Today we drove 20 minutes from our hotel near the Gumuz area to the Hadia Tribe. It’s incredible how, just a few miles away, God paints a different picture of beauty in both physical disposition and culture.
The Gumuz people from yesterday’s visit were very dark skinned, almost purple. With flawless complections, high cheek bones and huge smiles, I found myself staring in awe–probably just as much as they were staring at me.
The Hadia tribes were a bit lighter skinned, less full faces, and just as gorgeous. They all had pearcing, curious and deeply profound eyes. God says the eye is the lamp of the body. Even though we could not speak each other’s languages, the joy in their eyes captivated me.
Unlike the Gumuz’ circular huts, the Hadia’s had square houses made of mud and grass. The architecture and craftsmanship was outstanding, knowing that they were all made by hand. Some houses even had multiple rooms.
The hospitality of these people was beyond comparison. They would carry out every piece of furnature, including tables and cooking utensils, from the house just for us to sit down.
We walked through incredible, lush gardens, papaya and mango trees, flowers, corn stalks and clay to get from house to house. According to western culture, these people had “nothing”… but in actuality they had everything.
An old man heard the gospel and accepted Jesus at the first house, and followed us to the remaining three houses to hear it again and again. At each house, his gaze was equally as strong, as if he heard the message for the first time. I admired his devotion and wondered what he was thinking. He explained that his wife had just passed, and he was a proud father of two girls. He carried years of smile lines on his face, and today looked deeply pensive, as if he was pondering creation itself.
Our lives are so fast paced in the States. Sometimes we can hardly spare a full lunch break, let alone an entire afternoon to hang out with “faringi,” or strangers. This man had no problem dedicating his day to us.
At our 4th house, the clouds rolled in. Rain was coming. A young girl quickly bagged corn that had been drying in the sun, and we said our goodbyes.
As we ran to the 5th house, it started raining… then pouring. Immediately our arms were being tugged and we were quickly led into a house for shelter…. the very first house we visited that day.
This family whipped out chairs, made sure we were comfortable and then opened the doors for any neighbors who were also caught in the rain. Soon the living room was full of 20 people, all who we had met earlier.
I’ve always loved thunder storms. I think they’re one of the most awe-filled expressions of God’s power. Today, a thunder storm brought two nations together in a teeny grass-hut living room.
If you’ve never heard rain on a tin roof in Africa, it’s like New Year’s Eve as a 12-year-old with pots and pans. Loud, chaotic, and amazing.
We brought our chairs to the outside and watched the rain from the porch. It kept us together and deepened the trust we had built earlier that day. It was as if God commanded us to share his word–then prove it! Love your God, love your neighbor. And that’s exactly what happened.
If I ever find my way back to the Haidia tribe in northern Ethiopia, I know I’ll have a place to stay.
We’ve all heard, “God works in mysterious ways.” Today he brought an old man to faith who just couldn’t get enough. He sent a thunderstorm to join strangers under one tin roof with a few chairs and a pad of stickers. He let me experience my very first coffee ceremony with incense, loads of sugar and an ancient crop that has fed this land for centuries. He broke language barriers and let us commune like old friends–not like people from two different nations. He brought laughter, trust, and love. And the greatest was love.