Wednesday, March 3, 2010


For my 16th birthday, my friends threw me a surprise party.  My friend Joanna came by my house to pick me me so we could go to the gym.  Larry North.  Back when there were Larry Norths.  She said we needed to swing by Ashley's house first, which was on the way, so I was completely surprised to see so many of my friends assembled there to wish me a happy birthday.  It was awesome!

I got 2 presents that day that I remember vividly.

Both in jars.  The first was a giant jar shaped like a bear, full of Animal Crackers.  We were really into Animal Crackers back then.  Don't know why.  A strange teenage thing, I guess.  The bear jar sat on my oversized desk in my room for years as a keepsake.

The second jar was full of money.

My friends adopted a little girl from Ethiopia through Compassion International for me.  They hand picked her.  Emawayesh Habitamu.  It was the closest sounding name to Emily they could find, so they chose her.  And gave her to me.  The jar of money was for the first months of support for little Emawayesh.  Or, "Ema" as I called her.

Wow!  Really?  What an extraordinary gesture and gift from a bunch of punk teenagers.  I was so touched at the time because my friends knew me so well.  This really was the perfect gift for me.

But, I think I'm more touched now than I was then.  In my old age (-: , I've become more stingy and self-centered.  Concerned about savings and college funds and diapers and dreaming of owning a house someday.  I wish I had the same untainted view of the world.

It's true.  I think the older we get, our dreams become more and more compromised.  Real life, responsibility, pain, hurt, stress start to weigh us down.  Our load becomes heavy.  Instead of day packs, we're carrying boulders on our back.  (Thank you Wednesday mornings for the image!)  And, it's hard.

But the glimpse of hope.  The remnants of dreams remain.  I still support Ema.  (Well, to be honest, my parents have supported her a lot too...)  For 12 years I have exchanged letters with a young girl, now a young woman in Ethiopia.

My dad recently said that he was surprised I have never gone to visit her.  I came up with 101 reasons as to why that would be crazy--expense, time, my children, you name it.

Compassion International has teamed up with some well known bloggers.  Yesterday they flew to Kenya and are in the beginning stages of a tour around the country visiting Compassion International sites.  They will be blogging from there in attempt to spread awareness about poverty and the ways their organization helps.  It's so cool!  And as I read about their experiences, the little fire in me is starting to burn again.  (Remember, it only takes a spark?)

Compassion Bloggers: Kenya 2010

Click on the above button and read about what their doing.  Or, visit MckMama's page for more stories.  And who knows.  Maybe you and I will find ourselves in Africa some day too.


Anonymous said...

Em, great post. I totally agree with you. I'm also loving the new blog look!

catherine said...

that is awesome. i have been following mckmama thanks to you and i love it. i can't wait to hear more about her trip. i hope all is well and i love the new look.

Molly said...

i remember that surprise party and jar of money... that i believe may still be sitting on your bathroom counter, empty of course. i think you should go to africa to see ema. and give me advanced notice because i want to go with you.