Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #10

After lunch, we had an appointment to go and see two of the future sites for Bethel Mekane Yesus School sites. First one was nearby the current location but right next to an upcoming major highway. I could just imagine all the noise that the students would have to endure as all the trucks and vehicles passed by. Then we headed towards second site that was in the south. Well, one thing that Ato (Mr.) Tefari, the principal, forgot to mention is that there is a LOT of construction going. Oh and he forgot to mention that the roads about mile out of the site is not developed. What did this mean? The poor 20-year-old Toyota minivan had to drive through the treacherous mud road! We got stuck once even on one of the turns! The local kids helped us get out eventually. We still had to park the van somewhere down the mountains and walk up the muddy roads. After some mud incidents, 5 of us (PS, Joy, Jade, John, and Peter) along with Dorothy and Ato Tefari made it to the future site. Though still undeveloped, the land was donated by the government but with all the development and staffing issues to be picked up by the school, it will be a daunting task. It was also a beautiful site to see all the countryside of Ethiopia. The whole thing reminded me of undeveloped Korea from the ’50s and ’60s time. We can only pray that the development will be beneficial to the entire country.

Once we came back and went out to dinner, we came back for a surprise b-day party for Jade along with the girls at the hostel. They had prepared a cake along with a cultural necklace as a gift. After that, they also gave each of us a gift of a shawl. After just simple time of hanging out together, we came back for prayer time.

Water and power go in and out very frequently. We haven’t had full running water for shower for several days now. Peter has 42 flea/bug bites on his legs and neck. EVERYONE is having gas issues. Many are having diarrhea as well. Christine just got off her steroids and is making her very agitated. So please pray for all of us

Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #9

Monday came rather painfully as most of us were tired. After breakfast and service and teaching morning classes, we were visited by Teddy (short for Theodore) who used to work in Jinma. A young married man, Teddy used to work to make the progress of getting all the projects that we had mentioned previously work together. Well, more than a year ago, there had been lots of mishaps, mostly on the government side, that caused money to dissipate and force 3 of the local branches to close. So last year, he moved from Jinma to Addis Ababa to work on the administration side. A very smart man who has the suaveness enough to get the Jinma government to allow the locals to run the 2 mills that were just sitting around. He truly has the gift of communication and we pray that he will be able to get the needed things up and running again.

Afternoon time was filled with shopping. Our sister Meskerem was filling better and had stopped by to say hi to all of us one last time. She will be starting college in 3 weeks so she will be busy.

In the evening, we had the opportunity to setup individual accounts on the computer for the girls that are staying in the hostel. More than half of the nine girls did not know how to use the computer well. For three, it was their first time touching the computer. Peter had a bit of difficulty but we were able to get them started on the very basics of turning the computer on and loggin on, and then turning it off. We do take lots of things for granted. While Peter was teaching them on one-on-one basis, Joanna, John, and Pastor Shawn were playing all kinds of games to bring smiles to the sisters.

And just before dinner time, as PS prayed (on his own) for Christine to be able to get her bladder working again, she was able to go freely!! God is wonderful indeed!

Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #8

For Sunday service, we went to IEC (International Evangelical Church), which is a church that Dorothy attends. English service was done by Pastor An from Korean congregation of the church since the English ministry pastor was in the States. After the service and lunch, Joy wanted to go shopping so we went on to the open market. After that, Janelle and Mike took us to the local mountain top.

The drive up the mountain was a beautiful one. There were lots of classic old Orthodox churches that we passed by. Once on the top, the view of the countryside from the top was astounding. However, kids were always around us asking for money and what not. Mike added that it was mainly due to our own fault, in that the tourists just gave away money feeling sorry for them, when doing so did absolutely nothing for them.

Upon return, we heard that our team from Jinma was returning tonight so the three of us waited for them to return. They arrived tired a little before 9 pm and had begun to tell us of the stories.

Since it was so late, Dorothy cooked for us a potato soup and cornbread. Some of the stories the Jinma team shared were like the following. Joanna shared how she met a guy who used to work with Compassion International for 9 years. That’s the same organization with which we have adopted few children to sponsor. However, he shared how he was disappointed with them after 9 years due to limiting how the money was to be spent. When Joanna asked PS if we should stop the sponsoring with Compassion International, his reply was no. Having understood both sides of the story, so long as the money wasn’t misused, we should continue supporting the children. The team had also many opportunities to see how the churches helped the orphans. This was mainly by giving them some money and encouraging them to invest it in a business they would like to start up. In many cases, such have seemed to work rather well. Another neat praise to hear that I forgot to mention yesterday from the talk with Dr. Weingartner was that Makane Yesus only comprised of approximately 5000 members in the ’50s. Now, they number over 5 million! The church here has been growing so much that they have a preaching point. When they plant churches here, they almost immediately start new churches elsewhere. These are called preaching points. One has to walk about an hour before you establish a preaching point. Such places can be anything even under a tree, but they go out that far to preach and share the Good News. Now that they are big enough, Makane Yesus (non-Orthodox Christians, mainly of Lutherans and Bethel Synods, have begun a mission organization that have started to reach out to Ethiopia’s neighboring countries. They use two non-religious models to reach out as all but Keyna are Muslim countries. Two models are literacy programs and health programs. The Ethiopians send out people to start teaching people how to read as well as providing clinics to help the sick. When the relationship is good, they ask the local government for permission to build a church. Government says ‘no’ but it’s the people that tell the government to let the Christians build the church since their own do not help them. It’s an amazing model that just amazed the people like me. Again, now Ethiopia is becoming like Korea where it sends out missionaries to its neighboring countries like Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan and Eritrea. God moves in mysterious and amazing ways.

After much sharing, the tired team re-gathered to pray and called it a night.

Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #7

After breakfast, Joy and I, along with Tesfa, the Public Health Nurse, took us back to Haregewoin’s HIV-positive orphanage while Dorothy stayed with Christine to take care of her. This time, Joy was armed with stickers and I with Jolly Ranchers. The children were just that. Children. Playful. As we played outside, I gave out the candy to each child. After mine was done, I showed them the blue tongue and they began to show theirs. It was rather fun looking at them sticking their tongue out so strongly! Kids will indeed be kids. Then a lady came to sing praise songs with them and lead them in prayer. They even prayed for other sick kids. Then the kids started to play with my camera and all had a blast. We went without an agenda. We just wanted to bring joy to them, or as Dorothy put it, “just love them.”

For lunch, the younger missionary couple, Mike and his wife wanted to try Korean food! We definitely didn’t mind but we felt so spoiled! But since they don’t get to try different foods often and they were really wanting to try it out, we went to the Korean restaurant. The food was okay, but I was glad that Mike’s family and Dorothy enjoyed the food so much! On the way back, we picked up an Orthodox brother by the name of Samson.

After some rest, we had dinner with Rob and his wife from The Outreach Foundation. They had already been here for two weeks catching up on the status and updates. Rob’s organization supports the missionaries, planting and building churches, and equipping the leaders for the global church. This also meant that he was interested in our church, Pathways, as it’s related to church planting! They shared numerous stories like the one about walking for an hour through the mud to get to a church! Or how they started to give the local rural pastors money to invest in oxens to plow the field and generate more income so that they could be self-sustainable.  It also turned out that Dr. Weingartner would be in Houston in middle of August (8/16-18) and he really wanted to visit our church for worship. It is just amazing how God opens up doors of all kids all around us.

Now, I mentioned a man by the name of Samson who is just starting up a NGO that would help the poor elderly folks. He was rather a humble young man only a year older than I was who felt the calling to take care of the elderly who are alone, too poor to feed themselves, and need love.

Now, the day is nearly over and just continue to pray for Christine that Satan may not have a hold on her and that her physical health will catch up to her spiritual health. She was glad to come despite her condition because it also helped the local Ethiopians to open up their eyes to see that not all Americans are healthy and that she understands their pain and suffering because she does.

Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #6

Sorry I didn’t update last night but I was somewhat tired.

Yesterday, after our morning class, the 4-member team left for Jinma, a place about 7 hours by car from here. They will be leading praise and worship tomorrow at the church there so please pray for John who will lead praise and Pastor Shawn as he will give the message. As previously agreed, Joy and I stayed behind to take care of our Christine. It turned out to be a good afternoon as I got to know Christine better and her history. I strongly encourage those of you that do not know her to take time to ask her how she came to be where she is today. Oh and our people here wanted to know who has been attending the prayer meetings, and for Christine, she wanted to know who cried as Soojin read the report e-mails. 🙂 The three of us also discussed on our church status and ideas and so it was rather helpful as well.

We had a quiet dinner between the three of us after some more talk and sharing, we ended the night. However, Christine did have another incident but nothing too serious. But as of today, her lower body is pretty much out of commission and catheter is still inside her.

Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #5

Morning everyone! (For you, it’s evening)

Sorry for being late on update but we had power outage last night and so no internet either.

Before anything, we wanted to ask the Send Team to pray for our sister, Christine’s health. As many of you know, she left the States with temporary loss of her sight. She has been a real good trooper and has been trusting God so well so far! However, she had some difficulty more lately as she wasn’t able to pee and her legs started to get numb. She told us that she could feel God working and encouraging her to go still. But with her bladder giving more pressure last night, she was very worried and was thinking about going to ER here to get a catheter in to get the urine out. However, we were so blessed to have Dorothy here who is also a RN (Registered Nurse) and knew that she could do it herself. Alternate solution was for us to take Christine to ER only to wait several hours for the catheter procedure. But not only did Dorothy offer to do the procedure for her, but she offered to go and buy the catheter herself which was only about $1.50! When she returned, and I suggested to Christine that she should buy several before we head back, she lighted up saying that that’s an awesome idea as it could save her several hundred dollars and she added in how God must have wanted her to get sick so that she could save all this money! We were so encouraged to see Christine holding up so well, and for God to send us Dorothy who has been taking such an excellent care of all of us! Christine wanted to see if she could pee before the morning but she felt too much pressure in her bladder and thus the catheter was put in. What made this incredible is that this was all done with FLASH LIGHTS as power was out!! And just as Dorothy finished, the power came back on!! Christine believed that that was God’s way of saying “See? I have provided everything and every person you need! Even a nurse who can do catheter insertion in the dark!” We all have been so encouraged to see Christine’s spirits being so lifted up. Though her body feels at attack by Satan, she told us again and again that her spirit has been much at peace. Please continue to pray for her health and for UTI to not happen (Urinary Tract Infection). We are fortunate to have Dorothy stay with us while the four of our team (Joanna, Pastor Shawn, Jade, and John) go to Jinma to visit.

As for yesterday, we had (authentic) Chinese food for lunch yesterday with one of the missionary, Rachel. She has been also an amazing insight into the mission aspects, and she has been a wonderful reminder how you can still be a missionary (and in her words) in front of a TV at home by praying for the countries and missionaries! She also told us an amazing story of how lots of Chinese have been coming to African countries like Sudan to work but in the process, find out about Christ, become saved, and after few years, RETURN to China with the good news!!! God is truly amazing! Traditional concept of sending missionaries to mainland China is being shaken totally! Now we can just go to countries like Sudan where China sends lots of construction-related workers and help in their hearing of God’s Good News and having them be the missionary back to China!! We were even more blessed to have Jade with us so that she could order for us!!

After much good discussion, we headed over to “Korean Hospital” (Myungsung Christian Medical Center) to be the mediators between their head administration, Elder Moon, and Rachel. Rachel has been very much interested in working with the Korean Hospital as they plan on building a nursing school in few years. Rachel, who is also a nurse, wanted some of the far out clinics’ nurses to get a chance to learn and be trained further. MCM gave us a tour thanks to a great PR/Marketing brother, Markos, who is half Czech and half Ethiopian! His English was perfect! Then we had some time of presentation and discussion with the director of MCM, Elder Moon from Myungsung Presbyterian Church in Korea. Their vision was so in line with Rachel’s of empowering the local people and teaching them to be the next nurses and doctors, it was great that we were able to “hook up” Rachel! We will pray for the three far west clinics to get some help and be able to work together! I also wanted to add that Elder Moon wanted to ask all other Korean-Americans who are able to speak both languages (Korean and English) to prayerfully consider short- and long-term missions with MCM as he told us that they feel the language barriers as most are Korean missionary and volunteer nurses and doctors. Elder Moon shared how they need help in both administration side as well as in medicine and in technology.

We learned a lot and wanted to maintain a great relationship with these great people. Now, it’s Friday morning as four of our team members are preparing for the 3-day trip to Jinma, an eight-hour trip by car. Please pray for their safe journey and to see God’s wonderful works, and to have open eyes to see how we can be a part of it, if that’s God will for us. Thank you!

Ethiopia Mission Trip Update: Day #4

It was a rather slow morning except that Pastor Shawn was given the opportunity to preach to the staff at BSCO (Bethel Synod Compound). His message was based on Mark 3 on who is your neighbor. Brief and to the point, he stated how both Koreans and Ethiopians both treated extended family and friends as our own family and that things should carry on for others’ sake. Peter will be giving tomorrow’s message so please pray for humility and continuity.

After lunch of spaghetti (but with local touch), we took off to visit both of the orphanages that Haregewoin began for the AIDS-related orphans. First one we visited was for the HIV negative and honestly, it felt more like an institute as Haregewoin became better known and received more support. However, when we visited the HIV positive compound, things were different from the start. Many of the kids were receiving ARV (Anti-Retro Viral) medicines, and since you need lots of energy to fight off the disease, they get fed very well. You need to understand that as I have been emphasizing, if you or your family member has AIDS, you are shunned entirely from the society, just like in the old days when Jews shunned the lepers. So for HIV-positive orphans to not only get an orphanage but also to receive extra care and medication, this is totally unheard of in Ethiopia. Kids, though knowing sick, were live. Again, in the words of Pastor Ayamo, positive living in Christ. And soon as we busted out balloons, things definitely got rolling! And even more so when the kids started to sing songs and do some incredible traditional dances!! (You gotta see the videos when they are available!). Again, it was a heart-warming time to re-realize that these kids did not need our pity, but rather to give them support by accepting them for who they are despite the fact that they have AIDS and are shunned by the society. Our guide, Public Health Nurse Tesfa, again pointed out how discrimination continues to reign in society and that it needs to stop.

And for dinner, with the offer from Pastor Ayano, we had a chance to have an authentic Ethiopian cuisine tonight! Great food and we had a chance to see some traditional dances and they were incredible! Again, you have to see the videos! There were times when the female dancers swung their hair in a crazy X formation and still managed to continue dancing! Though it was supposed to be a relaxing time, most of us were very tired. Peter drank too much coffee from yesterday during the coffee ceremony in Jaja (long story), and most had trouble sleeping solidly. It’s going to be another busy day tomorrow with more teaching and visiting the “Korean Hospital” with Rachel to get the two organizations introduced and see how they can both help each other. Good night.