involved with this and some other outside help. We are also trying to figure out how to maintain relationship and development for any boys unable or unwilling to join the house.
We are kicking around different ideas on how to fundraise. We will officially have an account specifically for the Beza Community Development Association by the end of this week. That is important. Our budget is not 100% concrete as we are still working out the details, but we MIGHT be looking at $36,000 a year. We would love to get this amount raised asap, so that the guess work is taking out of it. We just got a HUGE commitment from NCC, which prompted some weeping on my part. We also have Ryan and others in South Carolina doing all sorts of creative fundraising. We are almost 80% of the way to our 6 month goal, and about 40% of the way to our yearly goal.
Of course would love it if any one reading this would like to help. Please see “Want to help” on blog for directions on how to give. I added a piece on how to donate directly to the ministry and not me! I would say I am all set for the next year and a half.
The above leaves out plenty. I also wonder if I am being to “transparent”? It is only by faith we are doing all of this. Our faith is the biggest piece of how we are approaching each piece. I am so thankful that it is not up to us to orchestrate it all, but we are just instruments. I would assume there are practical minds reading this that are like ” umm not sure that will work”, but know we are doing our best to handle everything perfectly and also there is a greater power deeply involved!
We have the house now and have worked to clean it and address some miscellaneous maintenance issues. This weekend starts our push to get the Beza community involved with the “Change For Change” ministry.
Tomorrow Birukti and I will stand in front of the 2000 people congregation and tell them about what is happening with our project and our boys. It is SO exciting and just can’t believe how quick it has taken to get here. Plus I love speaking in front of people though pray my words are orchestrated by God.
Tomorrow we are having a prayer party, inviting a bunch of key people at church to pray over the house after church. Please join us in America too. We will start at 8:00am American time, 4:00pm Habasha time. We are announcing tomorrow a house warming party that will take place next Sunday. We are really anticipating most if not all of our needs will be met by the Beza congregation. I am excited to challenge people here. Churches here do less to practically help the “least” then even American churches do(NCC excluded of course!). I think this is an amazing opportunity to show Beza’s uniqueness in putting into action the example of Jesus. One of my favorite quotes from ST. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”
Also we have a meeting on Monday to hash out some issues and concerns raised by the experts(Impact Youth). The furniture, financial and house needs is one thing, but how to handle the boys is really where my concern lies. I am little worried about the house needs and such, but just really really want to be handling how we do this for the boys the best way possible. It is a very difficult scenario(involves which boys will be living there eventually and which boys are not ready for this opportunity, we love them all) here that is too long to write about. It is so far beyond my capability of knowing the answers. As a team though I am confident we will some come up with some problem resolution.
My goal right now is to move in by mid-late March. The timing of when programs and such will start for the kids depends on the support and people that enlist to help. I am leaving another comfort zone as Allie’s house and area has started to feel like home. I also am a little anxious at potential violence/muggings in the area where the house is. I move ahead bold and confident but always an open book so I share.
Some cool misc stuff. We used 7 women from the Entoto project to clean the house. It felt great to give them an opportunity for income. Also, Ryan Harling in South Carolina is doing some major things for our ministry. This guy is fundraising like its his job. He and his church are such a huge encouragement to us. The guy has skills too, so I can’t wait to see where it goes. I also added some pictures from the NCC trip to the blog. IT takes forever to do it so I will get the rest up asap. Also I added a video that shows the new house. It is labeled “ The Change Castle”.
Happy to hear the east coast of America coming out of it’s Snowpocalypse. Can I remind you to take it in, feel fortunate to have the nice days, and breathe some really fresh spring air for me? It also would be a good idea to jump on board with baseball and especially my Philadelphia Phillies who look to make it back to their third straight World Series!