Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Seemingly Impossible

This boy.  Sigh...  oh how he has my heart!  We are celebrating his 9th birthday today.  There are days I look at him and I can't believe that he ever lived on the other side of the world, far, far away from me. It feels like he's always been here right beside me.  Yet he has this whole beautiful, raw history - an entire lifetime that he lived in a matter of four years in Ethiopia when he was with his birth father.  

When I squeeze my eyes shut tightly I can imagine the stories he has told me playing out- the good and the bad.  I can hear the pitter patter of his bare feet as he walked in nothing but a t-shirt through the dirt to the rancid pond that provided the only drinking water available for his birth family.  

I've seen video footage of the actual pond he drank water from. I've seen his birth father and step-mother pour drinking water from that very water source into a simple cup and bring it to their lips.  

I can imagine the cries of his little brother suffering through severe stomach pain and diarrhea.  I can imagine the day when he took his last breath and never cried again - because of the water he was drinking. 

I can all too easily imagine how that could have been my son.  MY son.  By all logic, he should have been a statistic just like his brother - one of over six thousand children who die every day because of water-borne illness.  His stomach was riddled with parasites when he came to the United States.  After a quick regiment of strong antibiotics, he was fine.  TOTALLY FINE.  But you guys, there are so many people who are NOT fine.  Things will never be fine for them unless people like Tariku and you and me help make them fine.  

It's been said that water is life, and truer words have never been spoken.  But what about when the water you lift to your lips carries death within it? What then??

My son is passionate about people having clean drinking water.  He has been since he was 5 years old.  He has decided that every other year on his birthday he will work hard to raise money through charity:water for people without access to clean drinking water.  If I'm being super honest, I have mixed feelings about this. As his mama, I don't want his little heart to be disappointed if people don't respond the way he wants them to.  Isn't this the story of all of our lives? Don't we all feel passionately about something, and we FEEL it so strongly and so much that it's a risk to put it out there and not have that same level of feeling returned? Don't you sometimes feel the blank stares as you talk, and the "oh, that's nice" sentiments when your very heart might burst out of its rib cage because you realize they don't feel it the same way you do?

I have all those fears for my son.  His heart is SO pure.  His dreams are SO big around this issue.  As we were talking about what financial goal he wanted to set for this campaign, I had to bite my tongue when he said $10,000.  I wanted to say "Sweetie, how about we do the same thing we did last time - $5,000?" Typical.  Let's do what's safe and what we KNOW can be done.  Let's do what we KNOW my son can achieve and not feel disappointed with. 

Oh. My. Goodness.  Come ON, Amy!!!  How dare I not let him try for what he wants and believes can happen!  So, $10,000 it is.  And you know what? Whether he makes it to 10k or not, I know that he is learning the importance of showing up and doing what his heart tells him to.  I want him to learn how to be faithful and persistent and believe the best about himself and others no matter what.  I want him to be true to himself. 

And so we keep on keeping on.  We keep on talking about the impact of dirty water on families across the globe.  We keep on hoping that people will engage with this issue.  We keep on letting his classmates at school haul heavy jerry cans full of water across their room to get a feel for what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes.  We keep on believing that families everywhere will have easy access to clean drinking water so that they too can go to work, and go to school and have the hope and opportunity that we so easily take for granted. We keep on because we know that beautiful, seemingly impossible things happen when people join together and do what they can to make life better for each other.  

I have this picture in my head of Tariku as an elderly man sitting in his recliner on his 80th birthday, not having to create a fundraising page for clean drinking water because EVERYONE will have access to it.  I picture him tossing his head back and belly laughing at the glorious beauty of it all - the reality that he did indeed make a difference for the generations that will come behind him.  And it will all happen because people like him and you and I will have used our voices, our platforms and our gifts to make it happen.  It will happen when we all start to realize and live like all people everywhere are OUR people. And OUR people are drinking water that is killing them. We get to be a part of putting an end to that.  

So, here's to my 9 year old son, the trail-blazer.  May your love for others remain deep and steady, and may you indeed live to see the water crisis ended in your lifetime.  I am so very proud that you rest your hand on my cheek and call me your mama. You make my heart sing. 

If you'd like to be a part of Tariku's adventure, we'd be so grateful if you'd kindly click HERE. Thank you, friends.