Ahh, another breath taking day in the city of Addis Ababa. We are still staying at the Sheraton. We have still not met or held our Mezekir. I think our entire party is enjoying the luxurious environment but despising the immeasurable differences in our conditions and that of those around us. Positioned directly across from the Sheraton property sits a stadium. We awoke to the chanting from a stadium full of worshipers, most likely Orthodox, as they celebrate Holy Week. The chanting mimics Islamic prayer and worship. I've found it difficult to become accustomed to these sounds. After breakfast, we enjoyed a slower paced day at the Sheraton aqua club and pool. While sitting at the pool, Travis and Joanna Norwood, who are American Gladney representatives, and another adoptive family from Gladney showed up. How nice to connect with both Gladney families and Americans. This adoptive couple chose to stay at the Sheraton and visit their son daily. Without telling me, Josh slipped them our camera. They took pics of our sweet Mez and even video. I couldn't have dreamt up a better surprise. I'm telling you, he's just perfect. He laughed and cooed and stole the show; I'm sure.
This evening, Josh, the 2 older kids, and the Brookshires visited with a man by the name of Mogus. He is the leader of Young Life in Addis Ababa; we were connected via a mutual friend. Rumor has it he ministers to over 15,000 kids. As we were to meet at 4 o' clock, we had to excuse ourselves from conversation with the Norwoods in order to make the visit with Mogus. Unsolicited, Joanna shared with me that she knew of Mogus. According to her, Mogus had shared the gospel with a shoe-shine boy week in and week out. After many months of sharing of Jesus love, this shoe-shine boy accepted Christ as his savior. Now this young man is gainfully employed by Gladney and one of their most trusted reps. I love hearing the family of Christ and its far reaching effects. Mogus took our group to an Orthodox church, which was very busy due to Holy week, to the Market, and to a handful of other locations. I believe Mogus' exuberance for Jesus draws others to him; it surely did in our group.
After returning to the hotel, all of us decided to leave the Sheraton on foot (okay, Mom and Dad stop reading or turn off your parental concern here). As I've mentioned before, directly outside of the Sheraton are slum "homes". With a backpack of prepackaged cakes, a bit of candy, and very few Birr, we went to visit the locals in this area. Within feet of leaving the Sheraton, a group of 20 to 30 children surrounded us. "Hello. How are you? Fine? You have food, Birr?'", the children asked. They danced around as we handed out goodies. A group of local men quickly approached. We made broken, but friendly, conversations, and then they invited us to come to their homes and visit. Tentative (but trusting Jesus protection), we agreed. I cannot begin to explain the sights and smells. We walked over open sewage and past the dumpsters they rifle through for food scraps into a 10 by 10 one room "house", which shared walls with 2 of the many other homes comprising this community. Three boys lived in this home. Ranging from 11-15, the boys had moved to Addis from Gondar, a city in norther Ethiopia, by themselves in hopes of an education and better life. I cannot imagine either aim was achieved; but they did not complain or let on this was the case. 20 of us squeezed into their humble home and talked of their dreams, hopes, and lives. They asked of America and Texas. Their joy was clear but confusing considering their surrounding and needs. But this is typical of Ethiopia. They offered a coffee ceremony in our honor. Since the only water available runs when an official comes and opens the water spout close to their homes, we chose to ask for another opportunity. The men were so gracious. The children embraced and kissed our children. We put off the concern of scabies and germs in exchange for the opportunity to really love. They held their hands and walked together as lifelong friends. They mutually admired one another. Before leaving, our husbands were able to bless these men with some Birr and remind them of the love of Christ. And we returned to the Sheraton, full of food, and beds and empty rooms, which was only physically separated by an iron gate and a parking lot but truly separated by more than many in Addis will ever know.
Before coming to Ethiopia, I wondered how our children would do in the midst of such need and heartache. God has given each of them a desire to love the least of these. They do not mind the smells, the lack of food, or the luxuries they forego. They love this country and its people. They love seeing Christ in the people they encounter. I love seeing Christ in them.
And, yes, it is T-minus 2 days for gottcha day! Easter is our day.