Barnum and Bailey would be jealous to see the crowds that we drew this weekend. A bearded lady and Siamese twins don’t hold a candle to 20 Americans travelling through the Ethiopian countryside in a big bus.
I returned to Addis Ababa last night after spending three wonderful days travelling south from Addis to the bustling college town of Awassa. I travelled with a great group from Calvin College in Michigan. They were so gracious to me. They welcomed me and treated me like one of their own. I can’t possibly say enough good things about this amazing group of Christian young people. The first day of the trip took us through Nazrit where World Vision Ethiopia’s Adama ADP is located. This site is primarily an agricultural project where they do outreach and extension to the poor farmers in the area to help them become more self sufficient. From there we travelled to Lake Langano where we spent the night. The next morning we awoke to monkeys in the trees, baboons and birds by the lake, and warthogs along the path. When Daniella suggested the possibility of climbing one of the trees that the monkeys were in I couldn’t resist the temptation. There was also a medical clinic there run by a missionary nurse from the US. She shared about the challenges and joys that come from such a mission and gave tours of the clinic. A large portion of our group were nursing students so this was especially relevant. From Langano we continued south into the region known as Sidama. As we travelled we left the dry savanas of the lowlands and entered the lush forests of the highlands. We went to a town called Wondo Genet where there were vast fields of sugarcane. I was especially excited to see ensete (false banana) growing around every house. We stopped at the hot springs that the area is famous for and had a good lunch at the resort. Everyone in my group ate Italian food at every meal because they said that they were tired of injera. I don’t know how they weren’t tired of pasta. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed my steady diet of delicious Ethiopian dishes such as shiro wat, doro wat, yebeg alicha and others. It was only a short drive from Wondo Genet to our final destination of Awassa. This town had the best roads of anywhere else we had been, something we take for granted in the US. It borders Lake Awassa where you can pay someone to take you by boat to see the hippos. On Sunday morning we attended Yehiwot Birhan (Light of Life) Church. It was a great experience to see how another culture worships God. There was a Swedish pastor visiting who preached in English so we could understand. The service was similar to ours except there was much more singing and praising God. There was a passion there that is missing from our worship. The church was overflowing and many had to sit or stand outside. They have plans to build the biggest protestant church in all of Ethiopia and are currently trying to raise money to build it. Please pray for this church. It is evident that God is using them to do great things in Awassa.
I think that the pastors words were particularly relevant to us all. He preached from Acts 26:16 where Paul recounts Jesus’ words to him, “get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared…to appoint you as a servant and a witness.” His message was simple. He challenged us all to “get up and stand on our feet” and go to do the work that God has called for us to do. I share this challenge with you.