The Long and Winding Road…

The long and winding road (or was that dusty) might have been a good name for our day today.  After an early breakfast (6:00 am) and then getting on the bus, picking up additional church staff at the Kale Hewyet Church and a couple of doctors along the way, we headed out for our second medical mission outreach.  Along the way, Julie shared with us a short devotional about not over planning but making sure that we allow God to intervene in our plans and to listen for the changes He wants to make in them.

What a bus ride!  Imagine, traveling on very dry, dusty roads that at many times were only wide enough for one lane and yet experiencing two way traffic along with donkeys with their burdens, huge gravel trucks and many people along the way.  That represented the first hour and a half of our journey.  Then upon arriving at the church in the community, seeing their facility and praying, we headed out to a government facility that had a clinic close by.  Although the facilities were much better for a medical outreach, the physical needs of the people there were at times heartbreaking and overwhelming.  I think they estimated that they treated around 150 patients in just over three and a half hours.

The rest of the team had planned on interacting with the people that showed up and taking opportunities to share our faith with them but received word that the government didn’t want us to be doing anything but the medical outreach.  After a time of praying silently among ourselves, God saw fit to allow us to be able to share the gospel and to interact with the crowds that were there.  Imagine lots (don’t know how many) kids ranging from babies to into their early 20’s and many other adults milling around in dusty lot with a few shade trees and very hot conditions.  What happened?  God showed up and we had fun playing games and interacting with the kids while others took opportunities to mill around in the crowd and talk with many of the adults.

There were many opportunities to share our faith and pray miraculous healing, even though we didn’t have translators at times.  Some of the children from yesterday’s outreach walked over 4 hours from their area to this area just to see us again.  Some of the youth were learning English and were more than willing to help translate and to practice their English on us.  It was a blessed time while still faced with the extreme poverty in the area but to see the joy and hope among the people was a special time.

After a long and dusty road back to the hotel for a quick lunch and to refresh ourselves, we split up into three teams to do three additional home visits.  It was heartbreaking to hear stories of parents who are HIV positive and under treatment and yet we are able to help their child as they struggle with a future that might include fighting AIDS themselves.  In all of that, we were able to see how God is working to bring hope and salvation to these precious children.

After the home visits were completed, the majority of the team returned to the hotel for some much needed rest while a few stayed back to hold another day of theology training with about 25 students that are serving throughout the area as evangelists or are participating in the Bible School at the church.  Immediately after that was completed, we all met together at a nearby hotel for a time of food and fellowship with the leaders of the church and their pastors and steering committee.  It was a blessed time of interacting, sharing laughs as well as concerns and rejoicing in the unity we have in the body of Christ.  What a blessed day.

Tomorrow brings another full day of serving together with these precious people.  Continue to pray for strength and rest so we can continue to share the love of God with the people of the Debre Zeit region and watch God continue to show up and do miraculous things.  We could write for pages and pages about the experiences but instead encourage you to invite some of the team over when they get back and let them share their experiences at a more personal level.  God is good!!  By the way, Dave finally made it safely to join the team and had a most wonderful day.  Thanks for your prayers.

First outreach and more home visits

Today we headed out early to our first medical outreach.  The village of Doti was about an hour and half outside of Debra Zeit.  It was great to get out into the country-side: 4-wheeling in a bus on dirt “roads”, seeing mounds of teff (an ethiopia grain staple), mud huts, donkeys hauling wood, camels, and even some monkeys scavenging in a dump.  Our doctors, Bryan and John, were joined by two Ethiopian doctors who were a great help.  A long line formed immediately!  They treated approximately 100 people, with around 30-40 still in line when we had to leave.  They saw some serious problems, unfortunately things that should have been treated long before and now couldn’t be treated, and a couple of cases of TB.  They were given a gift of two eggs by one elderly gentleman patient.  A prayer team met with people and experienced several healings to inlcude better eyesight and sickness.

We learned a lot and will do some things a little differently tomorrow!  While the doctors were busy, other team members worked with young mothers, teaching them basic health guidelines.  Some entertained the children and young men who gathered outside the church. Beach balls were the biggest hit – even the young men got into it and were laughing and playing with them for a long time.  A highlight was when some young girls started singing in the church, and all the kids in the courtyard rushed inside to participate. It was a sight to behold – everyone singing, clapping and jumping. Seven confirmed people accepted Christ and we believe many more did as well.

Home visits went really well. We saw what would be considered “nice” homes, that actually had more than one room.  One of the families visited makes around 470 birr, which is about $26 a month and considered a good salary for this area!  Once again, amazing hospitality.  The mother of Jay’s child made a huge feast for us and of course, we experienced gusha (being hand fed by the mother).  By the end of the day, we were tired and dirty!!!  After washing away layers of dirt, we enjoyed a dinner outside by the lake. A good way to end the day!

Second Day

Another full and amazing day here in Debre Zeit.  Bryan led us in devotions out on the deck of the hotel this morning, and it was actually cool!  Not so this afternoon!  We spent the morning at the church learning more about the Child Survival Program (CSP).  This is a program for mothers and their children ages 3 and under.  Mimi gave an inspiring message to these mothers about Hagar – that God sees them, just as he saw Hagar in her despair.

Two of the mothers then gave their testimony on how much hope, encouragement and benefit they have received from this program.  It was so inspiring to see and hear how the program has blessed them.  So many moms and babies learning about Jesus! The men on our team did great with babies with no diapers.  Tall John Voth (Yohnnas) scared a few of the babies and traumatized one for life.  The moms were mesmerized by how tall he is.

The afternoon was filled with home visits.  “The joy of the Lord is my strength” is so evident in the believer’s homes.  The situations are still dire, with heartbreaking stories, but the light of Christ radiates from them and gives new meaning to this phrase.

The day ended with meetings with the church elders and staff on vision planning and goals for both churches. It has also been so encouraging to see how Tri Lakes Chapel, Compassion and the Kale Heywet church have partnered together in all the programs here, working together as brothers and sisters in Christ, forming relationships that are deepening each year!

Mimi celebrated her birthday today, and says it was one of the most memorable she has ever had!

First Full Day in Ethiopia

Our first full day in Ethiopia was full and amazing! We started a devotional word of joy from the Lord, and filled the vans with eager anticipation as we headed thru Addis Ababa. Along the way we saw a glimpse of the heartbreak of poverty, along with a thriving city and lots of traffic.

We checked into our hotel in Debre Zeit and headed straight to the Compassion project, where we were greeted with long-stem red roses by individual children. We were so welcomed by the staff and a praise/dance/worship presentation from the children. After that we met with the project and church staff for a coffee ceremony and an update on the project.

In the afternoon we divided into teams with translators and visited with 4 of the sponsored children. It was heartbreaking to get a better understanding of some of the home situations. At the same time, we were encouraged by hearts newly receptive to Jesus (the mother of Jay and Kimberly’s child) and the excitement of the kids as they opened their gifts. For Julie and Kevin’s 4 yr old child, a soccer ball was such a treasured gift, he didn’t want to play with it and get dirty! But he did, and it was the highlight of this home visit. Mimi was overjoyed to visit Wendy and Claire’s child in their 2 room home, where 6 people share one small bed. Love was quite evident in this home. Shanna was reunited with Abel and his mother, and Tim was able meet the family.

The day ended with Chad and Brian Chu (the Compassion rep) teaching 20 eager students. Enough for one day, goodnight – we are going to bed! Thank you again for all your prayers and support! We feel VERY blessed!

From Ethiopia – Monday

We have arrived, all of our bags have arrived and we are doing well! We will try to post more later, but I wanted to get a quick message out. This is the first time that we’ve had connection to post any news. Today was a great day! Our first visit with our partnering church, a time of greeting and visiting with the some children and then with the church leaders. After a great time of fellowship, coffee and traditional bread we headed out to a few home visits with some of our sponsor children.

More to come. Everyone is doing great with big smiles! Thank you for your prayers!

The Team Has Departed

Hello Prayer Team –

We could sure use your prayers. We are definitely feeling under attack.

Wendy did NOT make it on the plane as she was in the hospital yesterday and home with A fib (heart related). We adjusted everything, and of course we all are disappointed.

THEN – we got to the airport today, got the remaining 13 people checked in, said goodbye, sent them through security and just before boarding someone found out that they had lost their passport somewhere between security and the gate and he was NOT able to board the plane. We have been on the phone with travel agents, passport offices… and can’t do anything without a replacement passport and Monday is President’s Day so the office will be closed. They do not consider this an emergency need for a passport since he ‘lost’ it.

Please pray for Wendy who is very disappointed with not being on the team. Please pray that God would give His peace to her and calm her spirit. Pray for Dave who is now back in Monument, and pray for his wife who had to get on the plane without him. Please pray for favor with the passport office to process his passport quickly so he can get on the Tuesday flight out. (Even better – pray that we can call DIA’s lost and found tomorrow when they open and that someone turned his passport in!) Pray for Jay, the team lead, as he now needs to figure out how to plan for the theology training. Dave was going to be leading all 5 days with 2 hours of training at a Bible School with a certification at the end of the 5 days. Please pray that Jay has wisdom as to what to do with the training.

Thank you all. I’m so thankful we know that we serve a God who is FOR us and who has a PLAN for this team! He is victorious!

Ethiopia Trip 2013



Our Ethiopia Mission Team is getting excited as well as a bit nervous as we realize our departure is very near. We have been meeting regularly as a team as well as in smaller groups to continue putting our plans together for this special trip. We have divided our team up into five sub-teams to focus on the planning for the various components of the trip. These sub-teams are planning the following components:

  1. Medical Team – planning for three days of going out to different areas outside of Debre Zeit to work with a medical team from Ethiopia to hold general health screenings for any people that show up. In addition they will be doing some general health education sessions for those that show up.
  2. Outreach Team – planning for additional evangelistic outreach while the medical team is holding their screenings and sessions focused on sharing the gospel and interacting with the people in the communities and helping the church in reaching out to the people of their community.
  3. Vacation Bible School Team – planning a special VBS program for one day at the Compassion Project at the Kale Heywet Church in Debre Zeit for all of the children that are enrolled in the project. They will be learning about Daniel and the lions den while having fun with songs and crafts as well.
  4. Special Fun Day Team – planning a special day long outing for all of the children who are sponsored by the wonderful people at Tri Lakes Chapel. The people of the church sponsor over 140 of the 280 children that are currently enrolled in the Compassion Program at the church. This will be a day of fun and games and each of the team members will have the opportunity of playing with and getting to know their sponsored children along with the other children whose sponsors are not able to join us on this trip.
  5. Theology Training Team – planning a week long session of workshops on Evangelism and Discipleship for the leaders of the church there in Debre Zeit. We are hoping further their training in evangelism and discipleship with providing them with some practical tools that they can use to train others in their church on how to share the gospel or disciple a fellow believer.

In addition, we are looking forward to having opportunities to have home visits with our sponsored children and to meet their families and share some time together. There is no more special activity than getting to meet the precious child you have been writing to and getting to meet their family on a more personal level.

We also look forward to worshipping with the church family on Sunday’s and having opportunities to share and discuss the visions and dreams that our churches share for reaching their respective communities for Christ. We hope to have a special time with the youth in the church one of the Sunday’s that we are there and offer encouragement to them on how to live a life that honors Christ amidst the pressures of our different cultures to compromise on our beliefs.

Please continue to pray for our team as we continue with the final preparations for the trip and then depart for Ethiopia on the 16th of February. We covet your covering our team in prayer daily from now until we return that we would not allow Satan to discourage us or distract us from the reason we are going. God is at work and we are expecting mighty things from this trip, both in our lives as well as the lives of the people and children at the church in Debre Zeit and as a result, we know that Satan will be working overtime to frustrate our effectiveness and desires.

Some special prayer requests and praises for the team are as follows

Prayer:

  1. Pray that the final details of the trip will come together and that we would be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading regarding the plans we put together.
  2. Pray for unity among the team and that we would put aside our personal agendas for the good of the whole team together and that we would serve with the heart of Christ.
  3. Pray for the health of all of the team members between now and the end of the trip that we would not have any sickness and that our energy levels would remain high even when sleep and schedules are disrupted.
  4. Pray that God would be glorified through the efforts of the mission team and that our sister church in Debre Zeit would be encouraged and unified in heart with us as a result of the trip.

Praise:

  1. God has provided in exciting ways to help each of the team members so that the financial details of the trip are not a worry for the team.
  2. The team has gotten all of the necessary vaccinations as well as the necessary visas and passports for the travel well in advance of when we leave.
  3. The details of the trip are coming together as we have had excellent communication with our partners in Ethiopia and excitement is building among the team in anticipation of what God is doing in the lives of each of the team members.

We look forward to keeping you updated regarding the trip and our preparations for this adventure. Please keep us in your hearts and prayers as we continue the count down to our departure. We are so thankful for each and every one of you for your support and encouragement in this partnership. May God give you special blessings through our involvement together in this ministry.

The Tri Lakes Chapel Ethiopia Mission Team – Jay, Bryan, Tim & Shanna, Dave & Sherri, Wendy, Mimi, Chad, John, Julie & Kevin, Loren, Chris and  Brian

Our Eyes

Open our eyes Lord that we may see (see II Kings 6:17). May we keep our eyes open for spiritual danger, stand true to You, Lord, act like a man and a woman, and be strong (see I Corinthians 16:13). Help us to watch out for attacks from Satan, our enemy (see I Peter 5:8).

We pray that we’ll keep looking steadily into Your law as free men and women, not only to remember it, but also to do what it says; You will greatly bless us in everything we do Lord (see James 1:25). We want always to see clearly the difference between right and wrong and to be inwardly clean with sincere hearts, not causing others to stumble from now until You return, Lord (see Philippians 1:10).

We will never stop thanking you, God for each other; and we ask You to give us wisdom to see clearly and to understand more fully who Christ is and all that He did for us. May we allow our hearts to be flooded with light so that we can see something of the future. You have called us to share (see Ephesians 1:17, 18).

Our Minds

Then if we have been raised with You, Jesus Christ, we purpose to aim at and keep seeking the things that are above, where You are seated at the right hand of God. We will set our minds to keep them set on what is above, not on things that are on the earth (see Colossians 3:1, 2). We desire to hear, be wise, and direct our minds in the ways of the Lord (see Proverbs 23:19). We each pray for the other, that we can turn our eyes upon Jesus, gaze at God, and only glance at our circumstances!

Lord, I pray that we will have the rich experience of knowing Christ with real certainty and clear understanding. For Your secret plan, now at last made known, is Christ Himself. In Him lie hidden all the mighty, untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (see Colossians 2:3, 4)

May we not be carnally minded, which is death, but be spiritually minded, which is life and peace (see Romans 8:6). Bring into captivity our every thought to obedience to Christ (see II Corinthians 10:5). We purpose not to entertain thoughts of lust, Lord, but instead, we purpose to thank and praise You! Lord, convict us of our sin.

I pray we will remember what Christ taught and let His words enrich our lives and make us wise (see Colossians 3:16). Sustain us with a willing spirit to fix our thoughts on what is true and good and right. May we think about things that are pure and lovely and dwell on the fine, good things in each other. Remind us to think about all we have to praise You for and be glad about (see Philippians 4:8).

May we never repay one another with evil by being ungrateful but always showing kindness and seeking to do good to each other, being happy, rejoicing, unceasing in prayer, always thanking You, God, in everything, no matter what, being thankful and giving thanks, for we know this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus. We do not want to quench the Holy Spirit tin our lives (see I Thessalonians 5:15-19).

Lord, we pray that we will not be conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may prove what is Your good, acceptable and perfect will (see Romans 12:2).

Thank You, Lord, that you open our minds that we might understand Scriptures (see Luke 24:45) and behold the wondrous works of Your law (see Psalm 119:18).

Our Ears

Dear Father, Your Word says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (see Romans 10:17). We pray, Lord, that we will give ear to Your law and that we will incline our ears to the words of Your mouth (see Psalm 78:1) Lord, when You speak to us, we will listen and not rebel or turn away (see Isaiah 50:5).

Lord, we purpose to listen as You speak to us, for if the Israelites did not escape when they refused to listen to You, how much less shall we escape if we turn our backs on You, who cautions us (see Hebrews 12:25). Lord, we want ears that listen so that we may obey Your divine will. We shall come to You and hear and our souls will be revived, and You shall keep us because of your mercies (see Proverbs 25:12, Isaiah 55:3).