Greetings from Ethiopia! No, wait, greetings from Montreat! No, that’s not right either. Greetings from Covenant? Yep, that’s the right one. My travels have brought across the Atlantic Ocean and back, across the Virginia/North Carolina border and back and I must say it is good to be back. I had an amazing time with our youth in Montreat - these kids have such joy and enthusiasm. I also had an almost inexpressibly meaningful and powerful time in Ethiopia. On August 20 for Mission Sunday you’ll hear quite a bit about our team’s travels and thoughts, but I’d like to share one story with you now.
The street children in Addis Ababa tended to come across to me as more hardened, embittered than their country counterparts. We would be asked for money frequently, whenever our car stopped at a stop sign or if and when we got out of the car. Though asked, we never gave – certainly not because we wouldn’t want to but because if we gave to one child or even all the children around us, it wouldn’t be enough. More would come and our safety could become an issue. So as hard as it was to say no (or ignore the requests altogether) this is what we did. In return we often received rude looks or gestures.
During one of our last days in Addis, I was walking from our car to a small shop only about 20 meters away when a young boy, one of the street children, put out his hand and asked me for money. I told him “no money, no money” followed by a “poof” complete with hand gestures (think ‘I’ve just made a rabbit disappear’). The boy looked at me rather strangely and so I repeated “poof” with my magician hands. Then he started to giggle. This was a sound I had heard many times before in the country but not from a city street kid. He repeated my gestures and word back to me and we laughed together until I got to the shop. I did my shopping and when I came out, I saw my little friend again. He had gone on to see if others might give him some change but came running up to me with another “poof” and a giggle. Though we had not exchanged money, we did exchange laughter and in that joy, we managed to make a connection – however brief – that warmed my heart a thousand times over.