Blogs by Donelle M. Knudsen
Life Changing Blessings From Things We Take For Granted
8/19/2008 12:39:18 PM
My niece is living one summer in Ethiopia and receiving a lifetime of experiences.
My 25 year old daughter and I just returned from Portland where we spent 2 days shopping for her upcoming wedding. We also spent a few hours with extended family and heard more about how my 22 year old niece is faring on her 3 month internship at an orphanage in Ethiopia. Sure, she will receive college credit, but she didn’t have to go all the way to Africa. My niece has a tender heart for children, especially the disadvantaged, and she couldn't wait to go.
Thanks to the miracle of computers and email, we saw stunning photos of the Ethiopian countryside and, by our standards, some of the primitive living conditions. After reading her emails, I tried to imagine myself dealing with the on-again/off-again supply of electricity and water, “interesting” sanitation conditions, eating food that doesn’t stay in the stomach and negotiating the busy streets of Addis Ababa, the country’s capital which hosts 3 million people. Honestly, at that age I wouldn’t have ventured so far from home to live in an environment as foreign to me as the face of the moon.
I think I understand how my niece feels about orphans though. My husband and I adopted a baby, now our beautiful soon-to-be-bride, from a foster home in South Korea 25 years ago. I remember falling in love with her picture and keeping that grainy black and white photo with me for three months as we counted the days for her to come home. I know my niece cherishes each hug she gets from the precious children in her care and I’m sure her heart feels a huge tug when the older ones ask, "You adopt me?"
As residents of the U.S. we are blessed to live in a country in which we can pursue our dreams and buy anything we want with the “click of a mouse.” Rarely does our electricity or water supply disappoint us, and when it does, it’s usually because of some natural disaster and not because it's shut off to save energy or because a system fails.
My niece said that she went to Africa to hopefully make changes in that country, but she discovered her experiences have changed her. Wow, I couldn’t have said it better. Just when we think life will go one way, circumstances surprise us and we receive a blessing or a lesson that changes our lives forever.
I can't wait to see my niece in September so I can give her a hug and hear all about her marvelous experiences in a unique and beautiful part of the world.
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