Brand New Eyes

Standing on the balcony at Paradise Cafe overlooking Addis Ababa.We had to get out. Cabin fever had set in and we needed a break from the frenzied pace that we’ve kept for the past two weeks. Jess was especially stir crazy. She had been stuck for the most part behind the walls of the compound since we arrived a little over a week ago. I already had my fill of the city, as I’d been out and about buying groceries and running errands. Normally I hate being confined to such a small place, but this city overwhelms me and I tend to seek what little solace I can find within the walls of our compound. Nevertheless, we needed a change of pace so we loaded up in Joe’s little car first thing in the morning and escaped to Paradise.
At one point in the history of this land it was quite likely a paradise. With the mountains that flank the great rift valley moderating the tropical temperature God could certainly find a suitable spot here for the Garden of Eden. However, people have changed all that. The hills have been denuded and the moisture that once watered the lush vegetation now gouges the earth. Now the only “paradise” to be found is a restaurant that bares the name. For us that was enough. We sat in comfy chairs and sipped mango juice over breakfast. Then we ordered several rounds of machiatos as we relaxed the hours away.
The Paradise Restaurant sits atop three stories in a part of town called Sar Bet. From the balcony looking to the east we could see the sprawling city that we will call home for the next month. When I look at this city I see filth, pollution, and rubble. I see beggars, abandoned children, and people who want to take advantage of me because of where I’m from. I have trouble seeing clearly now. I’ve learned too much to see as I should. I am supposed to be “older and wiser,” but an accumulation of knowledge doesn’t necessarily make one wiser. In fact, it can get in the way of true wisdom at times. I know too many labels to see people as they are and too much of how things “should” be done to view a place as different instead of just plain wrong.
Dawit seemed captivated by the view. He looked out with brand new eyes, unencumbered by preconceptions and prejudices. I wonder what he saw of this city and these people. He knows no label to place on a “beggar”. To Dawit he is just another person in need of love and kindness. A “street kid” is just someone else to play with. When someone smiles and coos at him he has no reason to suspect ulterior motives.
Jesus came to this earth to help the blind to see. My prayer today is that He will give me brand new eyes. So that I can see people as they are, as people in need just like me. In this world our labels matter little, we are all in need.



  1. Wow! Jon, you are flooding my eyes with tears, yet I love it! I love the writings and hearing your heart’s cry. What is even more powerful is, your writings show me how in need I am of a change from God, to see people as God does! Thank you for your words. We are praying for you all and am believing God for miracles untold! We love you SO much! Please, shoot us an email and let us know of your needs so we can send a care package………love always, Dee and Jer

  2. how swiftly life can change. in the blink of an eye we thought we knew the plan and it changes. Sorry I am late reading this, catching up tonight on blog postings. how true your words are, such wisdom for one so young. thank you and praise the Lord for your surrendered life. praying continually for your strength and comfort while you are seperated from your family. mom

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