Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ethiopia 2 - A Beggar, A To-Go Box, and How My Life Changed Forever

On our first trip to Ethiopia we weren't really approached by beggars because our guest home then was in more of a residential area.  This time, though, our guest house was situated among large, beautiful houses with close access to many nice shops and restaurants.  The area had a reputation of wealth, and the homeless and poor knew that this would be the best location for them to look for handouts.  

I struggle with how to respond to beggars.  It feels so wrong in the core of my being to look away and pass by them; however, I have learned that if you give to one, others will flock to you in hopes that you will give to them too.  That draws a lot of attention and can quickly empty your wallet!

Whenever Zac and I would walk down the business street just blocks from our guest house, we would see beggars on the sidewalk.  One woman in particular caught my attention.  She was sitting on the sidewalk with her two children.  Zac and I were walking toward her, Feven in my arms.

When this woman and her children saw us, her two children started walking toward us.  They called out to us in their language to give them something.  Their hands were outstretched and their voices pleading. 

I held Feven, who I was taking with me to the states to have a life of provision and blessing, while a little girl not more than a year older than her was walking beside me, no shoes, in tattered clothes with dirty hands, begging.  These two little girls started off similarly in life, yet both are on extremely different paths now.

My breath caught in my throat and my eyes pooled.  I pray I never forget how it felt to be walking down the street side-by-side with that little girl.  The disparity was heavy and tangible.

As I type this post tonight, I wonder where that little girl is.  It's the 9:00pm hour here, which means 5:00am in Ethiopia.  Where is she waking up?  If it was a typical cool night, did she have a blanket to cover her small body?  Did her tummy growl as she drifted off to sleep, or did she get food last night before she went to bed?

We ended up giving some restaurant leftovers to the begging woman that day, who seemed grateful.  Perhaps we helped that family to go to bed with full bellies that particular night.  However, I know I can do better than just sharing my leftovers.  These people are deserving of my first-fruits, not my measly leftovers or excess.

May I always have clarity to see the difference between need and want.

May I never choose comfort over helping others survive.

May my heart always break when I see others in pain, and my eyes always water when I see despair.

Lord, keep me from getting comfortable here.  I can do so much more.

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