Monday, July 2, 2012

Ethiopia 2 - God Trying to Get Through to Me

An excerpt from my journal:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yesterday a lot was going on in my heart.  It's hard to have time to process on a deeper level because much of the day is spent on, "What time is it?  When did she eat last?  Where are we going?  Gosh, I need to tidy the room again.  I need to sterilize bottles..."

But the disparity between my life in the states and the lifestyle of the average Ethiopian is eating away at me.  A few experiences in the last 24 hours have made it stifling.

First, we went to a nice restaurant down the street.  Dishes were VERY affordable for us at this high-end place, with dishes being 65-85 birr each.  That's about $4-$5 USD.  The wait staff at this place brought out warm water in a kettle, soap, and a basin before and after the meal so we could wash our hands.  They also gave us heated damp towels to dry our hands.  The server presented food, check, pop or whatever very elegantly, gracefully, and with flare.  This meal would be priced as a nice dinner out for Ethiopians, but for us it was the price of fast food back home.

After supper we wanted to get fruit.  We walked by a woman begging on the street with her two children [which I shared about last week, so I will not include the details again in this post].

As if that experience wasn't enough to get my wheels turning and heart aching, a third experience happened as I was getting ready for bed.  Earlier, about 9pm, I saw the guards pulling a tarp or blanket or something out of the small guard building.  I didn't know what it was, but figured it had to do something with closing down our guest house for the night.  

I should mention that our guest house is VERY nice compared to other housing options, and also compared to the average home in Ethiopia.  Zac and I are staying in a suite which as a large living area with a king bed, couch, chair, coffee table, mini fridge, crib, desk, and desk chair.  We have a dressing room with a hutch, large closet, and mirror covering one wall.  We have a bathroom big enough for a dance party with sink, toilet, bathtub, shower, and shelving.  Did I mention the balcony?  It overlooks the small garden where large trees and flowers line the perimeter and a grassy area covers the center where umbrella tables and chairs sit.  We pay $85 a night for this.  And a wonderful breakfast each morning.

It was from this room that I surveyed the driveway tonight where, upon closer look, I saw that the guard was now sleeping on the ground.  What he'd pulled out from the guard building earlier was perhaps a mat or some blankets, and he made his bed by the gate to be alerted if there was an intruder.  (Side note - guards are extremely commonplace for homes and businesses.  We were not in danger because our guest house had a guard.  Don't worry, Mom.)
Now, my heart ached for 3 things.

First of all, it has rained everyday that we've been here.  And most of the time it was in the night.  Was he sleeping on a wet floor?  Was he going to get rained on? 

Secondly, the nights are very cool here.  Maybe the altitude contributes to this, I don't know.  But when I'm on the balcony before I go to bed, I want a sweater and even then I'm on the cold side.  How cold did it get at night? 

Lastly, here I stand in my mini-palace with my plush king bed while he - protecting us - sleeps on the ground.  Is his family missing him?  Does he get good rest at night?  I could hear the pieces of my heart falling to the ground and my voice silently screaming, "This is not fair!"

How can I live in such wealth and not realize it?  How can I live in such comfort and remain unaware?  How can I see glimpses of the disparity and still not have a fire lit under me to get up and DO something?

Now, disclaimer here: I recognize that I have assumptions going on left and right here.  Maybe the guard loves sleeping outside.  Maybe as he gazes at the stars he feels grateful each night that he has a job which allows him time outside.  Maybe the begging mother and children fare well.  Maybe in this rich neighborhood they are better off than their non-begging counterparts and bring what they've earned home each night.

I don't know all the details, but I know this hard and fast truth - I am rich.  I have excess.  It's time for me to share.

Here is a photo of the gate from the inside of the guest house.  On the right is the small guard building where the guard would sometimes sit when it rained.  He slept on this section of the driveway.

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