So ends my recent escapades to Addis Ababa Ethiopia. As I learned from Propel Women, I can’t live in the past but I must let the past propel me into the hope and future God has for me. Every trip I make to Ethiopia changes me. I feel it changes me for the better. I come back with a heightened sense of awareness that Jesus must have had as he looked out over the crowd of people who followed Him throughout the countryside. He saw a people in need of the Hope of Israel. As I traveled, I met people in need of the Hope of Israel. They need Jesus. O Ethiopia God has forever placed you inside my heart. I will be back. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for helping me experience the Amazing Grace of God in every person I met on my travels.
“YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON OUR TRIP IF YOU EVER SAID THE PHRASE…”
“The electricity went out and church just kept happening.”
“How long is this service going on?”
“Pause the soccer game, the cow is coming back through the soccer field again.”
“Hey, Kadus just climbed Justin like a tree cuz he was afraid of the dog.”
“Get the frisbee, this kid is motioning throwing the frisbee.”
“You think they’ll let me ride a donkey.”
“Now that’s a sight you want see on the Creek Turnpike.” As we watched the donkey laden down with concrete bricks head down the highway.
“Hey, our driver just turned around and headed down the highway going the wrong way. Hey they all did.” That is how they handle avoiding the traffic jam of a wreck. Just don’t look.
“Did you know you can’t buy an Ethiopian license plate? It is against the law.”
“Did you know we went back in time? It is 2008 in Ethiopia. When we head home we are going back the future.”
“The boys get home at 10:30. No I’m pretty sure they get out of school at 4:30.” Hemen and I just looked at each other perplexed. Fish explained Ethiopians start their time clocks 6 hours earlier. “I did not know that. No wonder I stay in a state of confusion when I am in your country.”
“Oh I know where I’m at. That herd of goats in the road is my landmark. The pepsi turn around is my landmark.”
“Hemen just scored her first touchdown.” My team threw around the oval football, replacing the round one you just kick on the ground.
“I think that was a janitor’s closet.”
“John, can you go back and visit this woman and child. She has tried every religion and she has no hope.”
“My heart is breaking. We need to help this family.”
“She knows Jesus. See the joy in her eyes. She has nothing, but she has Jesus, so she says she has everything.”
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.” Sung in the gardens of the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa Ethioopia with tears streaming down faces because the sound was so sweet.
“Thank you God for getting me safely home before the world broke out into the chaos of hatred again.”
I can’t end this chapter without a shout out to my amazing team. Thanks for coming to Ethiopia and meeting my friends and family. Justin Graves, Cory Spurlock, Adam Crisp, Debbie Boyd, Jessalynn Kirkendall, Randy and Candy Hall, and Lori and Dr Ben Covington. Also, a huge thanks to our team in Ethiopia who organized this trip. It went off without a hitch. Fisseha, Hamen, Semre, Sewent, Belachew, Kaleb, Faji, Isaiah, Dani, and the other translators, Bikes and all the drivers, all of our cooks – the food was amazing. The boys in our homes. They went with us two by two to spread the gospel of Hope.
Many more Divine Appointments happened “on our way” through Ethiopia. If I were to recount them, I would be writing a book. I just want to say with deep gratitude, thank you, to the Halls and the Covington’s for their abundant generosity. Upon meeting the woman with the beautiful young girls who lived in such a dangerous part of town that the hyenas were scratching down their mud walls and her daughters were in danger of being raped, the Covington’s moved them to a safer area. I can’t even believe I write this. Upon meeting the woman who carried her 11 year old crippled daughter on her back day in and day out up and down the hill to their home, the Hall’s moved her to a home on flatter ground. Again, these stories are hard for me to write because I can’t believe people live in such hard conditions as I sit and write in the safety of my office.
God thank you once again for sending me. Thank you for opening my eyes to Your Great Big World. Thank you for letting me meet Your Great Big Family. Thank You for setting up each of our Divine Appointments. Thank You for knitting together just the right people to meet just the right people. In Jesus Name I pray with an attitude of gratitude. Amen