Just like we have Mountain Time, where all the guys work when they feel like it, here they have Ethiopian Time, and everybody is on it.
Electricity, water, and phone are not guaranteed, and are certainly not reliable in Ethiopia. They roll with it. The internet has only been here for 3 years, and is only allowed in businesses. No homes have internet. Time management in Ethiopia is not a ‘thing’ either. If something is scheduled to begin at 9:00 that means roughly within the hour after 9:00.
So last night, Meseret and Ebise went to get their hair done for today’s event, and while they were at the hair salon the power went out and was out for 45 minutes, so they decided to finish up their hair this morning.
However, Mike and Randy needed to be at the hotel where the conference was to be held by 7:00 to set up video and sound. People were to start arriving for registration at 8:00, and the conference was to begin at 9:00. These two extremely schedule-minded men learned about Ethiopian time. Mike and Randy were out in the hotel lobby ready for pickup by Ebise at 6:45 sharp. Little did they know Ebise was at the salon. They finally got ahold of her and got to the hotel by about 7:30. People started filtering in a little after 8:00 and Mike breathed a sigh of relief. Attendance was about 150 by 10:00. Relief.
One more hurdle to jump over. The Keynote Speaker, Dr. Seyoum, called earlier and said he’d be late because he had taken his kids to school and there was a traffic jam, but he would leave Addis soon. The conference began with introductions and a time of prayer, and then Dinah told her story about how Living Hope got started in Ethiopia. Abebe spoke for a few minutes and then it was time for a coffee break. During the break we got word that Dr. Seyoum was here. Whew!
The entire conference is in Amharic, so we can’t really pay attention, but it is electric just being here and seeing the attitude of the attendees. Dr. Seyoum also had a slide presentation so we could follow along a little bit. One thing I did catch him saying as he read a published document is that the UN is pushing “quality, safe abortion services” which includes training more people who can perform abortions including nurses and midwives. They consider this a matter of human rights. Are the babies not human?
He spoke for about 2 hours when the power went out. He kept speaking without a microphone, and then took questions from attendees off the cuff while we waited for the electricity to come back. It’s how they roll.
After Dr. Seyoum spoke we had lunch, then it was his wife’s turn to speak. I didn’t understand a word, but her slide presentation was horrific. The abortion procedure is barbaric, as well as people who deal in the selling of the “products” of abortion. These products are baby parts.
The last message ended with prayer and a call to repentance, and about 15 people went to the front for counseling, but SO many in the crowd were crying and even wailing at the regret and horror of abortion.
This first day can definitely be categorized as a success. Good attendance, good messages, good reception. People motivated to take this message to others.