Ethiopia August 7th & 8th.
We arrived late on the 7th after about 30 plus hours of transit time and one checked bag missing. No, we were not sleepy, more like completed exhausted and ready to move on to the Amazing Grace Guest House where we are staying. We were also very thankful that Colin’s carry on bag, which he left on the plane into Frankfurt, some how made into checked baggage and showed up on the baggage carousel in Addis Ababa. One of many small traveling mercies from our good God.
After a great night’s sleep lulled on by the patter of rain, we awoke and ate a delicious meal of eggs scrambled Ethiopian style, fresh mango juice, dark rich coffee and bread with jam. We headed out around 10 AM. We hiked about 10 blocks to a taxi station, an area where old soviet era taxis and some newer Toyota Corollas, mixed in with some Japanese and more modern European vans, provide service to various districts of the city. All 10 of us, plus our host Aki, piled into a mini-bus that took us part way to the orphanage, then we piled out, dodged traffic and walked to the next taxi stand, where we did it all over again, this time arriving close enough to the orphanage to walk the final distance.
The Bright Hope Orphanage is in the district of the city known as Korah, which is where the city dump has been located for decades. Consequently, it is an area where poverty abounds , streets are of mud and garbage, and the orphans and others scavenge for sustenance. It is a good place to have an orphanage, but walking through it the physical needs of the people hit you straight on assaulting your senses and breaking your heart. We have much to learn about real struggles and sufferings.
Addis Ababa is in a beautiful setting in the highlands of Ethiopia, lush with palm and Eucalyptus trees, with mountains arising around it and a mild August temperature in the low 70’s. The physical beauty of the setting is scarred by the poverty, yet the smiles of its beautiful people bring a beauty of its own that is framed by the same mountains that frame the city. We were greeted on the street with friendly smiles and waves, with the greeting of “peace” and nods of the head. As we approached the orphanage a swarm of smiles hit us from the children, dozens and dozens of them, who welcomed us with joy in their eyes, asking our names, speaking a few words of broken English, reaching out to hold our hands, hug or be lifted up into someone’s arms. Smiles seemed to be from ear to ear and a genuine excitement filled the air. We were greeted like royalty, or as I imagine royalty being greeted, especially those who were returning for the second time. Colin, our fearless leader, was the celebrity of the day, being cheered by the kids and remembered as Goliath from the small skit he had preformed last time he was here.
Today was casual as we introduced ourselves to the kids, met and held and interacted with them, helped with serving lunch and got a grand tour of the facilities, be they what they are. Tomorrow we return to help with some games and to paint some of the buildings, as well as hold and hug more kids, learn bits of Amharic, teach bits of English and practice speaking love without using words.
The questions of the day I find God raising up within me is not so much the why of suffering or a pressing desire for a solution, not even the heart tug of compassion looking for a way to give, but rather how can I so easily forget that God is so good? I sit here tonight humbled by the faithful goodness of our God, not because all suffering is gone, but because the goodness of Our God is here in the midst of this suffering, at work in this place in ways so forgotten and unknown to me. Montana may have big mountains and be the home of the Big Sky, but we are only a small part of what our God is doing in this world as His Kingdom marches on. I am humbled to be here in a place where God is moving, where His power is spreading and redeeming, where love for Him is growing, where life, suffering and death are meeting, and yet in the midst of it all, I see God’s grace working through some under-staffed, under-funded, under-equipped, overwhelmed ministries to build His Kingdom and bring people the abundant life found in Jesus. As Jesus promised to Peter, He will build His Church, and nothing will stand or prevail against it. Here today in Ethiopia, in the midst of some very hellish condition, I see God’s goodness coming through as He continues to build His Kingdom and rescue a broken humanity.
Matt 16:18- “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”.