Jennifer here. This week I am in the Dominican Republic with Compassion International. I’ll be writing about what I’m seeing over at 5 Minutes for Mom each day. In honor of what I’ll be doing, I’ve lined up special reviews here each day that have to do with awareness or being globally minded, or service. I hope you’ll follow my journey there.
When Dianne told me she’d like to write some guest posts for us, and we were emailing back and forth about some ideas, I knew that this idea would be a perfect way to kick off the week.
Dianne is passionate about reading to learn, and enjoys sharing her learnings with others. She blogs with great irregularity at Unfinished Work and Taking Dictation.
Last fall, our church began partnering with a village in Ethiopia through World Vision. As I took on the sponsorship of a child, I realized I wanted to do more than send off a check every month. Of course, for one who likes to write, it is not difficult to send letters to my sponsored child. But was that all I could do? The answer to the prayer on my heart seemed to be “you can learn.”
Those who go on short-term mission trips usually agree: although they go to bless others, the biggest blessing is theirs, especially in terms of having their eyes opened. But I realized I could also experience this sense of increased awareness through reading. Through the eyes of others, my heart could be transported to other lands; through the words of others, my eyes could be opened and my mind informed.
Two books (pastoral recommendations) have been helpful to me. We Are All the Same, set in South Africa, was both an inspiring story of courage in the face of death, and a reminder that no one in the world, not even the tiniest little AIDS-stricken child, escapes God’s loving attention. Written by a respected journalist who chose to get involved, this is the journey of one little boy in a fight for his life, and of the two mothers who loved him. As is still the case, their struggle was against ignorance as much as the disease itself.
There Is No Me Without You is the story of Haregewoin Teferra, whose relatively good life in Ethiopia is shattered after the death of her husband and oldest daughter. Having lost her purpose in life and moved to grief to the point of being unable to function, she takes up refuge in a local cemetery. One day she is approached by a priest who asks her to take in a orphaned child who had lost both parents to the strange disease that would later become known as AIDS. Before long, her home became known as a refuge for hundreds of these children. Most amazing was the strong sense of familial commitment, even in the face of death. Only when absolutely unable to care for their children, or other near kin, would people seek out Haregewoin’s help. Unfortunately, that was all too often, as the crisis became and still is rampant today.
These books put names and faces on a crisis that might otherwise be too big to comprehend. I came away with not only a deepened sense of compassion but feeling better informed, thanks to the facts and bits of history interspersed throughout these stories. Understanding some of the fears and needs my sponsored child and others of her village face, I can pray better and give more. It’s not much, but for me, awareness has been an important and intentional first step, and it was as simple as going to my local library.
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
Thanks Dianne. This is such a great fit, as I said.
I had heard of one of those books, but not another.
Katrina (Callapidder Days) says
Great post, Dianne. How very cool that your church is working with a specific village. That’s really neat. I’ve heard of the second book you mentioned and it’s on my “to-read” list.
Thanks for sharing this.
Life of Grits says
I loved this – our Compassion child is in very similar circumstances and this is a great idea!