‘Why Me?’ A Question Inspired and Answered by Ethiopia

Jamie Mueller 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 after a day visiting water projects.

Growing up Catholic, I was often told that everything in life is a gift from God. I have to admit that I never fully appreciated this or even fully realized it until this immersion trip with CRS to Ethiopia.

The very first day we visited one of Mother Teresa’s homes for the sick and dying run by her order, the Missionaries of Charity, which CRS generously supports with much needed food and supplies. Though I had previously worked with this order in Mexico, this experience—the very first day—left me shell-shocked.

After visiting those recovering from tuberculosis, having my hand kissed by an elderly woman on her deathbed, seeing the pain and struggle in the faces of many unwed mothers striving to care for their newborn babies, playing with the lucky infants healthy enough to soon be adopted, and holding a young mentally handicapped boy who could not stop drooling all over me (and by whom, I admit, I initially felt repulsed) yet only wanted and needed a loving embrace, my heart broke.

Sudan drilling

Jamie Mueller, middle, shares a light moment with some Ethiopian children in the village of Chelekot. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

I returned to where we were staying with so many emotions: sadness, anger, guilt, confusion and uncertainty. I sat outside trying to pray, and the only thing I could think was “why?” It was not the common wonder of why all this suffering exists if there is a good God—for that I don’t doubt—but it was more of a deep and heartrending wonder of “why me?” Why was I born in the United States with good education, ample opportunity, three meals a day, and a warm bed? What did I do to deserve this life versus that of a beggar or orphan in Ethiopia? The answer quickly came to me—nothing.

I did nothing to deserve or earn it, I did not choose it, yet I have this life, given to me by God. As my prayer concluded, I thanked God for all He had given me, and I begged him to help me be more generous with the precious gifts He has entrusted to me. For the gifts we have, we are given to share.

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