Thursday, July 19, 2012

The City Dump

Then (the hardest day for me) the dump. . . Korah. Soli took us to the Addis city dump where 100,000 people live in houses made out of plastic and trash. The "dump place" (as Soli called it) reeked of refuse and rot and chemical smoke and sewage, so powerful was the smell my eyes watered and my nose burned. The people who live there dig through the heaps and heaps of trash for food to eat and anything to sell. Children sit close by (or are strapped to their momma’s back) as their parents sort through rotten meat and bits of who knows what. Older children play together by the dump. They are filthy dirty. I have never in my 48 years seen or smelled anything like it. It was heartbreaking, surreal and completely overwhelming.
Aidan said later that day, “I thought God had a plan for everyone.” That was tough. The whole experience was tough. The reality of how people live, I mean really live in ways that I cannot explain to my children is tough. I realize that there is a place in my heart that really doesn’t want to know the harshness of that reality. It is not a pretty place (my heart). I think of Jesus and how he would respond to these people and how he probably would have hugged them and held the children. I, on the other hand, could not wait to get to my hand sanitizer and change clothes because I smelled the dump smell long after we left. I realized that it is a lot easier to talk about helping the poor and needy than really doing it. I mean I can help the poor and needy: I can adopt a little girl, I can do Meals on Wheels (at least I used to), I can sponsor a child (which I don't do anymore) . . . but this was different.
I met a family another day who go to Korah everyday to be ‘happy helpers.’ Everyday. The day before the mom carried a leper from Korah (on a pallet) to the leper hospital and watched as the doctors cleaned his wounds. And a few days later this same 90+ year old man accepted Jesus as his Savior. 
I have two friends who sell Ethiopian art and jewelry to help feed the people of Korah. They have such sweet hearts for this place.
I am so thankful for what I saw and experienced and I am even more thankful there are people who give their lives and hearts for the people of this place.
Luke 6:20-21, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
And now I am convicted because I realized just now that I wrote “I am even more thankful there are people who give their lives and hearts for the people of this place.”
Dang it. Dang it. Dang it. God also says in Proverbs and really all over the place, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” And in John, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and truth.”
Honestly, I don’t think I wanted to be changed or challenged by what I saw. But here we go. I don’t know where this will lead or what God is doing in my heart (I just hope he doesn’t tell us to move to Korah). But I do truly hope and pray that he will do something, soften my heart to the cries of the poor. I know they are not just in Africa or other parts of the world. They are right around the corner in my own city.
James 2:5, "Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love Him?"
I don’t understand it, but God is providing for these people. It is not a provision that I can comprehend, at least on a physical level. I pray that these people will know Jesus and that this is just a temporary home. There are streets of gold and feasts of plenty for them when they leave this place. 


  1. If anyone knows why my blog is highlighted in white, I would love to know. :)

  2. How heartbreaking. We didn't go to Korah. I hate to admit this, but I wasn't sure my heart could handle it. I too fear being changed or challenged.

  3. I don't know the answer to why the blog is highlighted in white, but it was quite easy to read that way... at least in the sense of actual "vision." In other ways, it was really, really hard to read... and the tears in my eyes continue to blur my vision. Thank you for sharing your experiences and heart. Most of us cannot even fathom how much suffering there is in the world and how relatively easy we have it here... even our "poor" here in the U.S. typically have shelter (with A/C), food, TVs, phones, etc. Like you, I don't have any answers for this, and, like you, I am overwhelmed with the helplessness of it all. Thank you for reminding me that they CAN look forward to streets of gold and feasts of plenty. Now, how to give them that opportunity and that hope...