Birthdays, drama and
I think time is playing tricks on me; it seems to be
passing unusually fast. Lexi and I
have been here half of our time and I can hardly believe it.
Most of this month has not been as frantic as the previous one but there
is still plenty to say in this letter just from the things that we encounter
from day to day.
the tree to the cup…
Just recently I have experienced some wonderful and
very different ways of living. A
few weeks ago Lexi and I were invited for a meal at the home of our Amharic
tutor. As it was a Sunday we
attended his church in the morning and took pleasure from our most enjoyable
service yet. Sitting between Mesfin,
our Amharic tutor and Salamwhet, a friend from the Compassion school, we were
whispered to for the hour-long sermon. Knowing
which passage our friend Tefie was preaching from and through the testing of our
very small vocabulary we managed to get the gist of about 80% of the
sermon! What a great feeling!
This special day got better and better as we then
enjoyed a very good meal at Mesfin’s house.
The meal consisted of the national food, injera, with wat.
Wat is the meat dish that accompanies the carpet underlay… err I mean
injera and there are many other small dishes which you take small piles of onto
your injera. Actually the injera is
definitely growing on me. I don’t
feel sick as I eat it now, which is a marked improvement!
The main meal was followed by coffee, and no ordinary coffee either. This
was real coffee. First the
beans were collected from the coffee tree in the garden (yep that real!), then,
very much against Ethiopian culture, we were asked if we wanted to help with the
roasting and grinding. Mesfin and
his family have had quite a bit of contact with ‘forenge’ (foreigners) and
so are used to our strange urges to have a go at the menial jobs like coffee
making. They don’t see the
novelty themselves! As for the
roasting we weren’t quick enough and the grinding, not strong enough, pretty
pathetic really but it tasted great at the end!
bacon and seeds…
The beginning of this month brought my birthday and
it was a day to remember! Lexi sent
me on a birthday present hunt around the compound, which admittedly I wasn’t
very good at. I’m not the most
observant of people but that made it even more fun.
I received some of the most inventive and well thought out presents. These
included things for which you had to be in Ethiopia to appreciate, like cheese,
melon, bacon and eggs for lunch and seeds to plant in our garden.
Every present came with so much thought and effort and gave me a whole
new perspective on giving!
visit to Bonga…
The last week of March brought visitors to Jimma from
the UK. The Baldwins had friends
came over to stay so school was cancelled for two weeks.
Lexi and I jumped at the chance for a holiday so we arranged to travel to
one of the remotest SIM stations to visit some friends.
We traveled for 8 hours until we reached our
destination. Bonga is a large
refugee camp near the Sudanese border and has 15,000 refugees, 10,000 of which
are children under the age of 12! Although
we were still in Ethiopia we felt worlds apart from Jimma.
Bonga was hot, (40 deg C almost every day) the people were Sudanese not
Ethiopian and the landscape, while still breathtaking was dry and sparse.
It was a whole new experience and a wonderful one at that.
Sudanese people are very laid back and friendly. Their skin is the
blackest I’ve ever seen. They also laugh at everything, which creates a very
cheerful and relaxed atmosphere.
The three SIM-ers in Bonga are Claire, Mark and
Melissa and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. Another friend of ours, Julie, who is living and working with
SIM in Addis Ababa, was also visiting Bonga at the same time, which was a real
gift from God as we hadn’t planned it at all.
Claire was in the throes of an Easter drama that the
youth of the churches in the camp were going to perform a week after we got
there. Loving both drama and
generally making a fool of myself, I offered my services and so found myself
making donkey outfits, papier-mâché sheep and bombing it through the camp on
the top of a 4x4 transporting the rock for Jesus’ tomb! (One of those things
you only do in Africa!!) The drama
went well and it was incredible to see both the gospel and the hope that it
brings proclaimed to thousands and thousands of refugees driven out of their own
I was so hot that you could spend the majority of the
day just sitting and sweating…sorry glowing! Being unable to do very much gave much opportunity for
talking and sharing. We had a
wonderful break and returned to Jimma feeling refreshed.
Things are going so well in Jimma, I am seeing
answers to prayer all the time. I
am enjoying the language so much more and really feeling that I can use it a
tiny bit! Working at
‘Compassion’ is going so well and we are seeing the real characters of the
children coming out. They make us
laugh every morning with their antics! I
also feel as though my relationships with those around me are developing too
which is an answer to prayer. Jimma
is becoming more and more like home every day!
He is a faithful and unchanging God.
I’m learning to lean on him.
For a great holiday and break.
For our safety as we travelled.
That we would continue to teach to the best of our
For our relationships with the local children.
For wisdom for both Lexi and I in the decisions we
have to make every day about things like travel and visas.
I want to thank everyone who has prayed, written,
emailed and generally supported me over the months. I am so blessed and your prayers are being answered every
day. Please join with me as I
praise God for his faithfulness and provision.
I pray that you would all know his grace and peace
your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your
Father in heaven.’ Matt