It is Wednesday, February 26th, at Faith Presbyterian Church, Sacramento, California, U.S.A. Coordinates 38°30’01.75″ N 121°32’06.57″ W, around 2,654 miles (4,271 km) north of the equator. The Faith Presbyterian Church Vision team is preparing to embark on the church’s 3rd Vision trip to our sponsored World Vision Abaya Ethiopia Area Development Program site located around 3 miles (5 km) south of Dilla Ethiopia. If you are curious where we will be, Google Earth “Dilla. Ethiopia” and follow Highway 6 south until you find Gwangwa. 6°22’17.86″ N 38°16’51.28″ E That is the location of the ADP office. About 415 miles (667 km) north of the equator. It sits at about 5,127 feet (1,562 meters) above sea level. The forecast is for around 88°F, 31°C each day through the trip with some possible afternoon thundershowers. Ethiopia (GMT + 3:00) is 11 hours ahead of Sacramento (GMT – 8:00), when we are eating dinner their day is beginning.
This trip the team is Sandi Bilbo, Isabel Chapman, Pastor Jeff Chapman, Tracy Cumming, Mule Gabrewahid, David Nash, Natalie Reyes and Kitty Tatro, escorted by World Vision Church Liaison Lorraine Kempf. We have been meeting as a team to prayerfully prepare for the trip and Monday night visited Queen Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant to have an Abyssinian feast. We have daily meditations prepared by World Vision that we begin devotion 5 days before the trip and daily devotions throughout the stay.
I never thought I would return to Ethiopia. In fact, the last night we were there in 2012, I bid a farewell to my dear friend Tamiru Chewaka, who was our travel liaison for World Vision. I became close friends with Tamiru during the trip and believed I would never see him again. God moves in mysterious ways and showed His face by making arrangements for Tamiru to visit Faith Presby in late 2012 while he was visiting the World Vision National Headquarters in Washington State. He met with the congregation, and I kept a promise with him that if he ever had the chance to visit, I would make one of his dreams come true- to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Several of the 2012 Vision team and myself took the excursion to S.F. and we must have taken a thousand pictures with him. He again returned in October of 2013 and we hosted a lunch with him at Queen Sheba. I look forward to being reunited with him in Addis Ababa at the Bole Airport next week and will seek his wisdom and lessons about the people of his nation. I look forward to seeing how God has been at work though the ADP staff to transform the Abaya community and to see how things have changed in improving the quality of life for the poorest of the poor through the ADP staff, other NGO’s and churches like Faith Presby.
Preparing for the trip, I have been thinking and praying about Paul’s letter to the Romans in the Epistle of the Romans, Chapter 1, verses 11-12. Paul had not yet visited Rome, and he sends this letter to prepare them for his trip. Paul wrote- “For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” I personally have been shaped by the American culture that we as Americans will go out and save the world. Not so fast says Paul. My interpretation of these two simple verses is that Paul too thought he too would “share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,” however then pauses, and realizes, no, this is mutual. “We will strengthen and encourage each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” This scripture changes my attitude completely in preparing for visiting my brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. I will be there to share spiritual gifts and encourage all that I meet, but like Paul, will also be mutually encouraged by all those I meet in strengthening my faith. Please pray that this scripture stays in my heart and all the hearts of our team during the trip. May we do God’s Will.
Immunizations-√ Airline tickets-√ Gifts for my sponsored child-√ Meet and pray with Vision team-√ Register with U.S. State Department Ethiopia Embassy-√ Acquire Ethiopia Visa from Ethiopia Consulate-√ Prepare electronics for visit-√ Get Malaria and Bacterial Diarrhea prescriptions-√ Gather books and associated materials for trip-√ Get house “in order” before trip-√ Fundraising-√ Pack suitable clothing and accessories-√ First Aid Kit-√
I pray this prayer- Heavenly Father- May Your Hand be with our vision team, that you will watch over and protect us and our well being, for safe travel, and that you will show Yourself in all the places we visit and that You would work through us and like Paul, guide us to strengthen spiritually all those we meet, and we too will be mutually lifted by all those we meet. In Your mercy, hear my prayer. Amen.
We as a team are praying these prayers and are keeping them in our hearts through the trip. Thank you for your support and strength and please check in to this blog often during the duration of our transformative trip for pictures and updates on our status.
- Lord, help us be open to meeting You in unexpected places and people along the way.
- Lord, give us a genuine interest in the lives and hearts of the people we meet and an ability to connect with them across our differences.
- Lord, help us listen before we speak.
- Lord, help us be transformed through this experience in ways that are pleasing to you. May our hearts be softened with compassion.
- Lord, provide your protection to our team and to those we meet along the way.
- Lord, may we be attuned to your agenda and not our own agenda.
- Lord, may we be an encouragement to those we meet, particularly to the World Vision staff who are faithfully serving you in Abaya.
- Lord, prepare us to come back after this experience to tell our story in ways that further the work or your kingdom.
- Lord, give our team unity in the Holy Spirit.
- Lord, bless the people of Ethiopia. May their nation continue to move out of material poverty. Provide leaders who are full of competence and character.