Becoming Less and Less a Stranger in Ethiopia

Derek Ho is one of eight seminarians from Mundelein Seminary who recently traveled with CRS Ethiopia as part of the Global Fellows program. Here he shares his thoughts during a day visiting water projects.

Being a Chinese American, no one can be confused that I am a stranger in this country. I am either really lost or I have a distinct purpose for being here. At this time, on this day, in this place, I wish I could say that I knew what my purpose was completely.

Questions about that purpose surface as I wonder what it would be like to live in such poor conditions. What did I do to deserve such riches in my life at home? What is it in my heart that keeps me from thanking God at every moment? What is God showing me or telling me and how should I respond? I only find consolation that God has a divine plan that He wishes to share with me. I know that my purpose in this life is to love, and Pope John Paul II rightly defined love as a “sincere gift of self.” But how?!

Church cross

The cross at the top of the Catholic church of the Eparchy of Adigrat. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

There are some people in this world who understand love better than others. Today we visited two CRS integrated watershed management sites where CRS field agents are helping communities control the flow of water from an underground source so residents can drink potable water, feed their livestock, wash their clothes, and irrigate their crops. What better example of love does one need?

CRS workers have recognized their need to give their lives to Him and to the people they serve by providing others with an opportunity for life and love. After visiting the water project sites, we spent the rest of the day with Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin of the Eparchy of Adigrat. When asked what message we should share with our friends from America, he emphasized his gratitude for their generosity. He wanted us to share with them the joy that exists in Ethiopia’s ancient culture. Lastly, Bishop Tesfaselassie told us to have faith in our loving Father as we fight for peace and justice.

As I continue to reflect on my experiences in this humble country, I feel less and less like a stranger.

‘Dear Lord, You have given me all that I have and all that I am, and I don’t exactly know why. I can only say thank you and promise to do my best to be generous with those gifts. Thank you also for the work of CRS and for the unknown men and women who suffer silent martyrdom for their families. Only give us Your love and Your grace, with these we will be rich enough and have nothing left to desire. Amen.’

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