Thursday, April 29, 2010

What now?

I have had a little more time to think about this trip since I have been home.

It was a hard transition back to 'real' life. I was surprised by my sadness and grumpiness to be honest. I was so happy while I was in Ethiopia. I stepped out of my comfort zone so many times it felt a bit like the Twilight Zone.

I felt a freedom there that I don't here. My stepping into the small, dark, hot house in Korah to sit with that mother on her bed isn't something that comes naturally to me here. Choosing to just get off the bus when it broke down so that I could talk to the kids and teens isn't something I normally do... these are things I did without thinking while I was there. I just moved as God led me and it was wonderful.

I truly woke up every morning excited about what the day would hold, wondering what God would do and where He would lead.

I loved opening my door and breathing in the air ...smog, diesel and fume filled. I loved making those connections with people...asking them about their lives, wanting to know... not always knowing what to do or say in response, but wanting to know nonetheless.

The people of Ethiopia are so open... and in so much need. Rick, my team member, and I were discussing Tezera and her vision and work. He said "She is truly saving lives". She is ...she is bringing women into her compound that have experienced things that we cannot even fathom. She's not only giving them life here on earth she's sharing Christ with them as well. What a gift!

I love Ethiopia. I love it. I miss it.

As I was walking down the road with my team to church on Sunday in Adama, I was holding the hand of my friend D. I looked at Tim and said "I wish my D were here to see this, I'll bet he would let me adopt again" :o)Tim said "Maybe you aren't supposed to adopt. Maybe your life is here, with these children". That has had me in a bit of a wrestle with God.

I have no idea what God has in store for me. I know I am not done going to Ethiopia. I know I will be back. I don't know what it will look like... or when it will be.

I still laugh every time I think of my thoughts when I first became a Christian... Africa was a scary place... it was what I feared the most, being a missionary in Africa. Now it's what I desire in my heart of hearts. God sure has a sense of humor huh? Gotta love Him!

I just read these words from the Steven Curtis Chapman Song:
What Now?
I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am, here you are

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me
What now?

And I saw the face of Jesus down on Sixteenth Avenue
He was sleeping in an old car, while his mom went looking for food
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my soul
Didn't you say you wanted to know me?
Well here I am, and it's getting cold

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me

So, come and know
Come and know, know me now
Come, come and know, know me now
Come and know
Come and know, know me now
Come, come and know, know me now

What will you do now that you found me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me
What now?
What now?

What now? I don't know. Can't wait to see.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Beauty of Awash

Our trip to Awash was out last big outing. We left on Wednesday morning early and made our way East.
It was again a beautiful day and we were all in pretty high spirits. I know there was a part of each of us that wanted to stay and continue our relationships with the children and women at the O&WH but we had one more place to see.
The drive was again just beautiful! We were all trying to take pictures as the scenery wizzed by.
We did get to stop at a beautiful spot where there was a 'crator' with lava rocks in it.
Then next to a Black Lake, that was black due to the volcanic rock that formed the lake bed. It was truly a beautiful lake.
As we approached Awash it got progressively hotter. We were kind of glad we had AC. We did feel a bit spoiled though. We used GETTS travel for this tour.

The city of Awash was pretty. Small. We arrived and as was our fashion... we all went for a walk. I went with the guys and some of the gals went over to the school across the street from the hotel. The hotel was very nice. It had AC but no hot water. We had compromises every where we went. It was almost fun to see what the new thing would be. :o)

We went out in the late afternoon to the actual park area since the animals don't usually come out when it's hot.
The scenery was stunning. The falls were breath taking... and the animals were cooperative. We were stopped to view a herd of Oryx when from our left came streaking a lion to attempt the take down of an Oryx. Tim was next to me in the seat one second and then barreling over me with his camcorder the next. It was comical and surreal at the same time! A LION! Every one was amazed. What a sight! We had been prepared for a pretty hum drum view of birds and maybe a monkey or 2 but a Lion...chasing prey?! Thanks God! :o)

We stayed out for a few hours and then we went back to the hotel for dinner and bed.

We were up very early the next morning to get out to see the animals again. This morning was wet and cool. It was WONDERFUL. We were all traipsing around like it was no big deal. We were all soaked but happy. I even climbed a huge tree.

This was certainly a trip full of the new and exciting!!

Once again the pics are in no particular order. Just enjoy the beauty....

Coffee popcorn ever!

In Awash city the guys had this road side guy make them horse shoes (I forget the name of the profession)

This was at a long abandoned hotel 'resort'... how comical is this?!
Yosef our interpreter...GREAT man!!!

See... I was in a tree!

Weaver birds

Monday, April 26, 2010

Glory in Gutumuhma

(My 'Adanna')

yet another disclaimer... the pics are all jumbled. The hard part was trying to find the ones I wanted in the 4000 I now have since we all shared ours.

This day was a glorious day! It was a warm, sunny Tuesday.

It dawned rainy, and Mark prayed that the rain would spare us on this day so that we might minister to the people of Gutumuhma, a tiny village outside of Bulbula. God provided.

The drive was about 2 1/2 hours outside of Adama. It was a gorgeous ride. We passed vineyards, a huge green house, horse drawn 'buses' and beautiful trees.

We arrived in Bulbula and as was the norm, Abebe got out his phone, made a call, someone showed up and jumped on the bus. Then we were off...after a quick look at a tire that seemed to be going down.

We drove back some pretty narrow 'roads' to a house, surrounded by a fence, beside a huge Acacia tree. It was glorious. It never ceases to amaze me that there is so much beauty surrounding so much poverty. Perhaps it's God gift to them?

We got off the bus and were immediately surrounded by the people of the village. About 20 - 30 adults and three times as many children. It was like something out of National Geographic. There were naked children, children with only shirts, no shoes, a woman nursing a twin at each breast... and mud huts. It was stunning.

We were asked to gather on a bench as honored guests. Mark said a little something, Abebe said a little something, pictures were taken and then we were presented with the best food the village had to offer. A barley and butter mold. It was brought in gorgeous, fly covered wicker containers. We all looked at each other, fully wanting to partake in the phenomenal gift we knew we were being offered...yet wondering which of us would be joining Brita lying on the bathroom floor that night. It was explained to them that we might get sick and that we were honored but were afraid to eat it. It was at that point that we all decided that it wasn't worth shaming them... so most of us took a bite. Tim took a huge one and turned to us to let us know not to take such a big didn't taste badly, just VERY dry and it had sucked all the moisture out of his body. :o)

From there we started dividing the corn among bags to give to the families. A 50lb bag would feed a family for 2 months.

Next would come one of the best parts of the day. The baptism! We got to witness the baptism of 24 people in an area that is 90% Muslim! We all trekked down to Lake Langano, to watch the glory! The men stripped down to their did the ladies... we all clapped while they sang and rejoiced. Mark and Rick were able to do the honors with 2 of the local pastors. What a gift!

We went back to the village with renewed hearts and joy. What rejoicing must have happened in heaven that day! We were told it was a historic day because no other Ethiopian had been baptized in that river by an American.

Once we got back to the village we had the children sit so we could give them coloring books, crayons, t-shirts, markers...AND Tootsie pops! oh man... there was such joy and a bit of stomach turning as we watched the children devour the pops and then play in the dirt with their sticky fingers. :o) Kids will be kids huh?

One of the things that still strikes me about this day is one little girl. She and I made a connection almost from the moment I got off the bus. She's stunning. She's about 9 yrs old. I don't know her name but she followed me, giggled when I played with her, and over all just shined. When we left to go to the baptism she ran after the bus and tried to hold my hand. When we came back into the village she came to find me and wouldn't leave my side. It struck me at some point that she was the little girl in Tom Davis' "Scared", Adanna. She was about the same age, in the same setting...and I was the white woman that came to tell them about Jesus and give them candy. I didn't see her ever speak to someone who I would have said was her parent. Did she have anyone? I did see her hold a baby. Was she alone? There's a church being built here, surely she will have protection if she needs it? But then there was a church in Scared as well... there was 'protection' there as well.

She has haunted me since that day. I did not want to let goof her when we left. I am sure she thought I was crazy. We held eyes with each other until I could no longer see her....Lord protect her.

We did have a bit of a typical African incident on the way back through Bulbula. The bus broke. Right in the middle of a back street. So while Bilcho, our driver, got out to fix it with the help of all of our other I got out to talk to the crowd of children that always surrounded our bus when we stopped. I spoke to a young man that is in 10th grade. He spoke very good English. He asked me why we were there. I told him we were there to visit the village and to bring them food. He asked me about America. He asked me if Obama was our governor. :o) I told him he was the President. He told me his government was bad, that they do not give to the people that need it...he said the government in America is good. I told him that even in America there were problems with the government, but he could do what we were doing... each person help one other person and then each one would benefit. I told him I wished I could fix the government...I wished I knew how... but that only God knows how. He agreed, and then said to me "We are the same", pointing between the 2 of us, "We are the same". I agreed with him and said while touching my heart then his "We have the same heart".

This young man in 10th grade gets it...and touched me in more ways than I can explain.

Our day was capped by a the rains that we had asked God to hold on to... came sweeping across the land.

God's promise to us.

Here are God's people....

My Adanna.....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Time spent in Adama

I can only show a few of the pics I took at the Orphan's and Widow's Home because so many of the children are waiting for their forever families to come get them or are waiting to be referred.

The pics I do have are all in a hodgepodge, these 2 1/2 days were all kind of the same thing over again, but it was good stuff!! :o)

We arrived at the Orphans and Widows Home on Saturday night.

We were greeted with huge hugs and kisses from the children and widows alike, it was like coming home after a long visit away. We were immediately invited in and made to feel welcome.

We played with the children, spoke to the widows, shared our gifts and answered a prayer. Tezera, the woman who runs the compound shared with us that they were down to their last can and a half before running out and we arrived with over 100lbs of formula. There were 11 tiny babies there... Praise God for miracles!

We had an amazing dinner, shared a few songs and then went to our hotel for a sleep.
Sunday we all got up and got ready for church. I realized I had left my slip in the guest house in Addis so I had to wear a pair of capri's under my not flattering and way hot, but wanted to look presentable for church. ;o)

We got to the compound to pick up the widows, the church was only about 2 blocks away, but they felt like royalty arriving in high style in our bus. :o)

We found out that church wasn't ready for us so we walked back to the compound and Tezera shared her story with us, about how the Widows and Orphan's home came to be. You can read that here.

When she was done we went back to church. At first it was really pretty awesome to be worshipping with them! They were singing and praising God, they were just giving it all to Him. I had no clue what they were saying but I sure understood the praise! I just closed my eyes and praised with them.

We then got to listen to a 45 min to an hour Amharic. I am sure it was powerful! I know there were alot of "Alleluia AMEN" s ... but other than that I have no clue what he said. If he was speaking in English though he so could have fit in a good Southern Baptist church here in VA. :o) He was great... just wish I knew what he said! We were all parched and worn out by the time it was over. SO glad we went though. It was too cool to see the spirit move in this church not so different from one in the US. ;o)

After church was lunch.

Then a prayer for 2 of the widows that lived in the compound. They both have lived horrendous lives and are dealing mentally with the aftermath. We were asked to pray over them and with them to remove the pain from them. So we did. It was powerful. A little uncomfortable to be honest... I have never been a part of that kind of prayer... but I was honored to be asked to be a part of it. You can't look at these women's faces and not know that they have scars so deep only our Savior can heal them.

We then were taken to the new facility being built. We were supposed to work on it this trip, but they aren't as far along as they should be so we were only able to get a glimpse of the building. It's going to be a wonderful and large place for them all. They sure need the space.

Shopping was on the agenda next and then back to the hotel. Me and a few of the guys went exploring in the city while the others went to the pool or took naps. It was a good day.

Monday was great fun. We didn't do anything.

We went to the O&WH and just played with the children, did crafts, talked about the bible, held babies and basically made relationships. It was such a great day!

There were at least 3 babies under 2 months old. All abandoned...all baby girls. Oh my heart! You better believe I loved on those baby's all that I could! They would make me put one down and I would pick up another I so wanted to just breathe life into them, speak love and grace over them while I could. The nannies were a little overwhelmed with them all so I wanted to...even for just a day... let those sweet souls know that someone treasured them and wanted them. I also got to play with my 2 friends D and M. They are both 10 both being adopted to the U.S. D is beautiful! Just beautiful inside and out, he followed me every where. He would come check where I was, then run SO SO sweet. And M... oh M. He is so going to bless his new family. He was just a light. He smiled and you just had to smile with him. The babies even lit up when he walked into the room. I will always remember him. I haven't stopped praying for him since the day we met.

I hope someday I can let his new family know what an impact he made on my life.

We stayed at the compound until about 6pm and then had to leave. This was the hardest good bye. M sobbed when we hugged good bye, he would not let go. Can I just tell you that my heart was ripping out of my chest... I told him over and over that not too much longer and his new family would be there and would love him forever... that I would love him forever. Soon..... does that translate to a little boy who's heart is so ready to be loved forever?

It sucked.

Here are some pics... in random order. :o)

These are of the new building, it's amazing how they build things.

I actually climbed these stairs and walked around the 2nd floor. It's here that Tezera and I found that we both hate heights and also when other people get too close to the edge. :o)

Our biggest guy...with the littlest.
Tezera in her apron... from her story. It's sure a phenomenal story!
The church sign.

From my sweet friend....
Our celebration bread.... it was very thick, tasted mildly like sour dough. It was yummy! We were all dreaming about olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, olives... all manner of dipping options to go with this yummy bread. :o)
Tim made this widow one of our beaded bracelets. This is one of the women that we prayed for.... she has such a sweet smile. It breaks my heart to know the pain she's lived with and still does.

Tezera and I... see can multitask... feed a baby, and hug a new dear friend.
This is her oldest son. He's a really great young man. He's 18 and in university. We all exchanged email with him, and he asked for my son's as well so that they might become pen pals.

This is the verse that led me to believe God meant for us to adopt E. And here it is on their wall. :o)
This is the other young lady we prayed for.... my mom and made up about 25 kits for the women... wash cloths, toothbrushes, hygiene stuff and we were able to share them. The women LOVED it!

Playing with bubbles.

Our next stop is the village of Gutumuhma.... another life changing... unforgettable day....more to come....