Sunday, May 1, 2016

My Toes are Still Pink

It's been almost two weeks since our group returned to the U.S. We all went our separate ways and have settled back into routines. The jet lag is finally done, and I'm feeling productive at work again. My first day back was brutal. I had a 9am meeting, and I was not tracking the discussion very well and I'm sure said some things that made my colleagues wonder about the state of my brain.

We've also been busy wrapping up loose ends from the trip. Candy wants to make sure that each sponsor gets photos of their child opening the care package. I've been organizing those photos and finally got the memory card mailed to her on Saturday. Our wonderfully supportive church hosted "Sponsorship Sunday" last week, with at least six kids pledged to be sponsored and another child pledged today. I've been sending photos to our friends who helped with donations and care packages so they can see for themselves the impact they're having.

And the family life continues as well. Our kids are in the midst of spring sports, so we have lacrosse, soccer, and tennis practices and games. School committee meetings have started, with the final stages of next year's budget being finalized and union negotiations continuing. We also have a puppy, Mia, who is all of three months old, as cute as anything, but needing constant monitoring to make sure she goes to the bathroom where she's supposed to, and is not chewing on things that shouldn't be in her mouth. Allison is in her last week of her first year of school, so has started moving stuff back home for the summer. The kids have homework, and we are starting to plan for summer activities.

And yet...

Last week, I went over to the gym to change so I could run. It was actually nice outside, and I wanted to take complete advantage of the beautiful weather. I ran on the track all winter, and running in circles is not very much fun. I'd much rather be outside. Glen and I ran outside a couple of times in Ethiopia, which was challenging. In Addis, we were not only battling traffic, exhaust, and animal waste, but I was unaccustomed to the elevation and just a twenty minute run felt like an eternity. I started out strong, but half way through it seemed like my leg muscles were going to catch on fire they burned so much. The elevation in Kombolcha was easier on us, but the traffic, exhaust, and dust was not very pleasant.

So I was changing clothes to get ready for my run, and removed my work socks. And there they were. My pink toe nails.

On the last day in Kombolcha, we have a big feast for the kids. Before that, Rob talks about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and then we wash the feet of the kids. They in turn wash our feet, which is very sweet. As they finish, there are two stations set up - one for nail painting and the other for face painting. This year, one of the girls asked to paint my nails. She wanted to paint my fingernails. I agreed to have one (my pinky) painted. Then, she wanted to paint my feet. I offered one foot's toe nails, which she painted bright pink.

The polish on the pinky is long gone. However, two weeks later, my toe nails are still bright pink.

I pause and remember every time I see those toe nails. While we're back in our comfortable homes and our comfortable jobs and our comfortable lives, those kids are still there. They are looked after and loved, but they still need our help. I can't forget about them. I won't forget about them. They still need love. They still need food. They still need medical care. They still need basic necessities. Their struggles continue. I must not forget that.

Eventually, the toe nail polish will fade away. However, my commitment to those 265 children will not. It most not. After all, I will do my best and work my hardest to serve them. I will wash their feet every day by honoring them and the commitments I've made to them and their families, by remembering them and thinking about them every day, and by working to help them succeed so that when the day comes that they have children of their own, they can paint each others' nails in the comfort of their own homes.

Final Report:

Many people around us were incredibly generous with monetary donations. Every penny that is given to us goes directly to the children. This year some of the money was sent ahead so that purchases could be made in advance. In that case, there was a "wiring fee" to cover Children's Hopechest's costs of getting the money to Kombolcha. Otherwise, 100% is spent directly on the kids. With the donations we received:

* Six kids received medical care, one being the child I mentioned with typhoid. There were infections and head fungus' that were also covered.
* 165 children at Meserete participated in a feast, with enough food so that each child was able to eat until s/he was full.
* The families of the 100 children at CHDA received teff and cooking oil. (Teff is used to make injera, an essential staple of the Ethiopian diet.)
* All of the kids received fruit and bread each day that we visited them. They received bananas, but also received mangos, which are a special treat as they tend to be more expensive.
* There was still several hundred dollars left over, which I have placed into a medical fund for the CHDA kids so if any needs arise, Children's Hopechest can get the kids care.

1 comment:

Bharath Narasiman said...

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Tour To Ethiopia