My teammates have shared at
two-day intervals what God has been doing during this ministry trip. Here is a
review of the final two days and the trip home.
On the morning of the last
day, Friday, Pastor Tesfaye was no longer with us. He had left before dawn for Addis Ababa airport to
welcome the Hawassa team landing that morning. Since we were checking out, our
luggage was all packed before breakfast.
We were to leave the hotel
at 8:15; our driver was to be there by 8:00. At about 8:20 we moved all our
luggage outside the hotel lobby so we could load it quickly when he arrived. We
recognized the van we had ridden in the night before; it was parked in front of
our hotel, but no driver was in sight. Terry found an unlocked door, and we
were about to begin loading when the driver appeared. He gave no explanation of
where he had been.
With luggage soon loaded, we
started moving—but the wrong way! Instead of going to the venue, we were headed
the opposite direction—toward Addis
Ababa! Jeff, who was riding shotgun, got the driver to
turn around, but, though Jeff showed him pictures of the church, the driver did
not know the way to our venue. I traded seats with Jeff, and guided the driver
to the venue. He asked when he should return; we said 2:00 pm. We were quite
late for the start of plenary devotions.
Our Ethiopian brothers and
sisters dedicated a long time to prayer for us, particularly for Jeff’s family.
Then they took time to discuss a problem: Someone(s) had vandalized the fence
of the host church’s graveyard. Though they had a hired guard to protect the
property, he had apparently slept through the incident. They were uncertain how
to respond to this damage. Three or four pastors spoke, and though we have no
idea what they said, it was good to see that it was the oldest, wisest pastors
speaking in measured, non-inflammatory tones. Soon they all seemed satisfied
and we headed to our respective classrooms.
The final lessons were on
the Will, the Omnipotence, the Sovereignty, and the Glory of God. How very
satisfying it is to contemplate, to worship, to obey and to trust in this God!
The time went by all too fast! About mid-morning Pastor Tesfaye appeared in my
classroom. He had gotten the Hawassa team situated in their hotel, and had
already returned from Addis Ababa
to guide us there.
At 12:30 we delayed lunch in
order to have a wrap-up and farewell session. Weymann Lee shared
encouraging remarks. Then Pastor Tesfaye urged them all to continue the
training, returning for the next workshop, May 16~20. We gave out 50 copies of
A. W. Pink’s book, The Attributes of God. Then the locals gave, to each
team member and to Pastor Tesfaye, two decorative shawls, for ourselves and for
our respective wife.
After a quick lunch, many
photos and fond farewells, we were on the road toward Addis Ababa. We had a different van, with a
different driver. The trip was quick and pleasant on a new toll road, avoiding
the snarled traffic that bedeviled our arrival in Bishoftu. We flew past vast,
flat wasteland and farmland on the floor of the Rift Valley. Then we saw,
startlingly, mile after mile of high-rise apartments, some under construction,
some complete. Few, if any, of them seemed inhabited. We hope they had water
supply, but doubt that they had sewers. There were no businesses, stores,
transportation hubs, or other services that we could see. Upon asking, we were
informed that the government plans to move the population of Addis Ababa to this residential zone, and
create another zone for business.
When we arrived at the
hotel, we met the Hawassa team. We quickly bonded with them, hearing what they
had seen in Addis Ababa
during the day, and sharing our experiences and life stories over supper.
The next morning Pastor
Tesfaye took both teams to change money and do some souvenir shopping. We
bought more coffee than anything else, though some bought several soccer
jerseys. Back at the hotel we parted ways: Pastor Tesfaye took our brothers on
the long drive south to Hawassa. Our team had a leisurely lunch. Then most of
our team took in the National
Museum. Before supper we
debriefed, reflecting on what God had done in us and through us this week. All
of us rejoiced, and are willing, even eager, to come back
to train in Ethiopia
again. At dusk we headed to the airport for our 10:50 pm departure.
We flew north over Egypt, then
along the Dalmatian coast. Our flights home, with stops in Dublin,
Ireland and Washington D.C.,
were long! However, there was good service and little turbulence. Some
of us were able to sleep well.
We rejoice in the goodness
and greatness of our God! We pray for our Ethiopian brothers and sisters, that
God will continue His good work in them, as well as in us.
In His grace,