For those of you who are looking for the latest “postcard” from Africa as to what we have been doing, here you go…
Tuesday August 9, 2011
Today was Day 2 in Korah. I spent the day with Brady installing solar lights. We put them in Mercy’s house (a girl with a very special story that I won’t get into now) and then in the girl's and boy's dorms. This will be especially helpful to them when they lose power (daily).
The night finished with some bowling. It was a great time doing some team bonding and teaching the “Brothers” to bowl.
Wednesday August 10, 2011
Today was day 3 in Korah. The day started with prepping the goats we purchased to feed the kids. Then it was on to finish the home makeovers for our 4 families. Addis (the woman who lived in our house with her 3 kids) then performed a coffee ceremony for us. If I could get coffee like this at home, I would be a coffee drinker. After lunch, it was off to another coffee ceremony with Brady and his son Tanner. Brady and Tanner have made a great bond with 2 little girls and their mother invited us into her home as a sign of her appreciation for us.
Then it was time for some mud soccer (after the day’s rainstorm). Finally, we headed to the dump to get a view of how the people of Korah provide for their family.
For those of you who are interested in at least attempting to grasp what we are doing and willing to tolerate listening to me open my brain at this point, keep reading…
I have not actually seen the movie “The Bucket List,” but I’m pretty confident that I have a good grasp on the concept. While in Africa, I have scratched a couple of things off of my bucket list (most of which I didn’t know were on it, but in hindsight should have been).
· I have opened a bottle of Coke using my wedding ring as a bottle opener.
· I have eaten lunch in a third world prison. I not only ate lunch with the inmates, but they prepared the food.
· I have played a pickup soccer match with a bunch of Ugandans who we met on the side of the road.
· I have danced in a hula skirt in front of a hundred small children in the name of a good laugh.
· I have bowled in an African bowling alley.
· I have ministered to some of the poorest people in the world in their homes.
· I have visited the start of the Nile river.
· I have mudded the walls of a house.
· I have drunk coffee and eaten bread and popcorn prepared by amazingly strong and courageous women who have little hope of improving their situation, but choose to honor us for the little ways we have tried to help them.
· I have observed a goat being killed to provide an extra meal with meat for a bunch of kids (they only get meat 1 time per month).
· I have prayed with some of the most inspiring spiritual leaders that I can imagine coming in contact with.
· I have participated in a truly inspiring worship service with young prison inmates.
· I have been in a Dude Perfect video clip (actually 2, and counting).
· I have spoken with and hugged lepers.
· I removed the shirt off of my back to provide for someone else.
· I have walked onto a city trash dump, filled with the trash of a booming city, holding hands with a young boy who spends his days there searching for scraps of food to help provide for his family.
I don’t think that anything I say in this blog or anything else can even come close to doing what we saw today justice. The film won’t do it justice, nor will the YouTube clips from Dude Perfect.
I will admit that the past 3 days in Korah have not hit me as hard as some of the other areas we have visited until today. The people of Korah are fairly happy, engaging and proud, just as we have encountered other places. But, most of them have shelters (keep in mind that is a loose term), almost all of the kids have some clothes which look to be in somewhat decent shape, and there are a number of groups which are working in this area. So, on the surface, the people here appear to be on par, if not slightly ahead of the curve with regards to what we have encountered on this trip.
Then today, we actually saw what many of these people do to provide for their families. With all of my years of construction, I have visited several trash dumps. They all have a horrific smell and are filled with similar items. They have rotting food scraps, general trash that people have discarded, birds flying above, and a busy system of trucks dumping and loaders moving the rotting trash around. Until today, though, I have never witnessed 1000 or so people rummaging through the trash in search of food.
I have made a conscious effort to not make my trip or this blog about the “poor people of Africa” so we ugly Americans feel sorry for them. Because at the end of the day, these people don’t want that and they would be hurt by me doing that in a public setting. But, sometimes I just can’t help but call it like I see it.
The people of Korah use metal hooks to pick through piles of garbage. They surround the incoming trucks to get the best trash possible and fight each other for everything they can get. They closely follow the tracks of the loader because as it moves, it turns up trash others may have missed.
They do all of this while keeping an eye on the dogs they are competing with and the hyenas which are very aggressive and dangerous, especially for kids. When I say “they,” I mean everyone; kids, mothers, fathers, and grandparents. I watched one woman carrying her baby on her back while picking through the garbage. I also observed an old Leper with a single wooden crutch picking through trash with his nubs for fingers.
While in Korah, I befriended David, a 15 year-old young man who is a tremendous boy. His English is above average and he was very helpful to me when we worked on the house we remodeled. We spent a lot of time together this afternoon. He was very interested in learning about my family and my life. We sat together and looked at the pics I have on my phone. He loved to meet my family through my pictures. He commented about how beautiful my wife is and that he wants me to tell her hi from him. He loved the pictures of our house (which I struggle to show these people, because I feel a bit gluttonous having what we have as compared to them). He shared with me that he has a sponsor and attends boarding school when it is session, so I felt very good about his opportunity to get out of his situation.
When we left the village of Korah in our vans, he knew we were headed to the dump, so he walked over to meet us there to spend a few more moments with us. After visiting the site for a while and shooting the Dude Perfect shot, we made our way out. David and I were walking near each other and I watched him spot a sugar packed amongst the trash. He promptly picked it up, opened it, and drank it down. That’s when everything really hit home.
My mind is spinning circles right now as I search for answers to questions that I can’t wrap my head around. I’m angry, sad, hopeful, and confused as I sit before my computer looking through the tears that are and have been running down my face off and on for the last few hours.
If anyone has any answers to the following, I’m all ears.
· Why as humans do we allow people to live like this? Is it because people don’t know? Is it because people don’t want to know? Is it because people don’t care?
· Why can’t Americans seem to be able to get off of their fat asses and solve our obesity issues when there are people literally eating trash to survive?
· Why are these people so appreciative of several day old food scraps, but we are willing to throw them away because they may not taste quite right?
· Why do Americans argue about the welfare system when we really don’t understand poverty like these people do?
· Why do Americans who are on our welfare system complain that it isn’t enough for them when they aren’t actually working for the food on their table when these people are truly working and risking life and limb to put food on their tables (if they have a table)?
· Why can’t people realize that for $250/year, they can send a kid to boarding school and get them out of this situation?
· Why can’t they build more boarding schools for these kids (even if you want to sponsor a kid, there is no room at the school)?
· Why is it that Canaan’s can feed 112 kids on $1300 a month, but they still struggle to make ends meet because they can’t ever seem to find enough funding?
· Why does the Ethiopian government put resources into regulating who can visit their trash dump to make sure that they don’t get too much bad publicity for how their people are being treated instead of investing those resources into getting people out of the dump?
· Who has a stronger faith, those of us who have been blessed with great riches in life, or those who have nothing but are immensely grateful for anything that they get?
· Why can’t I be truly grateful and glorify God for everything in life that he has given me?
· Why isn’t it required for every man and woman to see what I have seen in the past 10 days (I bet it wouldn’t’ be a problem anymore)?
· Why was it a debate as to whether or not to shoot film of the goats who were killed to provide for hungry kids out of fear of what PETA might say, but no one will have a problem watching a film about hungry kids searching through trash for food?
· Why is that some things that I used to think were crystal clear are now foggy and the things that used to be foggy are now very clear in my mind?
· If you believe that the world will get worse and worse until Jesus comes again as the bible suggests, does that mean that the end is coming soon? Our world is pretty jacked up right now.
I guess I can only pray that these answers come to me/us soon. The good thing is that thanks to the great people that are working tirelessly in the ministries that we are working with every day are making a dent. We are also raising awareness with the movie and Dude Perfect clips, so things can improve. I love and appreciate all of the good things that people are doing here. They are true heroes. We are only here for a short time. They live their ministry.
May God bless all of us.