Four or so months ago our bible study group leader proposed that we go to Africa. Why you ask? Honestly, I was asking myself the same thing. Why the heck would I want to go to Africa? Sure, to “help people”, but what does that mean for a guy who writes computer programs for a living and plays drums on the weekends? What am I going to do to make a difference for somebody in a third world country?
The other big questions was one of money. Why should I spend $3000 on a “vacation” when I could donate that cash to some worthy cause? It’s much easier and probably more cost effective to write a check and let the professionals handle the dirty details of humanitarian work.
Despite these and many other questions I had, I decided to go almost immediately after the offer had surfaced. The reason for me lies solidly in my faith in Jesus. What does that mean? Well, some people say God “speaks” to them. Other people feel “lead” to do such and such. I’ve never had any such experience. For me, God simply opens doors.
At points in my life I have been presented with life changing opportunities for no apparent reason. I have been faced with the decision to walk through those doors and face what is on the other side, or play it safe and maintain my feeble sense of control over my life. So when this door opened, regardless of what my perceptions and fears were, I knew I had to walk through it. I knew that God was presenting an opportunity for me and if I refused to trust Him, I would regret it. So I walked through.
Over the course of the next several months we would prepare our hearts and minds for this adventure. We met as a team and prayed together, we studied God’s word together, we studied the culture of Ethiopia together. This process alone was a tremendous learning experience for me and while sometimes it felt unnecessary, it would end up being a crucial component of our journey.
Two weeks ago the time for our departure had arrived and ten of us, five women and five men, climbed aboard a van and headed out on a journey of faith. We really didn’t know what we would be doing, who we would be seeing, how we would get along with each other, how we would handle the culture, or how we would deal with being completely disconnected from our loved ones, but we knew God was going to use us in some way to make an impact on other people, and we knew He would use others to make an impact on us…. somehow. He certainly did all of that.
As I was thinking of how to best relay what I experienced I think just translating my daily journal is the best way to do it. I want you to understand not only what we did, but more importantly, who we met. I want you to know the people of Ethiopia, how they live, what they are like, and what God is doing in their lives. I also want to relay what impact they had on me. Someone I admire greatly told me that trips like this are 50% for the people we’re visiting and 50% for us, and I found that to be absolutely true. So I’ll be posting one entry for each day we spent in Ethiopia and then wrapping up my thoughts in a final post.
I hope you enjoy my journey.