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Monday, December 21, 2009

What do they want for Christmas????

Because the kids at Kind Heart care-point in Ethiopia are always on my mind (especially right now as my own family is preparing to celebrate Christmas and my 4 kids are bursting with anticipation about what they will be getting for Christmas) I am re-posting this blog until after Christmas so they will be at the fore-front of my mind. Two years in a row now, within weeks of the holidays, we have been in Ethiopia, looking into the eyes of children who truly and desperately NEED.

I'm proud of my daughters, for how they have internalized what they experienced in Ethiopia last year - and who encouraged me with their sweet facebook emails while I was in Ethiopia without them this year. It's at the forefront of their minds too - yes, they are talking about the latest texting cell phones and wanting the trendy fashions from Aeropostale and Hollister ... but they also weigh everything against ... "how many kids in Ethiopia this would feed."

The Hopechest team in Ethiopia is still working to compile accurate information on each of the 56 children at Kind Hearts care-point, and we may not get the profiles until after Christmas. Right now we have 31 families that have committed to sponsoring 31 of these children - and we still need sponsors to step forward for 25 more kids. For $34 a month, YOU can ensure a child has food, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship ... but what is most important to them is the ongoing relationship they will have with YOU.

Look closely at the photos above and you see broken shoes and clothing that is tattered, torn, stained and dirty. The street kids in the photo above, wore the same exact clothing every day that I saw them (3 days). I'm sure they don't have a change of clothes waiting for them somewhere. What they have - they wear.

And yet what these children consistently wanted the most was ... pencils and paper. Over and over, we were asked for pencils or notebooks ... the tools they need for school. Why? Because they know that school is a stepping-stone out of poverty.

Yes, there are other critical needs. And when we asked what the most desperate needs were, we got the same answer over and over. 100% of the time the answer was simply ... Food. And as one care-point director explained, "The children cannot learn, they cannot concentrate, when they are starving."

When you choose to sponsor a child ... you are ensuring that their basic needs are met. Food. Clothing. Medical care. And then the education they seek and long for, can truly be attained.

The other unspoken need was this ... FAMILY. Over and over, the kids would slowly warm-up to us, and then little hands would tug on mine, and kisses would shower my arms and wrists. Pretty soon, little bodies would slip into my lap, and they would take my arms and wrap them around them, as tight as possible.

And then they want you to know their name. They would run away for a second and then slip back and ask if you still know their name. They just want someone to ... know their name. Because their name is their identity .. and maybe, just maybe you won't forget about them. You'll think about them by name, and pray for them by name, and look at pictures of them and remember them by name, and love them ... by name.

This is Ababu. A street child who made sure that I knew his name. He entwined his fingers in mine and claimed me. And then when he saw a picture of my family ... with my two little Ethiopian sons, he pointed to them with surprise and I said "Yes, they are mine". And he smiled and hugged the picture to his chest and called me "mother".

And yes, I think he dared to dream about a family. I left him with that picture - and I think about him by name, and pray for him by name. And he has a family in Minnesota now because he adopted us. And I know that next year, when Jay is in Ethiopia, Ababu will recognize him from the picture and he will materialize from a crowd of people in the post office area and call him "father".

Adoption and sponsorship are two different things and yet they are similar. Because if a child knows he is loved and valued ... and known by name, even by a family on the other side of the world. Then he knows there is hope and love and opportunity in his future - but most importantly ... hope.

The 56 kids at "Kind Hearts" care-point are hopeful about their future right now too. Something is noticeably different than it was a week or two ago when they got one meal of rice on Wednesdays. We left them with enough nutritious and flavorful food for the next 30-45 days - enough to bridge the gap until each of them are sponsored, and can rely on food every day.

They also sense hope and excitement in their teachers and care-givers, as they look forward to the fulfillment of the promise we made to them. That we would come alongside them, and help them care for and love these kids through sponsorship. As of tonight, 31 of these kids have a committed sponsor - and as soon as we get the profile packets, I will contact each of those sponsors to match them with their child. We still have 25 precious children to match with a family. Is it YOU?!?!?!

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Amy said...

I am SO thankful that you are sharing your pictures of these sweethearts and GOD'S heart for them. Praying that God will raise up people to care for these precious children of His!

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully written and communicated! Those 25 will have sponsors before you know it!

jamullins said...

So excited to be a sponsor!! Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!