Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sunday, 01 March, 2009

Yesterday was a relatively quite day. We found out this morning that, because of fighting and conflict in southern Sudan, the various denominations of Sudanese congregations in Addis have decided to fast and pray together today. There may be more than 2,000 gathering and praying about the troubles in their homeland. So our plans have changed, as they often do.

We met Ermias to ride with him to a small neighborhood church in the foothills of a nearby mountain.  On the way, we had picked up a family from India that we’ll tell more about later. We traveled on rough, stone streets until we got to a narrow road that looked steeply downhill and he parked the car; there would be no other cars traveling this road anyway!   We became acquainted with the Indian family on our trek down the hill, down another side street, then across a stream and over some larger rock outcroppings on our way up a hill to a cluster of homes. Inside the doorway of a small courtyard, on some benches, were a couple of adults and several small children waiting for the door to open, signaling the end of the Sunday School time.  The children, of course, were very interested in the white people with white hair and enjoyed having their pictures taken.  One little girl named Hani showed me how she was practicing printing some Amharic letters, so I printed “JESUS” for her to copy... Mulu and their 3 sons were already inside, having taken a taxi while Ermias picked up the rest of us.  When the door opened, we were encouraged to take a seat on the benches along the wall, while others came in and took a place on the benches facing the front of this small room with a blackboard on the front wall and a wooden podium for the speaker.  We found out later that Ermias and Mulu had started this congregation in their home.  After the local pastor had prayed especially for strength against evil (people in that part of town were especially vulnerable to the local witch doctor), Ermias started the singing and Dan caught some of it on his video camera.  What joy these people have!  More people came in and, after a little while, there were at least 25 adults and almost as many children!  The smaller children tried to stay close to us, squeezing next to us on the bench; one girl got bold enough to touch Dan’s beard, then reached up to feel his hair!  My little friend Hani held my hand when we prayed and fingered my bracelet and necklace.  Then Dan was asked to share a message with the congregation. He explained that he is a lay person, like them - not a pastor, and that God wants to use all of us, with the talents and personalities that He gave us and the help of the Holy Spirit, to do His will by doing what He places in front of us to do.

I’m sure we shook hands with each person in attendance in the courtyard afterwards!  Then the reverse of our previous hike started; down the hill, across the big rocks, over the stream, up the side street, then up the stone street to the vehicle parked all the way up the hill.  It took a little while longer this time... But we all piled in, dropped off Mulu and the boys, then the Indian family - after being invited for a meal tomorrow at their home.  We took Ermias out for lunch on his way to a church meeting before we went back to Anbessu’s home.  What a
glorious time!

We rested for a while, then took a walk, getting some good photos of the people listening to the speaking being broadcast outside the Orthodox church and of some young men playing foosball on the side of the road; they tote those tables everywhere!  Two of the younger boys decided to join us for the rest of our walk, trying out questions on us, in English, after they conferred about what to ask us next.  They would talk together, then the older one would ask - if we knew of some movie actors they had heard of, what were we doing in Ethiopia, what did we like about their country.  I’m sure they had things to talk about at home later!

Tomorrow is a national holiday, so many businesses and schools will be closed, but we’ve already planned to organize the equipment in a storage room across the hall from Ermias’ office at the field offices...

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