Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! After celebrating last night with some kids from Bright Future, today is the "official" New Year. It is 2005 here is Addis! :) Since today is a holiday, by default we had some down time because many places are closed and people spend the day with their families. We had a nice leisurely morning, ate breakfast, and spent some time processing the trip thus far, continuing to grow closer as a team. After that, we had a lovely lunch prepared for us by the team from Switzerland (it was delicious pasta!) Then we went to Kaldi's, a coffee shop here in Addis, whose logo is quite similar to a popular franchise back home which we all found amusing. After ordering our coffee we were back on the bus and headed back into Kechene. Today many of the 30 registered children for Bright Future Academy got to see their classroom for the very first time! It was one of the most beautiful moments of the trip thus far. Today we had the opportunity to see all of the prayers, donations, hard work, sweat and tears come together. It was amazing- I don't think I could peel the smile off of my face and my cheeks hurt by the end of our time with the children. Another very moving (yet subtle) experience from today was looking around at the parents or grandparents who brought their children to the Academy. They appeared so joyous and comforted to be bringing their children. I couldn't imagine the relief I would feel if I were one of those parents who is experiencing day one: Day one of hope for a brighter future. Day one of relief that my child will get fed at least once a day while at school. Day one of change for a better life. Education may equal survival for these beautiful children and their families.

In addition to sharing some highlights from the day, I wanted to take this opportunity to share an experience I had yesterday, something that is weighing on my heart and I sincerely HOPE that it weighs on your heart as well. Yesterday at Bright Future Academy, we had a very large number of children and families attempting to register their kids for school. It was amazing that Jolene & Danielle (and all of your support) have been able to provide this school and education for 30 students. As you can imagine, we had many more than 30 families at the academy yesterday and the reality is that not everyone who wanted to come, even needed to come, are able. I believe Amanda mentioned this yesterday, but some families were out in the rain for 5 hours waiting to tell their story and try to get accepted. When they were done, they went home with heavy hearts for the need in this community is just far too great.

 There was one point in the afternoon that I saw a grandmother with a small child on her back. The child looked to be maybe 5 or 6 months old and was getting fussy, the grandmother looked simply exhausted. I took one of the older children to translate and asked the grandmother, "Can I hold him for you for a little bit?" She paused for a little bit and then said, "How long would you hold him for me, a week? A month? How long?" When the translator shared her response, he also shared that the child's father had passed away and his mother was away for many months at a time trying to work to gather money.  Could you imagine being at the playground with your child and having another mom from the playground come up to you and offer to briefly hold your baby while you tended to the needs of the other child? Totally understandable right?

 Maybe even something you have experienced on a "play date"  if you have children. Okay, now can you imagine being to a point where you are so depleted, impoverished and desperate that you considered giving your child to a stranger for a week or a month out of sheer hope that your child would have a chance to be cared for in the way you want them to be cared for? No? Me neither. Here is the thing, this grandmother and the parents here LOVE their children with all they have. They do everything in their earthly power to provide the best for their kids and the abundant love I see between parents and children here is amazingly beautiful. This grandmother loves this little boy NO LESS than any of you love your children and grandchildren. She loves him completely the same. She was just born in a different part of the world and her resources are different. It is humbling.

On a much lighter note, I am exuberant for tomorrow (Wednesday)! Tomorrow we get to CELEBRATE the opening of Bright Future Academy! We are going to sing songs and play and rejoice at God's blessings on this community. I am so excited I can hardly sleep!  We miss you all back home but the trip is going wonderfully- we feel your prayers and want to thank you all for lifting up this team, the community of Kechene, Ethiopia and the beautiful children who live here.

Many Blessings, 
Amber Rohde

P.S. Jolene and Danielle are amazing! Their humble hearts would never write anything like this when it is their turn to blog, so I will  write it when it is my turn! Their leadership on Awake & Alive's first mission trip is remarkable, because of their hard work, lives are being changed and they deserve a huge round of applause. The team is growing emotionally and spiritually by the day and I can say with great confidence that project presence is making a difference demonstrating God's love to this community. Thank You Jolene & Danielle! (and pleeeease don't take this out when you proofread this for me) :)

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