Archive for October 2011
Makes you stronger! The recent events of my life have surely reinforced this old adage. How true it is and I am truly thankful for that truth. After being mugged right out front of my house in Addis Ababa, I am thankful for the experience and strength it builds in me.
I have never been attacked before, never been mugged, and previously don’t even remember losing a fight in my old silly fighting days. It was quite the new experience for me and has become a great learning experience along with building my “street cred”. I don’t want to over tout my tiny experience, but I do want it to be a learning lesson. I think the major piece of strength added from my experience is the strength of empathy. After my experience of being strangled, carried into a ditch, and passing out, I quickly thought of the suffering of others. I experienced a quick bout of anger, followed by empathy for my attackers and more importantly empathy for the life of street children and many others who endure so much suffering!
Honestly, I think my boys, and people suffering all over the world would give up a lot to switch places with me. I can guarantee that most of those people would gladly accept and endure my 5-10 minute ordeal if it meant leaving their circumstances and living my highly privileged life. I mean big whoop right? A little blacking out, a little lost possessions and money? While people all over are being attacked, stabbed, raped, persecuted, and much worse.. I also thought of what Jesus went through, tortured, mocked, hanging on the cross for all of us. I’ll never understand His duress or that of street children but I pray this minute experience brings me closer to a place of genuine empathy.
In other news..
I need to raise $20,000 while back in America. I have been back for a week and have struggled to get the ball rolling on fundraising initiatives. It is crazy to doing part time work at my old job through Aetna, but it’s a major blessing to have that opportunity. Along with that work and fundraising I am praying for direction regarding the future of Change for Change and my own life. 2013 is not completely clear so I am waiting on the Lord to give us guidance.
This time home is a great chance to see friends, family, and NCC. I also have had a chance to reflect on the miracles that are our boys. They continue to mature so fast. The 3 boys in private school are doing really well, while most of the other boys look forward to vocational school. Little Yohannes and Freakash need some serious prayer as we suspect them of a string of thefts in the house amongst other things. Little Yohannes is an overwhelming challenge. As the youngest boy in the house he has shown the least progress. With lying, addictions, theft and other issues, we are seeking all avenues to get him the help he needs.
The culture shock of being home is mind numbing at times, but I thank God for the opportunity and sense His hand in everything.
This weekend was another peak on the roller coaster ride of serving our wonderful former street boys. Saturday was about as high as we have gotten on our ride, because our boys decided to throw us a surprise “Thank You” party. They expressed gratitude like we have never heard or seen it before.
Its so common for all teenagers to take things for granted or not really know how to express themselves. Our boys are no different. But Saturday they overfilled our hearts with gratitude. It included a drama, a poem, dancing, a short heartfelt thank you from each boy, presents for each leader, lots of tears, a special dinner and cake. It’s a night to be cherished forever as one of the most amazing gift memories God has given me.
Ermias(Talek) and Metasabia did the MC’ing, while Girum, Sintiyu, and Lilly gave the most heart felt thanks. Girum especially stood out. He returned to our house two weeks ago after leaving in anger a month before. He spoke about how “these boys don’t realize the genuine love in this house, that they can’t realize it’s the most loving place on earth because they have not been outside like he was”. He isn’t one to speak much, doesn’t like the spotlight, so this was especially meaningful and from the heart(sniffle, sniffle).
Our boys thank you’s meant so much. They also helped remind me how inexplicably thankful I am! Too sit there and look at 16 boys who used to live in the streets and sewers, and see how much they have grown is one of the greatest and most inspirational gifts I have received from God. I watched, while choking back tears, like a proud father watching young men who have not just grown so much physically but also in character! To think of where they are after just one year off the streets is amazing and tells a real story about how God can use us all to transform lives.
This gratitude party was great timing. Lately I have been somewhat consumed in thinking about the future. Where will the boys go, where will the team go, where will I go? Contemplating so many different paths, while all are exciting most are frightening. I needed a reminder that my focus is on the here and now and also about God’s faithfulness in blessing us beyond our wildest dreams. I was also so excited to see the boys learn joy from giving to others, showing gratitude. Learning about the joy that serving others can give is the best life lesson these boys can learn. Their giddy excitement while blessing us was rewarding for me in so many ways. At times I worry that they will be too spoiled or take for granted what has been done for them, but Saturday gave me hope that they “get it” and if they do I know their lives will truly be full of real joy.
What an amazing weekend!
Please pray for our three boys in private school. The school is of a much higher quality than other schools which means they are having a hard time. Most of the teaching is in English. It is Ermias Haile, Metasabie, and Ermias Dejene. They are working hard, but often tempted to give up or fall into self defeating despair.
Also, I just finished a week long training on how to facilitate trainings for foster care. It was great training. We are hoping foster care catches on at Beza and Ethiopia. I learned some alarming statistics about South Africa though, that make me angry. 7 out of 8 women before 18 are molested, while 3 out of 5 boys are! I found myself boiling with rage at this injustice. I find myself looking at the male gender and just wondering how it’s possible that we have gone so wrong. It is embarrassing to be a man, but also convicting. I pray diligently that God gives me a chance one day to reach men worldwide and help them realize that we don’t have to chose the patterns of outrageous sin and debauchery.