The best day …
I held Sentayehu’s hand as he helped guide me to the trash dump in Kore (Korah.) As we walked, he pointed shyly where he lived for 6 years before Project 61. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and held his hand tighter. How can I describe in words to you what it would be like to live on a trash dump? It would be an impossible task. How would I explain to you the smell, the unsafe environment, the danger, the nightmare… I don’t want to accept this kind of living for any human being. I wish I could take his pain and wave a wand (like in a Disney movie) and wipe away all the bad memories. Instead, I will fast forward and share with you what God has taught our sons, the Man Up teens, about courage, faith, and prayer.
I want to honor the village of Korah, the birthplace of our daughter, Zoie Senait … who have lived their lives with reckless abandon. Today, we walked to the trash dump with 7 of our boys, and our dear friend, Fekadu who lived 20 years on the dump. The walk through the village winds through the rocky, muddy streets until you reach the bridge. That is the moment you know you are walking into a different world. It is no longer possible to bring teams there, due to government control, but our family of 5 was easy to conceal. The boys walked and they shared their stories. It’s not possible to understand the magnitude of what it means to live, eat, and exist on a trash dump. Living here in Africa long term has allowed us to build deeper relationships with the community.. the real life heroes who wake up every single day and claim victory in Jesus.
I will never be able to wrap my heart around anyone [I love] living in these horrific conditions, but what I focus on is the promise God made each and every child and family He has rescued, each one with a different miracle. God always keeps His promises! The boys were all eager to share their stories. I believe it’s healing to the soul to tell someone your history. My girls have no idea what it means to live without food or shelter, but they honored our friends and walked hand in hand. When we reached the entrance, they didn’t stop but instead helped us “climb” the massive mountain of trash. I was so proud of the girls… they didn’t miss a single step. Roger was at the dump with a few of the Man Up team members a few days ago, so he stayed below with Zoie, but the girls (and mom) climbed until we reached the top.
The view on top is both spectacular and horrific. A few of the workers approached us and asked me to take their photos. It felt strange posing in the trash, but it brought them so much joy. It was the first time I’ve ever witnessed the back side entrance of the dump. There was activity everywhere we looked. In fact, one of our boys ran off to find his mother so he could introduce us. As we held the boys hands, I felt relief knowing they would never have to live here again. But, praying God will continue to pour His mercy and grace and restoring hope to the community … continuing His rescue mission.
For the past 2 ½ months, my husband has been ministering daily to 12 young men (teens) who are part of the Project 61 ministry in Korah. The children formerly living on the trash dump or streets are now fully sponsored with food, shelter and education. Hope. Healing. Restoration. The boys have been adopted by our family this summer (and forever) and we enjoy taking them to church on Sundays, as well as fun activities during the week. They help us throughout the day with our ministry in Korah and never leave our side. They adore their sisters, Zoie, Hannah and Dovie. We love when they call us mom “Enatay” and dad “Abatay” … adoption of the heart. Most of the boys are true orphans or have been abandoned. Roger is teaching the life of Daniel and they are learning what it means to live a life of courage and faith and prayer. In fact, we renamed the “shelter” where the boys sleep to the Man Up Cave. We are grateful for the Visiting Orphans team who helped us paint their door with the new super-cool name.
Isaiah 61:10- “I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.” This verse means so much to me. The people living or working on the trash dump that have been restored by Jesus Christ now wear the garments of salvation and the robes of righteousness… stunning like a bride who adorns herself with jewels and the bridegroom who adorns his head like a priest. He covers our filth and sin with beauty from the ashes.
I want you to trust Me enough to realize your privileged position in My kingdom. Relax in the luxuriant folds of your magnificent robe. (Jesus Calling)