Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Instrument that Brought this Father Home ...

This year, I walked behind the team as we branched in different directions to the tiny clusters of huts on the various hillsides surrounding Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia.  The kids excitedly and possessively were holding hands with their sponsor family as they lead us to their homes - to meet their families and see where and how they lived.


 
I was taking in the views, the rolling hills with round huts dotting the land, livestock grazing, curious herders raising their heads to watch us walk by being towed by happy kids - an unusual sight in this area.  Our team split in different directions to visit four different homes and I followed my daughters to a familiar cluster of huts, one we had visited last year.





Click to this post from last year http://family-from-afar.blogspot.com/2011/12/she-was-on-her-own-with-5-kids-to-raise.html  when we stepped into the home of a family on the brink, to discover a mother and 5 children abandoned by their father (husband) and barely scraping by; hopelessness weighed heavy in the air that day. 

Last year, hopelessness hung heavily in the air.

Three of the kids were attending the care-point for school and nutritious food, but the baby on her hip was still nursing and her 3 year old little boy was forlornly clutching her skirt; hollow-eyed, thin, lethargic with a racking cough from sleeping in a smoky hut. 

We asked to enroll him at the care-point too and the next day, he was there.  Frightened and shy, but wolfing down the good food and keeping his little eyes on us all the time.  Later he became inseparable from Maea as she carried him around the care-point in her arms.

This year, when we arrived at Trees of Glory, his were the first beautiful big eyes I spotted in the crowd of kids and he broke into a big smile of recognition.  Since Abby Wasson sponsors his big brother, Gosaye, we set off for another home visit so Abby could meet the family, and I could check on their progress since last year.

As we crowded through the small opening in the rock wall surrounding the huts, Abby turned to me and said, "This man says he's the children's father!".  I responded saying, "No, that can't be right, he abandoned his family last year."  But the smiling man in front of me that greeted me warmly, looking into my eyes and pressing my hands with intensity was indeed their father!!!  He had the same beautiful eyes as his children.


I admit that last year, I felt resentment and disappointment toward this man who I understood had left his family in great need.  Their home was in disrepair, his children and wife were gaunt, obviously hungry, and looked to be living in very dire circumstances.  She never smiled last year and tears welled in her eyes when I prayed for her and her family.  What a difference this year!!!!

As my eyes scanned for the kids' mother, they came to rest on a woman with a beaming face, a head held high and round cheeks.  Could this be her?!?  She shyly reached for me and gave me the familiar kiss on both cheeks.  My mind struggled to catch up with what I was seeing - a family re-unified with healthy children, pride and hope in their future.

As it turns out, Sisay, their father, now works at Trees of Glory as a guard and is responsible for the livestock and their milk production.  He is a gentle soul who loves his family and I could see it in how he looked at his wife and touched her, and his gentleness with his kids.  He was a steady presence at the care-point each day, and many times I would catch his eyes and he would clasp his hands toward me and raise them to heaven, giving thanks and giving me encouragement.  He was truly enjoying watching our team interact with and teach the kids.

Whatever his reasons for leaving ... whether he had gone to his own family near the Kenyan border to desperately look for work or provision, or whether he could not face watching his wife and kids suffering and had simply walked away ... whatever the reasons, he was back and able to provide.  A family re-unified!!!!

The kids were healthy and clean, with shining eyes and shining smiles. 



The roof over the sleeping hut had been repaired to keep rain out, and the single room was tidy and clean with fresh grass strewn on the hard-packed dirt floors giving it a fresh, clean scent.  A raised platform bed had been crafted for the couple, and we admired his craftsmanship with the whittled sticks and leather bindings he had used.  A mattress stitched together from a tarp and stuffed with grass and leaves lay under a leather hide to provide cushion and comfort while they slept.  The kids' orange, draw-string back-packs (from Terri Keeler) hung in a neat row on the wall.

I realized that we oftentimes hear stories of families torn apart when a father or mother is forced to leave home to find work - a desperate move to be able to provide for their family.

Sometimes it means travelling a great distance and not returning for months (or never returning when the mother tragically disappears in another country and is never heard from again).  In this case, Trees of Glory care-point is not only providing basic needs for children and coming alongside families to alleviate poverty, the care-point is the instrument that brought this father home, reunified a family and provided a job and pride in being able to support his family!!


Abby Wasson with her sponsor child, Gosaye.

The four kids with striped sweaters (Trees of Glory uniforms) attend the care-point for nutritious food, clean water, medical care, clothing, education and Christian discipleship. 
The youngest, Daru, is sponsored by my family, Gosaye is sponsored by the Wasson family,
Mekdes (the sister) is sponsored by the Culwell family, and the oldest boy Haile,
is sponsored by the Muecke family.

 
Just before we left for Ethiopia to work with the kids at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts care-points, we enrolled another 96 kids between both locations!!!  Many of those kids have already been matched with a sponsor family, but about 40 kids are still waiting. 
 
If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com and let me know if you have a specific age or gender of child you would like to be matched with.  $34 per month provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship and changes the life of that child and their family!!!

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