Friday, April 8, 2011

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Ethiopia. Meeting US and Ethiopian government officials; encouraging staff; speaking at a conference; seeing projects we fund, etc.

The memories that linger, however, are visits to orphanages and foster care centers. To be candid, I usually feel a bit uneasy just before I walk into an orphanage. My family and close friends who have known me for many years would probably say that I’m among the least likely people to connect with orphans.

That’s why I’m so convinced that God walks beside me during these visits. Once I put my foot in the door, something awakens inside – I go from anxiety to excitement at being used to bring some small measure of joy to these kids. I become a kid again and really have a blast playing with them.

When we were at the orphanage in Hawassa, the caregivers finally took the kids in for dinner. It was like I was playing in my backyard again and Mom said it’s time to come in. I wanted to set my watch back like I used to years ago so I could keep playing, although that never did work too well.

So our time at the orphanage comes to an end. I do wonder if we’ve simply created chaos with our arrival and departure or if perhaps we have brought them some degree of hope. In any event, I get back in an air-conditioned car and begin to think about heading home in a few days to be with my family.

These children…… their smiles fade, their loneliness returns, and if their spirits aren’t broken, they may dream of finding a family and a real home someday.

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