I would soon see that there was a lot more to learn about life outside my bubble than I could've imagined. I will try to share some of it, but as always, words carry only a portion of the weight of our experiences.
As you all know, we were in Ethiopia for the purpose of the adoption of our son, Jude. However, we prayed that God would use our time there to bring Him glory and to use our hands and feet for Him. We were not able to do much hands-on mission work, but we did walk among the impoverished people of the trash-dump, sat with the lepers as they did their work, held children who'd seemingly never had a bath and had lice in their hair, and played with HIV-Positive children.
We did not get very many pictures of these times, out of respect for the people. However, I will share with you some of the images that won't leave my head anytime soon.
These are women who are carrying 60kg of wood for fuel to sell at the base of Entoto mountain. They will earn about 30 birr for one trip up and down the mountain. That's less than $2. Unbelievable.
These are some boys we met on our trip up the mountain. They were so sweet. They told us of their one-hour walk into school everyday and the 2-hour walk home, up the mountain. They asked if we had brought dictionaries for them. They were sweet until we got in the van and handed candy out the window. At that point, they started pushing and trying to get at the candy, reaching as far into the van as they could, even as we drove away. There was a little girl there who had on a Dora shirt that had never been washed. Evan continued to be concerned about whether or not she got any of the candy.
This is a man at the leper colony. He is weaving a rug. He has no fingers on either hand. We were pretty sure they put him outside by the entrance because he was so full of joy. I didn't get a picture of his smile, but trust me, he was a happy man. If I recall, we read later that this man had come to the leper colony 20+ years ago with his 4 children. All the people in this place suffer from leprosy or other debilitating, contagious conditions. They are all serving a purpose, working on projects that are sold there on site. The picture below shows me giving the weaving loom a try. I was terrible. The workers here are so fast and diligent. I made a fool of myself. What's new?!
These last 3 pictures were taken at Korah, a "suburb" of Addis Ababa, near a large trash dump, where people live. It was one of the most humbling times ever to walk into this place and see how these people live every day. If you are curious about what life is like there, just google "Korah dump, Ethiopia." One of the great things we saw while we were there was a ministry called "Mission Ethiopia." If you want to know more, click HERE. The little girl Jason is holding was so sweet. Her name is Salem (sp?). I'm surprised she didn't end up in the van with us. She followed every step our group took.
I sincerely wish we could've snapped some pictures while at AHOPE, the orphanage for HIV-positive children. One memory I'll never forget is a 6 month old baby boy in a crib, who weighed no more than 10 lbs. His legs were the size of my fingers. He was as happy as he could be, smiling from ear to ear when I talked to him. He held my hand and kicked his tiny legs. He had been abandoned 3 weeks prior and in their care since. They were doing the best they could to get weight on him. Another image in my head is the young girls there. The girls who were around 10 years old would talk to us and walk next to us. When they smiled, their youthful faces looked old and worn. I can't explain it, but they had wrinkles on their face, like I remember my grandma having. I'm not sure if it's the disease, the medication, or the hardships they've endured, but it was slightly disturbing. They would not have you feeling sorry for them, though. They were happy girls, eager to show us their room and their bed.
We still have some sifting-through to do with all these other-worldly experiences. When you consider that these experiences were in addition to us meeting our son and spending time with him, you can understand why we've been dazed and confused this week. Our middle-class, suburbia America, bubble has burst. Thank you for giving us time to put it into words.