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A letter from Carolyn Weber in Ethiopia

January 2012

Grace and peace to you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ!

January was filled with many wonderful connections.  Rev. Debbie Blane, who spent Christmas in Addis Ababa, departed for Malakal, South Sudan, on Jan. 4.  Two days later Carol Ann Noble arrived from Galva, Ill., for two busy weeks of celebrating Ethiopian Christmas, travel, and connecting with many new Ethiopian friends (as well as helping calculate final semester grades for the seminary English students).  I preached to the Addis Ababa Bethel Mekane Yesus Anuak congregation on January 7, Ethiopian Christmas.  The Holy Spirit came down powerfully on the congregation during the two and a half hours of praise, prayer, and worship. 

Following the service we were welcomed to my “home away from home” by my house worker Adanach and her husband Haile’s family for Christmas dinner.     Then we visited our seminary’s former dean and family as Teshome was preparing to leave for his Ph.D. studies in Stavangar, Norway, two days later.   Christmas evening we were visited by Minota Seifu and Amarech, who are the parents of my godchild Kaweayane, at the end of Minota’s stay in Ethiopia to do research for his master’s degree program in Norway.

Upon learning that we were traveling 560 km. northwest to Bahir Dar, which is situated on Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile River, one of my students, Tewachew, volunteered to travel with us and guide us around Bahir Dar, his birthplace.  Several ancient Ethiopian Orthodox (EOC) monasteries are located around and on Lake Tana; however, only three monasteries allow women to enter.    Several silvery-cheeked hornbills visited the tree above the café where Carol Ann and I dined each day.    The most common mode of transportation on Lake Tana continues to be on the papyrus reed boats, which have been in use for centuries.   Driving through the countryside, we enjoyed seeing the harvest—instead of combines cutting and processing the teff and wheat and barley—the farmers hand-sickled the grains and then drove a team of oxen in a circle on the grains to trample them. 

We enjoyed attending the wedding at the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) chapel of former student Rev. Zenebe Alemu from the Mekelle MY Church and Saba, his bride, from Glasgow, Scotland.

The following week found us enjoying a two-day trip south along the Rift Valley lakes to enjoy the birdlife, see some hippopotami up-close-and-personal on Lake Hawassa,  and visit with the family of 2010 Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) graduate Woche Boru. Both trips gave Carol Ann a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing our brothers and sisters here in Ethiopia.  The morning after our return we had a powerful healing prayer time with the wife of another student whose doctor later declared her to be healed.  On the following day we witnessed the beginning of the Ethiopian Epiphany, which is known here as Timket, as a large crowd of people accompanied the (EOC) tabbot down the highway in front of the seminary.

My third year of teaching began January 24 with Holistic Ministry and Development, Intermediate English 2, Church Business English, and Spiritual Formation 2.  The initial focus of the Spiritual Formation class is practicing a month-long several-step discernment process pioneered by Dr. Elizabeth Liebert, dean of San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, Calif., and described in her book, The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision-Making.  The “usual” ways in which Ethiopians discern God’s will are through dreams, visions, prophecies, and a direct word from God.  They were surprised that many Americans discern God’s will using the rational process of enumerating pros and cons.

Your gracious prayers and sacrificial gifts undergird the ministry I am doing here as an instructor at Mekane Yesus Seminary. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This afternoon a visiting Luther lecturer, Dr. Jim Nestingen, was asked this question at the conclusion of his lecture entitled, “Luther’s Theology of the Cross”: “How would you compare the theology of suffering that you witness in the United States with the theology of suffering you see here in Ethiopia?”  Jim responded, “I’ll take your question home and ask Americans to answer it.” So I, in turn, ask you: How do you answer that?  The assurance that Christian believers here express about Christ being with them through it all is an awesome testimony to their deep faith and abiding love.

Please pray for:
+ Students, staff, administrators, and instructors of Mekane Yesus Seminary to live and work in Christian unity in order to fully equip and build up the body of Christ.
+ Peaceful unity among all Ethiopian evangelical (Protestant) believers.
+ The safe transmission of the final corrections for the Anuak translation of the complete Old and New Testaments of the Bible to the Nairobi publisher.
+ The literacy work with the Anuak people to educate them to read the new Latin script (rather than the Amharic fidels) of the Anuak translation of the Bible when it is published. 
+ The work by Christians worldwide to reach unreached areas with the gospel.  An evangelist recently told me that there are still 33 unreached people groups (of the more than 87 groups) here in Ethiopia alone who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.

“You will succeed not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).   May it be so!!!  God bless you as you seek to be faithful!

Carolyn Weber

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 95
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