I have lived in Ethiopia officially for 4 months and this is the longest amount of time I have spent outside of the US. I feel like I have experienced much while in this country and I pray that I am learning daily from these experiences. One of the fears I have had was that overtime as I experience extreme poverty and even death of patients firsthand was that little by little the compassion I have for others would slip away. I know I have not been here long enough to see those extreme changes but it is something I want to consciously be aware of.
This last week we were at the rural clinic and I immediately saw a baby I knew we would take back to the hospital with us, my initial reaction was concern over if she would survive until the afternoon for the transport to the hospital. Once we began seeing patients I learned this tiny baby girl was 5 months old and her mother had lost her milk supply 3 months earlier. As I grabbed the infant scale to weigh the child I was almost in tears as I read the scale to measure 2.8 kg (slightly more than 6 pounds). Upon further history I determined she was given cow’s milk over the last 3 months, which by rural standards means the milk would be unpasteurized and likely full of bacteria, exposing this child to an array of infections. This sweet baby appeared emaciated with severe malnutrition and I was immediately heart broken for how difficult even the first months of her life have been. We were able to bring her and her mother back to the hospital with us and she is now being treated by the incredible pediatric team here at the hospital.
Many days it feels like every life here has been touched by more trauma and hardship than I have ever experienced. The people of Ethiopia are resilient and many have overcome significant odds to even be alive today. This understanding often makes me angry at the fact that I have been given so much and these people so little. It would be easy to continually remind the Father that this is not fair; however, he is more than aware of this and is reminding me of that often.
Even though I grew up in church I never really grasped the concept of Advent. Not until after college did I begin to understand the significance of this time of year and begin to study scripture as it relates to this season. Of course I always heard the stories of Christ’s birth growing up but I never recall learning the word “Advent” or working through the words for each week leading up to the celebration of the birth of Christ. During this Advent season I want to specifically recall to mind all of the good things the Lord has done. As we lit the candle of hope 2 weeks ago, may we continue to reflect on the hope that comes with this season, the hope of what is to come. Who is to come. The beautiful reminder that Jesus came and lived and died and now reigns forevermore. The hope that he will come again and bring his kingdom here. The hope that when he comes he will not come as before, as a baby swaddled in a manger. He will come as a conquering King to establish his kingdom. Revelation 5 proclaims “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
May we reflect on this truth and continue to sing “O come O come Emmanuel”. Father, come and ransom us now.