It is Saturday night, the 20th of August, and the end of our fourth day here. It feels we have been here for much longer. The first days were exhausting and overwhelming as we jumped with both feet into the intensity of life in Ethiopia, but we are feeling a much greater sense of equilibrium and have found ourselves carried with so much grace. Thank you for praying; we can feel it!!
The frame of our experience here has been set by Mark and Liane Wolbert and their daughter Liane, who have entirely given themselves to orienting us to the world here, introducing us to their many connections, and seeing that we are healthy and safe. They are a host couple with YWAM, and have been a gift in every way. Also included in God's special provision has been our driver, Binyamin, a young Ethiopian man with a most excellent spirit, who navigates the tumultuous seas of Ethiopian road traffic with skill and care. We have all been together morning til night for four days.
Wednesday, with very little space for unpacking and repacking after arriving late the night before, we loaded up our backpacks and headed out for the all-day excursion to Adama (a shift in our schedule, for those who were keeping track). This day and the next were our most exhausting in terms of the unrelenting bombardment of sight, sound and smell in a world so different from ours and filled with so much that felt chaotic and wrong. Beggars, ragged children, cows and goats and old horses all sharing the road space with trucks and smog and near-collisions several times a minute (or so it seemed) for hour after hour. We arrived at the end of the day at our hotel in Adama, a really nice hotel with clean and comfortable beds.
Thursday was a day packed full with our first visit to a home for widows and orphans; the widows are women who have been found by roadsides begging, completely destitute, and brought into a place where they have been cared for and given a whole new life. The orphans are on the same floor as the widows, and are part of the widows' healing, while the widows gain affection for the children and become a part of their lives. The remainder of the day was spent going from house to house throughout the city of Adama, taking supplies to a number of widows who have a place to live but live in desperate poverty. We took turns at each home, with two or three going in to visit and pray for the widow while the rest of us interacted with the crowd of mostly children that would gather around the van. Danielle and her guitar were the high point of the day, beginning with the widow's home and then at every stop, as we turned the curiosity into an opportunity to sing with the children, then Janet would organize the children into games until they and all the adults standing and watching were joining in. We filled our day until dark like this, ending the day with a meeting with the director of the orphan home.
Friday we went to visit the only maternity home for street girls in all of Ethiopia, met with the director of the home and with the girls and their babies. The number of fronts on which the battle for lives is being fought really helps to put heart into us, as each day we have met people who are pouring out their lives for those who are completely helpless. We began our journey back to Addis Abbaba, with a detour through the village of Tede where we met with a pastor of a small but growing church in a domantly muslim area, and were grateful for safety in all our journey. It is Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer for the Muslims, and also a holy day in the Orthodox church as well as the approach of the Ethiopian New Year, so the streets were packed late into the night, with music and regular calls to prayer from the mosques.
Saturday, today, we spent the day with a large group of children from the Kora slum next to Addis's city dump, singing with them, doing craft projects, and playing games. All of this travel and activity has served as an introduction to the work in this country, wrapped in lengthy conversation with our hosts that has been helpful on so many levels. The high point of our time so far was tonight, in our meeting with the director of Kidmia, an organization with cutting edge vision and strategy in the orphan crisis of Ethiopia. He came to meet with us this evening at the guest house where we are staying, thanks to Heather's persistence in pursuing him, and we are excited about the opportunity coming up to visit the Kidmia orphanage on Tuesday, four and a half hours from here. Heather's thorough preparation for this time here has been valuable beyond describing. Please especially keep praying for her, for health, strength, and especially discernment.
This report has had a lot of details, but we want to give you a bit of a picture of our time so far. It has been very intense, and we are exhausted at the end of each day, but the team is doing really well together, blending beautifully, we are eating well, sleeping well, and staying healthy. Our prayer is that we will stay right on track on this walk through this great country, and be completely attentive to what the Lord has brought us here for.
Hoping to send another update in a few days...