Sunday – November 14

The experience of Sunday worship with our partnering church was amazing, with a surprise! We started our day off with a devotional from Kimberly sharing a word of encouragement as we talked about why God brought us on this trip and waiting in expectation as to what He will do in days to come.

So the surprise at the church service, a wedding ceremony! What an honor to be able to experience the joys of an Ethiopian wedding. We began with worship, passionate, heart felt worship. The Kale Hewyet Church is a thriving church with over a thousand members. Though it was all in Amharic, the worship was still incredible. In the midst of worship, the brides maids began to make their way down the aisle. And then the bride and groom made their way down. The Pastor spoke a message about marriage and unity. Then the bride and the groom publicly spoke their commitment to each other, a beautiful sight. There was much rejoicing, singing and praising God for His power and glory. After the wedding, we were invited before the congregation to give a few words, a greeting from Tri-lakes Chapel and introduce ourselves individually. The service ended shortly after, we greeted some of our sponsor children that came, met some of the people with warm hugs and appreciation. Even more exciting was to see some of our sponsored children who are not believers, brought to church by their parents.

Once the service ended, about 2 1/2 hours later, we made our way to lunch to a local restaurant with a few of the church elders, the pastor of the church and a couple Compassion staff. The food was excellent! Some choose from the ‘International’ menu and some from the Ethiopian menu. There were great conversations among the team and the church as we shared our lives – families, jobs, life’s joys and struggles. One of the evangelists from the church was pleased to report that one woman from our evangelism time on Friday came to church!

A conversation that I was eager to hear was one between Mark, a retired Lt. Coronal of the US Air Force and the chairman of elders, a retired Major of the Ethiopian Air Force. As the elder finished sharing about his experiences, with a smile, he told me that he had just “reported” to his boss about his life. We all shared in laughter. We a great time of fellowship with these mighty men of faith.

As the conversations continue, we decided to move on to our next agenda item – our leadership and strategy for future years. The meeting went well as it was facilitated by the Ethiopian Compassion project facilitator. It was a visual of the C2C program with Compassion being the bridge lived out. We opened in prayer, shared a few words of appreciation for each other, then launched into conversation around partnership growth and next steps as we move forward together as sister churches. We came away feeling closer, connected, clear on many levels and eager to communicate with each other our visions, goals, prayer requests and day to day lives that we live from a far. We serve an amazing God!

A few highlights from each team member:
– church service, wedding
– children who recognized us from previous days were eager to come up and connect. Our pew that held 4 – quickly held 7 as little kids ‘snuck’ into our row and jumped up in between laps.
– to see sponsor children with parents who do not usually go to church
– asked to pray on the spot for a sponsored child illnesses
– The eagerness of the elders wanting to communicate with us, to build our relationship
– sweet elderly lady with one tooth and thick glasses at church who loved on us
– passion of the church service

A few lowlights from each team member:
– raw chicken served for lunch for some, hard chairs sitting most of the day
– jealously about not having their sponsored children at church service while others were able to see theirs
– listening to the stories and struggles of the Muslim influence and the Orthodox lifestyles (we definitely witnessed and experienced the Orthodox as the chanted/sang literally 24 hours on Sunday over loud speakers)
– the realization that suicide is almost unheard of in Ethiopia – in a place where some people are utterly destitute and have no hope in the life here on earth, and yet somehow we see Americans who consider suicide as an option of choice

Yes, our days have been full. Full of highs, lows and hearts that are growing more in love with Ethiopia and God’s beautiful people on the other side of the world.

  • Jen Drake says:

    Wow, you guys, I just finished reading all the updates. Crying eyes, I might add. If it was that emotional for me just to read the entries, I cannot imagine how you all are holding up. You are in our prayers and we pray God is sustaining you, encouraging you and doing great things in and through you. See you soon! Safe travels and blessings.

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