Category Archives: Ethiopia

Conference Day Two

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On the second conference day they started 15 minutes early.  Whaaaat?

Something you may not know about Ethiopian culture is that there is almost no such thing as volunteerism.  People don’t do things if they are not getting something in return.  Even this conference is opposite land from America.  In America when you hold a training conference the attendees pay money to go, and they would maybe get some materials for their money, but it usually just pays admission.  In Ethiopia, nobody will come unless you pay them per diem, feed them and give them materials.  Again, it’s just how they roll.

So imagine our delight when Meseret told us that she had given a presentation at her church about Living Hope Ethiopia and what was going to be taught at this conference, and a handful of people came to her and asked her if they could help.  Just because they wanted to.  They took care of all the check-ins each day, handed out the bags, and served everywhere they were needed, whether it was fetching water and coffee, or carrying bags, etc.

Here are some of the wonderful volunteers:

Volunteers

One of the messages today was about the necessity of having a Biblical worldview, and Pastor Samson gave that talk.  He explained that a lot of Africans want to bring their old worldview into their newly found Christianity and how that is not right.  He then went through all of the wrong thinking and taught the right thinking.  I could not understand the words, but he had shared with us beforehand what he was teaching. One of their wrong ways of thinking is that there can be many gods, and another wrong view teaches that ancestors can curse you.

Next was Dr. Seyoum again, and this time he spoke on the homosexual agenda and showed how it is related to the abortion industry.  Each wants their issue to be considered a human rights issue. He played a video that was a news report in English so obviously we could understand that, and it essentially was reporting on him speaking to the government and there being agreement that the homosexual agenda would not be advanced in Ethiopia (currently homosexual behavior is illegal here).  They are very aware that Ethiopia would be the gateway for all of Africa, and if it gained a foothold here, it would surely spread throughout the continent. The news report stated (not sure whose words these were): “Ethiopia will be the burial ground for homosexuality, not the breeding ground.”

We met a pastor who used to be an imam.  Yes, really.  His story is amazing.  I can’t put a lot of details online because he doesn’t want certain things to be public, but ask me or Randy about him sometime.  He is working on translating his bible into the dialect he speaks because there isn’t one available.  One of the amazing things about him is how genuine he is in Christ.  He is one of 13 former Muslims where he lives, and the Muslims are actively trying to destroy him and his church.  He speaks very matter of fact about being under constant threat and he says he will proclaim the gospel until he dies.  When asked about what his needs are, he said none.  The only prayer request he has is for his father to trust in Christ because he is very ill.  He was blown away by the conference.  He had no idea there were people standing up against abortion pushers.

The grand finale was the testimony of the parents who had graduated and their children who were saved from abortion thanks to God allowing Living Hope Ethiopia to become a reality.  Sorry for a dark photo, but that was the only complaint about the whole conference–bad lighting.  Don’t get Mike started.

Graduates

What a great way to wrap up the day.

Oh!  And by the way–all of the pastors that were local decided not to ask for their per diem.

Coffee-wallpaper TLC

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Ethiopian Time for the Conference

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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.

Ebise

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.

Sound Check Camera

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!

Dinah speaks, Abebe translatesDr Seyoum

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.

Prayer Prayer2

This first day can definitely be categorized as a success.  Good attendance, good messages, good reception.  People motivated to take this message to others.

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Visiting the Orphanage

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Thursday morning we went with an escort to visit an orphanage—the same one I got to visit in 2011.  It was very nice to see the progress that had been made on the building, however small.  More murals had been painted on the two finished floors, and the upper floors of the building had been finished on the outside, but no windows yet.  Last visit it had 3 unfinished floors that were floors with no walls, so now there are walls up and openings for windows, but no windows yet.

It was really cool to see a photo collage on the wall with children that we know and love!

collage

We visited with 5 younger babies (including a set of twins named Maranatha and Amen!) and 4 toddlers still under 2.  Only one child was not available for adoption, and the rest are placed or waiting for referral with a family in mind.  There is one baby who is HIV positive, and is being adopted, and one who originally tested positive but now is one year old and is free of HIV.

We got to hold most of the babies, and I even got to rock a little one to sleep.  <<<Love>>>

Holding baby

Can’t show his face.

The toddlers have an appropriate “stranger danger” response right now, so we didn’t hold them, but after we had been there a while they would play ball with us.  There was one American there who was taking photos as the other was assessing the development of the children, and he made a sudden move to capture a photo, and one of the toddler boys screamed in terror!  It was actually really funny at the time, but probably doesn’t translate well to words on a screen.  You had to be there.

It is very comforting to know that there are no children at that particular orphanage who have been waiting for many years.  But UNICEF has just announced that all children in orphanages that take their money must turn out all children over the age of 13!!  How is that compassionate?  There is one boy who is almost 15 (at another orphanage) whose mother gave him up because she went to prison. In Ethiopia if a woman goes to prison her children come with her.  So she gave her kids to an orphanage and they waited for many years to find their forever family together but it never happened.  His sister aged out and is on her own now.  She is not able to care for him, so he was forced to go back and live with his mom, who he has not lived with since he was 6. She is out of prison now, but is very poor and cannot provide for him.  He is educated and is well liked among his peers.

If you or anyone you know is looking to adopt a teenage boy and able to fast-track, contact me ASAP.

Be sure and pray for African orphans who are older.  The UNICEF announcement was a surprise, and we don’t know how far-reaching this mandate is, but today there are a lot more young people on the streets than there were last week.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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