Zeway is for the most part a polar opposite of my life. The houses are typically one room; made from mud and straw. They constantly have to be repaired during the rainy season. Homes might have one electric outlet with intermittent power. Food is scarce and the menu is same thing day after day. People walk 20 minutes to get water that no one in America would (or even could) drink. Clothes are a need, not a want. In some cases, boys wear girls’ clothes. You take what you can get. Sickness is prolific and health care is marginal at best. People don’t worry about allergies; they worry about AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. Education is often sacrificed in order to work for money to be able to eat. A 15 year old boy in 5th grade is not uncommon. University is a word not many children understand. There is no need for a checking account.
The time my wife Heather and I spent in Zeway this month was likely one of the most impactful weeks of our lives. We are still processing all we saw and experienced. Personally, I have felt conflicted since returning to Austin. I came back with feelings of hope and with emptiness all at the same time. Hope for the children we saw who live with joy despite dire circumstances. Emptiness in my soul for the comfortable life I live and a feeling that I am not doing enough to help the poor. I am wrestling inside… with myself and with God.
Adjusting back to my life here in Austin has been difficult. My job seems a lot less important than it did when I left. I am home, but my thoughts are still in Africa. My wife said it well, “I feel like I am sleep walking through my days. Never fully here.” Friends who had been to Ethiopia before us said we would feel this way. I am no longer skeptical to their forewarnings. Each day I wonder if I will always feel this way or will the busyness and comfort of my life consume the unsettlement I feel? I hope the unsettlement sticks around.
So where do I go from here? I’m not exactly sure. What I am sure of is this: if you believe the teachings of Bible, you should be helping the poor. I do believe the Bible, so that is what I want to do. I also believe the Bible teaches us to do things not out of duty, but out of love. I feel like I went to Zeway out of duty, I left feeling like I went out of love. I came home with a sincere love for Ethiopia, a love for the people from Food from the Hungry, and most of all a love for the children.
I am not sure what is next for my wife and me. Do we sell all our stuff and move to Africa? Not likely. Do we change how we live here in Austin? Probably so. Will we continue to care for and love the children of Zeway? Most definitely.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” - Ephesians 2:10