Monday, October 19, 2015

Food, Shelter, Encouragement, Hope

by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
written on 10-18-15

Yesterday I finished up work in Gutumuma, Shashemene and Aje. It was a loaded three-and-a-half days and we accomplished much.

The Mana Gammachuu kindergarten in Gutumuma has only been in session a month, but the 20 children, all from Adoption Ministry 1:27 families, are eager to learn. Radiya is the new teacher, and after spending time with her and observing her with the children, I was extremely pleased.
Gutu 3
She is from the Gutumuma area and four years ago she became a Christ-follower.  She is the perfect one to shepherd these little ones’ hearts and teach them readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. She is on the worship team of the Gutumuma church and is engaged to be married to a Christian man. Meeting her and hearing her story gave me a glimpse of the impact the Gospel has had in this area. The Holy Spirit is raising a generation of people who love Him in an area where Jesus has never been known*. People like Radiya and her husband will now pass their Christian heritage on to their children.

*DID YOU KNOW THAT UNTIL 2010 THERE WERE ONLY TWO CHRISTIANS IN GUTUMUMA? The two Christians were evangelists who lived in the village and prayed for seven years until, in 2010, God’s Holy Spirit drew 75 people to Himself! Today, there are 150 Christ-followers and that number is growing.
Gutu 2
Gutumuma is an agrarian village whose only industry is farming. The government gave people land to farm and it remains with the family generationally. They are not allowed to sell it. Therefore, many of the destitute families we serve have property but barely enough to eat. There are several factors working against them…
Gutumuma is a very dry, hot area. Planting and harvesting is only possible once a year. People plant their crops in the spring (May) in time for the rainy season (end of May through September) and harvest the food the end of September through October. This year there was a drought and the majority of crops failed. If you are rich enough to have oxen you have the wherewithal to plow your land. If you do not have oxen, you can only plant a small patch that does not come close to producing enough to feed the typical large family. If your crops fail, then you don’t have enough food to feed the oxen and a vicious cycle begins. I visited several families supported by AM 1:27 and was up close and personal with some perplexing economic problems.
Income generating through farming and inadequate housing were two major issues discussed with the pastor and AM 1:27 case manager in Gutumuma. I came away with no clear-cut solutions, but we have a wonderful team of creative thinkers who are tackling the unique problems in this rural area.

About 1½ hours away is the bustling market town of Shashemene. My favorite place to be is with the children of the orphanage and interfacing with our incredible staff there. There are thirteen babies and two little boys living there. The little boys are a sad story. They have a known mother and father, but neither can care for them due to alcoholism and instability so the boys cannot be adopted. Instead, they will be moved to a government orphanage to be raised. My heart broke for these brothers who are about 4 and 6. It is an uncertain future for them. Four of the babies/toddlers have been matched with families in the U.S. for adoption, six are in various stages of paperwork for international adoption, and two will be adopted by Ethiopian families. I was in heaven cuddling and kissing babies.
Aje 2
A half-hour from Shashemene is a town called Aje where we have a kindergarten for 60 children. What fun it was to watch them recite their lessons, enjoy the lunch the school provides for them, and play at recess. Kids are kids, no matter what side of the globe they live on. They are eager learners, have lots of energy to play, and need good food to grow on. The Aje Mana Gammachuu kindergarten is a wonderful place to learn and grow. I reacquainted myself with the two women teachers who were there last year, and met Ulfata, the new teacher. He is an experienced teacher and will oversee the school. I very much enjoyed watching him teach and appreciated the enthusiasm and vision he brings.
B 3
I visited several women in our AM 1:27 program, and that was a treat! “B” is a single mother of two little girls. Her husband left her when their youngest was born and she has struggled to survive. In 2013, a donor through Adoption Ministry 1:27 started supporting her and eased some of her burden. She told me on this visit that she has turned her life over to Jesus! The example of the church’s love toward her evidenced in practical support softened her heart enough to ask questions and learn of the Father’s love for her. She was living with her parents, and when she became a Christian her father got so mad at her he tried to kill her. She fled from her father’s house with her girls and the church found a house for her to rent for $10/month. She does not have money for this, but is trusting God will provide.
Bo 1
Bosha is a dear woman who I would have liked to spend the afternoon with. Her little first grade boy, Nuredin, has been very sick with tuberculosis and their sponsor sent money to get him to good doctors for treatment. Nuredin was the first to see me coming up the road and ran and flung his arms around my waist in a big hug. He is much better but not 100%. He has not finished his regimen of medication and has several follow-up doctor appointments, but thankfully he is going to make it. Her other children are beautiful and Bosha extended to me exquisite Ethiopian hospitality. As I sat in her room I noticed shafts of light coming from all parts of the ceiling. There were big holes and little holes and the sun was streaming in. In my imagination I converted the sun to rain and thought what it would be like sitting in that room during the rainy season. It would not be pleasant and certainly not healthy. The case manager told me of an incident that happened recently. Bosha and her children were getting ready for bed when a hyena pushed open their dilapidated door and came into their house! Fortunately, Bosha was able to get him out and the hyena did not hurt her children, but it was a huge scare and a very real danger. My admiration for this mother increased substantially.
Aje walking
It was a hot day in Aje and we had done a lot of walking. I looked forward to a cold Sprite as I said good-bye to the children and teachers.
Contemplating all I saw as I drove back to Shashemene, I knew for a certainty that God had drawn us to this place to touch lives for Him. How He loves the poor! God articulates clearly in His Word exactly what our response is to be: feed the hungry, shelter the weary, encourage the downtrodden, give hope to the broken hearted – in short, be His hands and feet by listening well and then serving those dear to His heart in culturally-relevant ways.

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