I know y'all have been waiting for a post about our trip to Ethiopia...but for 2 days now I have been trying to sort through my 9 days there and find a way to express it in words. As my friends here ask about the trip, I just seem to fall short with the right words to convey the huge impact this trip had on my life.
I have come to realize that words can NOT express the range of emotions I have for Ethiopia or the experiences I had there. You just can't feel what I felt without experiencing it yourself.
So, with that knowledge, I will attempt to share with you my time in this beautiful (and sometimes hard) country. I hope my words do it justice and that my new friends in Ethiopia will feel the love I now have for them and their home.
First let me clarify the "hard". We (the US) also have our own "hard". We are just better at hiding it than others and some of our hard is just not so visible (greed, ungratefulness, racism, excess)...but it is still there.
One of the staff at the guest house we were working on asked me one day "What do you like about Ethiopia?"
That answer was easy......the people.
They are the most hospitable, friendly and beautiful people. I felt welcomed by most everyone I met. Though you learn to recognize the Muslims from the Orthodox from others by the way they dress, I never saw a separation on the streets. They all move around together..one people. I had heard that in some places in that part of the world Americans were openly disliked. But I never felt, not once, any animosity toward us from the people while we were out. Most of the time they smiled and waved and came up to us to greet us and have us greet their children. And the children.......oh, my heart...I fell in love with the children.
Also, in answer to that question is a resounding....the COFFEE and the food!! the Ethiopian coffee is amazing. And their traditional coffee ceremony is so special. (more on that later). I also LOVED the food. It is very different (also more later), but I loved everything I tried!!!
Then, my new friend asked "what do you NOT like about Ethiopia?"
This answer was both easy and hard.
The easy was.....the Muslim wake-up call every.single.morning at 5am and the traffic.
Each of the mosques had loud speakers on every corner at the top of the building and would broadcast their prayers very loudly every day and sometimes all night. There was a mosque right across the street from us. At first it was very eery and quickly became annoying. And to be fair, the Orthodox church also broadcasts over loud speakers, they were just farther away from us.
And the driving...well, I just can't explain how crazy and scary it was. Words do NOT do it justice and neither does the video I got of it!!! I will never complain again about the drive from Little Rock to Memphis....well, at least not for a while! :)
But then the hard.......the very visible poverty. The very visible brokenness of a people completely oppressed by forces so much greater than themselves, both human and spiritual.
Two images have haunted my mind since leaving Ethiopia...
The first was a young girl we drove passed...her body was so deformed that she walked on her hands, elbows and knees. She crawled along an uneven, rocky dirt road with what looked like her family. Dust in her face. My heart just broke. I have never seen deformities like that...because in America she would have had reconstructive surgery, she would have had a wheelchair, she would have had help. But she is born in a place that can't offer those life changing services to her. So, she has to adapt to her environment....I can't image her strength.
The other is a boy I met at the church we visited the last Sunday. Children just swarmed us when we got there....holding our hands, sitting in our laps, wanting to play with and have their pictures taken by our cell phones. Some of these kids had parents there, some were street kids. A little boy that looked only to be about 5-6 came up and asked to take my camera to play with and I said no. I wasn't letting any of the children hold my camera. He at first stuck his tongue out at me and then walked up to me, pointed his finger in my face and very angrily said....f*** you and then ran out. I was shocked and thought for a minute I didn't hear right. But then after the service, two hours later, we walked out to the alley and that little boy was there. He looked at me again with angry, angry eyes and said it AGAIN. My heart broke. What has happened in this little boy's life that by such a young age he is so very angry, so aggressive. And what has he been around that has taught him these horrible words in another language and how to use them correctly? I can not wrap my mind around it and I have been praying for him ever since. This little boy needs Jesus. He needs to know he has a Savior that loves him and gave His life for him. He needs to know love.
And that's why we were there.
You can send money...that's easy. But these people and children need to FEEL love, they need to SEE love. You can not share Jesus through money....Jesus is shared through relationships. Yes, they need money and that is good, we need to do that. But we also need to go if we are led....we need to show them through our actions that Jesus loves them.
to be continued....