Friday, July 22, 2011

Week 1

So today marks my first week in Ethiopia.  I apologize for not updating my blog sooner, but the Internet is hard to come by.  I actually intended to post on Tuesday but right before I posted, the Internet went out.  Here's what you've missed out on so far:

The best way I can describe the past week in one word is "real".  Before I left, there were a lot of things running through my head and I was a little anxious to see how I would react.  Well, now that I've been thrown in the mix, I'm really starting to understand what is really important.  I have already had so many experiences.

On Sunday I attended the international church in Addis.  It was a great experience seeing so many people from so many different cultures.  After Church we got Yemeni food.  Addis is apparently the political capital of Africa and as you drive around you see embassies.  Because of that, you can pretty much get any type of food (if you drive) so I've been eating pretty well.  It tastes really good but unfortunately I haven't really felt "well" since I've been here.  I think the food is sitting weirdly in my stomach and it doesn't help that the water will go out for days at a time.

I took my first bucket shower on Sunday as well.  Not a new experience since I spent time in Vietnam a few years back.  Since then I've started teaching a preschool class.  We just learned our ABC's and I'm teaching them body parts (in hopes to do the Hokey Pokey) and numbers.  I'll be teaching this class for another two weeks until Vacation Bible School starts.  In addition, I'm taking over the computer classes for the older kids.  I'm teaching them Excel and they are catching on extremely well!  I'll probably move onto basic typing skills  so that they can start progressing faster.  The playground is not what you would expect coming from America.  The fence is made of sheet metal, the ground is a mixture of big rocks and mud, and the slide and swings are rusty.  Even though the equipment would make any mother from Irvine shriek from the play hazards, the kids have tons of fun.  They play a lot rougher than in the states, but they also look out for each other when they get hurt.

In addition to the school, I've already participated in a street ministry and home visit to the leprosy colony.  There are 10,000 people that are forced to live in the leprosy and it's  only a 10 minute walk from the guest house.  To get to the house that we went to visit, we had to walk through mud that was at least 4 or 5 inches in some parts.  Even by our guest house, you can see people walking with missing fingers or limbs from leprosy.  When we reached the house, it was an inspirational site to see.  It was an old couple, both affected by leprosy.  The man was 97 years old and just went blind.  The couple met in the colony about 50 years ago.  They have no children and never get a visit.  The whole time we were there, the man and women were crying happy tears and kept asking God to bless.  Here I am, living in America while they are suffering from leprosy and living in the poorest part of one of the poorest parts of the world, and they are asking God to bless me!  As we were leaving we ran into a girl who is a neighbor to the couple and helps them out frequently.  She just found out that day that she was HIV positive.  I'm beginning to realize how much faith can really sustain life.  No amount of money that I can offer will save any of these people  so the only thing I can really do is encourage them and bring hope.

This idea took root even further when we did our street ministry.  On Wednesday night, we drove to a part of Addis where I had never been.  The streets are lined with bars and prostitution is common.  At the end of the strip, the road goes down a hill and right when the road curves to the right, there's a dump to the left.  We got out of our car and walked into the dump to find 5 young guys who made a shelter in the dump and had been living there for quite some time.  They scratch for food or things to sell to make a living.  Some of them were even addicted to a drug called chat that they chewed to get them high and one of them just got released from prison 9 days prior to us being there.  The place had an odor that stung my nostrils but I soon got used to the smell after about 5 minutes.  We had to watch  where we stood to make sure that we didn't stand on one of the many ant hills.  After hearing from one of the guys and his story, it was really touching.  We took some time to pray, sing songs, and give them loaves of bread to hopefully hold them over for a few days.

The last highlight was the soccer game yesterday.  Once a week Strong Hearts hosts a soccer game for their kids at a local community center.  This week it was the girls and each week they alternate between boys and girls.  They games are held on a cement basketball court which was good for scraping knees and handing out bruises.  It was great to see the girls play because they were all into the game.  One thing I've treasured since I've been here is how the people are so "present".  When they play soccer, they play soccer.  They're not waiting for a phone call, worried about the weather (it started to rain), or worried about bumps and bruises.  They would fall, get up without even checking out their injuries, and have fun.  Talk about tough girls!
If I wrote every thought I had, I'd probably be here for another 4 hours so I'll stop here and allow you to ask questions when I return.  I've been getting your emails and I wish I could reply to all of them.  If you don't get one back, please understand that it's tough to find time with everything going on, and know that the encouragement means a LOT.  Keep the messages coming!



  1. And YES! I finally got my luggage on Wed night! Thanks for all the warm wishes! :D

  2. It's so good to hear your whereabouts! Your hands and your voice will touch many hearts. Praying for you! Have fun with the hokey pokey! lol
    - kristy

  3. God is answering so many prayers! Plus, He will still continue His work in you in these new found areas of ministry in your life. :) Always praying!

    Btw, you're drinking bottled or boiled water right?! That might be where the tummy problems are coming from. Be careful! Praying for your tummy :D

    P.S. Liz and I can smell you all the way over here! Take a bath you smell! :)

  4. hey brother, your time sounds amazing and humbling. i hope and pray that Papa will align His heart with yours during your time there.

    may our Good Father shine His face on you and those around you. may you reflect His love brother.

    will be praying for protection from the enemy as well.