Many of you generously donated money prior to our trip to Ethiopia for a pizza party for the teenage boys at Kolfe. Because of your huge hearts and generosity, Ben and I had the absolute pleasure of throwing a full blown pizza party for around 100 teenage orphans who live in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at Kolfe. I have many friends and family members who sponsor boys at Kolfe through Children's HopeChest so I was excited to go and see first hand what it's like.
Let me just say it was really fun to go to the pizza place and see them whip up 70 pizzas. And by whip up, I do mean about two hours later, which I still think is crazy fast for that many pizzas in Ethiopia. :) We hung out on the rooftop of the pizza place waiting with the awesome folks from HopeChest where I snapped these pictures:
Then we started to carry the 70 pizzas down the four flights of stairs to the van. You can only imagine the looks we got. Only the crazy white people would need that many pizzas. :)
We made the relatively short drive to Kolfe and pulled in. Many of the boys appeared quickly because they had been told pizza and fresh fruit were coming. I have to say, I didn't know what to expect and found myself a little nervous. Most of my interactions with orphans have been with little kids and so this was a whole new ball game. Teenagers. Boys. Lots of them. What to do? What to say? As it turns out, you need never worry about what to say at Kolfe, as the boys just started asking questions and talking easily with us.
I admit I was a bit distracted at first. My friend Erin in Maine sponsors a sweet Kolfe boy named Biruk and I SO badly wanted to get my hands on him and hug him I could hardly stand it. Erin's experience with Biruk has been incredible. Talk about what a meaningful role a sponsor can play in a child's life!! Her family skypes with Biruk... he has watched her kids do gymnastics and crazy stuff in their living room from Ethiopia. I LOVE that. I feel like I know Biruk as I have watched Erin's relationship with him develop. So, I went to ask someone if they could find him and as soon as I turned I saw his face right by the van. OH. THAT. SMILE.
I said his name and he beamed. He knew I was going to be coming at him fast with some hugs from his sponsor mama. :) I'm fairly certain I smothered the poor boy but he didn't seem to mind. I had my arm around him for the next hour or so. Seriously??? How lucky am I??? It was AWESOME.
He showed me the dorm where he slept.
He wowed me with his typing skills in the computer room...
He was not any different than any other child on the planet in that he loved that someone took an interest in him. Somebody (Erin!) loved him enough to send me with hugs and kisses and questions and love from his sponsor family. I know that Biruk's life didn't get any easier because I spent an hour or so with him. But I bet he went to bed that night with a smile on his face and joy in his heart because he was reminded he was loved. I know I still can't wipe the stupid grin off my face when I think about getting to meet him!
There are still boys at Kolfe who do not have sponsors. (If you are interested in changing that, please click here for more information). The ones who had been sponsored were eager to ask me if I knew their "mom and dad" in Texas or Florida or some other state. They were rattling names off at me more quickly than I could process what they were saying. I wanted to say so badly that I knew their sponsors but I couldn't. A few boys couldn't hide their disappointment. It was heart wrenching. Let me tell you, these boys LOVE their sponsors. If you think sponsorship is just writing your check every month you are sadly mistaken. These boys have no family to speak of. It is not an understatement to say these kids consider their sponsors family. They are hungry for relationship. It was really quite beautiful to witness.
As was the boys putting down some much anticipated pizza and fruit! :)
Then we got to give these sweeties their packages from their sponsors...
The little guy that Ben is with above is my in-law's newly sponsored child. How cool is that? Ben got to tell him that they were like brothers now. He liked that. :)
I am so thankful that we got the opportunity to give these boys a fun evening! They LOVED the pizza and fruit and each boy was also given a new t-shirt. I couldn't believe how many of the 100 came up and shook my hand and thanked me sincerely. How humbling. So now I pass along their thanks to you, who truly made it happen! You all are so awesome and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring about these boys. Wish you could have been there. You would have loved it. Please, PLEASE continue to pray for them. Pray that they feel loved...that they know God created them for a purpose...that they grow into the big dreams they each have and pursue them with all their hearts.
P.S. My friend Erin just emailed me some comments from the boys after the party. I'm adding them to the post now to give you a feel for just how much something simple like pizza and fruit means to them...
Ephrem wrote to his sponsor mom:
Yes mom we eat pizza, mango, banana and orange at Wednesday this day is our fantastic day because we don’t eat pizza and orange before. We are very joyful in that day.
...and this one is from sweet Solomon to Erin:
Yes we have wonderful day today. Lots of boys tested pizza for the first time. I knew this party before a month ago but all boys didn't know that so they are very surprised and the same time they are so happy. I don't know how we can say thank you all you God people. You are a blessing for us. now we know that we are not alone. We have lots of people that praying and thinking for us. Thank you Erin very very much and I would like to say thank you all people who helps us and care about us everyday. I haven't seen before such kinds of smile faces on Kolfe boys. I would like to say thank you again and again.