Friday, February 18, 2011

the fun of compassion

we were 7,800 miles away from home, but something felt so comfortable and familiar about sadamo genet.  maybe it was the amazing welcome or the scores of little people - i don't know what it was, but i could have stayed there all day and more.

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after our short tour and the time of sharing from the mothers there, our gracious hosts served us with a traditional ethiopian coffee ceremony.  by this point in our trip, we had taken part in several coffee ceremonies (and i might have developed an intense love in the birthplace of coffee), and we were always wowed by the meticulous and beautiful process by which the women would prepare the dark, delicious drink.  always present: fresh flowers, a traditional coffee urn, and an aroma that i crave even as i type.

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but they had saved their best for last.  fekadu led us to a table that held a massive, circular loaf of bread that was probably two feet in diameter.  he listened to our hosts and translated that this was a delicacy reserved for very special occasions and that the women, knowing we were coming that day, had decided to work together to serve it to us.  that, my friends, will humble a person.  the program director presented josh with a knife and asked if he would do the honors of "breaking the bread". 

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josh took the knife, placed it against the loaf, and began to cut.  at least he tried to.  what he didn't realize was that this special occasion bread had the consistency of a wooden log, and he was going to have to put a whole lot of muscle into it if we were ever going to eat.  the best part is that the women watching got quite a giggle out of this light man's struggle.

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as we were wrapping up our time of food and fellowship, some of the older kids arrived from their tutoring lessons.  i began soaking in the freshness of these uncertain new faces...

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but one particular face kept drawing my eyes back time and time again. 

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her name is mihiret.  mercy.  i don't know the circumstances of her family or her birth, but i do know that in the ethiopian culture, a name's meaning is everything.  this child of mercy spent twenty or thirty minutes in an uncertain dance of wanting to approach these new, light faces she had never seen before but, along with her friends, being a bit too afraid to do so. 

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i'm sure i wanted to know her even more than she wanted to know me, so i spent much of my time from that point on gently coaxing her in.  and lucky for me, many childhood games are universal, so before long, i had a new playmate and friend.

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mihiret was thoroughly intrigued by the small black box i kept sticking in front of my face, so i took her aside and gave her a two-minute sign-language crash course on digital photography.  then i set her loose...

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this one got the most giggles out of mihiret and her friends (it's a good thing everyone there was used to us by this point)...

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i've got a couple of other things in the works, but for now, i'll leave you with a parting shot of some of the precious women and children of the sadamo genet child survival program...

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6 comments:

mmclain said...

Great photos!

Julie Shaw said...

The pictures are beautiful Al!

Carrie said...

No words needed. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

Aunt Libby

Sherry Strickland Faucett said...

Ok I am not needing any more posts because I think tomorrow I am going to get a for sale sign and go be a missionary. I am loving this place!! I would pack up my family and leave tomorrow and not think twice about it!! Thanks for sharing! Love ya and still praying :)

Lacey Barnwell said...

LOVE!!!!

The Taylors said...

You look so "at home" in this last photo. Love this post.