Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ethiopia: Next Year, For Sure

Awassa, Ethiopia... sunset

(All photos courtesy of Ken and Heidi Buckman
--Compassion sponsors and recent travelers to Ethiopia)

Those of you who know me or who follow this blog will recall that I had a trip planned to Ethiopia in March. As many of you are already aware, I decided in January to opt out of the trip due to JoJo's new but worrisome separation anxiety. I knew it was a stage that she would outgrow. On the other hand, the thought of her crying herself to sleep every night for nearly two weeks was more than this mommy could handle. l just could not bring myself to travel across the world to visit my sponsor daughter, knowing all the while, my own little girl would be in a state of constant misery. At three years old, there would be no way she could comprehend such a lengthy separation from me. I cried for a week after I canceled, but I knew, in my heart of hearts, I had made the right decision for me and for my family.

I've come to rely on the whisperings I hear during moments of solitude, soul searching, and yes, prayer. Something tells me that this quiet voice, this barely perceptible yet resonant feeling is truly God's grace. As it happens, had I gone to Ethiopia, I would have been unable to share in the final days of my mother-in-law's life and to support my husband and our family during an agonizing several days in the hospital. How inconsolable I would have been had I not been available for my family during such a t
ime of need.

Thankfully, our sponsor daughter Derebe (pronounced Dair-uh-bay) was able to receive some special attention from another couple who were visiting her area to meet their two, sponsor boys. They were kind enough to send pictures and to share their experiences during the trip. As a sheer coincidence, this couple lives in a suburb only about 25 miles from me! So, I'm looking forward to meeting these kind people in person and to hear more about their impressions of Derebe, her family, and of Ethiopia overall. I owe them tremendous thanks for their willingness to share their truly special experiences and to go out of there way to provide pictures and information. God bless them, indeed.

Here she is...the little shining star...Derebe!

Ken, Derebe, and Heidi

I've learned that their trip was a phenomenal opportunity for all involved and that this very thoughtful husband and wife team have a positive account of Ethiopia in general. Heidi remarked that Americans are bombarded with images of starving children with distended bellies, covered in flies. And while poverty is a major concern in Ethiopia and many other African countries, it is by no means the defining quality of these proud, heritage-rich people. Something tells me that when I finally make this journey, I will be amazed and awe-struck by the beauty of this land and its inhabitants.

Yes...I am planning to go next year. The travel director from Compassion tells me that nearly sixty people were on the waiting list for this year's trip and that they expect a similar interest next year. Jim and I are in agreement that we'll move heaven and earth to get me there next February. And someday, Jim and I would like to take t
he kids to visit Derebe, their Ethiopian sister.

I would feel remiss if I didn't make yet another plea...Please, please consider sponsoring a child, somewhere in the world, through Compassion International. I continue to be so impressed by the level of commitment and expertise of this truly wond
erful organization. While there are many worthy groups who facilitate the financial sponsorship of children, I'm not convinced that many of them foster the type of truly individual, God focused relationship that I and thousands of others sponsors have experienced as a result of Compassion's program. As a sponsor, I have the opportunity to help Derebe and her family with financial and spiritual support. Her letters are so sweet and genuine; my spirit is lifted each time I receive one. JoJo and Ethan contribute to our letter writing and they send pictures, drawings, and mementos. In a very significant way, our children are learning about sharing, sacrifice, and their own relative affluence. My son commented that the children look so happy even though they "don't have a lot of toys". Hmmmmm. I dare say, an observation that many of us would do well to reflect upon.

More lovely, random photos from the trip...

Derebe is front, left

All of these children are precious but the little girl in the front, right corner...what a cutie!

What an incredible photo…for a number of reasons…

Thanks again to Ken and Heidi for so generously sharing your photos and including me in the post-trip loop!

1 comment:

Compassion International said...

We've uploaded 82 photos from the March 2008 Ethiopia sponsor tour to our Flickr account. If you're interested in taking a look, this is the link.


I hope you do make it next year.

Chris Giovagnoni