By far, the mission trip was one of the best trips I've ever taken. Ethiopia is a beautiful country. Everywhere there are people and animals (cows, donkeys and sheep mostly). Addis Ababa (the city where we landed) is bustling with people, and cars moving so fast you often wonder how there aren't accidents every few minutes. The city not only has people walking everywhere, but also people laying on the side of the road in the grass. Some people live in tents made from tarps on the sidewalk, while some seem to have no home at all. From Addis we take a bus for 5 hours to Shashamene (pronounced Sha-sha-may-nay). As we depart Addis the countryside quickly turns from buildings and concrete to fields of crops and little huts. Looming in the distance are mountains that are almost too beautiful to take in.
Once we arrive in Shashamene, we find our hotel and get settled in. Our room is furnished with two full-size beds, a small wooden love seat, a mirror, and a stand with a small TV. The room has wood looking tile floors, cement white walls, and the best part is the "wood floor" ceilings. I say "wood floor" because the ceilings look more like what I would want on my floor at home. There's a little balcony off our room, and from it you can see the street. At all times of the day and night are people walking that street.
On Sunday, we get up and head to church. The church is a building made of wood boards and tarps. It has dirt floors and hand made wooden benches. The church has a keyboard, a large speaker, and microphones that they use for worship. While our surroundings are modest, the worship is passionate and full of life. There were many times during worship that I just closed my eyes..... I didn't know what they were saying, but I knew who they were singing too and that's all that mattered. After about an hour of prayer and an hour of worship, the pastor gets up and introduces Jack to the congregation. Jack is warmly welcomed. Jack can preach only a sentence at a time because he has to be translated after every phrase, but the pauses really allow for the message to sink in sentence by sentence.
At the close of the service two people ask Jesus into their lives for the first time. They come down front and raise both hands in surrender while Jack prays with them through the translator.
We have only been in Ethiopia a day and a half. but already the trip is more than I could have imagined........
Monday will hold even more joy and surprises....