Archive for February 2011
“ we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope”
This concept seems to be a tough one to swallow for many people. As we try to get our hands around the elusive chicken called happiness it seems hard to grasp that we grow more from difficult circumstances. As I struggle with joy, love, and a lot of the other fruits, I do take pride in my lack of fear for conflict. Actually, to the detriment of a few x girlfriends I almost seem to seek it. I do that because I know the harder the better, no pain no gain, and if my character improves one day I will be that old man giving sage advice.
The best things about conflicts are the resolutions! I can’t say our boys have grasped that concept well just yet. Not sure I could say any teenage boys grasp it well. With most discipline measures or arguments amongst themselves they always leave upset without any heartfelt resolution. Some day I pray.
Lilly stands out as a perfect example of how afflictions can and should produce great character. His story is the one that changed my life completely. His story is the reason I say street children are not just worth the help and sacrifice, but a huge opportunity to prove what the bible tells us about affliction. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, and struggles have been paramount in his life but today he stands out as the wisest, most honest, and fastest learning boy in the house. I am convinced he can do anything because of what he has already been through. Thankfully the trivial set backs for the more privileged should be laughable to our boy Lilly.
One of our challenges when meeting to assess our boys months ago was to convince them of the positives of street life. It might sound funny to say there are positives, but there is a silver lining in every cloud. Attributes like resourcefulness, fearlessness, humility, and an understanding of needy, poor and the helpless run through our boys souls.
The strength my boys show makes me believe there is a huge resource of hard work and determination we can tap into. This is one main reason getting some form of an income generation project is so important. We also will soon start looking to assign small tasks to some of our mature boys. Giving them work experience and needed life skills.
The true grit through adversity the loved street boys can show is something that I am learning to hone myself. I don’t know how I got to this point, but I take so much pride in addressing an issue others might shy away from. When the conflict in question is easily discernible injustice, my heart races like a hypertensive hummingbird(fastest heartbeat in the world, did you know?). It’s a tough mixture of addressing and attacking the root of injustice and still maintaining a level of respect and emotional maturity. I have to be honest, I feel like a super hero when I show the courage to defend the helpless, or argue for righteousness. If only everyone could feel that rush when they stand up for a clear injustice.
SO BRING ON THE CONFLICT AND AFFLICTIONS!
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
This is why we are here with our 19 boys. Wow, what a challenge love is. It is incredible how much we can grow in love and follow the example of Christ but fail continually. To apply love consistently to everyone in every situation is beyond all of us.
I certainly wish we all could start with perfecting this art instead of starting with the critiques, defensiveness, accusations, insecurities, and a dozen other unhealthy response to our fellow humans.
Last night we had to dive back into one of the hardest forms of love. Discipline. We had an hour long meeting where our boys only listened. Since I have returned from America there has been a higher incidence of ignored rules and unacceptable behavior. It’s the part of our work that nearly no one likes but is required. There are all kinds of discipline and reasons why we need or demand discipline. We have to be very careful that our reasoning is pure. If we just want rules in place to have a quiet and clean house, that’s not ok. If we enforce discipline knowing that in this life these boys will need it to survive, then Amen. Sometimes I get caught up in our own emotion and feelings of disrespect and forget the end goal. I thank God those times don’t last long though.
Then there is the other hardest application of love. Love your enemies. Ugh. My enemy list seems to be a little too long sometimes. Only because I see any obstacle or hurdle to the development of our boys as an enemy. This is where I am most challenged. I have such a fierce passion to stand up for what I believe in for our boys that I forget to show love for those people involved with the hurdles we face. I try to justify it by saying “ I am standing up for a just cause”, but that’s not the example Christ gave us.
So what is our love driving us to do now a days? Well our boys just completed their first semester of school. We should be getting report cards soon. There are a countless number of praise reports. Ermias and Ermias having high 90’s or 100’s on all their semester ending test. Nebu and Tesfaye struggling but putting so much time into their studies it will go a LONG way. My favorite one, Sentiyu learning to say, read, and write the alphabet. In the first months of living with them I was VERY discouraged by his progress. Hampered by an undiagnosed learning disability he just could not get the alphabet down, no matter how many times I sat with him and reviewed it. My first day back in Ethiopia he spoke and wrote it flawlessly, I teared up.
We are getting two computers for the house soon. That is a big step and need for our boys to have more opportunities. We are in much need for tutors. With the praise reports comes about 5-8 boys failing and needing major help. My biggest prayer request would be for God to send us opportunities and wisdom regarding income generation projects. If we could miraculously create something for the boys to work at and earn income it could do a wide range of good. It could allow us to expand easier while keeping in touch with these boys. It could be implemented in many other organizations in Ethiopia, if not the world. Right now we have some exciting signs popping up along the lines of “ Street Children Beautifying The Streets” . Gardening, landscaping, clean up. A huge need in Ethiopia and a great skill along with confidence builder.
Thanks to anyone reading this and patience with my lazy updates.