Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day in Africa?

“The son shoots a leopard; the father is proud.” – Congolese Proverb

Simou (right) is the father of five.  A fisherman, his work is hard in the depleted waters of his little country.  He was helping his daughter and son-in-law build a house next door last time I was with him.  Good-hearted guy in a tough world.

Another dad (left) and grand-kids on the steps in front of his simple home.  He's a fisherman too.  He helped his son buy a home there in the little village by the ocean.  His son is also a fisherman.

“When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.” – Ghanaian Proverb

“A mother is gold, a father is a mirror.” – Nigerian proverb.

The oldest grandson (center, right) is doing well in school and fishes with his father.  Bright kid; difficult future in the subsistence economy.

This dad (left) was a taxi driver until an accident cost him his arm and his job.  When I met him, he was tackling the jungle with a machete, one-handed, bringing in firewood for the outdoor cooking fire.  He and his son built this little kiosk where they generate a little income from their garden efforts.  Raising pigs now, too.  His bright, perpetually positive wife manages the books for the business, and all the kids are in school.  A noble fellow, indeed.

Father's Day isn't celebrated everywhere in Africa, but like families everywhere, Dad is a key to who the children will be.  Happy Father's Day, fellows.  God bless you and your families.  Good men, all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Off to see my friends again.

15 DAYS!
12 DAYS!
10 DAYS!
8 DAYS! 
6 DAYS! 
Countdown to Africa.  My friend Eliseu will meet me there.  Looking forward to spending time together.

We were chatting on facebook last night, Eliseu and I, and he was looking at this page with so many pictures of him over the years.  I told him that all my friends had heard about him; he laughed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ya babu kuwaita (The 'grandpa call')

Salma and her 3-yr old son Anderson, my buddy, and family
The phone rang this morning as I sat at my office in Maryland. It was dear Salma. It costs just pennies to call  from Kenya. She'd called just to say hello and thank you and that they missed me being around. She and her brother have become like family to me. The times we've had just to sit and talk have been family time.

OK so a couple of hours later, the phone rings again, and it's Salma and you can hear her family laughing in the background; she says, "Anderson wants to say hello to his friend." Ha!  I got a "grandpa call" from Kenya! So my 3-yr old buddy Anderson gets on the phone and laughs and says something typically incomprehensible, and I ask him if he's being a good boy, and he laughs and you can hear Salma and her sister and mom and grandmother laughing along with him. It's about 10 PM where they are; just a little family fun before turning in for the night, I suppose.

Friends are a joy.

They are all dear friends; scattered across the world, some whom we know intimately, some who are distant friends but whom we love nonetheless. Fourteen children here, thirty-eight plus there, two in Ghana, one precious fellow in India, a few in Ethiopia, plus their families. We've met enough of them face to face to understand that our family is large.

Helping Others

In conversation with an African pastor, we were wondering what our faith encourages in us regarding others.  Help them along?  Absolutely.

... for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in.

It's a heart thing, I think.  You have to actually care.  And you have to recognize that the poor aren't poor by choice.  It usually is done to them, by discrimination, by politics, by external events they didn't choose.

In our own community and elsewhere, there are opportunities to lend a hand, to make a difference.  We're supposed to love each other, perhaps with more heart than a government program might offer.

It's so vitally appropriate to help, of course, but there are more questions.

Meet today's need...
... or can we perhaps help solve the problem too?