Friday, April 9, 2010

A Letter from Ethiopia ...

A very dear friend and adoptive mom, Apryl, shared a story on her blog yesterday that I want to share here. Her family sponsors a sweet little boy at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia named Jirgna. In every picture they have gotten of him so far, he looks so sad and forlorn. But something has changed for Jirgna recently. He has gotten to know a family on the other side of the world that loves him, and prays for him, and writes letters to him - and makes sure that he is well-fed and getting an education. Yesterday - Apryl and her family got their first letter from Jirgna and it made a huge impact on all of them!!

I love reading Apryl's updates because she has such wit and humor - and she always has a great story to tell. The shoe company, TOMS, conducts an annual campaign "One Day Without Shoes" to bring awareness to the fact that so many impoverished children around the world do not have the luxury of wearing shoes. Always looking for tangible lessons for her kids, Apryl took them for a walk on a cold, rainy day, without shoes.

Here is her story ...

We make the obvious decision, of course. We should take a walk! We put on jackets and cuff our pants. Josiah's exceptionally happy about "walking outside on our toes." We got from the door to the driveway and he had to be picked up.

It was cold. It was wet. It wasn't delightful like the pictures of Venice on the sponsor website. Ella stubbed her toe before we left our yard. So far, the lesson we are learning is that walking around barefoot on a nasty day is unpleasant.

Then, we see the long stretch of sidewalk ahead and nary a soul wants to actually walk to the corner. But we challenge ourselves and remind each other that we really don't have to walk without shoes. We drive most places and only go barefoot when it's fun. We press on and make the block. I glimpse a woman peering from her picture window at our unsightly parade. Wet, cold, barefoot children are an oddity in any middle class neighborhood.

Meanwhile, at home something very special was waiting for us. It gave purpose to the walk down the street. It was directly from God via a little boy in Ethiopia. An hour earlier or later and the impact would have been lost. The Lord's timing is impeccable. We all stumble into the house with numb feet from the cold. After rubbing them dry, I pull out an envelope from the mail.

Our sponsor child sent us a drawing. "Thank you family" colored in yellow. Big excitement broke out and we had to look at his picture again. What does he like to do? How old is he again? Does he always look so sad? Does he always have a runny nose? Does he play soccer? Then, inevitably...

"Does he have shoes?"

Silence.

He will soon, thanks to the hard work of many wonderful people. This brought it home for all of us. We walked barefoot in the rain because we wanted to. As an experiment.

Many children like Jirgna go without much more than shoes as a way of life. This little envelope lead us to a discussion about what we are doing to help Jirgna and his friends. It's such a small thing, I wouldn't dare call it a sacrifice. But to them, it is making a huge difference.

Sally and Elijah immediately began coloring pictures to send to Jirgna. I think around here, the small thing we did today made a difference for them.



Feel free to stop by Apryl's blog by clicking here. And if you are interested in sponsoring a child in Ethiopia, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.

Never, ever underestimate the difference you can make for a child ... and never underestimate the impact that child can have on you!


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