I wish I could tell you singing or playing music is one of my gifts, but it’s not. Yet by default I have led church school music for many years. Thankfully, where I may lack music skills 3, 4, and 5 year olds think I’m pretty funny. Which is good, because over the years, I only have 15-20 songs I know really well, and five are Christmas carols. One of my “go to” songs has been Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God, will be with you, where ever you go.
I think the words are comforting and the actions help kids easily catch on. During our time in Ethiopia, I had no idea this song would take on a whole new meaning. On the first day we headed to Beza church and it was alive with signing and praise. After that, on to Korah. I did not know what to expect, or, that Korah would translate to mean Holy place…to myself, and many others on the team.
We drove for a while and then turning onto a road full of people, more people, merchants, and animals. I remember thinking, can a car even drive on this road? (Side note: In Ethiopia a car can drive anywhere it really wants too. Even on the wrong side of the road. I learned that what is more important to a car, then a road, is the horn.) Yep, the van turned down the “road” and slowly Gecho beeped the horn to alert the people on the path. We met Bira on the way, and he jumped in the van. We drove up to the church in Korah and we were greeted with smiles and hugs. We gathered on plastic chairs and wood benches, a blue tarp served as part of the roof. We listening to the Pastor talk in Amharic and Bissy translate into English. Kelly from Ordinary Hero prayed over us and Bissy again translated, this time from English into Amharic. Tears rolled down my cheeks, simply moved by it all. I listened through my heart taking in the entire moment. Kelly’s prayer included the words…Thank you God for going before us, above us, behind us, along side of us. The very same prayer I used in my pre-trip blog. I giggle at the connection. I didn’t need any proof, or, reminder of God’s presence there. But, it was shone anyway…and that makes me giggle! It is an example of the very reason why this blog is called spiritual lighting bolt. (I imagine it like Emeril Lagasse adding garlic to his special dishes, Bam!)
After the prayer, we broke into groups and headed out into the community to visit homes. Many we visited had leprosy or aids. I have to be honest and tell you, I thought leprosy was a disease of Jesus’ time. It was something the people in Bible times had, I did not know it still exists today.
After visiting church members in their homes our smaller group was hanging out waiting to be picked up by the van. Some members of our group were talking with a lady, who was sitting alone on the corner. She was also afflicted with leprosy. I know the group that was attending to her experienced their own specail moments. I can not share much of that story because, while they were visiting the rest of us stood off to the side. Many of us were still holding hands and playing with the children. Soon we began to draw a large crowd. Some of the people gathered around looked as if the were not sure what to make of our group. I didn’t want to appear nervous or scared, so I distracted myself and others by singing, “Ring around the Rosy”. When that ran its course, I turned to my “go to” song. The tune translated well and the children started to copy the actions. More of our team joined in to sing along. On the third round of singing my eyes began to look directly into the eyes of the children standing before us. Then something happened, which I am not sure I can even explain…I began to see the flies, and dirt, their feet without shoes, their ages much too young to be walking the streets alone…then I heard the words of the song in a whole new way. Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God is with you where ever you go. These beautiful children ARE the words, they LIVE the words. There before us stood these children with faith filled eyes, strong and courageous, hope filled hearts, and joy filled spirits. Souls I felt connect directly with God, in only what I can describe as a Holy moment.
Thank you to my OH Teamates for sharing your photos. Sorry that I can not give you direct credit for your personal photos. I gathered some of them from our the group picutre page. Thanks for your willingness to share as your photos help tell God’s story.