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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Their father invited us into the cool, dark and smoky interior of their hut ...

He opened the door and waved us inside out of the hot sun, and into the cool dark and smoky interior of his home - which was crafted of mud and sticks with a grass-thatch roof.  We stepped inside and I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness so I could make out the interior.  It was suprisingly dark inside - and my eyes never did adjust to the blackness but we could barely make out a bench against one wall - crafted of sticks and mud along with a kind of room-divider (also crafted of sticks and mud) that separated the cooking area from the sleeping area.

I marvelled at how everything in the hut, even a small shelving-type unit was created using sticks as the basic structure and then packed and shaped with mud.  The floor too was hard-packed dirt that barely kicked up dust as we stepped inside.  Behind the wooden door that sat cocked precariously on its "hinges" I could see a raised platform, again made with sticks and covered with a few animal hides.  "Is this where you sleep?" I asked through our translator?  With a nod, he showed me that he and his wife sleep on the platform, while his 3 children sleep on the floor, using a few animal hides for warmth.

As we spoke, he gestured to his leg, which was stiff and oddly bent, and explained how he had served as a soldier in the former government's army and had gotten several bullet wounds in his leg that had shattered the bone.  It was now deformed and could not bear weight - and he struggled to get around with a crutch made from a length of a branch with a "Y" shaped end.

He explained to us how much of a blessing Trees of Glory CarePoint is for his children and his family .. "my children have good food to eat every day and they are no longer hungry, and they can go to school".  His eyes swept our faces again and I saw his brow furrow for a moment of realization and then his face broke into a smile and he spoke quickly to our translator.  "I know them - I know their faces from the pictures!"  He had just realized that two of the people standing in his home that day (Apryl and her mom, Becky) were the same faces he had seen in photos that his children had brought home from their sponsor families.  He clasped his hands together and made a bowing gesture, expressing his gratitude and asking if he could pray over us.  We accepted, of course, and then we returned the honor and prayed for him and his family. 

We also explained how thankful we were to be a part of his family - to get to know and appreciate his wonderful kids - and that we know how hard it is to provide for his family with his injury and that he was being a good father by loving his children and allowing his daughters to get an education.  "We know your kids and we love them and pray for them every day."

We spoke for about 30 minutes with the family, while aunts, cousins and distant relatives clustered in the doorway.  As a parting gift for their hospitality, we gave the family coffee beans and sugar - and we hugged and waved our good-byes. 

There were about 6-8 huts in close proximity within an area surrounded by a low rock wall - rocks that had been picked by hand from the ground to make it easier to plow.  The families living within the 6-8 huts, were all related and relied on each other to gather water from the nearby river (about a 40 minute walk), cook and share meals, and to plow and harvest the small fields surrounding their huts. 

Some of the women also collected dung from local grazing livestock herds, shaped them into patties and dried them in the sun to sell and to use for their cooking fire.  There is very little wood in the area - and the eucalyptus trees that are there, are planted and used more for shade than for their wood.  So dung is a readily accessible, readily available and renewable resource for fire fuel - although it doesn't burn very cleanly and makes a smoldery smoky fire.

In this photo, you can see piles of dung patties that are ready to be sold for use in
cooking fires and for the fires that keep the interior of the hut warm during chilly evenings.

We first met Meskrem and Dirbe last year when we visited Trees of Glory, and the 2 little girls were easily noticed because they were inseparable and had on matching green dresses.  We learned that their older brother also attended the CarePoint - and so Apryl, her mom Becky, and her sister Danica, decided to sponsor all 3 siblings. 

Each year when we travel to visit and work with the CarePoints, I request for the staff to pick 2 homes for me to visit, so I can meet the families and also gain a better understanding of where and how the kids live.  When I found out we would be visiting this particular home, I invited Becky and Apryl to join me so they could meet the family and see the home of the children they sponsor.  No running water - just enough for drinking and cooking but never enough for bathing or washing clothes ... no electricity, maybe a single change of clothing for each child ... but a home filled with love and a knowledge that they are blessed because God has provided for them through Trees of Glory and their sponsor families!

This is a view of Trees of Glory CarePoint taken from the home of the children we visited.

Dirbe (shown above) having lunch at Trees of Glory CarePoint.

Trees of Glory CarePoint just enrolled new children that are in need of a sponsor family.  Sponsorship is $34 per month and provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipeship for one child.  Currently, we are caring for nearly 140 orphaned or destitute children at Trees of Glory.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at

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