Archive for September 2011
I visited some of the oldest active churches in the world in what might be the most ancient civilization in the world. I was fortunate enough to visit Lalibela in Ethiopia! It was a lot better than I expected. Lalibela houses 24 churches carved out of rocks. The churches are said to be created from between 600 B.C. to 1200 B.C.
It felt great to do some traveling outside of Addis Ababa, something I have only down if leaving the borders of Ethiopia so far. It was the perfect time for it also, right after rainy season. What is usually a parched land, was an amazing array of green fields and farms atop a multitude of mountains. The highlight of the trip was a mule ride to the top of one such mountain to visit our 11th church, on a Sunday and during an Ethiopian Orthodox service. I guess we stood out.
The funny thing is I spent most of my time amazed by God’s nature, instead of man’s creation of rock churches. The legend says that King Lalibela had angelic assistance to carve out these huge and sometimes two story churches. That is why the legend says it only took 24 years for one man to carve out 24 amazingly detailed churches replicating as best possible those in Jerusalem. I couldn’t control my thoughts of “big whoop?”. Maybe it was a sign of my lack of intellectual wherewithal , or maybe I was marveling in more amazing things like Gods work. I found myself amazed how one of the softest things(rain) found on earth can erode one of the hardest(rocks). How these churches had to be protected from miracles like rain drops and sun light. I caught myself staring at walls of multicolored moss, growing amidst the eroding man creations. I marveled at the mountain range that surrounded us and helped create our mule ride adventure. I was astonished at the colors from the eagle eye experience at the summit.
Atop that mountain I turned my back to the man made rock churches, amazing no doubt, and looked over a never ending landscape of picturesque mountains and agriculture. Yeah, buildings can be pretty cool, but nature is clearly God’s outshining handy work! Throughout the weekend I just sensed how man always tries to upstage God. Just like the faults of Babylon, we are always looking for our worth in our creations. It’s a terrible habit and character of man. Often I question myself when I say “ Look at what God is doing with our boys or our project”, am I honestly wanting Him to have the deserved glory? How humbling! I have learned so much about my NEEDED humility while in Ethiopia. God has done so much here during my two years. I may never carve out all the pride of my heart but I am so thankful to find some humility while serving our amazing boys.
I guess the best part is that God is upstaging everyone! With Him carving out the plans for our boys lives, the pressure is off of tiny ol’ Adam. What a relief! That means each time I fall, I don’t drag 15 worthy lives down with me. I am thankful for my spoonfuls of humility not only because of the true power of God, but also because without humility how can I love, forgive, be kind, gentle, steadfast, and so on? I have watched how some of my new learned humility has built more than my beastly pride ever did. When I came to Ethiopia I was so focused on protecting these boys, leading these boys, changing these boys circumstances. I can look back now and see how at times my pride thwarted my efforts and that when I was able to humble myself God made things happen. This encourages me to be diligent about “dyeing every day”
Happy Ethiopian New Year!! One of the best quirky cultural learning experiences is that Ethiopia runs on its own calendar. We will be celebrating with our boys the start of 2004 on Tuesday. What a special time for us to look back on what God has done for us over the last year.
A couple major things stand out as I look back on this year. The first thing is the answer to the question “ where were we at this time last year”? WOW. There aren’t words to describe the difficulty we were suffering through at this time last year! We had left our first house with 22 boys after the owner changed their mind on the first day we moved in! We were homeless with 22 recently anointed “former street boys”! UGH! We stayed a few days cooped up in a partner ministries compound. 22 boys and four adults. It was wet, so stinky, freezing, and utter chaos. After the few days at the Entoto Mountain Project, we moved to the Beza compound. So we went from a 15 room house to 3 rooms, on property that held a high level of responsibility for us. We sent two boys to the hospital, had countless fights, kicked a boy out, were accosted by over anxious guards, and suffered from many illnesses.
We struggled so much as a team. The minutes went by so slowly. What ended up as about 3 weeks of being homeless, seemed like a lifetime. A lifetime that grew our faith beyond any other struggle I had ever experienced. We all wept at some point and we all cried out to God for guidance and help. While we cried though, not one of us lost their confidence in His power and His plan for these boys. Looking forward from those days, we would have never ever pictured our life today. We have sadly struggled through the reality of some boys not being able to stay in the house, but today we witness daily miracles in the lives of our cherished Ethiopian boys. Miracles that include boys visiting their families for the first time in anywhere from 5-8 years, three boys getting scholarships to private schools, baptisms, and a mastery of English for most boys a lot higher then we could have expected. It starts with faith, when that faith is tested and doesn’t quiver, the rewards our beyond description. These memories are helping me rediscover my passion for His work.
The second major thing is humorous. To look at my life in 2004, American calendar is unbelievable. How the heck could I be where I am compared to where I was in that year? I was gradually reforming my “scumbag” behavior. My morals were barely evident, my faith was nonexistent, my passion was invisible! Why did God do this? I don’t deserve any of these blessings. It’s so very humbling to look back and realize His sovereignty. Let me lower my head in praise that can’t be expressed in simple words of this world. Let me look up in confident gratitude for the next year of His plan for our boys and our lives! Let me say I can’t wait till 2005 and can’t even imagine what 2011 will be like!!
Thank you isn’t enough Lord, but here my plea to use me for whatever you WILL!