Is it possible that I could be so proud and so humbled at the very same time?
Our son has taught Wes and me to approach the Christmas season with a new attitude. It is such a beautiful time of year, yet the waste and excess in our American culture can be hard to stomach, especially when your own child asks why there was no Christmas in Ethiopia. This year Bunte has been very nostalgic about Ethiopia as this time of year also marks his first anniversary of coming home and joining our family. He has asked to eat injera more and asked us questions about Ethiopia. And I could go on about how Bunte is processing all of this, but I am focusing on just one of his recent reflections.
We celebrate our Christmas with Wes's side of the family early in the season. Bunte loves matchbox cars, partly because he remembers playing with the few that came to the orphanage and care center via traveling families while he lived there, and partly because he is a 5 yo that likes cars. Anyhow, his Aunt Camala knows how much he loves cars so she gave him a gift of 20 or so matchbox cars. As we left the celebration, Bunte turned to Wes and asked him if it "would be okay to send the cars to Africa because the boys at "sister's house" (what he calls his former care center) don't have cars and I have lots." We were so impressed with his sweet and giving heart. Bunte can get very wrapped up in materialism like so many other American kids. But he also knows what it is like to go without (and by that, I mean he knows not just about how to live without toys, but without a lot of the basics most Americans take for granted.) We immediately told him that we would find a way to get the cars to Africa. I came home that evening and updated my facebook status with what my sweet boy shared with us. And something neat happened. I began to get emails, facebook messages, and texts from people asking me how they could help Bunte send matchbox cars to Ethiopia. My five year old was the root of a chain reaction. A beautiful chain reaction with a giving heart at the center of it all. This is exactly what this season should be about: a loving God who sent a Beautiful Gift to earth for all of humanity and choosing to model our own actions after a gracious Father.
In response to all of the positive feedback, we have officially launched "Operation Makina." (Btw, Makina means car in Amharic, one of the most widely spoken languages in Ethiopia.) We are collecting matchbox cars and small dolls (the size of your hand or smaller, preferably wooden or plastic, not plush as that will transmit diseases more easily in crowded care centers and orphanages). We are also collecting monetary donations to cover the cost of shipping these gifts to a family traveling to Ethiopia in January who will deliver them to a care center/orphanage. In addition, the funds will help cover the cost of an additional checked bag on their flight. For those of you that live locally and contacted us and wish to help Bunte with this project, please drop off your donations by December 30.