We spent the day after court playing with the boys again. At this time in our trip I was starting to really dread going home. I knew we were going to have to leave without the little boys. I knew how heartbreaking it was going to be for all of us to go back home without them. And, they were starting to really warm up to us. They seemed to be having fun with us. They had been told that we were their mom and dad … that the other kids are their brother and sisters. And, we soon were going to have to leave.
Zachary didn’t feel well yet, so he slept the day away. Between playing with the boys we had an exciting lunch date with some sweet friends we had just met in Ethiopia that were there for court as well and the Benkerts – friends who we have only know through their website and email. My friend Tammy had first stated following Levi and Jessie Benkert's story and she shared their work and story with us. The Benkerts had been working in the tribes in the south who believe in superstitions and as a result the elders of the tribe end up killing the children they believe are cursed or mingi. Levi and Jessie helped rescue many of these kids whose fate was death and took care of and loved on them. The organization that they started was Drawn from Water. I’m sure many of you already know of this organization. Well, today they are opening a new exciting chapter in their life and we were so glad to be able to visit with them and hear about it. You can follow their new blog and read about what they are doing here. They are an amazing family following after God’s heart with a deep love for orphans in Ethiopia.
After learning more about Ethiopia over the past few years God has been growing in us a deep love for that country as well. Our family wants to be able to help with the work that is being done in Ethiopia. We want to be able to give back to the country that our sons are from. I am learning that caring for orphans is messy business for many reasons. Situations are complicated. Physically taking care of orphans so they are off the street and providing for their physical needs is part of it. Emotional support and education are a big part of the picture. Doing all these things so that families will not only live, but thrive together is huge. Sometimes poverty has taken the life of parents and made it impossible for families to thrive together. Helping orphans find hope when they have watched their parents die is part of orphan care. Ultimately sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ while watching how God meets these needs what is most important.
After being in Africa the saying “it takes a village” has more meaning to me. We did some sightseeing while we were in Ethiopia. One thing that our tour guide told me has stuck with me since he said it. I’m paraphrasing this – but what he said basically was that if he has a dollar in his pocket (even if he didn’t have anything more) and walked by someone that was dying it would only make sense for him to give it to him so that his life would be saved. While we were in Ethiopia we would have had to have our eyes closed not to see people that are dying. For those of us who are Christians and are trying to follow the example of Jesus… handing over that dollar to me sounds just like what we are supposed to be doing. I am not judging anyone, so please don’t get me wrong. Even after seeing poverty first hand in Ethiopia I struggle so much with my selfishness. I am selfish with my time, my energy and I am not the person who has handed over that dollar when I should have. I like to spend time doing what I want to do and I want the things that I want and have more than I need…period. Spending time judging each other only takes energy away from helping. Where you feel led to help, how you feel led to help, when you feel led to help, how much you feel let to help is all between you and God.
Channeling money to the appropriate places is important. We learned a lesson in Ethiopia the hard way and I’m embarrassed to share it with you. We were processing what our tour guide had shared about giving the dollar in our pocket away. We had some dollars in our pocket. And, in Ethiopia, it seems that you can’t be out in the public without having several people that are begging for money surround you. Mom’s feeding babies, little children asking for money, orphans whispering in your ear that their mom and dad are dead and they are hungry, disabled and elderly people, homeless people, kids not even asking for money but just crying alone in the street and the list goes on. You get the picture. At one stop, we had a young boy catch a fish and he was feeding some birds the fish so that the birds would stick around and we could see them. He did a great job - we even got a picture of them.
As we were loading up in our vehicle that boy among many other children were begging for money. We asked our tour guide if we should give out some money. He said that if we were going to, then we should give it to the boy who fed the fish because that boy had done something for us. We gave him a few dollars and drove away. My girls were watching as we drove away and what they saw brings tears to my eyes. They watched as this boy that we gave money to was getting slapped around and beat up because HE got the money.
I am learning that it does take a village. God uses His people to accomplish His work and each of our stories look different. I don’t see that our family will be moving to Ethiopia to be able to physically be the hands and feet there but we do feel the call to help. Levi and Jessie live in Ethiopia and get to physically be the hands and feet but in doing that they need help. I can’t image the heartbreaking things that they see and deal with. They need our prayer support. And, the reality is, it takes money to be able to help. They need our financial support. Like I shared, we’ve learned the hard way about how important channeling money appropriately is. So, village … pray with me for Levi and Jessie and all the people that they will work with and touch, will you? And while you are praying about it if you feel the call to financially channel dollars to the ministry that the Benkert's are doing let them know. They are currently on furlough in the states while they are gearing up their new adventure in Ethiopia. If you are on facebook – join their cause to learn more about them. And hop onto their blog at www.bringlove.in and check it out (they have their contact information on their blog). And, tell others about the Benkerts! I learned about them through a dear friend who shared their story with me - Spread the word and we’ll see what God does.