Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bringing Christmas to the Dumps in Ethiopia

Bringing Christmas to the DUMP!

The below post is written by my husband, Simon, as he was the team leader for our Visiting Orphans trip which started in Uganda and went on to Ethiopia. It SO reminds me of the story of the prodical son. Honestly, there were even pigs in this dump that these kids were living with. They may not have squandered their physical, monetary inheritance as the prodical son did, but I'm sure many of them do not realize our Spiritual inheritance, which is so rich in the Lord. Simon understood this and spoke into a certain young man's life and now this young man had a fattened (well, skinny in Ethiopia) sheep/calf and is living as a son of the most High God. The most incredible inheritance ever!

On our leg to Ethiopia this year our team decided to visit the garbage dump in the big city of Addis Ababa. It was my first time visiting such a place!

Let me tell you that a mission trip never goes as planned and that is kind of how this experience started. We had it on our schedule to visit the dump for a couple hours one afternoon but we got side tracked. Because our team had spent more time at one orphanage, we just simple ran out of time to go see the kids in the dump as we planned. However, my friend and co-leader on the trip Nathan and I got together and literally, God had a better plan in mind. You see, in Ethiopia Christmas falls on January 7th and we had missed our chance to visit the kids in the dump on the 6th. Well, it just so happened that WE received the gift of going on Christmas morning. How neat? Literally, once we put two and two together, we decided to go all the way with this and make it the best Christmas ever for some kids who NEVER see any visitors nor do they receive gifts for Christmas. So on Christmas Eve, we were grocery shopping for 75 kids and finding ways to spoil the heck out of them!

At about 10:00am, we rolled up to a place that when I say stunk, I mean it was maybe the worst odor I have ever smelled. Thirty of us were packed tightly in a bus with bags of toys, clothes, groceries and two sheep. Yep, you read that right. We had bought two sheep to kill and cook for these kids. One of our guides actually grew up in the dumps and has a divine story of how he made it out. He is the one who suggested that the best way to feed these kids would be to give them some goat (or sheep as we call them in the U.S.) meat☺. OK… so we were in for an adventure.

Let me say this too. This visit to the dump was something that I was not ready for. I had been prepared for orphanages and street kids and a team of thirty people to lead. But this was new for me! Was the smell bad? Yes. Were the kids and teens filthy? Absolutely. But was there a need like no other? You bet. And that is why this place gave me more heartbreak than any other place on this trip. As soon as I got there, I decided that I was going to throw myself into their lives! Honestly, it was the only way I knew to get rid of the smell. As I walked around the trash, I saw a group of guys just chilling out in a group of about 8-10. There were sitting in a little section of the dump up on the side of a building. As soon as I saw them I knew that they weren’t up to any good. They were typical rebellious teens looking for their next high. In Ethiopia they chew this leaf called “chet” and I saw it in their eyes. I’ve seen the look before in my old lifestyle that I was caught in during my college years. I walked over to these boys and I just sat down next to the leader and began to talk and listen. For the next 45 minutes, I just hung out with these guys.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the rest of the kids. Actually, the rest of our team had everyone under a covering, kind of like a bridge, teaching them some Bible stories. And some of the team members were busy watching the two men slaughter the sheep for dinner. It was actually the idea of 2 women on our trip to do this and many of those watching the slaughter were women. (I was surprised! ☺) Once the sheep were cleaned and ready for cooking, we all went over to a big covering to meet up with the rest of the team for a real Christmas party. We couldn’t really grasp the amount of fun that we were about to have. We had bought about 100 party hats and little whistles that you blow for your birthday and we passed them out as the meat was cooking. Then we gave out shirts, sandals, beanie babies, toys, stickers and more. Every kid was smiling and having a blast. Once the meat was cooked we gave out plates of food to everyone with bread and cookies! The kids dug in as if this was the first meal they ever eaten. Every bone was gnawed clean and they were using both hands. They couldn’t seem to eat it fast enough.

Last, there was one young man that was part of the group of guys that I was talking to earlier who really just wanted to talk. There was something different about this guy. He wasn’t doing the drugs but he was part of the group. Ever since the moment I stepped into their group, he was so interested in telling his story and hearing mine. His name is Teguson. Finally, I said to him in front of all the boys, “there is something different about you! You have persisted your way into my heart and if I lived here and owned a business, I would have hired you.” I told him about some of the pains I’ve gone through back home and explained that it was only the faith that God has a great plan for my life, that got me through everything. I asked him if he has that and that it is free and that God loves him enough to give him life! He accepted and through an interpreter, Teguson met Jesus!

After leaving that day with my arm around Teguson, God worked on my heart. Later that afternoon, I decided that I was going to give him a chance through some of the connections that I have in Ethiopia. Teguson will have a chance now and I believe that he will achieve his dream. God has a way of redemption that no human coincidence can compare to. That day at the dump was a real eye opener for somebody who thought they had seen poverty. That day changed my life and it was one of the best Christmas’ I’ve ever had!

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