"Don't let your eyes get used to darkness, the light is coming soon. Don't let your heart get used to sadness, put your hope in what is true."
Sixteen people traveled together to Ethiopia. Most of us were somehow connected to Together for Adoption, but a few extra friends joined us as well. Five were adoptive parents, three were teenagers, one mom and two daughters came on this adventure together, three friends from church came from Jacksonville, two college best friends came to learn about setting up an adoption fund in the Mid-West, two other teammates have already started an adoption fund in South Carolina. We also added three honorary team members: Camden and Joe, Americans currently living and serving in Ethiopia; and Yoseph, an Ethiopian, who was our driver, translator and teacher of all things Ethiopia!
Hearing life stories from team members was one of the high points of the trip. On my trip application I stated, "... bringing like-minded believers together in service fuels passion within a group and creates a collective vision." Now that sounds so business-like, but learning from the lives of these new friends did increase my passion for adoption and orphan care.
The culture, the city and the people
Ethiopia is the third poorest country in the world and we saw a lot of poverty, but not the worst of it. We stayed in the capital city of Addis Ababa for the entire trip. Even if you have been to third world cities, it is hard to describe the masses of people, chaotic driving and herds of sheep and cows wandering in the streets next to Mercedes. It was bizarre to this small, suburban mind. Yet, in the apparent chaos and crowds there was an ebb and flow that made everything work. I was fascinated by the diversity of people walking the streets in the city. From the very poor to the very ricj, women dressed in traditional Muslim attire and ladies in thoroughly Western clothing as well. One minute you would international diplomats cars and then pass over a creek that wreaked terribly of human feces. It could be truly mind boggling.
Yes, an entire section on coffee. Frankly, it deserves its own section. Coffee was originally discovered and cultivated in Ethiopia. It is still a major export and plays an important part in everyday life. Ethiopians are very proud of their coffee and they should be. Each time we arrived at an orphange, a home or any type of ministry. Some staff would stop what they were doing and begin preparing a coffee ceremony for us. Coffee purists will love this. They begin with raw beans, roast them on a small fire, then grind and boil brew them into the darkest, thickest, most amazing coffee. Tradition is that coffee should not be served alone, so Ethiopians serve popcorn.
We also spent a good bit of time at various coffee shops in Addis Ababa. When in doubt, stop and get coffee to talk over plans. There are no words for the disappointment that I felt when I had a cup of coffee on the flight home. I fear that I am ruined for life for all coffee, but the real stuff. Sigh.
Sunday morning I was reminded of God's promise that he will make all things new and that Christ will return some day and put His world right again. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." Romans 8:18-21.
For more pictures of the trip. Go here.