Visiting sponsor children and reading letters

Monday, 7/20/15 Update from Sintaro Village (Written by team member, Debbie Wyne)

We want to get an earlier start this morning, in the event that we might have afternoon rain again. Things don’t quite work out as planned, but we still manage to arrive a little earlier today than yesterday. Progress!

When we make the turn off the main road into Tula we are pulled over by a local policeman. No one translates what is going on, but moments later, the policeman boards our bus and sits down next to me. Mattewos and our translators are quiet, but don’t seem bothered by this, so the rest of us take it in stride too. Not wanting to do anything which may be misconstrued, we ride the rest of the way quietly into Sintaro. As it turns out, he works in the Malga district, and he is just hitching a ride!

As we arrive in Sintaro, the kids are once again lined up to welcome us. They seem happy to see us… until they see the policeman step out of the van instead, and then their demeanor changes and they get much more serious! Their smiles reappear when we step out behind him and begin our day together.

The day starts with handing out name tags to all of the children. They enjoy our attempts at pronouncing their names and patiently wait to be called. I find that I am much, much better at pronouncing their unusual names since I’ve met all of them once before. Progress!

We’ve decided that we want to start the day doing hut visits so we’re not so rushed by the weather. Hut visits are an amazing opportunity to meet our sponsored children, see their living environments and to learn more about their culture and lifestyle. We have three visits scheduled for today.   We visit Lori and Sarah’s sponsored children (you can read about Sarah’s visit in a separate post), and another student named Kassa.

Last month, many children from our community attended an African themed Vacation Bible School at CPC. Sarah Scott, Heather Southworth and a team of volunteers did a fantastic job of educating our kids about Sintaro Village and introducing our kids to the concept of supporting those in need through the giving of themselves, their finances and through prayer. Each day, the VBS kids brought in donations that ended up being enough to sponsor two Sintaro children for SIX YEARS! Kassa is one of those children, so we are thrilled to be able to visit him and bring back the stories of our visit to the children of CPC! It is a beautiful thing to realize how this project is impacting lives in Sintaro, as well as at home!

As we walked towards Kassa’s hut, the neighbors file in parade with us. We join hands and sing songs as we get closer to the hut. Kassa’s family is home and we are invited inside to meet them. Kassa’s mom is there, with three additional siblings. We learn there is a 5th child who was in 9th grade and left to attend school in Awasa (about a 45 minute drive away). Unfortunately, he has fallen sick and has had to drop out of school. He is still in Awasa, but is working to help provide income for the family.

As we look around the hut, it’s hard to see because it is so dark inside. I’ve been in several huts and by comparison, this one is fairly large and seems sturdy. We notice that behind a basket-weaved wall there is a raised mat, where presumably, the entire family sleeps. On the wall, they have a poster of the American alphabet! Dad isn’t home because he’s out farming in their fields. I ask if they have any livestock, and they point behind me where, unbeknownst to me, there is a cow—inside the hut! As we finish our visit, I ask how I can be praying for their family. Mom’s immediate and authoritative response is that she would like us to pray that they increase their faith. This is profound to me—here we sit among the poorest of the poor, who have such great physical and financial need, and yet, her hearts desire is for increased faith. Oh, we have so much to learn from these people! I ask about any potential health issues, and she asks me to pray for her insides. She says she hasn’t felt well for a long time, is very weak, and has little energy to do her work. As I begin to pray for her and her family, she kneels at my feet and I kneel beside her to lay hands on her and the children. We enjoy a sweet time of prayer, where at every pause she joins me with an “Amen”. Too soon it’s time to go and we take a few family photos with them outside the hut.

It’s lunchtime, but first we must wash our hands. Imagine my delight when we realize that we have running water!!!!! Just this morning, a spigot has been installed with water from the well! Although the water celebration won’t take place until Wednesday, we are able to enjoy the fresh, clean, cool water! The team takes a moment and just appreciates what a momentous occasion this is and praises God for the flowing water!

Once again, I’m hungry for lunch. In past visits, the Hope staff, interpreters and school staff all wait until we serve ourselves, and then they sit at a different table from us. I noticed this when I was here in February and yesterday I made a conscious decision to not sit at “our” table, but instead to sit at the empty table where they would normally sit. I was pleased that they joined me and we conversed all through lunch. Today, I sit at the end of the table with the rest of the CPC team, and I am so pleased that the interpreters join me. Yes—they’ve taken my lead and want to join us! Being here in Sintaro is so much about developing relationships, and we have an opportunity to do that in so many more ways than just with the people of the village.

After lunch, Lori, Sarah and Rachel leave to go to the local Catholic church and set up the screen and projector for another viewing of “The Jesus Film”. They report back that the building is overflowing and spilling out with people there to watch the film. Initially, some of the school children are there, but when it’s time for them to leave, some of the other local children and young adults (the ones “outside the fence” rush forward to take their place. A few of the village elders are in attendance as well.

Meanwhile, Lori and Debbie attend a meeting with the Water Committee to discuss the plans for water distribution. We are all excited about the upcoming celebration of water!

The rest of the afternoon is spent reading sponsor letters to the school children. It’s a sweet time of being one-on-one with each student and really connecting the to the community back home. We take pictures and are able to share the letters and tell the students about our friends back home who love them and pray for them.

We manage to get letters read to all 150 students and we’re all exhausted. We drive back to the hotel and look forward to a shower. Unfortunately, when we arrive, we have no power, no water, and no wifi. Some of use baby wipes to clean off a bit, and then walk a few blocks for some refreshing pre-dinner gelato. We enjoy Italian pizza for dinner, and then finally come back to the hotel to find we have power and water again. Unfortunately, wifi is still somewhat elusive, but when I walk to one of the other buildings, I’m able to find some. It’s a late night and that bed is sure looking good. It’s been a good, full day and I look forward to what tomorrow may bring. G’night!