Monday, July 2, 2012

Ethiopia 2012, TEAM 2, Day 4 ~ Mission on the Mountain!

Day 4~ written by Phil Chapman

This was the most amazing day so far!  From seeing kids who were from the mountains of Ethiopia just starving to hear someone read to them, to blessing women in extreme need, to using whips, riding donkeys, performing baptisms, preaching the Word in the wilderness, and sharing God’s love with HIV orphans, this was a day directed by the Holy Spirit!

We started off with another great breakfast (oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon).  Today’s devotions were powerful.  The Holy Spirit really took ahold of the group.  We read from Job about serving the people around us and were reminded how it’s not about what we do, but who God is and He reigns.  I explained my tremendous conviction that I was having that we hadn’t shared the actual Gospel with any person since we have been here.  Sure, we were handing out tons of clothes, candy, soccer balls, and even money, but we weren’t sharing the one and only thing that doesn’t return void.  We then discussed how Brett had read the previous day about Philip talking and witnessing to the Ethiopian in scripture.  Bizy, our wonderful Ordinary Hero guide was more than willing, and actually desiring, to translate for any one of us as we spoke to the natives.  Nels had a solid idea that we focus on one phrase that we could reflect on the entire day.  We could look up verses that matched the word; watch for ways the Holy Spirit would shine around this word, and then reflect on it during the night’s debriefing time.  Today’s word was, “Compassion.”  We prayed and got ready for the big day ahead.

As we were walking to our van, which was about 100’ at the most away from the gate, Matt took the immediate opportunity to share the Gospel with all of the children that hang out in front of the Guest House.  He was convicted during the devotions this morning that we needed to be intentional (as he would later explain during the evening debriefing).  That was the theme for the day, “Preach the Gospel!” 

Our first stop was at a church run facility for children that live with women from the mountain.  I’m not sure, but I think that most of the children had HIV.  They were so joyful, thankful, and desired to learn.  They listened to several of the team members as they read them book after book, including one young man bringing Barrett, I think, the Encyclopedia.  They were also taking lessons from some of the guys in the play area, learning how to throw and catch Frisbee and baseball.  

It was a wonderful facility that is officially run by a church (which we are going to tomorrow), but was being overseen by a gal named Lisa.  The story that I was told about Lisa was that she was from D.C. (originally Connecticut), came to Ethiopia on a mission’s trip, became convicted of what she was doing in her life, went back to America, sold all that she had and moved to Ethiopia.  Talk about CRAZY LOVE!  That is awesome.

After spending an hour with this group, we decided to head up the mountain, Mount Entoto. 

 Our goal heading up this mountain was three fold: 1.) Get to the top and check out the waterfall, 2.) Bless the women and/or children that live on the mountain, and 3.) Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Well, we did those three, and we couldn’t have imagined what the Holy Spirit would lead on this day.

As we headed up the mountain, several team members wanted to stop and give candy to the children.  We had to be careful though because when you give stuff out in many areas throughout Ethiopia, and I’m sure in other countries too, you will get surrounded quickly by the young and old.  So, we strategically stopped in an area where there were only a few kids.  

They were standing on top of huge rocks whipping a whip (isn’t that what you do with it) over and over.  The kids were professional whip makers and whippers (now, I don’t think that is a word).  The noise sounded like a shotgun going off!  The kids made their way down to us in a flash and wanted to sell us hats (which I bought for my kids) and whips (which Nels and Matt purchase, but shhhhh, I think that they are surprises for the kids). 

 These kids probably made a lot off of us today.  We continued our trek upwards toward the waterfall.  We actually made a wrong turn, which ended up being the perfect opportunity for Matt to earn his 50 Birr (I said that I would give him 50 Birr if he followed through on his promise).  Matt road a donkey (or hiyah) for more than 10 seconds…I think it was 23.3 seconds, or something like that.  We took a ton of pictures and had a lot of fun.  Matt tipped 50 Birr to the donkey owner and we were on our way.

As we made our way to the waterfall location, we were amazed that the children were running throughout the countryside to be next to the van.  They wanted to be by the action and perhaps they could get a few things in the process.  We got out of the vans and couldn’t believe the beauty of the area.  The trees, green grass, and entire landscape were breath taking!  Then, we got close to the waterfall…now that was beyond breath taking!  Ashtin Balzer approached me nearly the moment that I saw the water and she said that she had decided that she would be baptized in this waterfall!  Her mother had been praying for years for her to make the final decision to be baptized, as she has been saved for quite some time.  However, she didn’t want to force it on it.  Today was the day.

We gathered around as a group, including 15 young boys that were following us.  We prayed and then decided to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and had Bizzy translate as we taught the young boys about Jesus Christ.  We were so blessed to hear that they have heard of Jesus and that they were acknowledging his death and resurrection.  One of the team members asked them if anyone wanted to be baptized.  After a detailed translation by Bizzy about what baptism is and why one does it, one of the boys said that he wanted to display his faith. 

Bizzy, Lauren Putty, Ashtin, and this young man made their way down to the bottom of the waterfall.  I had the distinct opportunity to read scripture before the baptism from atop the mountain…it was quite the God moment.  I chose two pieces of Scripture.

6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leathern girdle about his loins, and did eat locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, There cometh after me he that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I baptized you in water; But he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.
-       Mark 1:6-8

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
-       Acts 2:38

After Lauren, Bizzy, and Ashtin prayed together, Bizzy checked the water with a long stick to make sure that it wasn’t too deep; he got into the pond at the bottom of the waterfall.  The water was freezing they tell me.  Then, Ashtin walked into the water.  Bizzy baptized her in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  She was submersed into the water and brought up to a celebration of cheers from all of her teammates and the 15 youngsters.

When Ashtin was done, Bizzy asked her to help him with the 9 or 10 year old who was baptized.  Unlike Ashtin, who would remain soaked for the 45 minute ride back to the Guest House, this young man took off his clothes…all of them.  He got into the water and was blessed and baptized.  He also came up to many cheers and hugs.  I spent a little time with this boy before the baptism, and before we preached the Gospel, and then I spent a few moments with him afterward.  He appeared to look different…I really don’t know how to explain it.  Absolutely amazing!  6/30/12 will be etched in the mind of Ashtin and this little boy for a long time.

As we were leaving to go back to the van, I noticed one of the young men didn’t have any shoes.  I don’t know why I didn’t notice it earlier, but I didn’t.  I quickly yelled up to the van to see if we still had a pair of shoes that we could give this boy.  Much to my sadness, we had already given them out.  However, without hesitation, Jeremy Hallam took off his Adidas shoes and put them on the boy!  Total selfless act!  A great example of Christ’s love.

After giving a ton of candy and food to the boys, who waited very calmly by the van, we needed to head back to the Guest House and get ready for the late afternoon appointment.  On the way down the hill, we had the opportunity to bless several of the women and children.  One of the vans decided to stop and help two ladies carry their more than 200 lbs worth of branches (they put them on top of the van).  In addition, they gave them a ride down the hill.  The ride down the rest of the mountain was about 10 minutes, which would have been a lot longer by foot.  When the ladies sat in the car, Michelle Daly was completely urged by the Holy Spirit to give to them.  Some others joined in their blessing and provided them each with about 50 days worth of wages.  The ladies talked to the team through Bizzy and explained that they didn’t know they were going to have bread to eat today, but God had answered their prayers.  Wow, when you rest in the Holy Spirit and know that He is in control, mighty things can and will happen!

We were good if the day ended right there!  The Holy Spirit wasn’t done though!  After we ate lunch, we went back out to AHOPE, an orphanage for HIV kids.  While we dropped off most of the group at AHOPE, a few of us went down the street to visit a friend’s boy (they have the referral and waiting for a court date) who is living at one of the orphanages.

When we arrived, the guard was surprised and didn’t want us to come in.  Luckily, my friend, Stacy Swenson, had an email sent to me with the Director’s name and permission to go into the orphanage.  After a lengthy conversation, we were told that their boy wasn’t there…he was on a field trip at the soccer stadium.  So, they said to come back in two hours.

We grabbed a box of Snickers (fun size, but slightly bigger than America’s fun size) for the team’s dessert and went back to AHOPE.  When we arrived, I was completely surprised at the action of everything in this little concrete playing area.  There was a full volleyball game going on, with the ladies on the team battling it out amongst the teenagers, soccer keep-away games, Ping-Pong, basketball, and side conversations.  It was a busy place.  We didn’t bring the right donations for these ages, so we chose to just come and be with the kids.

  They were amazed and very appreciative of us doing just that!  Each team member had a blast and it opened up so many conversations, including Emma Smith sharing the Gospel with a little one just before we left the facility.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to the orphanage were Sammi lives right now.  We were very thankful to find out that they had returned from their field trip and that I could walk right in, taking Lauren Putty, Bizzy, and Nels Mathre with me.  Bizzy was my translator, Nels was the videographer, and Lauren was the camera lady.  They brought Sammi to me and I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement.  I couldn’t believe that I was communicating with a young man that would soon be moved across the ocean to live in Illinois only a few miles from my home…adoption is totally amazing.  As we sat down in the play area of his orphanage, surrounded by a half dozen other children, I pulled out a special envelope that John and Stacy had sent.  I opened the envelope and began handing one thing at a time to this 12 year old Ethiopian child that would soon be friends with my son.  When I gave him the pictures of his family, he was able to name each one of them immediately, including Mom and Dad.  We then discovered that each family member had written him a note.  I began to read them to him.  As I was about half way finished with the first one, I heard him say one of the words before I did!  I couldn’t believe it.  I then asked him if he could read, and he said yes (why wouldn’t he be able to).  He then read aloud each note so the entire group could hear what was written.  His reading was beautiful and I couldn’t help but kiss him several times.  I then pulled out my MacBook and opened up the video on my Desktop called, “We Love You Sammi.mp4”.  It was a video that his mom (Stacy Swenson) had made him of her walking around their home, Sammi’s future home, and showing him his kitchen, dining room, stairs, and even bedroom.  I heard one of the kids in the background saying that Sammi is SOOO lucky to have a family like that.  It was an amazing experience and I am humbled that I had the opportunity to share this with him during this transition time in his life.

We headed back to the Guest House for a fabulous dinner.  We debriefed for a long time and share many God-filled stories about the day.  We looked to tomorrow and the rest of the week and decided to make sure that we are going humble ourselves before the Almighty and allow Him to take the true leadership in our lives!

Thanking God for His compassion on and for me, Phil (for the entire Ordinary Hero team)

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