Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thoughts from Lisa

I have spent the last five days surrounded by some of the neediest children in the world.
I have spent the last five days surrounded by some of the most loving children in the world.
I have spent the last five days surrounded by some of the most precious children in His sight, and I will never, ever be the same. I don’t want to ever be the same. My time at Strong Hearts has changed my life forever.
As a teacher, I knew that I would love the children of Ethiopia. I told myself that “children are children”, no matter where they are from. While this is true to some degree, I have found that the children of Ethiopia are so much more. Their trusting eyes look up at me in eager anticipation, and my heart melts. Their toes peek through the ends of battered, dirty shoes, and my heart breaks. What do I have to offer these priceless little lives? The songs I sing with them do not even come close to meeting their most basic needs of food, shelter, water and clean, well-fitting clothing. Why do they seem to adore me so, when all I can give them is a few hours distraction from their bleak lives?
And yet…they greet me with an enthusiastic, “Good morning, Teacher” (spoken proudly in broken English, which is MUCH better than my feeble attempts at Amharic), and say goodbye with an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek. And even though the kisses are a mix of unwashed faces and runny noses, I don’t mind because I know their love is unconditional. And their love challenges mine. They have nothing, yet they offer everything. I have everything…yet what do I offer?
I have been told that I sometimes “wear my heart on my sleeve”. This week I met a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, his pant leg, his shoe, his hands and his face. His passion is inspiring. His vision is contagious. His work is life-changing. And despite all this, he is one of the most humble men I have ever met. And though he may never read this, I want to say a big “Amesegenalehu” to Dundee for letting me be a part of the Strong Hearts family. It has definitely changed me forever.
Last night I came across a Scripture that at any other time in my life I may have simply skimmed over:
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82:3-4
I feel like my short time here in Ethiopia has only been a drop of water in an ocean of desperate need. But even a small drop causes a ripple that grows and changes. My prayer is that the time I have spent here will not end with my departure from the Bole airport, but that what I have seen, heard and experienced will grow me, mould me and make me more like Christ.

Lisa (“Consecrated to God”)

“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” –St. Teresa of Avila

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