Tuesday night our family headed down to the World Vision Experience AIDS Exhibit and to hear a wonderful presentation called "Are You Okay with This: A Conversation About AIDS." The discussion was EXCELLENT. We heard from two different World Vision representatives, a woman who has developed curriculum being used across Africa to educate about HIV and AIDS, and a local reverend who has been living with HIV for 20 years.
Even though I blog a lot about adoption and Africa, on a day to day basis I don't even really think about where my kids come from. I mean I KNOW they're from Ethiopia, and I know their story, but when we wake up in the morning they're just Yosef and Biniam, hungry for breakfast, full of energy, playing Snow White with Anna (they alternate between being the witch and the prince) and making Katie laugh.
The presentation opened with a video called "Are You Okay With This?" about the AIDS pandemic (I tried to find it on the internet to post here, but couldn't.) This is totally weird but I nearly burst into tears watching it...something just hit way too close to home and as it was talking about the orphans left in the wake of this horrible disease, I kept thinking, my sons, my SONS, are two of those! My kids are those very statistics! All I could think about was their birthmom, and their biological sister, and the heartbreak I remember reading about two and a half years ago when the FedEx truck showed up with their history. The video ended with the words "Are you okay with this?" and I seriously wanted to cry out, NO! I'M NOT! (Don't worry, I didn't! :) )
Then hearing the man speak about living with HIV, and his personal journey, had me tearing up too. The pain he experienced, friends he's lost to AIDS, it was all really sobering. What an amazing testimony he has!
The exhibit itself, which we walked through afterwards, was extremely powerful as well. We went through the story of a little Ugandan girl who was HIV positive. It's a true story, the exhibit was AMAZING, and super powerful. At the end you are supposed to pray, and leave a message on the prayer wall. I about lost it in the exhibit too! (What's wrong with me?!)
I walked away from that evening feeling...broken. Nothing I heard was shocking or particularly "new" to me--having sons from Ethiopia, and having been there, I feel like I deal with this information on a regular basis. But somehow yeah, I felt grieved, I think because I was reminded of the reality of where my kids come from, and where SO MANY still are. What a blessing also to see the passion the different speakers have about their jobs and what they do. There are people out there who care. A lot.
Not sure exactly what the "takeaways" were from the whole thing. I guess I felt humbled, and encouraged, and saddened, all at the same time. I guess I feel even more convicted about living a life of simplicity (probably a blogpost all its own), using the resources we have to help Africa, and about always remaining open to adoption. Yes I do feel we'll adopt again, although I couldn't tell you when. Not now, I am pretty confident of that, but sometime in the future. We think about siblings where at least one of them has HIV. This has been on our hearts for a long time. It is exciting to think about what God might have for us.
At any rate, seriously, if you live near Denver, or if it comes to a city near you, go see this exhibit! It'll only take up about 30 minutes of your time, and you can take your kids with you.