Prayer letter #4 February 2002
Amharic, garys and swimming under the stars…
Well, hello from Ethiopia!! It’s way past time for a bit of an update on my adventures in this amazing country!
First things first!
God has brought Lexi and I safely to Jimma and has kept us through this first month. Our journey was very smooth, we even met some friends of Lexi’s dad on the plane and they travelled with us all the way to Addis Ababa. We had a good stay in Addis but longed to get to our final destination and meet the Baldwins. The drive to Jimma took about 6 hours and was uneventful, praise the Lord!
Well what can I say, they’re just great! Maura is being mother hen and David is constantly winding us up; what more could we ask for?! Joshua and Luke, the eldest two boys are fun to teach and enjoy having more people to play/fight with!! Alfie has just started school and is learning his alphabet. It’s great to teach him and see him begin to grasp it already. Phoebe, well she’s just a star!! Blonde hair and blue eyes means that whenever we go anywhere with her the people flock to see and touch her; unfortunately she hates it!
Ethiopia, 13 months of sunshine!
The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months and it will be sunny in all of them, even in the rainy season there is at least half a day of sun. Ethiopia is an amazing country, full of history and a rich culture. The northern region is strongly Orthodox in its Christian beliefs but there are pockets of Evangelical communities and Muslim areas and Jimma is mainly Muslim. Our compounds are on the outskirts of Jimma and the countryside is breathtaking. The hills are mostly green (!) and mangos and bananas are in abundance. Jimma town centre is a hive of activity. The main form of public transport is by horse drawn carriages called ‘garys’. You have to keep your wits about you so much in the town or you will be mown down by these taxis. Ethiopians have this sixth sense that I haven’t acquired as yet; they always move just in time and are never hit!
"Our house, in the middle of our compound.."
Our little house is bigger than I expected and although it is made of mud you can hardly tell. Maura and David did so much work on it before we came that it looks really good and we’re trying to keep it that way. It has two bedrooms a bathroom, kitchen and a large lounge/dining area. We have already hosted our Sunday evening ‘church’ service and will be having a pancake party(!) next week for the girls who work for us. Which brings me on to my next point. Yes we do have people who do things for us. I’m still getting used to it but they are so desperate to earn money for living and their education. It’s a great opportunity to share the gospel as they are around and can see how we live our lives; please pray that we would be good witnesses.
Our timetable, which includes home schooling for Joshua, Luke and Alfie, also incorporates teaching for an hour a day at the local ‘Compassion’ school just behind our house. We have only done a few days so it is a bit early to tell how that will work. As it is the kindergarten we are starting with ‘What is your name?’ the numbers one to ten and basic colours. They love it, as it seems like they don’t have any English lessons apart from the hour we do.
Church and understanding five words of the sermon…
Yes church is interesting. The congregation of the local Kale Haywet (Word of Life) church numbers about 100. A Sunday morning service starts when everyone is ready (about 9:30) and after a few numbers from the choir, about an hour of worship and prayer and an hour sermon all in Amharic, I’m ready for a break! We, the ‘forenge’ (foreigners) on the compound, meet on a Sunday afternoon for fellowship as we worship and listen to a sermon tape. It’s great to hear some English spoken!
Amharic is the most unbelievable language! Everything is different depending on whether you are a man, woman, if there are a group of you or you’re on your own, if you’re old or young if you’re wearing blue or standing on one leg!!! As you might have gathered I haven’t quite got my head around it yet!
Last week Lexi, David, Joshua, Luke and myself made our way to the SIM Ethiopia conference. We stayed in a conference centre/hotel for four days and attended seminars with Charles Price as the speaker. He spoke on 1 Samuel and I came away having learnt new things and having met loads of new people. I made some new friends and generally had a great time. Highlights included helping with the under 5’s (yes that was a highlight!), a rather precarious raft ride across a river on a few planks and a couple of barrels (don’t ask!) and swimming under the stars in a pool of natural hot springs.
Please pray that
Thank you all for your support and as for prayers, God has answered!!
Grace and Peace,
‘One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of
the LORD all the days of my life..’