Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Two words

A couple of weeks ago, we took our nine year old son with us to Ethiopia. There he toured an orphanage that reminded me of Auschwitz. He met a boy whose mother died on his 6th birthday, at which point he lived on the streets until he came to into the orphanage. Our son saw children wearing literally rags, with bare shoes and empty bellies, who had no idea where their next meal would come from. He gave toys to little boys who had never owned a toy before.

We did this to try and give him some perspective on his life, so that he would realize his life of luxury, and be grateful for his many, many blessings.

We did this so that, for instance, after attending an exemplary public school, eating a nutritious meal out of his abundantly stocked kitchen, surrounded by a family who loved him, wearing new, clean clothes, if he were playing a video game on a Kindle that cost more than most Ethiopians earn in a year, and he had spent a lot of time building a house in Minecraft, and it somehow disappeared, he would not burst into tears and say, "I don't understand why this is happening to me!! It's not fair!! I hate my life!!"

Two words:



  1. well, he reminds me of me, so I can't judge too harshly

  2. As I was reading your first paragraph, I thought wistfully, I wish I could take my 10 year old son there so he would appreciate his life. And then I got to the part about his house in Minecraft disappearing and the tantrum and I realized, nope, wouldn't work for my son either because he would have the exact same reaction. Ha!

    (And what is it with Minecraft? My son could play it all day!?)

  3. Ha! Sounds about right!
    And the owls sure are cute in their festive attire! :)

  4. Took my then 13 year old son to Ghana, and although it did have an impact on him, and likely continues to do so, in many ways he's still the same ol' boy who would be quick to say his life sucks and life isn't fair... I braced myself for that, giving the outcome to God before we even touched ground in Ghana, knowing these are but seeds planted, the harvest is His... but now, a year later, I see increasing undertones of passion and compassion in his heart, for others, for the hurting, and I think the seeds are budding where I thought we'd never see fruit.

    And yes, my word, what IS it about Minecraft!!?!

  5. Mission Ongoing, I think :-). For all of us. I think, every time I have come back from a place like Ethiopia (and I have been there, to meet my Compassion kids), that I will NEVER AGAIN complain about what I want in my classroom when kids have no classrooms, or about how my house isn't just right. . . And I don't, for awhile. But then it creeps back in. . . I think it's an ongoing challenge. Just discovered your blog, btw, and I really am enjoying it!

  6. We took our 7 and 5 year old daughters with us to Ethiopia for both trips for our son's adoption. You may not see the impact right away or every day, but you will see it! The same goes for us big people...there are days I live my life so aware of all I saw, experienced, and wept over and than there are days that I live so oblivious to what I experienced (I pray to make those days fewer and fewer)...because when it comes down to it, every day I will be a sinner, in need of the healing hand of Jesus upon me. You made an amazing decision taking him there, and it will bear fruit!

  7. So he's a human being, then :-) I agree with jstromli upstream (maybe right above me if no one comments while I'm typing this)--you will see the impact, but it's just like with you, or your husband (or me, or anyone). It hits you at moments, and then at other moments, well :-) Same old, same old. But I am pretty sure you are raising compassionate, empathetic children.

    (Plus, of all games to be passionate about, Minecraft's not so bad, right? Building things and making things? I remember my older son making a rainbow arch with Minecraft, calculating what items he'd need to dye the lumps of wool that were to make up the building blocks for the arch.)

  8. It can never fail. You have planted the seeds of compassion every day and those days in Ethiopia are not forgotten I am sure. I think about every time I display my own selfishness and I am an adult. You are leading him in the right direction. Bethie will change each of you in a special way. We have learned so much from our daughters. You are rocking it mama. No worries.

  9. The fact that he has you for a mother will mean you won't fail - not in the long run. As a mother, I understand the frustration! I have a 9 year old too and she is a very compassionate, intelligent child, so when we get the 'everyone hates me and life is sooooo unfair' it really winds me up! o_O


  10. This post made me laugh -- I can totally see the same things at war in my kids (and in myself sometimes). One minute they will pray for kids who are starving, ask to sponsor a Compassion child, etc. . . . and then they will have "the worst day ever" because they have to do homework, or we won't get cable. I am absolutely certain, though, that you son has been forever changed because of what he saw and knows now. No worries about that.



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