September 2016: Saturday at the Farmer’s Market

By Marcia McPhate:

Saturday, October 1st

This was the day The Lord made! We rejoiced and were glad!

We arrived in Arba Minch yesterday afternoon and checked into our hotel. There’s definitely a sense of long-held anticipation nearing it’s completion. We have joyfully greeted several of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ, and are anxious (Understatement!) to join them in encouraging the believers here and in being used by God to bring more into the Kingdom. (Pray!)

Today began with Rachel’s devotion on the topic of peace – peace that passes understanding in stressful times. Yes, some of us were a bit stressed – international travel, worrying over whether we are properly prepared for the important work God has for us, and fearing crocodiles and hippos, etc.

That’s right crocodiles and hippos. We rode in boats on Lake Chamo (2nd largest in Ethiopia!) to see crocodiles and hippos. The birds (white pelicans, Egyptian geese, Maribu storks, plover!) were a bonus. Allison J. says she saw 18 crocodiles. (Upclose, but not too unclose!) The beauty was mesmerizing. It was impossible not to marvel at the creation and even more, the Creator. “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?”

Later in the afternoon we went on a long but bumpy ride to the Highlands to see a typical Saturday “Farmer’s Market.” It would be impossible to paint this scene with words, I’ll attach a picture. The market was in a city called Chemcha and the people were of the Dorze tribe. They make the most colorful and beautiful scarves and hats, and their fences and dwellings have an artistry that is singularly impressive.

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We also witnessed upclose how very poor the people are. It’s hard to take in poverty like this. (Tears fell!) How wonderful it will be to return to the area next week to offer hope to a people who desperately need an eternal perspective.

The day concluded with Melissa’s devotion on overcoming fear through faith. It was a word that God gave her to share with the team. She had never before given a devotional talk, but was given confirmation that this was her moment and God’s message. (Cool!)

Tomorrow we will visit 3 churches that were planted after other E-3 teams shared the gospel here (Talk about cool!)

September 2016: Get Out of the Boat

By Allison Sonnier:

This morning at our team meeting we discussed the story of Peter walking on water. I’ve read the story many times, but being here in Ethiopia, the story takes on new meaning. I know I am not here on my own strength or because of my own abilities. It is by Christ’s power alone.

Peter knew Jesus could give him the power to walk on water. His faith in our Lord allowed him to climb out of the boat and stand on water, water that was angry from the storm.

I’ve been on both a lake and in the ocean during a storm. It’s scary enough being inside the boat. I can’t imagine open water. That’s because I’m thinking of being out in the water alone. I don’t have to be in it alone. God has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. All I need is faith.

We know Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. It’s easy to wonder what he was thinking, right? Really, Peter, why would you look down? Why did you get scared? You were WALKING ON WATER! Jesus was RIGHT THERE! He had you.

Yet how many times do I look down? How many times do I take my eyes off Jesus and let my circumstances, fears, concerns, or insecurities threaten to sink me?

If I’m being honest with myself, would I have even stepped out of the boat in the first place?

I don’t know what God has planned for this trip to Arba Minch, but I’m ready. I’m ready to step out of the boat and keep my eyes on Christ. He’s got this.

September 2016: Plot Twist

By Taylor Johnson:

You know when you are expecting something to happen, and then when it happens, it doesn’t happen the way you were expecting it to?

It’s like when you’re watching a movie, and you’re expecting a happy ending… and the hero dies in the end.

They call those “plot twists.”

Well, that’s been this trip for me… and we haven’t even left yet.

Let me tell you why.

Over the past two months (and probably more for our more-prepared members), our September 2016 team has been preparing for our trip to Ethiopia on Wednesday (September 28).

Our team leaders have been booking flights and hotels and preparing the itinerary for when we show up.

Others in the team have been getting their appropriate vaccinations, starting and finishing their packing lists and fundraising for the funds to go on the trip.

Together as a team, we have been learning the country we are entering. Practicing the language, memorizing different ways to tell others about sex trafficking and Jesus (two topics you’d never put next to each other), and how to not embarrass ourselves in a different country.

As a team, we’ve been well prepped for our trip.

Or so you would think.

Currently in Ethiopia there is political unrest, which has resulted in shootings and many deaths right in the area that we were planning, and prepared, to go to.

It is obviously not safe for a group of 15 Americans to visit there.

PLOT TWIST.

Instead of going to the region of Northern Amahara, in the north of Ethiopia, we are flying south to the city of Arba Minch to visit the Gamo people.

And now, many of the things we have prepared for our trip are probably not very likely to happen… seeing that we were planning to visit the families in Northern Amhara that received the chickens that many of our friends and families fundraised for.

And this is the time when I, who have experienced many plot twists, go into “okay I can do this, everything will be okay” mode. Because it’s in the plot twists, when God shows me how great He is… and how He has the plot twists under His control.

It’s in the plot twists, when all I can do is rely on Jesus and have Him guide me through the next steps.

I’m so much reminded of Matthew 10, when Jesus sends out his 12 disciples in pairs of 2, giving them the authority to heal the sick and drive out demons.

He then says this to them, “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 10:9-13)

Jesus basically sends out 12 dudes and says – go as you are. NOW. Don’t bring money, no extra clothing. Don’t be prepared, but rather, watch and see what I can do. Have faith in what I’ve called you to do.

Can you imagine it? Peter is probably stoked because he’s got the authority to drive out demons and then Jesus says to go do good work and heal people but don’t pack anything and don’t bring any money. Good luck.

Plot Twist.

It’s Jesus saying, I’ve equipped you to do great things, but you still need ME. Watch what I can do to bless you and those I love.

There have been so many different situations when I’ve been in a plot twist, and I’ve gone from prepared to extremely unprepared and not confident in my own strength.

But during those moments, Jesus uses me, exactly as I am, and shows me what HE can do and how great HIS strength is.

It’s such a relief to know, that no matter how much or little prepared I feel in a situation, He still takes the reigns and makes magic happen.

I’m so much more excited for this trip, because I have no idea what will happen when we enter Arba Minch and there’s no way to know. None of us have done this before. No one is more prepared than the other.

We’re being lead by an all-knowing God who knows what’s to come. A God who has given us the greatest gift in Jesus and His heart to love on others.

Who does not call us to be prepared in every circumstance. But calls us to come as we are, and says, “watch what I can do.”

We are being lead by the  God who sent his son to be THE ultimate plot twist. And there’s no other God I’d rather follow.

 

To receive text updates while we’re gone – text “LBC” to 313-131. Thanks for following along!