Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Faith and Deeds and Ethiopia

Monday morning, we made our way to the Drop-in Center for Onesimus. We had plans to use this day solely as a rest day and work to get our bodies up to par with the climate change, time change, etc, but we decided to begin taking baby steps in order to get our bodies into the correct time zone and schedule. We first had breakfast at the our place of residence, the SIM Guesthouse, then headed out the door about 830am (1130pm CST). The center looks so nice and clean - the team had a cleaning day a few days prior to our arrival and the hard work really showed. Because all of the children (for the most part) are in school during the day, the mornings at the Drop-in Center are a cherished and quiet time period for the staff. It is a few hours available for them to get extra work off their desks done and most importantly do a devotion time together and sing praises to God. We were able to be a part of that experience Monday morning, and I am so thankful.

The staff are currently reading through the book of James. We read chapter 2 verses 14-26. It was beautiful to hear the reading of the Word in Amharic while Mr. McGoo and I and Kelly D. followed along in our own English Bibles. I couldn't help but find myself smiling... thinking that this is what it's all about, different languages all around reading the same TRUTH and sharing in the same HOPE of Christ. Gives me chills. We had an awesome discussion, mostly in Amharic, with translations here and there and our English input at times too, regarding what James tells us about the inter-relationship between faith and deeds. It was so cool to hear the staff talk about the Ethiopian church and the challenge that they face in which many praise and sing on Sunday - looking to worship our God, but lack the praise and worship within their daily lives. We discussed how James seems to pinpoint the need for daily worship through our actions. If we believe, we should be showing that belief in physical ways. People should see our deeds and God be glorified through them. Ironic how we can say the same thing about the church in America - lots of folks in the pews - but are we changing the world? Are we as a church (am I) pursuing the things of Christ? Awesome stuff. We even discussed how it is easy for folks to desire to discount with James says here in regards to faith and deeds, because in Galatians its says "by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit", to which our friends so eloquently stated... faith and deeds are two different sides of the same coin - you cannot separate the two. YES, we are saved by faith and faith alone, however James challenges us to say if you have faith but no deeds, no fruit coming out of your life, is there really any faith at all?
SUCH GOOD STUFF and a constant challenge for me. Yeah, I'm here in Africa, in Ethiopia for 16 days... but what does my life look like the other 340+ days?! Is the Spirit pouring out of me in word and deed? And then I'm left with two statements I've read in the last day or so in the book: The Hole in Our Gospel...

"Are you willing to be open to God's will for your life?"

"...God expects us to serve Him on His terms-not ours. (Luke 9:57-62)"

So after our morning devotion with the staff at the Drop-in Center, we took time to plan a bit for the weeks ahead with Nega and Alemeyu (we call him Alex most of the time) and then we simply enjoyed the children around us. We loved on them, helped teach a few of them how to properly shoot a basketball, had my hair breaded (uhhh... crazy hair picture after the fact - taking breads out of your hair after 8 hours or so makes for a Mufasa looking fro on this white girl... think 80's crimpy look but will more poof - photo below), and ate lunch. We then headed back to the guesthouse to rest up - meaning a 3.5 hour nap for Mr. McGoo and a 2hour nap for me - much needed! We then enjoyed a great dinner with 4 of our Ethiopian friends.

Check this... you think your money cannot make a difference - here is proof how the rest of the world does not live off the same amount we do in America - we paid for the meal for all 7 of us. Seven people: one pizza, two big burgers and french fries, a club sandwich and fries, and a large traditional Ethiopian dish, 8 cokes/Sprites in a glass bottle (no free refills), 4 machiottos, and 1 tea.... ready... LESS THAN 20 USD. Seriously!

PROOF that your $5 per month to TFC (www.theforsakenchildren.org) can make an amazing difference here. We ALL have something to give, whether to this organization or another - YOU have something to give.

After dinner we made our way back to the guesthouse and Kelly D. and I enjoyed playing cards together. We both have hubbies that do not play, so an extended game of Rummy was GREAT FUN for us both. Mr. McGoo laughed at our dorkiness, but nothing is new with with that, right?

And then we experienced something more cultural than we have ever before... the three of us (me, Mr. McGoo, and Kelly D) made our way with Nega and his brother, Mande to a restaurant at almost 11pm. The city was silent as we drove, no one was to be seen, and then we arrived to this hole in the wall place. A place, in Memphis no one would go into on their own - dark, secluded, filled with people... Nega went inside first to make sure there was room and then invited as all in... although we were the only farengies (sp?- what Ethiopians call white people or foreigners) in the place, we were all there for one purpose: Arsenal vs. Manchester United football match. Kelly D. and I were the only women in the place and even though we found a small corner to sit into, we were stared at regularly until the lights were turned out for the match. It was a cool experience. A dungeon/basement like environment, complete with the musty smell and more chairs put out than the room could actually hold (US fire marshals would have had a field day with this one)... but it was fun. Intense at times as ManU scored, or Arsenal came close... fun and a true cultural experience.

So today is another day... we should start our soccer camp/sessions for the girls this afternoon. Below are some photos to share.

The staff of Onesimus on their clean up day - photo thanks to Kelly D

Coffee and Welcome Ceremony

Hanging out with some of the halfway home girls during the coffee ceremony - they didn't have school Monday

Cannot get enough of goofy pictures - the girls LOVED this face by Mr. McGoo

Mufasa, need I say more?

Star Trek photo - for Kelly D and KC

Machiotto - YUM, I love!


Laura said...

Love the hair!

Joseph said...

Oh man. What a good blog. Do you want to take the blog gig over for TFC when you get back? My heart is so heavy right now thinking of how I want to be with you and be with the children and staff at Onesimus. Also, wanting my life to be full of worship as it should be - not just on Sunday. So proud to have you there representing TFC!