Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beauty.....and Ashes (Part I)

It's Sunday morning which means we're going to worship!

What an experience it was for our team to all worship together at the Beza International Church. The service was in English and the worship was extraordinary. Not your typical Baptist singing. : ) We stood and sang praises for what must have been an hour although it didn't feel as if it were that long. The sermon was amazing and thought provoking.

At the end of the church service, a young local girl was trying to communicate with one of our team members (Ashley). As it turned out, she needed shoes so before we left Rachel gave her the shoes off of her feet. It was a beautiful symbol of sacrifice and love. Before the week was over, almost all of us gave away our own shoes. Just a little sharing of God's love and abundant grace and provision.

We returned to the Guest House for lunch and then headed over to the Post Office District to do some shopping at the marketplace and to play soccer with the least of the least of these; the street children. Our minds don't want to believe that children are motherless, fatherless, homeless and desperate. But I'm here to tell you that they are. In this area of Addis Ababa, many street children wander, beg and sell their wares simply to survive. They are hungry, dirty and broken.

We shopped the markets in this area (open-air "cubbies" on the side of the street) all the while being followed by children selling gum, Ethiopian toothbrushes and/or a shoe shine; by a mother carrying her nursing baby, following us and telling us, "sister, baby hungry"; by the handicapped man selling maps who doesn't take "no" for an answer but, practically mashes his face against the window of the van as we load up to leave. Sadder than sad. But it gets worse.....we have been instructed NOT to give to these people because it was not safe. Reaching into your pocket for one pack of crackers would cause a mob of people. So we shop and we try to shrug off the desperation of the people here, unsuccessfully.

Once the group is finished shopping, we go just across the way where there is a parking lot with children hanging out and playing soccer. Our guys want to play a game with them and we are eager for a break from the marketplace beggars. However, when we arrive at the parking lot, we are given strict instructions to keep our hands on our belongings at ALL times. We get out, most of us with cameras but leaving our backpacks in the locked and guarded (by our drivers/guides) vans. No one seems to speak English and, within literally minutes, there have been two attempted thefts (of cameras right out of a team members hand or pocket). A nearby "farenj" (foreigner in Amharic....a young white girl from the states) approaches us and explains that many of these children are high from sniffing glue or taking khat (khat according to wikipedia contains the alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. It is legal in Ethiopia). They do it to survive and, sadly, to ease their hunger pangs. Communication is a problem and our visit here is brief. We leave with broken hearts; breaking, breaking...for what breaks His.

This boy, Abraham, broke our hearts perhaps the most. His clothes were dirty and ragged; he had no shoes and he was obviously high. We weren't able to help him on this day and, when we returned later in the week, didn't see him. It hurts to know that there are Abrahams on the streets of Addis Ababa but comforting to know that Abraham has a Savior.

Beauty.....and Ashes Part II coming soon.......(this day was just more than one post can contain).

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