Friday, October 26, 2012

Reintegration Is Rough.

As I watch my team mates struggle with what to say as we all reintegrate I was battling this myself in my own brain.  Sometimes its easier for me to type out my thoughts vs. talking about them.

My brain is on overload.  My head and heart just hurt.  I don't feel very eloquent yet my thoughts are haunting me so I must write.

Only God would put together a team of thirteen women, different roads brought us to this place, bound together by a heart to serve our King.  I was merely honored to facilitate, encourage, and blessed beyond measure to watch the Lord weave our stories, hearts, and experiences.  There are no words for what God did.  I can only stand in awe, hands lifted high in praise, humble gratitude.

My head is jumbled, my heart pained, my voice quiet as I think of what we experienced.  Just one week.  Lives were changed.  Voices will be found.  Vulnerable women and children will be advocated for.  King Jesus will be glorified.

Every time I go to Ethiopia I return burdened and struggling with what to do next.  The poverty in a third world country is nothing like the poverty I've seen anywhere else.  In America we have infrastructure in place, programs, homeless shelters.  In Ethiopia these programs don't exist.  Children pay to sleep on the streets because someone bigger than them says they have to.  Children don't get to go to school because they have to earn money to eat and to sleep.  Children and their mothers get kicked and punched because they were begging and a business owner didn't like where they were begging.  A father without hope for help carries his four year old son who is so weak he can't even hold up his own head.  

All of these things are gut wrenching and horrible.  All of these things are preventable.  All of these things can be corrected yet I know that we can't change the world overnight.  I do know that we can be a voice, we can pray, and we can support ministries on the ground working to make a difference.

All of these things got to me but there is one thing that has shaken me to my very core.  Something I can't forget.  Something that haunts me.  You'd think after this many trips to Ethiopia I'd be semi prepared.  No.  I firmly believe God will continue to rattle me, to shake me up, and awaken me to the reality others live.  He doesn't want me to be comfortable and I'm grateful for that.  

The reality for over 200,000 women in Addis alone is a life of prostitution.  Prostitution is legal in Ethiopia.   One night, late, we went for a ride.  Supposedly it was a "slow night", it didn't seem "slow" to me.  I'll never forget the young girl in the red party dress.  She looked like she should be going to her girlfriends birthday party but no, it was after midnight. She was waiting for a man, any man willing to pay, a man who would violate her and take any innocence she had left.  She would make less then a dollar.  She looked about 12.  My heart breaks in a million pieces.

How am I supposed to return to my "normal" suburban life knowing that these things are going on just a world away?  A world away in a country I love, a people I love with every fiber of my being?  How am I supposed to answer the looming question "how was your trip"?  How can I stand by and NOT do anything?

I can't.

Once I'm able to work through my overflowing brain I'll be blogging about each ministry we visited so YOU can get involved with us.  So YOU can pray about being apart.  We CAN make a difference.  Even from here.

Grateful to have been able to be His hands and feet.  To love on His people and to share with others ministries in Ethiopia loving WELL on a daily basis.


Erika Philip said...

oh girl.. I feel your pain... oh how I know.

Rebekah said...

Oh my...I have tears flowing down my face as I read this. That is one thing that I will NEVER forget. Seeing those young girls on the streets waiting for someone to violate them so that they can that they can "live" one more day, has changed me forever. Since coming home from Ethiopia, I am not the same. I can't be the same. To be honest, I haven't even figured out how to view "church" like I used to. And maybe that's good. I can't wait to get back to Ethiopia. I pray that God continues to make these feelings raw, that I may never forget and seek to glorify Him.

Esther said...

Thank you for sharing your heart about your latest trip. Looking forward to hearing more about your opportunities while you were there and seeing what God will do next!

Carrie Sterner said...

Thanks for being vulnerable, for sharing that which most of us may only hear about. God has asked you to shoulder a burden and yet to be a mouthpiece Erika. You are creating an awareness, starting with a few, in order that change may begin. I am praying. May God continue to use you and your precious heart, powerfully!

Angela said...

Yes, thanks for sharing. I knew on our first trip to ET that our hearts would forever be changed and they have been. On our second trip I didn't think I could ever go back again because it was so hard to see the poverty, heartache, hopelessness of the people but I have a son and daughter from there and so ET will always have a place in my heart and I don't want to fight that. Thanks for the reminder because life gets busy and we can forget too easy!!

NotaSupermom said...

We go to other countries hoping to help and make positive change, but almost always the most profound change happens within us.

This was a beautiful post.