Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Daily Bread

Two weeks ago I walked into Berhanu's home in Ethiopia.  For days I had watched this sweet little boy
at the feeding center.  He would shyly hug me when I approached him and then would hang behind the others with a slight smile, taking everything in.  He didn't run straight to me and pull on my hands like some of the other kids.  His presence was just always there - calm, quiet and restrained.  But then he danced and joy slowly overtook his face.  You can see for yourself in the video below...he's in the pink and blue striped sweater.

I found myself swept up in all the wonderful, crazy chaos that ensues when you are surrounded by 60 children.  In the midst of all the greetings, the tugs on my hands, the fingers playing with my hair, the little voices prattling on in Amharic, you can start to feel like you are in heaven.  It's easy to forget that once they step foot outside the doors of the feeding center they walk back into their reality.  And that's what I experienced a few weeks ago, walking into Berhanu's house - his reality.

Berhanu's "house" consisted of a 12 x 12 room that was made up of mud walls and a tin roof.  The shock of the living conditions in Korah never really wears off.  Although all the houses can start to look the same after so many, the reality of what living life in a tiny box that is sweltering during the summer and freezing cold and wet during rainy season never gets lost on me.  

I walked through Berhanu's door to meet his mother, who kissed me on the cheek and greeted me with the firmest handshake I've ever received.  She pointed for me to sit on the bed, while she sat down on the floor. And it was from the floor that she poured out her heart.  Not desperately, not emotionally...but with strength and beauty and dignity.  

Her words tumbled out.  Her husband died from AIDS leaving her and Berhanu alone.  She was forced to scavenge from the garbage dump to find food for her and her son.  She smiled big as she said what a relief it is to know that Berhanu is getting fed good meals every day, and even more than that, how grateful she is that he has men like Yemamu and Sisay in his life to show him love.  She went on to say how Birhanu is everything to her and how she loves him so much.  Reaching under the bed, she pulled out all of his grade cards from previous years, beaming with pride over his good grades.  

And then she pulled out a tray from under the bed.  

It was filled with anti-retroviral drugs.  She tells us how she contracted HIV from her deceased husband.  She talks about how she was scared for Berhanu when she was very sick.  And then she smiles and tells us how she goes throughout the community of Korah and talks about HIV.  She is trying to break down the stigma so that people get the help that they need before it's too late.  She is beaming as she shows us certificates that she's received for her good work in the community.  I silently breathe a sigh of relief thinking that at least she is getting some income from that, which will keep her out of the garbage dump.  But my relief was short lived as she laughs when we ask her if she's being paid for her awareness work.  She just shakes her head and smiles. No, she doesn't get paid for it, she says. She goes on to say it's important work and she is grateful to be doing it.

My husband looks at her and asks if she is getting enough food herself.  He knows how important it is to take the ARV's with food so they can be properly absorbed into her system and work the way they are meant to.  She looks at him with a confused look on her face.  

"Of course, I have enough food.  Of course.  God always provides.  Not always in the same way, but He always, always provides.  Sometimes it's food from the garbage dump that I find.  Sometimes it's neighbors that bring me food.  Sometimes friends who beg on the streets bring me their leftovers.  But I always have food."

My eyes fill up full of tears as I watch her smile and talk about God's provision for her and Berhanu.  I think of the Lord's prayer.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And He does.  Over and over. 

I answered my phone two days ago to my doctor telling me that the biopsy he took a month ago came back as melanoma while I was in Ethiopia. 

And I think of Berhanu's mother living with HIV in a third world country where everything is a struggle.  I think of the love she has for her own child.  And I remember her timely words.  God always provides.  

He gives us our daily bread.  Just enough for what we need in every moment.  I'm so thankful for that time with Birhanu's mom in Ethiopia.  I had no idea exactly what it would mean to me right now. But I look at her face and I see the strength and peace and hope in her eyes and it feeds my spirit.  

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow...


  1. I love you. I love you. I live you.

  2. Amy, your heart, strength, faith, and incredible hope continue to be an inspiration to me. I will keep you, Ben and your beautiful children in my prayers.

  3. Dear one, your words, your heart and your spirit never ceases to inspire me to live a life laid down, surrendered for the sake of love. I'm eternally thankful for your blessed presence in Francine and my life, and for your steadfast faith from garbage dumps to doctors reports to everything in between

  4. Tears. Thank you Amy, for sharing your heart the way you do. I had not read this post until today, nearly a month after it was written, and weeks after your successful surgery. You and your family shine, and I am so happy to be on the receiving end of the warmth and compassion you radiate. God has you in a place of his choosing, affected by suffering and effective as a result... the very hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you for your example.

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