Wednesday, February 29- Greetings from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our team of Jon Cash, Virginia Escalante, Jenny May, Natalie Reyes, Maria Rodriguez, Pastor Jim Zazzera and myself, along with 4 members of Bayside church in Roseville, John Brass, Brittney Schommer, Angie Walters and Pastor Chuck Wysong, gathered Tuesday morning at Sacramento Metro Airport (SMF) to embark on a journey that we all believe will transform us and those we meet.
We flew a two prop plan to San Francisco and met Andy Smith from World Vision and boarded a 747 to Frankfurt. You may have heard that there was a strike at the Frankfurt airport, including grounds crew and air control. Air control was only a 6 hour strike, which kept us from leaving SFO for two hours since if we arrived in Frankfurt early there was no one to land us. The SFO to Frankfurt flight was about 11.5 hours. A couple of interesting things occurred during the flight. Flight attendants requested that if any one was on board that had medical experience they could use some help. Jon Cash is an EMT first responder, and Brittney is a medical specialist. Their missionary work began a little sooner than they thought it would. A 22 year old young man was having issues including vomiting blood. Brittney and Jon took good care of him, including hooking him up to IV. (Who would have thunk it that a 747 would have the vast medical supplies on hand???) Subsequently when we arrived 2 hours late in Frankfurt, airport medical staff entered the back exit of the plane and took over after Brittney gave them an overview of the situation. Another exciting event occurred on the plane. We took a very northerly route from SFO to Frankfurt, and skirted the bottom of Iceland, where from the left side of the plane you could see in the horizon Aurora Borealis, a green glow dancing over the ice cap. Now I’m hoping to spot the constellation Southern Cross once we get into the remote areas we visit beginning tomorrow. It felt like a fire drill getting to our next flight, fortunately the original itinerary gave us a 3 hour layover, however because of the delay we scrambled to make our Frankfurt to Addis Ababa flight, another 7.5 hours.
Finally, we arrived at Bole airport in Addis Ababa to be greeted by Tamiru, another WorldVision employee based here in Addis. Tamiru was so joyful to see Andy again after developing a long lasting friendship over the years. The term “Leap Day “(Feb. 29) is an understatement. Since we are 11 hours ahead of Sacramento, the last two days felt like one since we were flying East, we literally leaped a day in advance. Although it was a long trek, I didn’t hear a single complaint from anyone. We loaded lots, and I mean lots of luggage into two vans and are residing tonight at Kaleb Hotel in downtown Addis. We brought about 50 packages to deliver to sponsored children that were packed by Faith World Vision child sponsors over the last few weeks, in addition to a dozen soccer balls, pumps, frisbees, presents for our sponsored children, seeds for their fathers who are mostly farmers and an assortment of other gifts including pictures that Children’s Education Director Christine Mendoza presented us Sunday, Bibles and other loving gifts. It is a cool evening in Addis, 64F, 18C, and the air smells wonderful, especially after almost 24 hours of travel and being inside planes and airports. I have the window open in my room at 12:12 a.m. Thursday here, 1:12 p.m. Wednesday in Sacramento. The fresh air is delightful, and I can hear live Ethiopian pop music emanating from a nearby club. I’m feeling the spirit of Ethiopia, and am too wound up to go to sleep, albeit I’ve only had a couple of hours of sleep since we left Sacramento.
What’s next? Tomorrow we meet in the hotel lobby for breakfast at 7:45 a.m. and then drive to World Vision Ethiopian National office for an orientation. We’ll have lunch here in Addis and then travel about 275km (169.7 mi) south to Awassa, located on the east side of Lake Awassa. You can find the town by going to Google Earth and search for Awassa. We’ll be spending the nights at a hotel on the lake, and daily will be visiting our sponsored children, visit a mature Area Development Project (ADP) to see the end result, and will also visit our Faith sponosored ADP in Abaya which is only about 2 years along to visit our sponsored children, the Faith church sponsored clean water project and the school we helped build.
I will try my best to keep you up to date on our daily activities each night after we return, have dinner and devotions, internet connectivity pending.
Please remember to pray for each us that God will meet us here to work through us, that his hand will be with us for safety, health, and that we would be quick to listen and learn. Remember also this Sunday, again pending a good internet connection we will have a Skype/Facetime event in Link Hall. Mission Elder Rudy Buehler will facilitate the event and Joe Parente will take care of the technical. Priest Abba has invited his congregation to join our Faith family, and has also asked the Ethiopian women to prepare Ethiopian bread for you to sample. Please come prepared to hear about how God is at work here and bring some questions to ask our Vision team.
In Peace of Christ-