Got Ethiopia On My Mind

LOTS of people ask me what I took from Ethiopia, not literally but ideas, knowledge, etc.

That’s a really tough question to answer. I really think there was a Tesi before Ethiopia and a Tesi after Ethiopia. My personality hasn’t really changed much (except I like to think I’m more compassionate towards people and their situations) but certainly the way I think of my place in the world and the world in general is different. It’s not something we can learn on the sidelines, it’s one of those where you just have to be there. In some ways it’s both the world’s saddest inside joke and most ironic.

It’s so fascinating how many comments we get about our adoption being a “good thing to do”. This says nothing towards the person saying it, except for perhaps they just don’t know us all that well. Zach and I are human, that’s why I can say this adoption was purely selfish. Even though we are certain God called us to adopt, we are also certain we did not save Tariku. Truth be told the care center he was in was a very loving, comfortable, beautiful environment. It doesn’t make up for a family but it was a lot better than a lot of families kids have to live in these days. I dare say in many ways our adoption of Tariku saved me. I’m certain God called us to do this because of what we would get out of it as well. For all intents and purposes I think God was kind of killing two birds with one stone with us. Sure Tariku could’ve used a family and we could’ve used a child but certainly it was more than that.

So with that said, I also cannot erase Ethiopia from my mind (not that I want to necessarily but it is SO PRESENT). When I’m in the car, I think of that special person we were able to meet on Sunday. When I see a food market I think of the Merkato, when I see an African person I think of Ethiopia. I think of Ethiopia when I drink coffee and when I eat a really large meal. I think of Ethiopia when I wear my scarf or look down at my arm. I think of it ALL the time. And I know God’s doing it for a reason.

I finished Kay Warren’s book, Dangerous Surrender. She has a chapter on becoming gloriously ruined, which is to say seeing the world through the eyes of the “lesser of these”. The ones Jesus so obviously has a huge heart for. There are a few points in this chapter that reminded me of why God called us specifically to Ethiopia, though perhaps it will mean something entirely different to you.

“You don’t have to go to Africa to prove that you’re seriously disturbed and gloriously ruined. That’s where dangerous surrender to God led me, but it’s not a litmus test of the depth of your obedience to God. What is a litmus test of your surrender and obedience to God is how you treat the least among us.”

Love this one…”As long as suffering people are a mere statistic to you, you will never become ruined for life as you know it. When suffering becomes personal–with faces and names–and when you hear their stories, you won’t be able to remain disconnected.”

And this one is what I’m dealing with now..”It takes time–weeks, even months–to settle into a new equilibrium that allow you to feel the pain and sorrow of our world without being overwhelmed by it.”

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’m a gloriously ruined by knowing Ethiopia. And in knowing Ethiopia, I know many other nations in the same situations. I’ve said it before, Ethiopia is so beautiful and it CANNOT be pity we feel towards the country. The fact of the matter is there are people starving there, this cannot be ignored even when they are some of the most beautiful people on this planet. There are crimes against humanity there, this cannot be ignored even when I only saw goodness in their people. Recognizing the ways we might be able to help Ethiopia does not negate the awesomeness of the country.

I just had to put this all down. I haven’t slept much wondering how in the world I will be used for this country. I’m both excited and terrified to see what’s in store but I love this country with so much depth and passion I know I’ll answer “yes” to whatever I’m called to do.

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10 thoughts on “Got Ethiopia On My Mind

  1. Tesi – I have written about these things myself, and can totally relate to what you are feeling and saying here. I think that unless a person has experienced it, they just wont be able to understand fully what you are feeling. It’s been 2 years since I’ve been to Ethiopia and God is continuing to pull at my heart more and more with each passing day. My husband and I feel God leading us to some kind of work or ministry with Ethiopia or somewhere else in Africa. We dont know what it is yet, but we’ve surrendered to whatever it is He calls us to do. Thank you for these words. I think I need to get this book now that you are talking about! It sounds great!

  2. Beautifully written Tesi! I can’t wait until we have traveled and returned and we can share being “gloriously ruined!” What a wonderfully awesome thought! Thanks for sharing from your heart!

  3. Tesi,I really have enjoyed reading about your continued journey. Along with some others, your family’s journey affected us enough to look into an Ethiopian adoption as well. We have been blessed with a domestic adoption that made us different than we were before that experience and know that an international adoption will affect us in a COMPLETELY different and equally amazing way! Thank you for being one of the people that helped us to open our eyes to Ethiopia! We look forward to starting our journey in bringing our child home from Ethiopia! We look forward to fully being able to understand what it feels like to be in your shoes and completely understand the words you write!

  4. what a great post, sister. i cant wait to come back and talk to you about this. that last quote was really great. i’m going on about 8 months now. and my first reaction was to get my newer tattoo. (we’re somewhat alike there, i think). sometimes i don’t know what’s scarier–the thoughts themselves about the suffering in the world and our calling to deal with it, or the thought that i could so easily choose not to see it and go back about my comfortable life and just read news articles and sigh and say, ‘i wish there was something i could do.’ you know? i think that’s that tension that keeps life moving, keeps us alive.love you and call you soon.

  5. Hey Tessi, I understand what you are saying. Especially the meeting on Sunday, and how these special people are always sharing our day and prayers. I am so glad things are going so well for you. Many blessings!

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