Sunday, August 9, 2009

Faith & Worship in Ethiopia

This morning our management team talked about our vision for Ethiopia. I am so impressed with the vision of this company, and their tremendous generosity as they try to help these wonderful Ethiopian people. Our plans are enormous but simple. If everything works out, the face of Ethiopia could change drastically in the next five to ten years. The people I am working with have great hearts and tremendous enthusiasm for this work. They will do great things for this country.

We loaded three vans with our group and children from the Village of Hope to head to Church this morning. I think there were 16 in our van alone! When we arrived, we didn’t have electricity so we sang without a piano accompanying us. There were enough good singers scattered throughout the crowd that it sounded very good. The talks were about agency, miracles, and believing in Christ for miracles to happen. The spirit was there very strongly.

It is very difficult to be so far away from my wife and children. I sometimes feel inadequate for this task, just like how I felt at times when I was a LDS missionary in Spain. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at times with the enormity of the task before us, due to the lack of resources available. I am so grateful for my faith in God, knowing that he loves all of his children, and that he wants his people in Ethiopia to thrive. I just have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the end goal and work one day at a time. I feel so blessed to be part of such an awesome work and know that whom the Lord calls the Lord qualifies. I held a small boy on my lap as we rode to church today and it “tugged at my heartstrings” to not have my children close to sit on my lap. It was a bittersweet moment. I love my children so much and want to pull them up on my lap and tell them how much I love them. I hope that my example will help them to know that the way to find true happiness in life and togetherness as a family is to follow your heart and be guided by your faith, no matter when or where you are called.

After sacrament meeting, I taught the young men and young women outside in the entry way, since we had such a large group. I taught in English while two young men translated it into Amharic and Oromic. I taught them a story from the Book of Mormon about the 2000 stripling warriors and the faith of these young men. (See Alma 56) Their great faith allowed the Lord to work mighty miracles for their county and I challenged the youth to follow this example and be the hands of God in making miracles happen every day here in Ethiopia. I pointed out that although we think of miracles as great events more often they come individually in small kind acts. It may be that a smile or kind word may be the miracle that someone needs at that time. I challenged them to pray every day for guidance and testified that miracles would happen because I had seen it in my own life. The lesson was a little short so we sang songs for the rest of the class. Some of the songs were primary songs while others were their native songs.

Due to the lack of a place to adequately feed so many people, Paul took everyone to a local hotel for dinner. It was so exciting to see the children of the orphanage eat. They were so happy. During dinner I talked with one of the young men of the branch. I am so impressed with the youth here in Ethiopia. They are so intelligent and eager to learn. They are the ones that will lift this country from its poverty. I pray that they can keep the excitement and enthusiasm that they now have.

I only had cell phone service for a few moments this morning when I was first waking up. I really enjoyed talking to Erika even though it was just for a few moments before I lost cell service. At least we are able to communicate one way or another daily. One of our highest priorities is to get good communications going so that we can use the internet to communicate. It is a slow process, one that requires lots of patience.

Thursday while we were driving through Awasa we came to a big street rally going down the middle of the main street. We had to detour around it for several blocks. It turned out to be a Christian march, with everyone proclaiming Jesus as their Savior. There is a strong religious spirit in the country now. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the LDS Church, is scheduled to visit Ethiopia next Sunday. We will try to attend. Had we been able to schedule the flight when we wanted to, we would have missed his visit. I am anxious to hear what he has to say to the people of Ethiopia.

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