Sunday, January 27, 2013


Elsa lives at Kidane Mehret, an orphanage run by two Maltese nuns who have been working in Ethiopia for over 40 years.  They have had her since birth, and she is now nine years old.

What makes Elsa's story extraordinary is that she has hydrocyphilas and was not expected to live very long.  But here she is, a living, breathing example of the power of selfless love being poured out day after day after day without fail.

There have been families who have wanted to adopt her, but because of her condition, she would not survive a plane ride, and so the sisters continue to care for her.

They tell me that Elsa is blind, but she can hear.  An Italian family donated a small cd player that sits in her bed w/ the radio on so that she can listen to music (or talking or static...whatever happens to be playing at the moment).  They are careful to move her around, giving her floor time on a pad or to the tv room for cartoons or outside for some sunshine and fresh air.

She stays in the baby room with the other 20+ babies, some with disabilities and some with none.

But, oh, how these children are loved!  The sister explained to me that they have tried to perform surgery on Elsa 3 times to place a stint so that they can relieve some of the fluid build up in her skull.  And each time has failed.  And still Elsa lives.

Her bed is close to the door of the baby room.  Any visitor who walks in will have opportunity to meet her.  It's not easy.  She forces you to come face to face with a hard reality.  And yet, I think she stays there loved and cared for so that visitors like me can come face to face with love lived out in such an incredible way.

It's hard to visit an orphanage.  I image, though, that this orphanage is easier than others.  The love there was so tangible, so present in the way the sisters greeted us when we arrived with Tizita, the way they showed us around the compound, the way the children ran to us and greeted us and loved on Tizita, the concern in their voices when they told us about the newborn that had to be transported to the hospital last night.

These sisters live out love in a way that rocks my world.  I didn't come away from there with a hopeless feeling because of the need (and it is great) and the broken stories (and there are many).  I didn't come away discouraged because the atmosphere was full of the hope of Jesus and His power to save, redeem, and rescue.

What a privilege it is to be a part of this story and to be changed forever by these women and all of their helpers who spend their lives caring for the least of these. 

I am so challenged.

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