Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 5: Opening Our Eyes Through Answered Prayers

Today we planned to get out in the streets of Addis Ababba and really get the feel for the city - get to know some of the places around Meron's birthplace.

Abraham, our driver, and his friend Toshume picked us up at 9:00 AM to head to some museums. We immediately set out to the top of a mountain where there is an incredible Orthodox Church and a museum dedicated to the past Emperors of Ethiopia. More on that later. Let's talk about the trip up this mountain.

We have prayed for God to open our eyes to whatever it is He needed us to see - what He needed us to know - what He needed us to burn in to our permanent memory and never ever let go of. The trip up that mountain was exactly that. The reality of the ride up the mountain is that we went directly through some of the most heartbreaking scenes you can ever imagine. Stuff you might read about once in a lifetime in the National Geographic or MAYBE the newspaper but never even really consider the depth or magnitude of. Stuff you might get an envelope about in the mail asking to help but because you feel so separated from it you typically end up doing nothing about it (I know I have).

That's the stuff we drove through. First off, the women climb to the top of this mountain to "harvest" tree limbs - like thatch type material - they then bundle it in huge bundles and strap it across their back and proceed to walk back down the mountain. They do this for 5 Birr. 5 Birr is about $.48 cents. It's not even enough to buy enough bread for the mouths back at their homes. But they do it because they have to feed their kids. And let me tell you - the trip up the mountain is no walk in the park. It's hard. And it broke our hearts to the very core to watch this.

Then - there are the families on the sides of the roads. Small huts housing them - if even that. begging for anything - food, birr, hope... anything. These people really affected us. We didn't know how to react - your gut instinct is to empty your wallet, empty your bag of any food and water, tell them you'll do whatever it takes to help. But we followed the cue of our hosts and basically moved through the crowds. Seeing young children walking their parents down the street begging - young mothers asking for anything so they could feed their kids - we couldn't help but realize that any one of these women could be Meron's mom. This shook us up. Everyone keeps telling us "She is so lucky" and yeah - ya know - sure, her circumstances are now going to change and you can call that lucky - but we are the really lucky ones here. We are blessed beyond anything we have ever experienced. Ever. God has propped our eyes wide open and it is something we think about constantly - helping these people. You almost can't understand it without experiencing it - the kindness, the love, the friendliness, the neighborly attitude, the love for God (its amazing here). All right smack dab in the middle of the most extreme poverty you could ever ever imagine.

Sorry to stay on that topic so long - it just really impacted us. I think Jesus said "Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me" - and we are fully planning on working with Emebet and even possibly a young guy we met here at our lodge who works with the kids on the street in Addis.

So on to the rest of the trip - the view from the mountain was out of this world. It was foggy at first but it burned off and we were able to really see the spread-out-ed-ness of Addis Ababa. Then we headed in to the museum. First we walked the grounds of some of the emperors of Ethiopia's past. These buildings, courtyards and grounds were over 125 years old. It was incredible. Then we headed in to a guided tour that really taught us a ton about the history of Ethiopia. For the record, Emperor Menelik is my favorite - he has influenced the world in ways he never knew and ways the world doesn't even know. It was pretty cool. Meron was a breeze during all of this - she was hanging out in the Bjorn until she got hungry and then after her chowing down Abraham carried her around for us so we could both enjoy the tour.

After leaving the mountain top we headed to the National Museum and we had amazing tour guides helping us out. We had read about this and it was something we wanted to see. "Lucy" lives here - you may have heard of her - she is like the oldest humanoid skeleton ever found - found here in Ethiopia. It was another great visit full of tons of info.

There were several schools here on apparent field trips - and they were awesome. They were all waving at us and couldn't stop running up to Meron and kissing her and loving on her. It was awesome - I think Laura really loved it!

We wrapped up our day by taking our gracious hosts out to lunch. We ate at an apparently pretty well-known spot here called the "Milkhouse" on the 10th floor of a building. We had great pasta - and Laura and I got to practice the "you eat while I hold and then we switch" technique that is used by many a set of parents. We loved it - and honestly - we'd both forego food if it meant hanging out with Meron. She's just that cool.

Last time we threw some shout outs to the folks taking care of the house and dogs - this time we wanna thank some great friends who just offered up their amazing camera and video equipment for us to bring with us. It has been so used and we are SOO appreciative.

We are beyond thankful.


emily said...

Another great post! I think we all need to commit to one another to not let the images move very far from our brains. Let's spur one another one to act upon what we see in Ethiopia.

I look forward to reading more!

Martha said...

We are so glad you guys are home and so thrilled to read all about your trip. we must get our little ones together.... Martha

Angela said...

This is such a moving post. I've read it several times! Thanks for sharing your hearts so openly.

Can't to meet Meron!!!

Unknown said...

We've been anxiously awaiting news and what news this all is!!! I have been thinking about you all and praying for you and just bursting with joy at what God is doing and how you must be feeling! I remember holding Silas for the first time and I remember that feeling of being held by Africa for the first time. Prepare to never, ever be the same. You'll come home- but know that part of your heart will be left as a love offering in that place. I'm sure you know this...but just verifying that it is indeed truer than you'll ever believe. We LOVE you all and can't wait to see you! I could practically jump through the computer and hug all 3! of you!!! Kiss the ground for us and give Meron a big squeeze from the Crawfords. Love, Alysia

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

It has been a while since 'visiting' people... busy with work and how I love all the photos you have been taking... makes you realize how lucky we do have it but then again having all these 'material' things... are we really that happy???? Are we happier then these people without computers, cars etc at least that is what your photos were making me think... oh and the most important thing... oh how Meron is so incredibly gorgeous... take care

Pam Shaffer said...

I can't wait to read more. You and Laura are awesome.

Unknown said...

What a day. What an experience. The photos speak volumes, and should be a reminder of our blessings and a challenge for us to live beyond ourselves.