Follow us on our journey to be the aroma of Christ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this summer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Every Tongue, Tribe, and Nation

Written by Michael M.
I was humbled, to say the least.  After leading a few western worship songs this Ethiopian youth group was showing us another glimpse of how beautiful our God is.  Glory was pouring forth from a packed room in Addis Ababa last night with chants, clapping hands, African drums, and a guitar drowned out by praise so loud no heart could ignore it.  The passion was so strong, and the music so powerful my heart was taken in worship even though I didn’t understand a word of the beautiful melody.
This was a sweet taste of heaven.  People from many nations gathered together praising God as the body of Christ.  Despite the obvious difference in skin, language, and ability to keep a beat, we were all brothers and sisters in that room last night and forever will be.
And as the lights inconsistently shine of the circle of redeemed swaying and clapping together, I smile, so willingly humbled.

A Unique Encounter

One of the great things about having a project full of MKs is the unique encounters we can have because of our international experience.  Sometimes even in random countries, MKs can find people who share the language and culture of the place they live. Here’s one of those encounters from Sam J.’s time with campus ministry.
This past Tuesday, Max D., Jon Y., Mercy (our Ethiopian translator), and I were evangelizing near the stadium.  We were having a pretty successful day when a man, claiming to have a mental illness, came up to us asking for money.  Mercy told him, “I’m sorry, we don’t have money, but what we do have we would like to give you. So, can we pray for you?”  At that moment, I remembered Acts 3:6, when Peter and John were just outside the temple and the crippled man asked them for money, and Peter replied, “I do not possess silver or gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus of Nazareth – walk!”
So in the middle of our prayer for this man, an Ethiopian man walked up to Jon, who was praying for us, and started speaking French to him.  Jon promptly called me over to speak to the man because I lived in North Africa for eight years and learned French there.
Even though our meeting was brief, it was definitely touching.  While I was talking to the man, I found out that he was the director of French Missions here in Ethiopia.  He was a very interesting man.  Although near the end of our conversation, I tried to ask him more personal questions, he just seemed to brush them aside.  All in all, it was a pretty interesting day, and Jon later told me that that conversation will forever be etched into his memory.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

God’s Will is Always Greater Than Our Will

Written by Josephine A.

We have been doing ministry in Africa for several weeks, and God has continually guided our ministry.  He has constantly lifted us up in his hands and used us as vessels of his blessings to bless the women, children, and students of Addis Ababa.

The children are ages 5-13.  When we are with the children, we sing praise songs, share Bible stories, play games, share testimonies, and do crafts.  We bring joy, surprises, and God’s truth to them.  But we hadn’t had a chance to hear their stories or have deep conversations with them.  So I prayed to God about this – I shared my heart with God and asked him to prepare an opportunity for me to have this depth with the Ethiopian people to mutually encourage each others’ lives.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Leprosy Hospital

Written by Haley L.

The other day we went to a leprosy hospital.  I thought like most people that leprosy could be spread very easily just by touching someone with leprosy, that leprosy wasn’t curable, and that leprosy didn’t even really exist anymore.  But when we got the hospital, they gave us a lesson on leprosy, and I learned that everything I thought about it was wrong.  There are a lot of people who still suffer from leprosy.  It isn’t spread easily, and touching people with leprosy or just playing with them won’t do anything.  It can be easily cured, but most people don’t know that, so it goes untreated and gets worse.
We took a tour of the hospital, including the places where the patients make all the items that they sell in their gift shop.  They were amazing – some of the old men were making woven rugs with no hands.  I couldn’t believe it.  This one little girl with leprosy grabbed my hand.  She hugged me and told me her name and asked me to take a picture with her.  She led to some other girls around my age.  While everyone else shopped, we sat together, playing and laughing.  It was very humbling for me to experience how these girls, who are suffering from a terrible disease, were so joyful, kind, and welcoming.

Ministry Snapshots

Bryan B. enjoying himself playing with kids
Children’s Ministry (by Josh G.)
Children’s ministry is a blast here in Ethiopia.  The kids here are amazing at soccer and hopscotch.  It truly is a blessing to show God’s love to these children.  The best part about little kids is that they have a great imagination so they can have fun at any moment of the day.  It is definitely worth getting laughed at doing silly songs like The Funky Chicken just to see their faces light up with joy. I remember one VBS we did, and I was literally getting torn in half because all the kids were pulling me to play with them.  Even though we get exhausted at the end of the day, we feel good inside that these kids got to see God’s light shine through us.  Being in Ethiopia is an exciting experience, but the highlight is always getting the bus and knowing you are going to put a smile on a kid’s face that day. 

Some girls from Freedom House making crafts

Women’s Ministry (by Amy T.)
Every day in women’s ministry we teach a Bible story before teaching/learning a new craft.  A few days ago Tori M. told the story of the woman at the well who talked to Jesus.  After the lesson, we watched a clip from Magdalena (the Jesus Film for women).  There was a stillness in the room as the video played on a small TV screen.  Even though they couldn’t understand English, afterward I could tell some of the girls around me were deeply moved by the story and could relate to the woman with a hard life who wanted living water.

Soularium, one of our evangelism tools

Campus Ministry (by Owen T.)
Seeing God work through the people we’ve talked to on campus ministry has been incredible.  Last week I was able to talk with three men, each on separate occasions, and two of them prayed to receive Jesus Christ.  When these men accepted Christ, it was as if I could hear rejoicing from heaven as the kingdom had grown.  One of the most amazing parts was how God completely spoke through me and gave me words to say.  It was so humbling to see God use such a big sinner like me to bring two men to himself.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Some Thoughts From Us...

Last project we collected thoughts from everyone on project and put several of them into a post (see Just a Few Thoughts from the Project #1 portion of the blog).  This week, we did the same thing with Project #2, asking all students and leaders on project to share a little bit about the things that they have experienced and are learning.  I hope you enjoy reading about the things we're experiencing through women's ministry, children's ministry, campus ministry, and overall team life.

I’ve really been enjoying learning from the women in women’s ministry, watching them, seeing how they interact.  For me, that’s a peaceful way to experience the culture.  I’m excited to get closer to them.  Sometimes being surrounded by a new culture is really intimidating, but I like going through that anyway.  It’s a great growing opportunity for me. –Nicole M.

Last week my small group was out shopping after a day of outreach.  We were surrounded by chaos and people.  One beggar woman tugged on my sleeve so I would look at her.  I could see so much pain and suffering in her eyes.  She never knew when her next meal would be.  It made me realize just how blessed we were to always know when we would be eating.  The only piece of food I had was some chocolate, but I gave it to her anyway.  The thankfulness in her eyes reminded me of how we should be thankful for God’s love.  –Kelsey R.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another View

Last Saturday was a busy day for us – we participated in tree planting around tow, visited Mt. Entoto (a tourist attraction in Addis), and that evening watched A Walk to Beautiful, a PBS documentary about the Fistula Hospital here in Addis Ababa.  The hospital is the first of its kind and has been transforming women’s lives for decades.  Here is Heather S.’s account of the day and the things God has been teaching her through her experiences.
Yesterday was Saturday, our main day of rest and fun on project.  After helping with a citywide tree planting campaign in downtown Addis, we went up to Mount Entoto, one of the highest points in the city.  There we took a hike, a scenic route through the woods with a great panoramic view of the city.  The view of the city was beautiful, but the view we got into the hopeless situation of many Ethiopians was heartbreaking.
During the hike, there were about ten kids, varying in age from about four to maybe sixteen, who generally took care of the goats and each other.  They were all eager to shake our hands; but as I passed one five-year-old boy named Cado and patted his head, a view opened for me to see a desperate longing for love and comfort he had never received.  His brothers and sisters were mostly interested in getting money from us, but he took my hand and didn’t let go.  He even picked a flower for me.  He kept looking up at me with such simple gratitude on his face.  When we got back to the buses, I gave him a huge hug.  That’s probably the last I’ll ever see or know of him, but he’s taught me one lesson: one touch of love can go farther than a million words.  I think that’s why Jesus healed the outcasts with a touch.

First Project 2 Post!

The internet is back! Welcome to our first entry from Project #2!  We spent last week getting oriented to the culture, receiving evangelism training, and preparing for ministry.  One afternoon, everyone went out to some of the orphanages where we’ll be working.  Here’s Tori M.’s experience at Little AHOPE.

I’ve always wanted to come to Africa, and how my dream has come true!  Even though we’ve only been here for five days, Ethiopia has already had a major impact on my life.  However, our trip to Little AHOPE orphanage has been the most important.

As we entered the gate, we were told the kids were asleep, so of course I was disappointed.  The director took us around, and all of a sudden we heard voices!  My heart actually skipped a beat;  the kids were awake.  We mostly sang crazy songs and kicked soccer balls around.  Ekindu, Amanda, and I grouped together.  Ekindu decided to juggle the ball, and I was so amazed by his determination.  He would kick it once, and the ball would roll away.  This happened multiple times, and Amanda and I would cheer him on.  As we had to leave, I was upset that Ekindu didn’t reach his goal of four juggles.  But then I heard a little voice count, “1…2…3…4!”

Even though it took a good thirty minutes before his goal was reached, Ekindu wouldn’t stop.  We can learn so much from him.  As Christians, we evangelize time and time again, many times without results.  We feel like we fail, but we have to keep going.  In the end, our goal – Jesus winning over the world – will be met!  Whether we are sowers, waterers, or harvesters, we have a purpose; we will have joy like Ekindu, and we will meet our ultimate goal.

Project 1 Mural

One of our Project #1 projects was painting a mural at Big AHOPE, one of the orphanages we frequented. One of our staff, Sharon W., both designed the mural and headed up the painting efforts. She and her trusted sidekick Micah L. anchored a rotating team of students who worked hard to get it completed in a week. Here’s Micah’s description of the experience.

I had the opportunity to be present for the entire creation of the mural, and spending time with the AHOPE children, Sharon, and my fellow students impacted my time in Ethiopia in a big way.

We started work on the children’s mural from a faded chalk outline of Sharon’s design. I had been to the big AHope orphanage two weeks prior, and going back this time had me feeling at home. Sharon’s sketch had been there last time, so I knew where we were going from the start. Our helpers for the day, Reed S. and Lillian F., began work on the background. Reed was quick to coat his side (and at least one of his arms) with thick green paint by the first half hour. The children were so excited to help us, and their enthusiasm helped spur us on. By the end of day one we had completed the right side of the back wall.

Project 1 Women's Ministry

And we're back!  Sorry for the delay, folks.  We were experiencing some technical difficulties, but we seem to be back up and running.  If the internet holds for me, we'll have four blog posts today - two from Project 1 and two from Project 2.  Without further adieu, here they are! 

The women’s ministry team had some unique opportunities to serve low-income women in Addis Ababa by teaching them some marketable skills such as cooking and crafts. Here is Cori H.’s experience with women’s ministry.

From the time Amy K. [one of the project staff] told us about human trafficking in Ethiopia and the world, I knew I wanted to serve on the women’s team. She explained that many women lacked an education or the skills needed to support themselves. Many women choose prostitution or servitude in other countries so they can send money back home. When we signed up for ministry teams there was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to be. I hope to work with destitute women sometime during my life, and women’s ministry really excited me. This past week we taught cooking and crafts to former prostitutes and unemployed women. One of their dreams is to start a restaurant; we’ve bought them a stove and are giving them the cooking supplies at the end of the second project. I love cooking and helping them learn something I love. Today the women pulled out previous crafts we had taught them— beautiful rag rugs and paper beads. We also had them practice making peanut butter cookies. I find it really encouraging that the women enjoy and take seriously what we are trying to teach them.

The first women’s ministry we ever did involved visiting women with HIV/AIDS. I remember feeling burdened by the hopelessness and loneliness of their situation. But God also gave me a spirit of excitement and joy as I visited the women’s homes. I have a whole life to give to him and possibly to women like the ones I’ve met—if that’s His plan. I realize that in every part of my life, God has a way to use me to reach people. Whether I actually become a trauma surgeon, become a pilot, or finish college, my purpose in life is to serve and love Christ. I can’t wait for the rest of my life, and the opportunities waiting.