Beautiful Things

Beautiful Things

I have taken a liking to keeping myself busy during our hour-long commute (it’s really more like an hour and a half) by either reading or listening to music. What used to be staring out the window in wide-eyed wonder is now tarnished by grief and guilt. I’m not sure when the breaking point happened for me but it’s absolutely overbearing to watch life go by as we drive to the school. It all passes by in an instant yet each frame is seared into my mind. Frame 1: Orphaned horses and donkeys whose homes are now in the middle of a busy street. Guilt washes over me as I am reminded of why they are there in the first place. Frame 2: Little children stand outside our trusty van in nothing more than tattered clothes, hands cupped, begging for even 1 birr (which is equivalent to 5 cents). Frame 3: A crippled man solely relies on a single wooden branch to hobble along the sidewalk. Frame 4: A man relieves himself into a bush, exposed, but totally oblivious because it’s normal to do so. 5: There’s the planks of meat hanging from hooks with a single man occupying the hut, waiting for a hungry customer to come so he can slice off a piece of the unrefrigerated, day-old ox. 6: Water bottles and bones litter the sidewalk. 7: Various huts sit empty, cluttered with the debris of cornhusks from the previous day’s business. 8: There’s the incessant head turning toward our van as the locals realize that “ferenge’s” (pronounced fer-en-ge) sit and observe their world like the foreigners we are. Some will smile widely and wave while others don’t and continue on with their day. Each frame stacks on top of one another and creates this overpowering, overwhelming feeling and I look down, trying to persuade my mind that the song I’m listening to is more important than what’s going on through the glass to my left.

I realize the song I am listening to is “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. The melody of, “All this pain/I wonder if I’ll ever find my way/I wonder if my life could really change at all/All this earth/Could all that is lost ever be found/Could a garden come up from this ground at all” has me nodding my head in agreement of all this pain and all this earth…this dirty, heavy, earth. I wonder where the good is. Being here is such a paradox. There’s this conglomeration of messy, dark, and heavy sights that are soon diminished the second we get out of the van and see the kids of Bring Love In running towards us. I swear I can almost hear the rest of the song play out as I hug the children I get to love for such a short amount of time. “You make beautiful things/You make beautiful things out of the dust/You make beautiful things/You make beautiful things out of us”.

He is truly making beautiful things, and we get to see those beautiful things in even the littlest moments. There are the precious smiles, the soft-spoken “Jour-dahn’s”, the memory verse recitations (I die every time they say “commandments”), and the laughter that fills the air. I am continuing to learn that there will always be darkness creeping around us but it’s the grand, little moments we have to treasure and store in our hearts. It’s those little moments that God uses to say, “I know it’s messy, but I am here and that is sufficient.” We have to trust in Him and let His light overcome the darkness of this world. This experience has been one I will never forget.

See you at home,



  1. Just wait until you see the video of the kids singing “Beautiful Things”. Oh. My. Heart.
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