Wow! We had such an amazing time in Ethiopia this summer! We saw over 400 people profess faith in Christ! What a blessing to be a part of such a special miracle.
On a less enthusiastic note...
So, we are in the Addis Ababa departures terminal, awaiting our flight down to Arba Minch. We are about 45 minutes past schedule which is not uncommon. We are on Ethiopian time. Our team boards the rickety old plane, the only plane available to make the twice weekly flight down to the small town. After taxiing for about 30 minutes the plane returns to the terminal and we are ushered off of it due to some mechanical difficulties. If you have ever met me you probably know how thrilled I was to hear the words "mechanical difficulties".
4 cups of Ethiopian coffee later, after waiting about 3 hours with no answers and unsettle nerves we are placed back on the same plane. This time we sit in our unassigned seats for about an hour and are once again asked to exit the airplane. Finally, after countless cups of coffee, warm sodas and cold egg pasries we are placed on a new plane (and by new I mean 25 years old, no airline label on the side, and black smoke stains by the engines) and we take off.
All seems to be going smoothly, despite the freezing cold water dripping on us from the vents above. About 45 minutes into the flight, all passengers develop severe pains in their temples. People are clenching their foreheads and hunching over in pain. Houston, we have a problem. Immediately the distinguished Ethiopia pilot comes on the loudspeaker and begins to explain the issue in Amharic. We are desperately looking around to gauge the reaction of those who understand him. The young man in front of me crosses himself in the Sign of the Cross. "He thinks he is going to die" I realize. This can't be good. After the announcement the plane makes a giant U Turn in the sky and begins to immediately drop altitude. I conclude that we are going to crash in the Jungle, in a big plane with no airline listed on the side. No body will know who we are and our bodies will be eaten by lions.
Charlie, a man on our team who is a new believer was on his first mission trip and was sitting next to me. I am holding back tears and digging my fingernails into his arm. I turn my i pod on to my favorite worship song and begin to read Joshua 1:9 ... over and over again sharing it with Charlie. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." I had a surprising sense of clam. Behind me, Ethan was choosing the song that he would like to die to, and the flight attendant was frantically refreshing herself on the emergency procedures card. And then silence. We were all quietly awaiting our fate. Out of the blue we smoothly glided onto the runway. We were back in Addis Ababa safely. There had been a sever pressurization problem and the pilot took us back to home base. We ended up staying over night in Addis again, on the airlines dime, and we reluctantly flew out the next day, safely arriving in Arba Minch. Praise the Lord.
We had missed our first day of ministry because of the delay and quickly realized that God had another plan for us. Because we were not their the first day, we were taken to our first location on the second day. My pastor JT was given the opportunity to speak with the Mayor of a village and to the whole town he visited because of these scheduling issues. We will now go back to that location and do follow up ministry with the permission of the Mayor. God knew this. He ordained it. He planned it and all we had to do was GO. Despite the scary airplane the trip was a huge success and our team was very aware of God's hand everywhere we went. God is good.
"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" — Jim Elliot