A few hours ago we ate our last supper together in Ethiopia. Paco, Evelyn, Brian, Wess and I gathered around a table in the hotel restaurant and laughed and plotted against the problems of the third world. These have been fast forming friendships and now that we know each other better I’d like to introduce you to them.
Evelyn is the VP of a radio marketing/advertising firm (that’s the best way I can describe what she does). She produces and writes a radio program Wess “stars” in called Speak Up With Compassion and she sponsors nine school aged children in several countries. But she came here to Ethiopia with us to attend the graduation ceremony of Bishaw – an LDP (Leadership Development Program) student who grew up in a Compassion project and now has a degree in computer science and a job with the nation’s leading (only?) internet provider because Evelyn sponsored him. Evelyn sky dives, laughs easily, and changes clothes quickly. She’s pushy in the best ways and generous – a powerful combination in the fight against poverty. Here she is with a few LDP graduates – the one to the left of her is Bishaw, who calls her “mother.”
Paco’s real name is Francisco. I don’t know why we call him Paco – or why he told us to. Paco was the VP of a large international pharmaceutical company once and today he’s the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Compassion. He lives in Philadelphia and is in the beginning stages of starting a program that sounds similar to what Compassion projects do in the third world. It’s a program that holistically develops children in the inner city of Philly. Pray for him as he works to raise funds and find teachers willing to tutor students at his project after their long days of teaching kids in schools. He needs generous teachers who love kids. Let me know if you’re one of those and you live in his area and I’ll get you in touch. I wish Paco’s greatest strengths were my own. He doesn’t say much but when he speaks every word is worth hearing. Here’s a pic of Paco, Evelyn and me in an Ethiopian Sunday school classroom.
Our mission to release children from poverty brought us to this place and bonded us quickly. I’ve learned a lot from these new friends but I’ve learned even more from the children of Ethiopia. Wess continuously describes the poor of the world with words like “dignified,” “brave” and “beautiful.” The children of Ethiopia are paragons of these adjectives. I’ll miss them holding my hands, laughing at my jokes, teaching me words, smiling right through me, petting my hair and touching my beard. Most of all I’ll miss being inspired daily by their resilience, their joy, and their gratitude for every small gift God gives.
One more friend. I made a monkey friend. I do have video of this guy but I’m having a hard time getting video to upload. My internet access here at the hotel is as slow as it is expensive. So that’ll have to wait. I don’t know the monkey well enough to compliment his character or list his accomplishments. Our time together was brief. But I think the connection we forged is obvious in this picture.