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Day 1 in Africa: Sunday

Ok, so I will do my best while I am here to post some of the highlights of our day. There so much, so I will do my best narrowing it down. We are 8 hours ahead of FL here. We arrived late Saturday night, exhausted and pretty much ready for bed. We are staying at the Ethiopian Guest House, run by Mike, who has also brought a team from his church in TX here this week. It feels like the lap of luxury compared to our surroundings. We feel blessed to stay here. I’m not getting much sleep but it’s not because of the accommodations—they are wonderful. The staff is so friendly and fun to get to know.

In the morning, we loaded up and headed to church. The drive to church was my first view of Addis Ababa by daylight. It was surreal. I don’t know how to describe it, but here are some things I saw as we drove along:

  • streets that reminded me of Chinatown in NYC, except amidst the building were shacks
  • lots of goats, donkeys, and stray dogs
  • kids playing impromptu games of soccer
  • people sleeping on the side of the road
  • kids begging at the car window every time the van came to a stop
  • no stop signs, no stop lights, no speed limit signs (they may be here, but I didn’t see any. And I thought NYC driving was crazy…)
  • federal police in blue camis with machine guns
  • a kid peeing on the side of the road, for all to see
  • lots of people walking, walking everywhere
Church at Beza International

We attended church at Beza—it was awesome. It was an English speaking service. The pastor from their sister church in TX was here—he spoke briefly about the outreach efforts in the states. (He mentioned Acts 29, so we’re still trying to figure out that connection.) The sermon was preached by a Pastor Carlson, visiting from Wheaton Christian Center in Wheaton, IL. This struck me as funny, since my brother in law is a pastor in Wheaton…and I came all the way to Africa to hear a pastor from Wheaton. The message was great—all about the effect of praise and how God can use it to impact others with the gospel.

Entobo Mountain

After New York syle pizza for lunch, we headed to Etobo Mountain. This is an HIV/AIDS colony. There are over 3,000 who live there. With the virus, they are considered outcasts, so they all live together on this mountain. There is a fountain there that some believe have healing properties. It is quite a difference to even contrast being in the heart of the city and being on the mountain. Even more back in time.

We visited their little shop, there Tamara sells jewelry that the ladies have made out of coffee beans. Tamara’s program equips them to earn an income, giving hope to people who see their disease as a death sentence, which of course we know, it isn’t. The program also offers meds and children’s activities.
We split up, and some of us went to homes, and the rest of us got out a parachute to play with the kids. It was a blast—the kids loved it. Part of me was disappointed to not go visit a home, but the Lord provided a neat opportunity, through Hannah.

A little girl, about 2 years old, attached herself to Hannah while we were playing. She dragged her to her home, and her mom invited us in. It was such a honor. I grabbed Nathan and our friend Tacabe to translate. Blinne’s mom’s name was Marta. She offered for us to sit on the mattresses in her 10 by 10 room. She asked if she could prepare tea for us. All I could think of, as I accepted and watched her prepare the fire, was how few matches she had and how willing she was use one for us. I did not see any food. We chatted a little, and I asked her if she had heard of Martha in the Bible. I told her that her hospitality reminded me of Martha’s. She said she had been living there for 10 years. We were interrupted and told our group had to leave, and we had to go before tea was done. I felt horrible. I did not even have a gift to offer her. Once I was back at the van, Erica gave me a box of Ritz bitz she had in her bag, and we took it back to Marta. She had tears in her eyes as she accepted them. Hannah tears up every time she thinks of little Blinne. We saw one toy rubber ball in the house. So little.

The kids and I are still processing the extremes we are experiencing. I wish I cold say we have resolved it all in our hearts, but we haven’t. We are just praying that we will see people as Jesus sees them, with His eyes, and that they would see Jesus in us and we would be ready to share our hope in Him.

I’m sorry this post is more informative and not very eloquent. Not much time before we leave today. Just wanted you all to know a bit of what was going on here. Thank you for praying! More photos when I have time to upload...


Joe Walser said...

I love you...this post. It brought me closer to the Lord this morning...thank you!

Meyerdrk said...

Thank you Rachel for this post...we want all the bits you have the time to share, eloquent or not. Praying, praying, praying here...may God grant much fruitfulness in your interactions, draw you all more closer to Himself and give you many opportunities to share Him with others.

Lisa said...

in tears.. and love watching as the Lord works in the heart of your family, and those who are reading this. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Rachel for your post. What an awesome experience for all of you. God is so good and faithful. He will use you just as He always does, in His perfection and His time. I will be praying for you all and for the people that you meet. Love to you all! Susan Hall

jill young said...

Rachel- I love how you pray that you will "see people the way Jesus sees them, with his eyes". That is my prayer. That everybody sees every person that they encounter through Jesus's eyes. Beautiful.

M. Watassek said...

Absolutely beautiful. We are praying for you and trying to rationalize why it is that we "want" more than we have; given what others have; we are humbled! Love, Meredith, Wade, Bryce and Ryan