Monthly Archives: October 2013

You Decide

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Ugh.  The internet here has been so spotty the last couple of days, I can’t communicate like I’d like to.  Finally getting connected, I am rushed for time this morning, so I did a little googling (funny how that’s an acceptable verb now) and found a few articles on Okongo Samson and am sharing someone else’s writing instead of my own today.  We were so amazed by the life story we heard from Mr. Samson that it seems difficult to believe.  I promised to give you the gory details, and this first story will certainly deliver:

http://hisforlife.com/2010/12/21/abundant/

So, what is your first impression?  We were amazed at his candor about his struggles with belief and healing, but wondering if he spoke with hyperbole.  We certainly didn’t ask to see scars.  That would be tacky–he exuded genuineness.  Here’s another article about some of his work:

http://hisforlife.com/2011/03/31/what-we-have-is-what-we-give/

And finally, his ministry website:

http://unite4africa.org/

Today we get to go and visit some orphanages.  It’s a good thing it’s difficult and time-consuming to adopt otherwise we may end up coming home with one.

Coffee-wallpaper TLC

 

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It’s a Small World

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Monday was a prep day.  We unloaded all of the suitcases that we brought—they were full of goodies for the ladies, babies, and staff at the home.  Everything was sorted through by size for the babies so that it can be stored until it’s needed. We got some diapers for the current babies sorted out, and some put away for future babies.  There was so much other stuff:  pots, lotions, soaps, toothpaste, feminine pads, baby toys, candy, and on and on it goes.

Then came all of the literature for the conference.  Oh, my.  DVD’s had to be packaged, bookmarks stacked after they moved all around in the suitcases, and then a few of us took the glamorous job of folding brochures.  We finished 1,500 of those.  Only 3,500 to go…

Brochures

 Tuesday we started another day finishing sorting the baby clothes and folding more brochures.  It was a lot like Monday.  Until after lunch.

One of the men who is speaking at the conference this weekend came by to introduce a friend of his to the ministry.  They are both named Samson—one’s first name is Samson, and the other’s last name is Samson, so I will differentiate by calling the conference speaker Pastor Samson and the ministry friend Mr. Samson.

Mr. Samson wanted to visit Living Hope Ethiopia because he had heard about it and he ministers to people who have been affected by abortion.  He speaks to huge groups of pastors and asks them how many have aided a woman in getting an abortion.  It never ceases to amaze him at the high percentage of men who raise their hands.  He then teaches them about the realities of abortion, the reality that there is a life inside the mother, not just a ‘blob’ like they are taught.  The presentation is much more involved, of course, but for the sake of time…after he is finished with his talks, he asks the men if they have changed their minds, and they break down.  So many of the men experience true brokenness over what they have done.  They confess and repent, and are sorry they had been bad examples to their families and congregations, and sometimes their wives will confess and repent to having had a secret abortion as well.  He has even been allowed to give his message in Mosques!

Mr. Samson quickly found that he needed a way to counsel these people after they left the conference and went back to their regular lives, and this is what Meseret does for women here,  post-abortive counseling.  So there is a possibility of future training opportunities.

He then proceeded to tell us a lot about his past, and we were completely enthralled for over an hour.

First, the happy, amazing parts:

Mr. Samson is from Kenya, but married an American.  They moved to Arizona, and he still lives in Tucson.  He knows the pastors from the church we used to attend there!  He attends the church that Randy attended in his childhood.  How amazing is that, to go to Ethiopia and meet someone who knows people you know?!!  He knows quite a few people that are friends of Mike and Dinah as well, because of the pro-life connection.  He planned to visit here not knowing that Mike and Dinah would be here visiting too.  God knew.

The awful parts will have to be a cliffhanger, because I’m keeping this post on a happy note.

Tonight was spa night for the girls.  They enjoyed facial masks and a manicure, and lots and lots of laughter.

Beauty Masks Painting Nails

It is so nice to give these girls a little treat after all the heartache and trouble they have had in their young lives.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about all the trouble and heartache that refined Mr. Samson by fire.

 

Coffee-wallpaper TLC

 

 

Gutamuma

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What a drive!  Traffic in Ethiopia is an experience that will quickly make you a believer in the sovereignty of God.  Ethiopia has the highest rate of traffic fatalities in the world.   Here’s why:

Traffic

The only thing you can do here is allow God to take care of you as He wishes.  All of us who are visiting are surprisingly at ease on the roads, knowing we have a very experienced driver and trusting that God will see His work done here.

We left our hotel at 7:00am, and arrived at the village sometime around 10.  The drive took us through a few small towns, and then to a back road out into the desert.  The road from the last town was rough and dusty, but the scenery was beautiful.  Gutamuma is a place where people build mud huts with thatched roofs for shelter.  That’s what made this church so amazing when we drove up to it–it’s a cement building!  Strong and safe.

Mud HutsScenery

They farm the land and sell their crops on the road or at an open market, and they don’t have much in the way of possessions.  I imagine there is a lot of bartering that goes on, and the children (every place you go in Ethiopia, not just Gutamuma) have all learned to ask the tourists for money (and candy).

Side note – the most interesting thing we saw today was outdoor foosball tables.  They had 6 of them in the alley where there was a sort of swap meet going on.  We joked that they were playing a tournament for potatoes.

FoosballTight Road

Around the homes and fields they literally build hedges of protection mostly of cactus.  ALL of the people who attend this church have come to Christ from Islam.  The church has bunkers for them to hide in if necessary.  These people are so incredibly sweet and genuine it makes me jealous.  They are content and joyful in their harsh circumstances.  Americans could learn a lot from them.

The church service was beautiful, and the choir was amazing.  I’m sure it was partly because I couldn’t understand the words to the songs, but they just have a different way about them.  There were also these beautiful women who the pastor called the Prayer Warriors of the church who sang a special song.  They all sang beautifully. You’ll have to wait till we get back to hear a song, because with the spotty, slow internet we get here there is no way I can upload an entire song.  It will give you something to look forward to.

Choir Prayer Warriors'

A few of the Americans spoke to dedicate the church, and then we had more praise music.  After that, we went outside to see the rest of the property, and take lots and lots of pictures.  Here are but a few:

Church Inside Outside the churchChildren Baby wearer Haha Transcending CultureLooking at Photos Where's Dinah 2

Randy’s remark at the end of the visit: “If this was all we did, this trip was worth it.”  I completely agree.

Randy and boy

The day ended with lunch at a very large hotel with a seemingly endless restaurant.  We had about 30 people and it wasn’t even difficult to find seats all together.  The food was great, and I still can’t get over how affordable it is.

We finished the drive home, and here I sit and write.  Lunch was so big, we just had some coffee and cookies for dinner.  Shhhh.  Don’t tell anyone.

Coffee-wallpaper TLC

Three Days to Addis Ababa

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It doesn’t always happen this way, but this trip took 3 days.  Day one was a drive to Phoenix, where we spent the night.  Day two we woke up at 5:00am to go to the airport.  We left Phoenix in the morning and arrived in Washington, DC in the early evening.  We had to spend the night there because there was not a direct connection from DC to Addis.  Dinner was at a local Irish restaurant, and it was really nice.  I ate a Thai salad at an Irish restaurant.  Figure that one out.

The next day was the biggie as far as travel goes.  Up again at 5:00am, except that means 2:00am to us since we live in Arizona. It’s hurry up and wait at the airport since you have to arrive 3 hours early for an international flight.  All our bags were checked and we found our gate and proceeded to hang out for a couple of hours.  Of course, Dinah used this time to scope out a boutique in the airport that sells clothing and accessories for women, designed by women.  She asked the clerk if they would be interested in carrying the earrings that the ladies make at Living Hope, and the clerk said that the owner would most likely be very interested.

The flight from DC to Ethiopia was just under 12 hours. It was both exciting and excruciating at the same time.  The anticipation being great, but the muscles getting very sore from all that sitting.  It was a bit hard to sleep, but we managed, because if we stayed up all night we’d end up being awake for 36 hours.  Not good for the brain.

After touching down in Addis, we went about the business of entering the country.  First we got our visas.  No excitement there, just paperwork and a $20 bill.  Then we went over to the bank, which is conveniently located on the other side of the room, coincidentally next to the line for customs.  We changed our spending money into Birr, and went to get into the customs line.  The exchange rate is over 18 to 1, so we are living on the cheap.

The first day in Ethiopia was full of getting here and there, and mundane activity.  But there was one thing that really stood out—what some folks would call a “God thing.”

We knew we would be hassled by Ethiopian customs officials because of what we were carrying.  Dinah and her other traveling companions had experienced it before, and so had I the last time I visited.  Here’s what normally happens: After you go through the customs line, you proceed to the baggage claim area.  You get your checked bags and then stand in another line.  This line is for an x-ray machine.  Your bags are scanned and then the officials give you the third degree about what’s in the bags.  This happens because we carry multiple copies of many items.  This time we had hundreds of DVD’s to give away with a National Geographic movie about the development of a baby in the womb.  We had cameras, cables, painting supplies, candy, diapers, baby clothes, and the list goes on and on.  So we fully expected to be given a very hard time and maybe even asked to pay tariffs in order to keep our belongings.

There were 5 of us, each having 2 (50 pound) checked bags, and 2 small bags.  Yep, that’s a lot of bags.

Lotta Luggage

Now here’s where it gets really good:

We got close to the x-ray machine and all of a sudden there was a line of 6 or 7 porters who were loaded with bags and wanted to cut in front of us.  The customs inspector came over from his post at the x-ray machine, clearly annoyed with these guys, and looked at Dinah.  He asked her what was in her bags, and she told them, clothes, diapers, etc.  He asked if there were any electronics and she said a camera and a laptop.  He asked a couple more things, and then he waved her through.  He let all of us bypass the x-ray machine and just leave.

This doesn’t happen.

But there had been many people praying for this very thing, and so we call it providence.  We thank Him for it, and praise Him, but truth be told, if all had gone badly, He would still be praised.  He just made things much easier on us on that particular day.

After the airport, we went to Ebise’s home to rest and wait for a traveling companion who was coming from Colorado on a different flight.  She was due to arrive the night before, but weather had delayed her, and so we were to pick her up at 1:00 that day.  We ate, napped, ate some more—Ebise knows how to feed a crowd!  Then it was back to the airport.

We couldn’t find her.

We waited an hour, and finally decided to go on to the home in Adama.  But this would leave her on her own to find a ride, and that would have been pretty hard on her, even though she is a seasoned traveler.  So we were relieved (though tired!) to hear that she had made it to the airport after all, and we circled back to pick her up.

Now, all were safe in the van, and on the way to Living Hope to drop off the bags.  We said a quick hello, had coffee (of course), unpacked some of the bags and left the others for another day.  We headed to our hotel and checked in and completely crashed!

The next day we would go to Gutamuma for a church dedication.

Stay tuned!

Coffee-wallpaper  TLC

Life . . . And Ethiopia

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A while back I started reviewing Name Above All Names, and I really, really (no, really) promise I will get back to it at some point.  Maybe a chapter every few weeks.  Sorry, my life got in the way a little.

But what I really wanted to tell you is that my husband and I are getting ready to travel to Ethiopia, and I will hopefully be blogging our adventure.  Internet can be a tricky thing to find, but I’m pretty sure I can hop onto wifi at our hotel when it’s not being used by all the other guests.  They only have one router with 5 slots, and you have to sit near the front desk.  🙂

So, stay tuned–we leave for our first leg tomorrow.  It will be boring, and not worthy of writing.  We drive to Phoenix, then fly tomorrow morning to Washington DC.  Oh, if only I could stop by the White House and give someone a piece of my mind.  But that’s beside the point.

Signing off for now.

 

Hey!  Did you know Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee?

 

Coffee-wallpaper TLC