Monday, April 15, 2013

Ethiopia, April 2013, Day 4 in Bissyland!

Our Fourth day in Ethiopia we headed out to the countryside to Debre Libanos, otherwise known as Bissyland! We make it a point to let our teams see the beautiful countryside of Ethiopia, which lets them experience the true beauty of Africa! 

 While driving over an hour into the countryside, we made a potty stop at a hotel along the way. This was one of the better bathrooms along our stop. :-) This is always an experience for our team. 

 The mud and grass hut communities along our route are a beautiful site to see! 

 We stopped for lunch at a beautiful clearing just inside Debre Lebanos. Our guide, Bisrat (Bissy), shared his powerful life story of growing up in this community and being tied up, beaten, and thrown in jail at the age of 18 for sharing the gospel. He was then taken to the city of Addis for the first time and left on the side of the road. He ended up in the Korah, leprosy community where he lived for years and became a Pastor, and later a travel guide, which is when we met him for the first time. Many roads led him to where he is today. He has a powerful testimony of faith that always inspires our team. 

 This is a beautiful clearing that overlooks a canyon. Our team took the opportunity to get some team pictures. We have a large team of 30! Most of the team is made up of a large North Dakota church group, pictured below with our guides. 

I am surrounded by a power team! Gecho, Bira, and Bissy are our Ordinary Hero Ethiopia Representatives and guides. We take these three everywhere with us. We are very grateful for their dedication and service to our teams! We love these guys! 

This man was intrigued with our team and wanted a picture. We sometimes create lots of attention in Africa, as you can imagine, with our large group in matching shirts, and our whiteness! We tend to stand out just a little.  :-) Everyone is very welcoming and loving. 

Debre Lebanos is known for the old Monastery.  It is hundreds of years old and filled with ancient artifacts of past kings and queens of Ethiopia. Our group toured the museum and then the church. 

 While outside the monastery, Bissy ran into a friend he knew during his childhood. The man is now a guard at the monastery. They seemed really glad to see one another. 

 Beside the church is a mountain that has a trail to the top. The team climbed to the top where they saw real monks living in caves and blessing people with Holy water that they collect from the mountain. This whole area is very full of Ethiopian religious culture much different then what we experience in America. It is always very eye opening to see how other cultures like this one express themselves in their faith. It actually feels as if you have stepped back into bible times. 

 During the hike we met this little boy. He was very taken by our group. He told our friend, Bira, that he had never seen white people before. He said he lives there alone and works whatever odd jobs he can find while his family is off in the countryside. He was a precious boy. 

This area of the countryside is full of monkeys that are always fun to see! 
 After our tour of the monastery and mountain we headed back toward town and stopped to pass out blessing bags to the children living in the countryside. 
 We love giving Blessing Bags to the children living in the countryside. Our guide, Bissy, grew up as one of these children. He was a shepherd boy, living in the countryside. He explains how he had nothing and how important these blessing bags are to these children living in this same way. They live so far outside the city that they don't have the opportunity to get new clothes and shoes. So for us to show up and give them practical blessings like this is our way to show the love of God and give them hope in their current situation. Their smiles always say it all! 

 We found this man carrying a baby. We were able to give him some diapers and wipes and a blessing bag for the baby. 

As our adventurous day came to a close we headed through the countryside, back to Addis. Each night of our trip we all gather in a team meeting to share our thoughts on the day. There have been some tears and some laughter each night as we try to process all we see in this beautiful country so full of love and yet so full of need. Each day is an adventure all its own. 

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