By Grace Tapert
I recently went on a mission trip to Ethiopia with Jim Pool and five others from Renaissance Vineyard in Ferndale, Michigan.
The Ethiopian people I encountered had more joy in their hearts than what I expected. They have so little. It humbled me, because I often forget how fortunate I am, that I truly live in a land of plenty, here in the U.S. (even if our streets are not paved with gold, nor money actually growing on trees, as some people seem to believe). As poor as they were, however, their devotion to Jesus, their attitude of service, and their passion for prayer was rich. My own devotion seems to lack in comparison. They were like sponges, so eager to soak up God's Word and to believe in His promises.
The memory that stands out to me was our day in Minare and the trip up to Mugher. We rose early that day. With much to do, we just drank coffee in the morning. (Great coffee, I might add!) We drove about 3 hours to Minare, and the village’s people welcomed us with much fanfare. The children ran alongside our vans, laughing and reaching out to touch us. “Firenji” they call us.
Our visit only lasted 2-3 hours, but included training, prayer, healing, and building relationships. Then they presented us with baskets filled with large pieces of fresh whole-grain bread (loved it!), more of the delicious Ethiopian coffee (Buna), and popcorn, too. We had to say our good-byes by mid-afternoon since we still had to drive further up into the mountains to reach our destination of Mugher before dark.
Driving conditions required me to make a bit of a cultural adjustment, though our drivers were amazing. We stopped and started many times due to rocks, potholes, speed bumps, and sharing the road with herds of goats, cattle, or donkeys, and their shepherds.
The 6- to 7-hour drive ended with us arriving in Mugher hungry and tired. In protest of government policies many towns along our journey had shut down commerce. We were about to learn that Mugher was one of those towns: No hotels, no fuel, no restaurants. There was “no room at the inn.”
We connected with the pastor we were supposed to visit the next day. He was able to get the owner of the hotel to open their doors for us, yet there was no restaurant in the hotel. They slaughtered their only goat for our dinner, then the pastor and his team began to wash our muddy feet in friendship and holy welcome.
I wept, feeling as if I had gone back in time, and was living in a Bible story straight out of the Book of Acts.
Amesegënallô, (Thank You)