Saturday, September 5, 2015

Losing Track of the days

We arrived in Axum today after spending a full day and night in Gondar. We toured an Orthodox church that is over 400 years old and we visited the Royal Compound that had at least 6 castles or more. They were beautiful and amazing when you think of the fact that they were all done by hand and built without machines of any sort.

We haven't had access to the Internet for the last 2 days. These are some thoughts I wrote while sitting in the airport waiting to depart for Axum. I'm not going to take the time to rewrite it all, but am just going to post it as I wrote it.

It is Saturday, September 4, 2015. The days very quickly run together on trips like this.
Let me start by saying, Ethiopia is poor.  My only reference is India and I would say that Ethiopia is “India poor”.  It is dirty and dusty and the people are resilient and amazing. We middle class Americans are such wimps. Yet, I find myself in awe of the people here. Those who walk with Jesus take nothing for granted. They find themselves walking in constant dependence on God. Nothing is assumed. The poor really do have something on us.  I understand now what Renaut meant when he said that when you tell an Ethiopian that God answers prayer they know its true. We are so completely self sufficient in America that we just don’t know what it is to truly depend on God.
So today when we were leaving our hotel, which was set high upon a hill, we saw many people out to exercise…that blew my mind. In a country where so many are poor they are still exercising. Our guide said they were probably wealthier people who had been advised by their physician to exercise. So now I have to try to absorb this concept when my mind was already blown by the poverty. I think it is just so difficult to understand another culture, period. Certainly not in a 10 day period.  My heart is so overwhelmed by being here. I just keep having to stop and absorb that I am in Africa. And then in another moment my senses are bombarded with the fact that I am in Africa. We go from being in a hotel most  Ethiopians could never afford and touring their castles and churches to driving down the road with donkeys, and cows, and sheep and dogs that look half starved. In America you would be arrested if you had an animal in these conditions and here all the animals look as though they are starving. I showed our waiter last night pictures and video of Tasha and told him how we treat our dogs. He laughed at the photo of Tasha in the front seat of the car and asked laughingly if she was driving. America is so messed up in some big ways. It’s bazaar . When life is survival for a culture even the animals seem to know it.

The people at the Goha Hotel were courteous and beautiful. I wish I had asked to take a picture with them. I am bummed that I didn’t think of that until right now. They are so hospitable and want to know that our stay was good.  Funny story, I asked for a latte and the young waiter brought me a cup and proceeded to fill it with steaming milk…to the top…no coffee at all. When I asked him where was the coffee, he poured in the tiniest bit…I added sugar and then burnt my tongue on it. It was scalding. We laughed and laughed. I think Jill snorted! It was great. 

We played Farkle outside in the beautiful weather on the veranda of the hotel and quiet Kevin Cox beat us all. We are bonding together and these first two days will add such value to our relationships and to each individual so that when things get tough and we are tired we will be able to give each other grace. Taking two days to adjust to the time difference has been a wonderful plan. We are becoming a team. A little piece of Mosaic Church here in Ethiopia.

 I find the Lord removing my inner criticalness and calling me not to discern the value of people, but accepting their value and embracing them for exactly who they are. I’m not proud of that sin that lives within me but I am awed by God as He changes me from the inside out and is teaching me by His Holy Spirit that every single person deserves love instead of constantly deciding if they are worthy of my love. I know how terrible that sounds. I am just being honest. God is doing a mighty work in me as He has allowed me to be a part of this team and I am humbled and amazed. 

Some other random thoughts I jotted down on my phone today:
In my daily life where every need I have is met before I even ask...medical, sustenance, housing, clothing, and still I am called to rely on God for do I do this?How do I live and rely on God? The best I can come up with is to live outside of my natural live a life that I cannot live on my own...every single day walking into situations where I acknowledge my need for God. Sometimes I take real risks and do things that seem a little crazy because I want to live this life for something other than myself. American Christians often think that raising Godly children is the goal...and not that I don't need God in my parenting because I surely do, but much of it I can accomplish in my own strength. I must choose to place myself in situations that if God doesn't show up, I'm sunk. How do I do this in my day to day "Axum Coffee drinking"life? What must I change in my comfortable life that will allow me the privilege and joy of reliance on Christ in my every day? How am I living that allows me to see God answer prayer? Where am I standing and waiting for God to show up? 

The people in Ethiopia are sweet and friendly with their broad smiles...I see Fitsimti in the beautiful young women everywhere I look...and Birhanu in the boys playing soccer on the fields...though no one's smile compares to his. What must God have in store for them? It could only be His hand that has placed them in such a place of safety and plenty.

In Ethiopia body odor is real.

Flying into Axum there were people living right next to the airstrip. 

This was a long and random post. Tomorrow we will begin our work at ORE with the children. I'll post more later.
In His love, 

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