Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Day 4 In Ethiopia
We traveled North of Addis Ababa into the countryside. It was so beautiful and so rural compared to the city. We were heading to Ararat Ministires to attend a church service (Sunday am) and to spend the day with the kids. Well, it took us awhile to find where we were going, then once we did it took us a while to get down the windy, potfilled road. These were the biggest potholes you have ever seen- mud potholes not pavement potholes... and it had been raining everyday all day so it was basically one big MUCK of mud. We got out of the bus to walk the rest of the way. There was the HUGE pothole creek we had to go across and immediatley my crocs filled with gushy mud! Ick! Bizrat, our guide, through a rock into the middle so we could step on to the rock and completely turned my tripmate, Jodi, a nice color of brown for the rest of the day! I wished I had photographed all of this. We have never laughed so hard! I really kept waiting for Kelly, our trip leader to say "no way we can do this, we cant get here, this is impossible, everyone back on the bus". That was the Brentwood girl or American girl talking inside my head. If you know Kelly Putty very well, then you know she didn't say this and that we kept drudging through the muck. We were quite messy (not the best day to wear flip flops or crocs with holes), but who knew? The children around us were covered in mud. Their shoes, their clothes and I think they couldn't quite figure out why these "vistas" were screaming and squirming and making such a big deal about a little mud. It's what they know and what they are used to. Us, not so much and it was obvoius we were way out of our comfort zone.
When we arrived they washed our feet. I felt so guilty watching them get water out of the rain bucket. I know that water is precious and I just hoped I wasn't putting them out of a resource so precious to many.
We all went in the church and the pastor started his sermon. We opted out of the Lord's supper because our guide told us it could make us very, very sick. During the church service things just felt a little different here than they did at the trash dump. The parents didn't seem to be as receptive to us being there. Their children would come over to us and the parents looked very uncomfortable and would quikly call their child back over to where they were. It was just a different feeling from the day before and it wasn't just me who felt that. Again, these people are outside of the city and Kelly picked the ministries that are often missed on mission trips. Maybe, they just didn't know what to expect or think of our help or our showing up to their village.
The pastor explained after the church service to us that this is a very struggling community. They do not all believe in the Christian faith. Some believe, possibly because of their hardships, that the devil is more powerful than God. This is a small Christian church, in the middle of nowhere, trying to spread the gospel to people who live a very tough life. He said that some are Christians, but that some beleive the devil to be stronger than God. Some practice witchcraft and worship the devil. Ok, I thought this makes a lot of sense. This is WHY it was so hard to get here today. This is why that mud river was in our path. It was like a mud barrier saying get back on the bus and leave. This is why it felt so dark and cold compared to the day before. This is why I sensed we weren't welcome here. It was like an ah-ha moment for me. This church and community needs a lot of prayer. This pastor truly has his work cut out for him. He told them during the sermon that God told him people from another land would come to help.
We spent the day clothing and providing shoes to this very poor community. We did arts and crafts. We played soccer. We painted children's and mother's fingernails. By the end of the day, everyone started to be more receptive to us being there. We purchased sheep for their dinner and fed the village. The slaughter of the sheep in this village was a lot more bloody and took a lot longer than the day before. We served an early dinner and were then on our way back up the muddy path.
We had feelings of corruptness here, possibly even with the ministry. We just couldn't put our finger on it, but we DID know that today we shed God's light in that village. We fed and clothed over 100 children. They got a toy and had fun doing some arts and crafts. They warmed up by the end of the day and once again we had chilren draping off our our arms and sitting in our laps. We hung a HUGE mural in the back of the church that says "Jesus loves Ararat" with all of the chilrens and our hand prints- it was my tripmate Dana's idea and was such an awesome craft! Please PRAY for this ministry and this village!