Day 5 We have traveled from Addis to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. October 21 2015.
Our fifth day was very much a rest day. My energy level hit a wall. I was so tired, and so it was nice to just have some down time. We are now staying in a small hotel in Dire Dawa. We left the guest house in Addis yesterday morning at 5:40am and caught a flight to Dire Dawa at 7:30am. The airport in Addis is surprisingly small to be the main airport hub for the country. We were processed through three different security checks, including a check at the gate….complete with taking off shoes and loading luggage to a scanner at each spot. Once we got to the gate, we were then put on a shuttle….and there we waited so long I literally thought we were going to miss our flight. Finally, the driver showed up, and we were on our way….we drove a full 100 yards to the plane. No kidding! We could have strolled to the airplane from where we had been waiting for so long! We could have walked to the plane and back for 30 minutes just waiting for that driver to come!
The flight was short, only about an hour. I was fortunate to have a window seat, and the view was breathtaking. Expansive views of carved out mountains with long stretches of dry desert looking land. No development as far as I could tell, but every now and then I spotted a small camp site with some type of shelter and a clearing for what I assume is home to a small family, or clan. The shelters seemed to have a curved roof or awning of some sort, and the area was circular, protected with a definite hedge around the shelter. There were no roads leading up to any of these shelters and miles of untouched land surround them. I could not see any people from that height on the plane, but I am sure I was looking at someone’s home out there. I only saw a few of these types of places over most of the land we flew over. Otherwise, the region looked uninhabitable. There were dried up creek beds, and no rivers or lakes that I could find. We learned in fact that this country is on the cusp of a full blown famine due to the drought. This is the worst drought since the mid 1980’s.
The driver picked us up at the even smaller airport of Dire Dawa. The cab was a royal blue 1970’s Peugot 404….
We piled in and headed to our hotel. The roads again are mostly dirt roads, with lots of washed out potholes and rocks. People are walking everywhere, just like in Addis. Generally the people are very busy, although I think I saw more people lying asleep on the sides of roads here….probably because the streets here are not quite as busy as in Addis, so maybe less chance of being hit by a passing vehicle here.
Our host is a local missionary here who has been in eastern Ethiopia and Somalia for most of his adult life. He was a wealth of knowledge about the people here, and about the Muslim faith here, and the difference between these people and the more radicalized Muslims in other parts of the world. The people here are very peaceful, and we feel quite safe. We can freely walk through the streets here and the locals are welcoming. Many speak a little English.
We regularly hear the area Mosques ringing out a call to prayer throughout the day. The Islamic church’s strategy has been to have a mosque built every 5 km such that where ever the call to prayer is heard, that land is claimed for Islam. Mosques are being built everywhere.
Our host has been in this locale, Dire Dawa, for about 10 years. He and his wife run a children’s home, which is home to about 15 children. They have owned and operated the children’s home for many years, even before relocating to Dire Dawa, and have raised many children here and have taught the gospel to them. These children have a heart for Christ and are a powerful witness to others in the region. We visited the home and met the children who were, of course, amazing. The stories of these children could be a book in themselves. We met with one man, who grew up in the home prior to the it’s relocation to Dire Dawa, who was brought there by his aunt when he was young. His family was muslim, and as a child he was severely mistreated (details of which I will have to tell you in person if you wish to hear). Upon his father’s death, he was brought to the children’s home by his aunt, who was an underground believer in his family. She had taken pity on the boy after his father died, because of abuse upon him by his father’s family she had to witness. He was sleeping among cattle and malnourished when his aunt rescued him in every sense of the word. She brought him to the children’s home to live, to be loved and nourished. At that time, He was only six years old.
Now he is grown, and a powerful testament to the power of the gospel He has an amazing heart for Christ. He has an education and is working for the Kingdom, bringing the gospel to his community, albeit at considerable risk of persecution.
Again, processing all of this is overwhelming. Many things we learned I just cannot write here in the name of protecting these amazing missionaries who have immersed themselves in this culture for so many years. I am deeply convicted at the level of risk these people take in the name of Jesus. I do not know if I would have their courage, truthfully. They are so brave, so in love with Jesus. We have so much to learn from them. I think about my “comfort zone” at home….We have a culture of convenience and luxury. We have allowed ourselves the creation of a world of never ending distraction – technology, material possessions, food beyond what our bodies need to be nourished, the list goes on and on. When we feel threatened at all that some of that might be taken away, or – even worse – that we may have to sacrifice something that we love owning / possessing / doing, we resist and settle back into our comfortable prisons. But we are not a satisfied group of people. We are depressed, tired, weak, and we lack the passion that the Holy Spirit brings. Nothing satisfies. We may get a moment of “happiness” from a shopping trip, or a new car, or a party, but it doesn’t last. We have to keep feeding that monster that just grows and gets hungrier. There is only One that satisfies with anything that lasts. That is why I can look around at these people here – living in conditions we would only say are impoverished conditions – and I see more happiness and joy in their faces than most of the people in my own country. There is no material manmade creation that can substitute the pure love of Christ. There is simply no way you can deny this love once it has inhabited your soul.
I have a couple of prayer requests today….Wes is not feeling well and needs prayer for healing; Anton has also been unwell today and needs prayer for healing. And on that note…your prayers for me worked very quickly earlier this week and my fever went away after only a day (praise!). Thank you so much for your prayers from across the ocean. We are so grateful, and we FEEL your love and prayers constantly! We all look forward to seeing you again soon 💖
With love and blessings, heather