Day 2

PictureA crisp, clear morning greeted us as we all awoke from a solid night's sleep, ready to head off to visit the homes of beneficaries of the ACT project. Our own morning devotion focused on gratitude and Psalm 103, and we then led the Monday devotion of the entire project staff. It's a tradition to have the visiting team sing a song as well as lead the devotion, and following an improptu gospel rendition of "Amen!" and Rachel giving us all a brief gospel solo of "Change in my Life" from "Leap of Faith", we allowed our hosts to sing a praise song in Amharic. We followed with Amazing Grace, and then had a good discussion around Isaiah 58 and true fasting. It was then off to the Bole district and home visits in Moon Village.

PictureMoon Village is a cluster of makeshift cardboard and corrugated steel homes constructed illegaly at night in a large open space, hence the name. Many of the beneficiaries of the project live here, and the area is targeted for demolition by the government in the near future. All of the people living here will be displaced without compensation by the government, ostensibly to build a large sports stadium for which there is little need in Addis Ababa. The lack of clarity on the future has injected a fair amount of uncertainty as the project plans for the beneficiaries living in the area.

PictureVisiting the homes of benificiaries and hearing their stories brings amazement at the gratitude of these people, heartbreak as we discover their plight and immense respect for the work of the staff of the ACT project. One young woman, cast out of her community, lives alone while trying to recover from AIDS-induced hemiparesis, and her prayer request is for forgiveness. Another woman tells the story of how she and her husband, both HIV positive and becoming bedridden from complications of AIDS, gave up their 9 year old son for adoption, thinking they would not survive to care for him. This was over 4 years ago, as they entered the project. They are now both healthy, her husband working full time, and they will graduate from the project now, self sufficient and healthy…but burdened with the guilt of giving up their son, who they have lost contact with. Another young couple celebrate that the husband, who had been bedridden with contractures from AIDS neuropathy, has regained the ability to walk after nearly a year of therapy and leg casts. PictureThe wife is now 4 months pregnant, but with enormous genital warts which will make a natural delivery nearly impossible. One woman, who entered the project extremely ill 5 years ago, is now healthy and when asked what the project meant to her replied "the project is my mother". We visited one young man who has been crippled and paraplegic with contractures for 10 years, but was thrilled that with therapy through the project, he can now open his contracted legs enough to place a large pillow under his knees. Gratitude and thankfulness was the theme from all of these people, despite their circumstances, and humbled each of us. We learn much from those who appear to have so little...