Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Death

Mesilu died early this morning. There were women weeping in our Libeta community bible study this morning. I mentioned her in my last update. Her funeral is today at 4, but I can't attend due to a soccer game we have. Pray for her soul and her neighbors. I don't think she had family in the city.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Experiences of note

So, yesterday I was walking home from lunch and a random dog was walking across the street with a cow head in his mouth. This is not an uncommon sight, but you still do a double take whenever you see it.

Last week I had some good home visits. These are always fulfilling but often very hard. They remind you of why you left home to serve here. I had injera and some wheat grain in Danut's house while a girl was roasting coffee beans. I shared some passages in 2 Corinthians with her. She has at least 6 sons and her husband passed away a while back. After her house, I went to see Tadessa, a man struggling with TB who was in one of my support groups. He's basically bed-ridden because his TB meds are reacting with his antiretrovirals. The meds take away his appetite so he is weak with a lot of gastric pain.

You would be surprised that a lot of my most interesting cross-cultural experiences have been in the guest house I currently live in. There are many Australians, New Zealanders, Brits, and Canadians. We all speak the same language, but with such variation that we often are confused and even make fun of each other. It has been a great learning experience and quite fun to talk about football (soccer), cricket, rugby, and gridiron (aussie word for american football). Last Friday, I went to an Italian restaurant in Africa with a bunch of Americans and Australians. I also coach with a cool guy from England. I guess because I have much more in common with them, there is more cultural rubbing that you can notice as opposed to me with the Ethiopians. It will take more time to see and understand their culture and language.

This week my team plays against a team from a french school and another from a greek school. This should be interesting. Here is a picture of me with Danut amidst the smoking coffee beans.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January 07 Update

Dear Supporters,

Well it has been weird being around here now during the holidays. This was the first time I celebrated Christmas in a culture where no one else was. They actually celebrated it on January 7. I really get a strong sense of being a pilgrim on earth who’s far from “home”. I’m getting used to the mullahs, the hundreds of cats fighting at night, and depending on taxis to get everywhere. I’m having the true cross-cultural experience. This will especially be true when I move into the poor community next month.

My weekly schedule is starting to come together. I will have soccer practice on Monday and Wednesday with games on Tuesday and Thursday. I do counseling on Friday afternoons with Teddy (my Ethiopian boss). I teach two small group bible studies with men every other week on Tuesday and Thursday. We usually do a case study on Wednesday mornings. And Tuesday and Thursday mornings I usually visit sick patients in their homes to spiritual encourage them with the nurses and give a devotion. In my free time I plan bible study lessons, plan my soccer practices, and plan my devotions for the patients. I also try to run early in the mornings and might start taking karate lessons! At nights there are many ethnic restaurants to try since I usually eat Ethiopian of lunch. I also am enjoying break from academic life and doing some pleasure reading I’ve been meaning to get to and reading the Economist. It is nice to read that magazine through international eyes now. The African Union, which is located here, has a summit meeting here in a few weeks with the new Secretary General attending. Traffic should be a mess for a while.

However, I’m also about to start work with 13-19 yr old boys after school a few days a week when they get out of school. We have something for the vulnerable girls, and I am to start something for the boys to give them something profitable to do as well as the gospel. There is a lot of potential here and I am very excited. At this point it will revolve around me doing soccer clinics and then some bible teaching. I hope to get an Ethiopian to translate for me and I’ll mentor him so he can take over when I leave. There are 40 boys in the area, and this is a great chance to see many converts as well as do a lot of discipling.

I'm steadily challenged here with only caring for people spiritually when there is such a medical need. People need medicine so badly and I can’t help them in that way. This is good though because I am usually humbled. Also, through this, I am seeing that we are a team and am getting a clear picture of the body of Christ. I want to help these people so much, but have to rely on my other team members. We each have gifts and callings and can use them to help the patients in unique ways.

Prayer requests

1. Language school starts on January 29th. I might only do it for a month and it is only in the mornings, but it will be a challenge. It will also probably be quite humorous and fun.
2. Soccer season starts this week with practice and games are next week. I’m really excited about this opportunity. Pray for my coaching ability as well as my influence and witness with the boys. They are from all over the world.
3. Pray for Assefu’s faith as well as the other men in my support groups. He has taken a step away from the Orthodox Church after support group this week and will attend bible study in Lideta next week. He used to be devoutly Orthodox and wouldn’t associate with Protestants, but due to an acute pain in his leg and a dream he had, he came to my group and heard the Gospel. Conversion here is often a long process because of social and cultural baggage.
4. Mesilu is one of three beneficiaries who have fatal cardiac conditions. I think she will live most of this year, but we don’t know. While struggling emotionally, she knows she’s in this condition for certain reasons and is glad we come to visit and share the Gospel with her. She hasn’t had the strength lately to read the Bible on her own.
5. Pray for new beneficiaries who come to us already very sick with no family or friends to bring them food or other care. One young girl, Yenenesh, died last week basically from starvation because of this problem. I’ve never seen someone so frail and thin. This is one reason we have support groups on top of spiritual/emotional/social care for each other. We presented the gospel to her but I’m uncertain of what her spiritual condition was. Pray for another lady I visited last week who is in the same social state.
6. Pray for the two teams coming soon: New City from Chattanooga next week and an MTW medical team in early February. Pray for their witness, ability to get their tasks done, and energy for us to host them.
7. Pray for my new ministry with the high school boys. This is a large opportunity to connect with a group our project has yet to help. Pray for their receptiveness, a good way to introduce goals and myself, and for the Spirit to work in their lives as only He can.