Today Pam Corder led us in charge to rescue a little girl and her mother. A visit to the home yesterday gave credence to legitimate charges of abuse by the mother's boyfriend, who, according to witnesses was incensed at the presence of Transformation Love home visitors. This little girl needs surgery on a very delicate part of the body and has AIDS. If she does not get the surgery very soon, she will most likely die. The girl's mother was very happy to have visitors--until the man came home. Then, she cowered before him with downcast countenance and fearful eyes. Prior, she had been on her knees praying to God for help. This is when the home visitors came. But now, with an irate man slaying his visitors with angry words, she dwelt in fear.
Until today. Walking a half hour from her home, the woman showed up with her daughter to the Friday church service for women affected by AIDS. Pam had been praying and thinking about this woman and her vulnerable little girl the previous night. The woman showed up to the church today for the first time. An answer to prayer. After the service, I was told we were going to help a family move, and that the situation might get ugly due to a male, and that therefore a strong male presence on our side would be necessary. Ignorant of the situation, I casually walked with the team up the long, rocky road to the main road that goes into Korah. Who knows? Maybe I'll run into my 4th daughter, Hiwot, whom my family, along with a friend sponsors with food, medicine, education, and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
But here comes Hable! Her dirty, green shirt shifts through small crowds of people towards me. Her arms are wide open and she jumps into mine. I pick her up and carry her a ways up the hill. Hable is an articulate, eight year-old girl whose mother and little brother have AIDS. Hable does not. Her father is "no more," as she told me earlier. "Down," she says. I put her down and she holds my hand as I walk the long Korah road. Hable stops and points with a gasp at a man face down in the mud. She grips my hand. Her little brother Laule (means "Prince") holds my other hand. Her mother saunters behind with a cane, disclosing a contented smile. The team is racing on and we need to catch up. Run! We run, hand in hand. I'm also impressed with Hable's enunciated English. She even wrote her name and her brother's name on my hand with a pen in both English and Amharic.
Starting to sweat and the pack is heavy. "Here. Let me take it," Dave says. Gladly. Ah, Dave. We turn left down a wide road full of rocks and holes. The roads here were built some decades ago by the government with large, oblong stones, some of which are two feet square. The gutters are deep and layered with concrete blocks, chiseled stone, and cement filler. A greenish, garish slime grows through it. It's time to take a right. How much longer til we get to this woman's home? What will await us there? Will the man be there? Will he turn violent? How will I react in protecting her?
Hable must turn left, and our team is turning right. Here comes a man with an Obama T-shirt. "Greetings."
Dogs abound. Wusha. A baby goat and mother goat call to each other from a great distance. They are in distress to find each other, and cannot. Taylor wants to help the baby goat. Hable takes leave. Her muddy sandals skip along the ridges on the road, as there is much mud and filth to avoid. I can see the dump in the distance. We're on the edge of Korah now. Goodbye Hable! Ciao! You are loved.
Another rocky, craggy road. I suppose I won't run into Hiwot, my sponsored girl. She's on the other side of the main road, far from here. Korah is a big place, and wandering off to uncharted areas can be dangerous, especially for girls, which is why we're on a rescue mission. More mud. Here comes a truck, teetering and tottering with a slow molasses through the road. It's the rainy season. I can smell the dump. Take a left, go past this school. "The kids at this school know English really well," someone says. Up a hill. Take a right. We stop. Here we go. This is it. "It's go time," I say. "What's that?" says Taylor. "I said, 'It's go time.'" He laughs.
We enter the woman's home. She is young, and very happy to see us. The little girl is there. But no man. Good. Pack it up and hit the road--let's get this woman out of here. I'm sweating something fierce, and there's a communication problem. And there's fear. Will the man come after her? "I'm afraid of losing my daughter. I can't afford surgery." I go outside. I gotta get some cooler air. There's five or six others with us, including three Ethiopians who volunteer with the child sponsorship ministry. There's a meeting.
A steel tub, some dishes, a circular, woven mat, a water jug and some plastic tubs, and we are on our way. It's all she has--and that's heavy enough for a long walk to who knows where. Plop, she dumps some clothes into the steel tub. It's two people on this steel tub, and the rim rips into my hand. My carrying partner, the woman who is taking in this child and her mother, walks at an alarming rate! I keep wondering to myself. "If we turn down this road, we'll get closer to Hiwot's neighborhood." Ah, but that's unlikely. There's 50,000 people here.
Another turn, and we get a little closer toward the middle of the Korah area. Wait a sec. I recognize this place. We're in Hiwot's neighborhood! Good, but what is the likelihood of us actually nearing her home? Another left, and we're on Hiwot's road. We stop. We're only a stone's throw from her house. Time for a surprise visit! I sneak up and "Hey!" Hiwot and Shewaye see me. "Cdeese! My Fahzeh." Shewaye has never seen me in person, but she calls me her father--and I'm not even the one who sponsors her--it's my friend Shawn who does. Nevertheless, she wraps her arms around me and gives me a strong hug. Anchi yene sitlej nesh (you are my daughter).
One girl and her mother are in a safe place, soon to be sponsored, as another girl and her sister enjoy the benefits of it. Love transforms.