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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day ...

It's Mother's Day and I'm teasing my youngest as he excitedly holds out an envelope for me to open. 

"What's it say Mom?!"  he asks and I pretend like I can't read it ...

"To Mom, love Jayden?" I ask ...

"No try again!", he says.  "To Mom, love Maea?"  I question.

I run through all the kids' names and finally say ... "I'm not sure what it says."

He snort laughs and says, "It says Wesley!" as pleased as can be. 

I read his note out loud and come to the last line. 

I pause for effect, his eyes on my face, and I make a frowny face and say "How come you called me "Smort", that's not very nice."  And he giggles ...

Then he hands me one more envelope and I unveil the necklace he made at school (Thank you Mrs. Sanderson!) and proudly clasp it around my neck.
We finish lunch and off the kids go, tummies full, without a care in the world, to play with friends and do the carefree things kids do on a sunny day ...
I take care of a few emails, catching up on questions from sponsor families, looking through photos to find a picture of a specific child for a new sponsor family ...
And my eyes pause on a photo and I think of these moms in Ethiopia ...
The difficult choices they have had to make.
The fear, gnawing at their hearts like the hunger gnawing in their bellies.
Some who have had to make the most difficult of choices ... to give up a child, choosing life for them by giving them up.
And others who have watched a child waste away from an illness that could have been cured by a basic antibiotic ...
or from malnutrition that has wasted their bodies ...
Sometimes when we meet the moms of the kids who attend Kind Hearts or Trees of Glory CarePoints, they weep openly as they recount their past fears.  Babies withering away, single moms alone in the world, no hope for their future and the future of their precious kids.
They want what all moms want ... healthy kids full of hope.  Opportunities for a better life.  A good education.  A care-free childhood without fear, without hunger, without hopelessness ...
And because so many moms and dads here have chosen to come alongside moms and dads there ... the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints in Ethiopia,
all four hundred of them ...
... can finish lunch and off the kids go, tummies full, without a care in the world, to play with friends and do the carefree things kids do on a sunny day ...
and these moms smile with confidence because they have hope for their children's future.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goosebumps rippled on my arms ...

Holding my hands, she struggled to find words.  To find words in English.

I asked again if I should get a translator.  And she shook her head firmly, "No."

She swallowed hard and we settled into the shade of the building, with the well visible just beyond the fenceline. 

Sun glaring, heat radiating from the dry ground, and the musical sound of water splashing, women talking and toddlers laughing.

As we watched, Simret's eyes continued to well up with tears.  I pulled her closer and said, "It's ok, tell me when the words come to you."

She started again ...

It was a familiar story, one I had heard bits and pieces of before, but there was more ...

Simret had left a good government job to come out into this arid, desert-like place alone.  To care for children, for orphaned and destitute children.  No running water at the time.  And no electricity. 

The government had an abandoned property, with broken and dilapidated buildings that could be refurbished over time.  A well was once drilled on the property but it had been abandoned, filled in and vandalized.

In broken English, starting and stopping and searching for the right words she explained ...

"I awoke one night to hear the voice of God. 

Telling me to care for His children. 

Children in this remote area that needed care, needed help.  Beautiful, precious children made in His image, who He loves. 

And the local villagers too. 

Widows and families living in such poverty with no hope. 

Poverty in spirit too, without knowledge or understanding of God."

Her voice hitched in her throat again and tears ran down her face as she gestured to the well. 

Water gushed and flowed from the taps.

"He told me," she said.  "He told me ... they will come to you for water."

And they have.  Trees of Glory has become an oasis, a sanctuary, in this dry desert place.

In this area that is predominantly muslim or animist (those who assign spirits and divinity to natural or inanimate objects like animals or trees or rocks or rivers), the CarePoint's Christian foundation was not always greeted with acceptance or warmth.

Initially there was some hostility, and some families removed their children when they found out Simret's Christian beliefs.  Choosing hunger, dirty water and no education rather than have their children exposed to Christian teachings.

But that was early, when the CarePoint was first being established.

Now with so many benefits for the surrounding villages ... clean water, access to medical care, counseling for young mothers, incredibly valuable education for children along with milk, chickens, eggs and produce becoming available in the local markets to supplement their own nutrition ... and Simret's respectful, gentle nature ... the surrounding communities have embraced the CarePoint and have befriended Simret as one of their own.

The women at the well turn and wave to Simret, cross their arms over their shoulders and give a little bow, a bob in her direction.  To me it looks like they are sending her a hug.  She puts her hands together as if to pray and gestures toward heaven.  They grin and nod and raise their own hands to heaven.

Simret gestures toward the little mud and stick structure being built at the center of the CarePoint.  A small building with a traditional thatch roof and a mud bench around the perimeter inside.  She is building a church because families have asked to be able to come and worship together here.

And then she goes on to finish what she is trying to tell me.  Something very personal and profound ...

She continued, "It has been fulfilled.  God told me ... "They will come to you for water...but I will give them LIVING WATER"."

Goosebumps rippled on my arms,

my throat closed up

and tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over.

It HAS been fulfilled.

As these families come to the CarePoint for water, Simret is sharing and living and demonstrating the Gospel to them and it is LIVING WATER ...water that doesn't just quench thirst once, but living water that fills and fulfills and flows like a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 4:5-14
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)  10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”