Ethiopian Wedding

November 12, 2009

When I was here in Ethiopia three and half years ago, I had a friend named Nebiyu. He is one of the ministers at the church I was going to, and he introduced me to his fiancé, G.G. (that’s his nickname for her, meaning God’s Gift). Shortly after I left, Nebiyu went to Kenya for school. He was there for about 3 years, and returned shortly before I returned back here. I saw him when I first arrived here, and I asked him if he and G.G. would be getting married soon. 3 years, after all, is a really long time to be engaged. He said he wasn’t sure, maybe another year or so. I said, “What?!? Surely you’re not going to wait that long!” He just left it at that. Then, the other day I got a call from him. He said, “Jess, can we have a meeting? I have something new to talk to you about.” I agreed, and when we met he told me I had to guess what the news was. I said, “You’re getting married.” Sure enough, they will get married at the beginning of May. Then, he proceeded to ask me if I wanted to be a bridesmaid! I’ve not even been to an Ethiopian wedding yet, and now I get to be IN one. So excited about this.

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I’ve seen a few things walking down the road to language school each day that would have been perfect photo ops.  The other day I saw an old Ethiopian man, and he had a hat on that said “Popz”.  I don’t think he really knew the irony of it…it was just a hat to him, but I definitely got a smile out of it.  Then, today on the way to school, I saw this lady wearing a purple shirt.  Lo and behold, it was a K-State shirt.  I walked up to her and told her in Amharic, that K-State used to be my school.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I proceeded down the road.  A few minutes later, I looked down and remembered that I was actually wearing a K-State shirt too, but it was covered by my jacket.  Wish I could have taken a picture of the both of us wearing K-State shirts…on the same day…in Ethiopia.  What are the chances?

New Name

October 30, 2009

Each day it seems that I meet new people.  When they ask my name they try to repeat it, but it always comes out “Jestica”.  Here in Ethiopia, everyone’s name has a meaning, and they always ask, “What does Jestica mean?”  Then, I have to tell them that I don’t know what it means, and that in America we don’t always know the meanings of our names.  So, I decided to give myself a new Ethiopian name.  I found out that the word Desta means “happy” or “joyful”.  Perfect.  It sounds similar to Jessica, and I think it describes me pretty well.  So, now when I introduce myself to Ethiopians I start by saying Jessica, but then tell them they can just call me Desta. 🙂

Philemon

October 26, 2009

The compound (gated area) I am living on consists of several rental houses/rooms.  These are all rented by missionaries, or short term mission teams.  It is nice to be around other missionaries, but I like to be able to interact with the nationals too (that is why I am here, after all J).  Each week, there is a group of teenage Ethiopian boys who come and play basketball on the compound.  The first time I saw them, my friend, Eyob, was with them (I knew Eyob from the last time I was here).  He told me that he is the coach, and they come to play each week.  They asked me to come watch and to talk with them, so I did.  Since then, I have gone and watched a couple more times.  It has been good for me to sit and chat with them for more than one reason.  First, it is really good for me to practice my Amharic language with them, but it has also been an open door to share my faith with them.  The first time, I happened to have my Bible with me, so a few of them asked me about it.  A couple of them knew passages to look up, so they asked me and I looked them up. 

Last Tuesday night was the third time I came, and one of the boys I had not met yet came and sat by me.  He was probably around 18 years old.  He said his name was Philemon, and I said “that’s from the Bible.”  He began telling me that he used to be Catholic, but now he is nothing.  I asked him why, and he kind of shrugged and said “I don’t know, I guess there have just been a lot of circumstances that have made me question my faith in God.”  I shared with him something that I have been reminded of a lot lately myself: that we cannot let circumstances dictate Truth, and that the only Truth comes from the Word of God.  He nodded, and we talked some more about what faith looks like.  He said he actually started praying again recently, but he wasn’t sure how to pray really.  He also talked about a 12 year old girl he knew who had encouraged him to read scripture.  Apparently, she would text him scriptures to read for the day, and encouraged him to pray.  Sadly, he said she is now in the hospital, and she has not sent any messages to him for a while.  So, he asked me what scriptures he should read for the day.  Since he has going through a really rough time and questioning God I made the suggestion that He read the last few chapters of Job.  He said he would read, and I told him I would be praying for him.  I hope to see him again this week and be able to talk with him some more.  Please be praying for him too.

Busy, Busy

October 26, 2009

Since moving in to town, my schedule has become significantly more full. I am so thankful! I have been glad to spend time with old friends, meet new friends, begin some ministry, and get things prepared to move into the home I will be living in for the rest of my time here. I started teaching a Bible study each Friday night to 7th and 8th grade girls. There are supposed to be 8 or 9 of them, but last Friday 5 showed up. These girls are from various backgrounds and claim different religions. I know I have at least one girl who is Muslim, and I am not sure yet of the rest. I am really excited to see how the Lord will use this Bible study to glorify Himself. We are reading through the gospels, and just sharing the story of Jesus. I am praying that they would begin asking questions, that they would really seek to know more about Jesus, and that they would feel comfortable to ask those questions. Right now I am teaching with a translator, so that can get kind of tricky.

Also, I have started getting things ready to move into my new place, and will begin moving things over this week. I plan to be completely moved in by Tuesday of next week. I have been so thankful for all the ways the Lord has provided for me so far. I don’t have a vehicle here, so I primarily rely on public transportation. So, last week when my teammate offered to take me shopping for most of my house supplies, I was very blessed. I didn’t have to worry about how I would get everything from one place to the other safely, or about having the money I was carrying get stolen. Those kinds of details can be a real headache sometimes. 

I am praising the Lord for giving me so much peace in where I am at, and what I will be doing. Being here feels more and more like home to me as I get settled, as He provides opportunities, and as I build community. He is JEHOVAH JIREH!

Moving On Up

October 13, 2009

Tomorrow I get to move into town to the Koray area. This is the area that I have been looking forward to moving into, because it is where my primary ministry will be as well as my language school. I will be staying at a rental house for about 3 weeks until I can move into the place I will be staying for the duration of my time here. I am pretty excited about this move, and I am hoping things (especially with ministry) will pick up for me. Tomorrow is also the first day that I will lead a small group of Ethiopian girls in the Koray area, so I am pumped about that! This opportunity just came up recently, so it has been an exciting surprise. Please be praying for these girls that I will get to spend time with. Also, would you pray for me as I go through yet another transition? I think it will be a good one. 🙂

Grace

October 6, 2009

Today has been a day that I have been praising the Lord for my life, and recognizing really what a gift my life is. This morning, my teammate, Adrian, and I were headed to school just like any other day. We were on a road that is equivalent to a highway that surrounds the city. We call it Ring Road. As we were driving along, we were passing this large bus that began swerving a bit back and forth. This is something that we typically see, so it wasn’t a big surprise. We passed and kept on driving down the hill. Soon, we came to an area that is backed up almost every day. A policeman is stationed there each day in order to direct the traffic and to hopefully keep the area clear. Some days are better than others. Today the traffic was not too bad, so when we passed the officer he waved us on, but the mini-bus behind us had to stop. We proceeded about 50 feet where we stopped behind a soap truck and other cars waiting to get through the round-about ahead. A few seconds later, Adrian said “Oh no! He’s gonna hit us!” The next thing I remember was looking out my side window and seeing a big blue bus flash by, meanwhile crashing hard into several cars right beside me. There was a huge spray of glass and debris. I thought, “That should have been us.” The bus ended up being the one that we had passed previously. The brakes had gone out, and it couldn’t get stopped. The bus came barreling through at about 40mph. It hit hard the mini-bus that had stopped behind us, and then instead of going straight and plowing into us, it swerved to the right and crashed into several other cars. There is really no explanation for why the police officer let us go on, or why the driver of the bus swerved. It has been a bit shocking, and I am shaken up from it. It is hard for me to reconcile the fact that at least 2 people died (including the driver of the mini-bus), but it is completely a reminder to me that life is but a breath and that God can take it or save it at any time. He is the great I Am, and I am not. He is in control, I am not. I am comforted in knowing that God must have purposes for me yet, and just seeing His grace in it. Truly, it is a miracle. So, if any of you were praying for me between midnight and 12:30 CST last night, thank you!

I am trusting Him. It is only by His grace that I am here, and I am so thankful for this life I have. Please be praying for the families of those who were killed, as well as for those who were injured. Pray for the bus driver, as I am sure this is very hard for him. Pray for me as I process through this, and live past it. May I have people to process through it with, and may I remember His grace in it.

Praising the Lord

October 3, 2009

So, I have one more thing to be thankful for. 

I found out today that I will have a place to stay with my teammate and her family!  The house that we originally wanted to rent ended up working out after all.  The current tennnants were able to work out a deal with the place they wanted to move, so now we have a place to stay for as long as I am here!  We paid yesterday afternoon, so it’s definitely official.  A place to call “home”.  I am really excited about this, and am so thankful to the Lord for how He provides (worrying is SO in vain…I wish I would not ever waste my time with it).  We are planning on moving in toward the end of October or early November.  Thank you to those who have been praying!

I am Thankful

October 1, 2009

Col 2:6-7 “So then, just as your received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I have begun making lists each day of things I am thankful for since being in Ethiopia. I thought I would share some of them. I am thankful for:

 -Peace, joy, hope, refreshing

-Cards, encouraging words from friends

-The Lord has sustained me in the midst of transition and food changes (not having a settled stomach)

-Daily provisions (groceries, warm shower, comfy bed, internet)

-REST

-CMF Teammates

-Hope of what He has to come

-Beautiful sunrises, and rainbows after the rain

-Zenbaba, the lady I will work with in the office

-Purpose in working in the office

-GRACE

-Language school

-Community

-Seeing the Lord’s faithfulness through past and present circumstances

-The presence and love of the Lord

There are many, many more, and each thing is just a reminder of how He provides. He is GOOD all of the time!

I have begun the process of looking for places to live in town.  About a week and a half ago, one of my CMF teammates, who is also looking for housing for her and her family, came to me and asked if I would be interested in living with them.  She had found a house that had an apartment attached to it where I could live.  It sounded like the perfect living situation.  I love them as a family, and get along with them very well.  I could have my own space, but still not be living completely alone.  I told her I was absolutely interested, and we both began praying about it.  The people living in the house were hoping to buy another house, so we were just waiting to hear if that was going to happen.  Last Thursday morning, I got a phone call from my teammate saying that she had good news, we could rent the house.  I was so pumped!  Friday afternoon, we stopped by the house so I could see what it looked like.  I loved it.  All we needed to do was get the money to pay the landlord.  So, we made the necessary phone calls to get those details taken care of, and we were set to pay the landlord Monday afternoon. 

Well… in keeping with the missionary tradition of “expect the unexpected”, the housing situation fell through at the last minute.  The current tennants’ plans of buying another house fell through.  Huge bummer.  It brought about a bitter feeling in me.  The experience of “Oh, the Lord is totally taking care of this, and it is going to work out perfectly”…and then all of the sudden it doesn’t work out, at least not the way I think it should, is so hard.  I wish I was better at remembering right away the Lord’s FAITHFULNESS and SOVEREIGNTY in those kinds of situations instead of feeling like the Lord is not “for me” or that He is not in control.  I know those things ARE NOT true.  Thankfully, His grace is enough to cover my weaknesses, and He does remind me oh so gently.  Also, I am thankful for the foundation I do have.  I do know what is Truth.  I need to not look so hard at my experiences…they do not dictate truth. 

 

There may still be possibility that I could find a place with that family…but they need to find something quickly, so they may have to take the first thing they find.  There also could be a possibility of living with a college friend if she arrives in November like she expects to.  I’m just praying for some kind situation where I will have a housemate or be able to live with a family.  So, now I will trust the Lord with all of my heart, and lean not on my own understanding.  I will wait in hopeful anticipation for what He will do.  He IS taking care of it.

 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Rom 12:12