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Archive for March, 2014

Surprise

March 29, 2014 1 comment

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What’s the good word? If you let God surprise you, be prepared. So many times when we are in our comfort zones, we get so routine that we don’t allow God to surprise us, or God does and we just don’t even recognize it. That tends to be different when we are out of our comfort zones and bring our guard down. That was true, time and time again today.

We headed back out to Robit today. We were going to meet with the regional representative that looks after all the schools for the government. He wanted to see the books we bought and he needed to officially record them so that they would be handled properly. We learned a lot and are looking forward to continuing this relationship with him in the future. 

Yohannes, our guide, wanted us to talk to an orphan boy by the name of Mulugete. His father died when he was an infant and with no income his mother died when he was two. He has had no education and has been living off of what folks in the village were giving him. Sleeping wherever he could. The elders and community members were worried about him. His story touched my heart, and as well of the hearts of those on the trip with us. We all decided to split the cost and sponsor him through our friend Michaels new organization Tesfaye Ministries, an organization that seeks to help widows and orphans. Mike set up the program, and well let’s just say that at the end of this day, Mulugete will have a place to sleep, new clothes, food in his belly each day, full vaccinations (Thanks to the local nurse Mengiste) and Agmas, the principal will see to it that he is in school. He will help at the school and clinic to do chores. I wasn’t expecting this, and God showed up and surprised me.

This evening after dinner there was a birthday party Ina group just across from us I. The hotel dining room. The guide of the group asked if we wanted a piece of cake, and then that started the conversation. We talked about our ministries to the schools and we now have an advocate and someone willing to deliver supplies if we need to. I wasn’t expecting this, and God showed up.

They don’t happen every day, but when they do you know it. God’s timing is perfect. And that’s the good word for today.

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Hospitality

March 28, 2014 1 comment

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What’s the good word? Hospitality. It’s everywhere here in Ethiopia. No matter how little they have these people continually give back. Today we delivered the books to the school in Robit, Ethiopia. As soon as our truck enter the village, through my window that was rolled down, I heard “Welcome to our village!” As we walked around the school we entered into the library and were greeted by chants, in English, “Welcome to our school! Acts of Wisdom! We love you!” After we presented the books, the chief elder and administrator of the education system invited us into his home, a big honor! While, we ran out of time and will visit his home tomorrow, we did go to Mengiste’s home where we were greeted with a traditional coffee ceremony and celebration bread. Each house you are invited into, you can count on being served. Even as we are there to serve, we ourselves are being served.

Paul said, “…I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Of course he was talking about the physical marks of suffering and persecution which identified him with his Lord. But tonight I want us to once again consider the fact that our lives ought to be marked for the Lord. Not physically, but spiritually! There should be some characteristics in our lives that will identify us as followers of Jesus. One such mark is hospitality. Hospitality is something that drew people to the message of the Christians early on. Romans 12:13 encourages us all to practice hospitality,whether it is our spiritual gift or not. And let’s face it, we don’t have to be Martha Stewart here. The Greek word philiozenia is actually a combination of two words- philos, meaning “affection” and zenos, meaning “stranger.” While usually translated to mean hospitality, philiozenia signifies affection toward strangers. 

1Peter 4:8-10 in The Message says, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless-cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you.” Whether we have the spiritual gift of hospitality or not, it should be a part of our lives. I see that in the lives of the people here. They are living examples of this. And for that example that they are living, I am grateful.  

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Worth-ship

March 27, 2014 Leave a comment

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Day 2
What’s the good word?
There are two things that stuck out at me today in our adventure here to bring quality education to children in rural Africa.

God is so much bigger than we are. I know we say that, but it’s true. As we sat with the school principal today it quickly became apparent to us that the school in Robit needed more than we thought. We were given only those children under the age of 6 (preschool). That number was 208. We “thought” we were getting the entire primary school number. That number was over 1,000. Not only that but throughout the day language barriers kept creeping in as we kept getting conflicting reports. But God is bigger than any situation. No proble. We will buy e books for the pre-k students and then as funds come in, we can hit one grade level at a time.we will build the foundation. It’s still relatively inexpensive to equip a school in the gran d scheme of things. Today we bought 208 students all four of their required school books, preparation books for the 7th and 8th graders to prepare for their exams, AND sports equipment. All for $2500. That is a lot of lives. Not only that, but these books will be passed on to the next generation. So there it is. As I sit worried that we aren’t going to make a big impact, God takes something small and makes it into something much larger. Where we see challenges, God sees opportunities. With faith and determination and God’s supernatural power, we can truly accomplish much. 

The second thing was, worship doesn’t happen Ina building. I know, me the pastor saying that. I’ve said it many times before, but sometimes you need reminders. Worship is derived from the word than means worth. Anything that brings worth to God is worship. Today we came together for a common purpose, we laughed, we celebrated, and tonight we danced traditional Ethiopian dance (and got danced under the table)! All of these are worship. Go out and find something that brings worth to God today.

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Family

March 26, 2014 2 comments

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What’s the good word? When one leaves a place like Ethiopia, having experienced what I did, one never thinks that they will return. Today I landed back in Ethiopia. The flight was as long as I remembered it to be. This time was different though. I don’t know what it was. Was it the familiarity of having done this before? Was it elation for being back? It probably was some of those things, but really it wasn’t until I saw my brother Yohannes waving at me that it clicked. I was back with my extended family. 

La Familia is a concept I became very aware of in seminary studying  Latino/a culture and theology. We are all part of a bigger family. We are a part of something g greater than ourselves, our immediate communities and local congregations. It’s what the ELCA is getting at with their new phrase “glocal”. These people I met last year quickly became part of my family. It was like I never left. The warmth of the people here, the humbleness and generosity speaks to my soul. 

I speak often about the importance of being in community in my congregation. One thing we have blurred the lines on in the church is that we often think of the church as a building. But it isn’t just a building, a place you go, it’s really a family you belong to. And we sing about it as children in church all the time- church is not a building, church is not a steeple, church is a people. But we have to intentionally make time for this. Relationships just don’t happen overnight. We have to go out of our way to cultivate them. 

Today was about reconnecting with family. It served once again as a reminder that church family, and family itself, extends further than we realize. And that’s the good word for today.

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