“To love another is to see the face of God”

Some people might describe Ethiopia as a hopeless place. As I looked around at the faces, I saw hope.  Despite the extreme poverty and heartbreak, the love they show for Christ and others has deeply touched me. The Lord is doing a mighty work amongst his people.   This  is what this life is truly about.

Arriving back from Ethiopia, cell phones suddenly woke up and familiar sounds filled the air. I think of the moments when my team prayed…when the world faded away and Jesus rushed in.  As I got off the plane I notice how sterile the environment looked compared to what I had left. Neatly dressed business men and women rushed through the airport and I thought of the woman sitting on the curbside by the busy street  in tattered clothing with her baby sleeping beside her, on a piece of cloth that was laid on the cement. As I reach the  highway, my mind went back to the mud roads that covered the villages.

I pass by a school with children getting out, parents lining the streets and I remember the children roaming the streets and villages, possibly not able to go to school because of money they don’t have. I think of the Roggie kids who are able to attend school because of help from sponsors. They count it a joy and privilege to put on their school uniforms to walk a dirt path to be able to attend school.

We drive past a church and I think of Sunday mornings when people attend worship despite possibly not having all of their needs met but still seeking the heart of God and passing out gifts and food out of respect for us.    I think of Samuel who heard the Gospel  and received Christ.  He  was rescued and redeemed and now disciples others despite knowing the pain of having his Muslim family reject him.

 I wonder if others will understand my experience. My world collides. The ache comes in the worlds colliding, a longing for all  to be connected. It is about sharing Jesus.  What am I to do in the longing, the feelings between there and here?   How do I answer the questions or understand the passivity of the responses?

Allow the worlds to collide. Love with all my being wherever I am. Give generously and willingly. Open eyes to see what Jesus sees. Whether its the needs of a child living among the deepest poverty or my  family and friends.  Love both with all my heart. As I love, somehow, the worlds collide. The Spirit of the Lord is among us.  There is no variation in giving here or there….simply giving…and in turn receiving Jesus.

The sadness sometimes felt after is normal. We were warned. It should propel me faster to the things of God and a deeper dependence on Him. Release of the ache should come as I raise my hands in thanksgiving for each breath I take.  As I take notice  of the  moments that occupies my time. I can do all things in Christ and allow Him to invade my world, wherever I am.

It is in the going to a place such as Ethiopia and doing something that more than exceeds my  experiences.  The Jesus I encountered this week was more than I can put into a blog post.  Jesus is as much on display now in conversations, laughter and hugs.  The worlds collide as I hear about others  week and I seek after their hearts and reach into their world so they will know Jesus more just as we sought after the hearts of the Ethiopians, that they would know that they are loved by us and Jesus.  I need to lean in tighter and allow what happened  to continue to motivate how I live. Allow the worlds to collide.  Allow God to continue to prove faithful as I walk the path He has laid out for me. I am created by God and for God for His purpose.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Our God reigns!” Isa. 52:7 The  Spirit of the Lord is among us.  There is no variation here or there….simply giving…and in turn seeing Jesus

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The day began with Heidi leading our daily devotional from Romans 12:1-5. Genesis 6:22 and Luke 5:4 translated by Pastor Matthews in Oromiffa. The passages capture the need to be united in one voice and one body while we serve our Lord not only through the teachings of the day but the interactions with one another.  Then we were off to the required and very much sacred flag ceremony where we were greeted with warm smiles from approximately 450 children ranging in age from kindergarten to seventh grade eager to start the day.   The sound of children’s voices in song and prayer rose above the breeze and rooster’s call with African joy.

Liv summoned the students to simulate the sound of a rain storming coming and going. The students were asked to emulate her movements with simple yet consistent hand gestures. The storm slowly moved in and then dissipated back to where it had come with snapping fingers, sliding palms and stomping of the earth. The application behind the message was to show that God brought rain during the time of Noah as well as God’s promise not to let it rain so significantly again. We were then ready to start the day with the teachings of Noah and the Ark.

Upon the conclusion of our teaching day, we had a walk through the village filled with life moments. We meandered through the fields and paths collecting curious children along the way. We were one line of people in a steady forward march, ready to visit old friends and sponsor families.  Our first stop was an old friend from previous trips, and we all received the most genuine hug, the kind that gives that extra moment of appreciation. As we came around the next bend, to our surprise, we were met by a freshly born goat, so recent in fact that the umbilical cord was still attached. Needless it say, it made for some great photos. It was as if the paparazzi had invaded Africa.

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grades 3/4:
Our first day of teaching was filled with puppets, paints, a science experiment and preaching God’s word. We began our day with song, led by Aman, a truly gifted Ethiopian teacher. Eighty-five children sang and clapped enthusiastically while sitting four to a bench. Aman then shared the story of Cain and Abel. The kids listened and participated intently while bravely sharing their heart during the application questions. Next was the puppet show that Heidi had put together to further illustrate the lesson of the day. Sue brought in a traveling science , demonstrating “chromotogrophy” and how everything whole is actually made up of smaller parts- or in this case, separate colors.

Finally, grades 3 and 4 began their week-long art project. The intent was to have the children begin a multiple day mural based on Christian artist Edward Hicks’ interpretation of Noah’s ark, starting with the ark and landscape. Each team had a large paper to paint an ark and smaller papers for flowers, trees, clouds and earth with each day becoming a layer of the mural and ending with a collaborative rainbow. The sweet third and fourth graders heard the word “ark” and began painting rainbows. Once the rainbows began, you really couldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) stop the flow. The third and fourth grade class began with God’s promise- what an optimistic group.

Upon completion of our day, we found ourselves with a few minutes to fill while waiting for the lunch line to die down. It turns out that in Ethiopia- when you find yourself with a spare moment….try singing a song! Upon suggestion, eyes lit up, backs straightened and singing in Oromofo began. Our room was filled with contagious joy. The principal of the school came in, along with Tegabu and his guitar. You never would have guessed that nearly 100 children were waiting to eat. Who needs lunch, when you have song?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

In the morning we had a nice breakfast prepared by our gracious hostess, Stagay, at the Providence Guest House.  For those of us who had not been to Ethiopia before, the morning light gave the first glimpses onto the street, where people could be seen walking and the city unfolded with it’s mixture of cement buildings and those made of tin or whatever can be found.

Some of our team went out for the first half of the day to purchase a few forgotten items and some supplies we had planned to get in Addis.  We were surprised to find that it took 3 hours to purchase some basic medical supplies we were to take to Roggie Village.  This is Ethiopia.  What we could have picked up in 15 minutes at Target, took 3 hours of discussion and conversation, debate, recounting, and justification.  Things are slower here.  We are on Ethiopian time.

We took our photo in front of the guest house and loaded the bus up for our drive to Lake Sabana.  The bus was pelted by rain for much of our 5 hour drive.  We watched as the dirt ditches on the sides of the road filled with water and it looked as though the fields on either side of the vehicle would wash away in the flood.  As we listened to the thunder, we wondered if we would be able to make the drive through the pothole-filled dirt road to Roggie Village the next day.  “I hope so,” said Worede.  We imagined the idea of carrying all of our heavy luggage through the mud if the bus got stuck, and we all laughed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

After a journey of more than 28 hours, we stepped off the plane Friday evening in Addis Ababa, the capitol city of Ethiopia.  As I exited the plane door onto the steps, the Ethiopian air met my nose with comfort.  “Ah, it smells like Ethiopia!”  It was a familiar smell that made me feel at home.

We had to explain to the x-ray machine operators at the airport why we were bringing in large numbers of certain supplies, like canvas bags and pens we had brought for the children in Roggie Village.  They want to make sure we aren’t coming to resell things here.

We were excited to see our friends, our hosts from Hope Enterprises, Zenebe and Worede, our driver and helpers.  We piled all of our luggage into the back of our rented bus and drove to the Providence Guest House for the night in Addis Ababa.  It was a lovely, homey place for a night of rest after our long trip.