Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Catalog

Ever since the World Vision catalog arrived in our mailbox, most of the kids have snuck away into their rooms to pour over it. First was Isabel. I can clearly remember seeing her sitting on a beach towel in the front yard (we had a very warm fall for Wisconsin), slowly going over each and every page. Then, Eleanor took it for a while only to return it back to the kitchen where it waited for the next child. Next was Harry, who read it while he ate a couple of bowls of cereal. Lincoln brought it to me a couple of times, asking me what different pages represented.

Lastly, George started looking at it.

As he turned the pages, he suddenly gasped and squealed as he stared at a page talking about clean water in Africa. The photograph is of a young African boy splashing clean water through his hands.

"Momma! I had one of those in Africa!" (He rarely refers to his life before us as living in Ethiopia - it's always Africa).

We were all at the breakfast table, finishing up our morning routine. He then demonstrated for all the kids how he would go to the well and wash his face and drink some water using his hands as a cup. He was so happy as he talked about all the kids going to the well in the morning.

And then he saw a child in the catalog with a swollen belly, and around the boy were graphics of different diseases people die from drinking contaminated water. Flatworms, giardia, cholera. Water-borne diseases give children debilitating cramps and painful diarrhea. Worms alone contribute to about 200,000 needless deaths every year.

George asked a lot of questions. Where those worms in my belly? Did this worms kill my Africa-daddy? Why is there still "yellow" water in Africa?

Why is there still "yellow" water in Africa! Good question, son.


I have been stumped with a question swirling around my head for days now...why do we think it is ok to raise an entire generation of children who are materialistic? Why do we ask our children what MORE they want? Why does America spend billions of dollars on Christmas gifts? What are we teaching our children by surrounding the bottom of a tree with presents? Are we really teaching them the joy of giving? Or are we teaching them the joy of getting...what they want....?

And, yet, in Africa, children still drink "yellow" water and get sick and die...every day. I remember when George first saw the swimming pool we regularly visit. He looked at me with huge eyes, wanting to ask me questions, but not knowing the words to ask. Is this water clean? Look at how much water there is! And we just swim in it? We play in it? Should I clean myself in this? Can I drink it? I can't believe how much water there is here...and it's not yellow!

I wish we could provide a well for a village in Africa. We are going to purchase a few chickens and ducks. We have talked about what this will mean for a family - not only eggs, but chickens and duck will reproduce which leads to meat and more chickens and ducks for family or neighbors.

I have a dream that someday, my friends and I will come together and say, 'This year, we are all going to give up birthday and Christmas presents and pull our money together and buy a well in our children's names."

Until then...we keep trudging along trying to listen to God's voice. We have something up our sleeve....

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