Don’t you just love it when God answers your prayers? Even more so when He chooses to answer them just moments after you pray them? Since arriving in Ethiopia, we’ve had many moments like that and it has captured my attention, for sure.
Since arriving, we have faced some challenges. Certainly nothing life threatening or even dismal, but challenges nonetheless. All of us (except Gavin) have been ill. Chris had a bout of food poisoning the day we moved into our new house, of course. I followed that with a kidney stone attack that hurt like crazy and Reily and Kayla have both had tummy troubles. In fact, Reily still isn’t completely over his, so please pray for that. Still, all in all we have been good health wise. The kids have adjusted really well. Reily probably struggled the most, but we knew that would be the case. Four weeks into this adventure, he seems to have adjusted really well and Gavin loves it here, says he wants to stay forever. Kayla is happy everywhere all the time, the same is true of her in Ethiopia.
Challenges we have faced beyond health concerns and the kids adjusting have been minor for the most part. We found a home in 2 days, so that was no great challenge, but it is unfurnished and we didn’t raise money to furnish an entire home, so working that out has had some challenging moments for sure, but it is coming together.
The biggest challenge I have faced is discouragement. It is discouraging to not be able to freely communicate with those we come into contact with. It is discouraging to spend an entire day searching for one item and coming home empty handed. It is discouraging to not have a car and to be completely reliant on other people. Even though the other members of our team are more than happy to cart us around, it is hard to have given up our freedom and ability to go where we want when we want. Especially for me! J It is discouraging to be stuck in this paperwork phase and to not be able to just move forward or get to work. While we fully realize that it is important to spend time learning how to survive here before jumping right it, it is still discouraging to not really even know what we will be doing exactly once we do get our paperwork in order.
This past Friday, all the discouragement came to a head for us. After four weeks of so much uncertainty, I was left feeling more discouraged than I have in a long time. Chris and I talked about why we came here, what the purpose was in it all. We wondered if we would ever really know. I asked a few people to pray that we would be encouraged. Seconds after Chris and I finished that conversation the phone rang and we were filled in on some plans for us to happen Monday (today) that left us feeling very encouraged. Saturday, we went to a local bamboo furniture maker with some friends and were able to order all of the rest of the furniture we were wanting for now and the cost came in under what we had planned for. This was also encouraging. We also found a used TV, nothing special, but a TV that worked and was a decent price. Sunday, we attended a local Ethiopian church where a visiting pastor from America preached the service. The whole thing was encouraging. Even our kids did great through the 2.5 hour service, that was a small miracle AND encouraging. Today, we spent the day learning about the opportunities around us and where we might best fit in service. That was the answer to our prayers. We are encouraged. We are excited. We see God’s plan in action for us, through us, all around us. We are ready and we KNOW that God has brought US here for a purpose. We are thankful for this answer to prayer, and so soon. We also got a DVD player that also works even WITH our TV, so that was just some icing on the cake.
Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened was having the chance to meet with other ministers and to gain their perspective on the presence of God in Ethiopia. These men, visiting from the US, all feel like something BIG is about to happen in the church in Ethiopia. God is here and He is about to move. We have sensed that for many months. The fact that God called 7-8 families from all over the world to come together in Ethiopia at the exact same time is no accident. There are other confirmations, as well, that this moment in time that we will be blessed to experience. I believe with all my heart that lives are about to be changed, that people are going to come to know a loving and gracious God in a meaningful and life changing way. The harvest is plentiful and God has provided the workers.
That’s part of the big picture. There are also some small God moments that are happening all around us. One day we searched all day for one item and paid for a driver and came home with nothing. It was discouraging. I just prayed a quick prayer that something would turn the day around. I walked out of our home and down the street to buy some bread. I was immediately surrounded by 7 of the stickiest, dirtiest children I had ever seen. This is the only time I have had this happen to me in Ethiopia. They asked for nothing and they wanted nothing from me but to hold my hand and try to talk to me. They asked my name, which they could not pronounce and giggled a lot in trying. They asked my age and all told me their names and ages. They walked with me to the store. While we were there, I bought 7 little mango juices (for about $3) and started to hand them out. I gave one and they asked, with joy, if it was to share for three of them. I handed out 6 more and they were the happiest children in all of Addis in that moment. They ran down the street jumping and screaming. I have not seen them since, but I believe they were my answer to prayer. I walked home with a much happier heart than the one I had left my house with a few minutes earlier.
All in all, we absolutely love being here. I walk down the street and cannot believe that this is my life. I’m in a city of…no one knows, maybe 8 million people and yet I have to side step cow/donkey/goat/sheep manure all the time. In this city, things are rapidly developing. One day we had to walk in the streets and the next we had a cobblestone sidewalk—all put in by hand. I see so many different people and sites and just literally think, “This is my life now.”. It makes me happy. We feel like we are adjusting well. We have gotten our Ethiopian driving licenses. That was a major accomplishment. As much as I lament not having a car yet, I still get a bit nervous at the thought of driving here. But, we will in time. Our kids love it here. It feels like home to them already. Sure, there are things we miss about the States—certain people being at the top of that list—but really, we are comfortable here and are feeling more and more settled each day. We know that this is due, in large part, to all the prayer support we are receiving from loved ones. Keep those prayers coming! I am sure that we will face even more challenges and that we will feel discouraged again while we are here. It is just part of life. But we know that God has a plan and we know that He has a purpose and we would not be happier anywhere else because this is where God has called us. We are content in that.
And for your viewing pleasure, a photo of the family in front of our new home (part of it anyway).