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Friday, April 22, 2011

Maybe one day ... he'll be able to love me back!

About a month ago, Joey Austin lead a team from St. Joseph, MO to Ethiopia to spend time with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory.  Last year, Joey lead a team to Ethiopia and visited Kind Hearts for the first time and her heart was captured by the kids and the very dedicated staff. 

Joey serves on the school board at St Joseph Christian School, and her school made a committment to Kind Hearts to raise funds for a fresh-water well.  One year later, as that dream is about to become a reality, Joey had another very important reason to visit Kind Hearts - her sponsor child, Hyder!!

Here is the note I received from Joey after she met Hyder for the first time  ...

The first time I read my sponsor child’s name, I loved it. Hyder. Very cool...very different! Little did I know that when I actually got to meet him, I would love him even more!

This is Hyder's profile photo and the first photo Joey saw of her sponsor child.

Before leaving for Ethiopia, our family carefully shopped for Hyder. First on the list--a Missouri Tigers t-shirt...a must, of course! Next--a colorful hat (all Ethiopian kids LOVE anything bright and cheerful). Then pants--I’ve seen way too many holes, and pants that are too short and worn for too many years on children in Ethiopia. The kids added granola bars, crackers, a ball and bubbles and our gift bag was complete.

I was so excited to meet Hyder and knew our time together would be extra special! However--I forgot to look at it from Hyder’s point of view. Hyder didn’t really understand who I was and why I was there. In fact-he was terrified and wouldn’t come in the room to receive his present. Fikre slowly got him to enter the room and his big brown eyes surveyed what was going on and he tentatively drew closer to us.

He checked out his bag and put his shirt on (the shirt he was wearing had more holes than cloth), and also chose to put his hat on.

After encouraging him to pose for a few pics, Hyder left the room with his goodie bag clutched tightly to his chest...and cast a sideways glance as he left the room. Not a smile. Not even a small one.

Here’s the bottom line--it wasn’t a fairy tale “sponsor meets sponsor child” moment.

Sometimes I think we forget just what these children see on a daily basis and where their level of trust is. Hyder could have had a very difficult beginning...frankly I don’t know that much about Hyder. He may have had people come and go in his little short life and those moments may have made him not trust. He could have seen people come and adopt his friends and that makes him not able to process faces that come with shiny presents and colorful hats.

This is what I know: I love Hyder...and I don’t need him to love me back. I need him to be comfortable in his surroundings...I need him to love his school, and WANT to be wear his uniform with pride...and to LEARN in a caring and loving environment. I need him to look forward to eating a meal every day. To love learning about the love of Jesus with his HopeChest disciple leaders. To grow. And maybe one day...when he understands what a sponsor is and what our role in his life is...he’ll be able to love me back.

And I’ll be right here waiting. :)   ~Joey

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