Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Weekend. 23.04.2011

 I was very moved at the Easter production at After School Care this morning. I couldn’t be at the showing of the Jesus movie on Friday, but was told how moved the mothers and children were, so moved that many were crying. Our friend delivered a beautiful Easter message on God’s love. This morning our older kids sung of Jesus’ death and resurrection, a drama performed with the focus of Jesus giving to us so we should give to others. I love this time of year the most in Ethiopia, it is not elaborate with festivals like other times of the year, but the special thing for me, is seeing so many hearts turned to God and the true essence of what being a Christian is, through Jesus’ sacrifice we can have relationship with Him.  God’s love in its purist, not tainted with Easter bunnies or commercial overload of chocolates. Don’t get me wrong, we do the chocolate, Easter egg decorating and Easter egg hunt with our kids, it’s part of our culture and it’s fun, our kids have a ball. But life is so raw here, I like that it is hard to not get carried away and forget what Easter is all about.
Ethiopian ‘Fasika’ falls after the break of a 55 day fast. For the 3 days previous many strong orthodox will fast completely from all food and water, preparing their hearts with prayer and meditation on God, and all he has done through Jesus. I can’t help but deeply admire their dedication. For some, it is what has just been taught to them, for many it is a deep conviction to be sold out for God to the fullest.
After this morning’s Easter production, I headed to another showing of the Jesus movie, to our Mums, at Kidist’s house. Again, I sat and just found it to be such a beautiful time, watching these mums be mums and enjoy each other and be touched and moved by Easter. As I sat there I was reminded it was the triplets 2nd birthday. We left the mothers program a bit early and moved onto the next coffee infusion. Many of you may know the triplets, they came to us almost 1.5years, so malnourished, we were so concerned for their lives, they spent many months in the clinic and living at Grace. Today, their mother Aster, looked at me with such pride in her eyes and said “Last year I had nothing and you gave my children a first birthday, this year, because of Grace, I can give my children their second birthday, and you get to come!” It was a beautiful time had.

The next part of my day shocked me and sent me into a spin. I was walking home, when I got a call that one of our mothers was at the police station. She had had a baby, and put the baby in the toilet...
What do you say to that? Tears can only express... to cry for the baby that did not have a chance at life. To wonder why our mother did not feel that she could not come to Grace with this. I feel so deeply sad beyond sad. On this weekend where God offers such hope, she could not find it and felt alone in her time of need. I do know that we can only extend our hand, we cannot force a person to take it.
No matter what, God is still God and his plan is perfect. For this mother, Gods plan is perfect and He can still make her life beautiful, even if she has already missed it many times, he never gives up hope, no matter what we have done. So the perfect verse in all things, for this weekend, is “...For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8
For confidential reasons related to this mother’s situation, I cannot tell you her name, but please pray for her and her children, and wisdom for us in this as we extend grace and love to this mother, while she receives the consequences of her actions.

On that note, I encourage us all to remember Jesus in our Easter. And extend the same grace that He shows to us, to all we meet. It is not ever as easy to apply as the words on paper are to write, but if it was easy, then we wouldn’t need Him.

Melkam Fasika everyone. Happy Easter

Love Dee

Friday, April 15, 2011

Freedom of Choice

In the first blog I wrote briefly about the children who do not get to dream, they do not get to choose. When someone a little while ago said to us, Grace is about choice, because at Grace a mother gets to choose if she wants to keep her child. At first I didn’t like that analogy, because it almost sounded like a women’s free choice abortion campaign. But once I spent some time pondering this, I realised the freedom that choice really does bring. We really do take, a ‘simple’ thing like choice, for granted. When a lady comes to us with no home, thinking that she has no way to keep her baby, that there is no choice but to give that child up, but then is given another option where she is able to keep her child, that he/she can attend day care while she works, and not only that, get good nutrition, education, health care, that this ‘choice’ could really change their life. And not only that, the mother can choose to go to school too, that she can have training in skills and be taught how to be a good mother (many of these mothers were orphaned as children and have had no positive role models to learn from), then a whole new possible chance of a life is opened up to them. With this chance, they have choice, and choice brings freedom and power. And also importantly, it enables the mother to no longer be a victim of her own circumstances, she has the choice to step up and be all God has called her to be, she can find hope that when He promised in His word that He gives us a future and a hope, that that includes them, not just the lucky some of us. That we are all His children and loved equally by him. When God made Adam and Eve, he wanted them to freely serve Him, he gave them choice. That freedom of choice brought great consequence in the bad choices made, but God did not want a people that were not free to choose him, for there is no true gain in that.

Choice + hope = strength and freedom and empowerment

The lady in this photo, we will call her ‘Emmabet’, was brought to us by one of our social workers. She was found at 8months pregnant, wondering from store to store with 1 birr (less than 10c) looking to buy poison to end her life. She had been sleeping on the dirt ground outside some ones house, no shelter, no food, no work, nothing but the clothes on her back, no hope of a future for her child. When I first met ‘Emmabet’, her eyes held no joy, no hope. It was so sad. She was broken and had given up. Even when we welcomed her into Grace and offered her that hope, she took it but did not believe it until almost two weeks after her arrival (this is when the photo was taken). She has had much to come to terms with since arriving at Grace, including the fact of finding out she was HIV+, but she is loved, she is accepted and she belongs, for the first time in her life. She is a very proud mother of a 3month baby girl. Her eyes are full of hope, her heart full of joy, she has the freedom to choose to live, live in that hope that is offered to her, and be all God has intended her to be, for her and her daughter.

Talk to you soon,
Dee x

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Welcome to my world

I am not one who often has many words to say, but living in Ethiopia now for almost 5 years, I have been so privileged to have experienced many things, including being touched by many people’s lives, the culture, the heart of the country, that others don’t have the privilege to experience.
People ask me what living in Ethiopia is like. Often it is hard to sum it all up, actually it is impossible. I think about the mothers in Grace that allow me into their lives, the life stories they have and the things they have experienced. They are more courageous than I could ever possibly dream of being. Yet when someone hears what we do here often we are met with admiration for the work that we do.  I am always humbled by that. In many ways, yes it is hard and it takes courage, but to watch these amazing ladies around me, these mothers who have experienced much pain in their lives, to have sacrificed so much, lost so much and now  to step up to give their child a chance that they never had... I am the one that stands in admiration.
Recently, life seemed to get really hard for me. It has been a tough year and a half, much heartache. I found myself feeling like it was too hard, that I no longer had it in me to keep on helping the less fortunate. I was looking at my own pain and heartache. I, without realising, became the victim. I know that we were sent here to help those less fortunate, those that could not help themselves, we came with hope to offer these families, but once I took my eyes off that, I became useless to everyone around me. So, a couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of a ‘wake up call’ when I had the chance to get away for a couple of weeks to rest, refresh and really pray about where I was in life. I was reminded of the true victims in this world, the young girls who get sold into the sex industry, brutally raped until they have lost all sense of what is right, and all hope of escaping. I was reminded of the child slaves, I have met many here, the young girls who do not get a chance of going to school, but instead have to work. They do not get the same opportunity as my own children do, they will never say ‘when I grow up I want to be....’, they do not get to dream. They do not get to choose. I could clearly see our mother’s faces who are now getting help in Grace, as clear as if they were standing in front of me, even though I was many miles away. Their stories came back to me, I wept for them and all that they have lost and experienced, but also wept tears of joy, because now when you look into their once empty eyes, you see hope!
So, in my wake up call, I wanted to start a blog, so that anyone else who wants to feel more connected to what we are doing here, can journey with me. I am not the most eloquent of writers, and have had little experience, but I will do my best to write from the heart, so you have the privilege of sharing this amazing life we get to be a part of. And in reading, I ask that you pray for us please. Pray for Andrew and I and our amazing children, pray for Marcie (co director) and Sefinew  and their children, for Tim and Cheryl (amazing volunteers and dear friends) and all the people who faithfully serve at Grace. Pray for the mothers and children (they are the future generation!), the fathers, extended relatives, for the teenagers and young adults studying. Please pray for our 120 faithful local employees who do their jobs so well. They are such a blessing to Grace.
I feel like I have much I want to share in future blogs, about our family’s experiences, our future hopes and dreams for what can be achieved, our employees, the Grace families and all God continues to do here. So thank you for being a part of it.
One thought I want to leave you before I go (hopefully it won’t scare you off for good), but how many of us play victim in our own lives? I think we forget sometimes the blessing our lives are, and how very blessed we are.

Talk to you soon!

Dee xx