A letter from Carolyn Weber in Ethiopia
Grace and peace to you in the mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Having recently returned to Ethiopia, I have been welcomed back in a number of ways. I experienced Christmas joy both in the U.S. with my family and again on Ethiopian Christmas, January 7, with my Ethiopian family and new friends. My worshipping community, the Addis Ababa Bethel Mekane Yesus Anyuak congregation, was blessed by a surprise Christmas visit from the Gambella Regional President. The twins born January 1, 2010, to the Mekane Yesus Seminary dean and his wife prior to my original move to Ethiopia have now grown into rambunctious 3-year-olds. Godchild Kaweayane Minota’s family brought me a special gift, which now hangs on the wall. It is an agelgel—sturdy raffia basket inside that is covered with animal skins outside. It is comparable to a picnic basket to transport food.
Though I began preaching three days after my return, I have faced some difficulties readjusting to life here—the nine-hour time difference from CST in the U.S.; two lost bags (found 1-1/2 days later); a virulent flu virus, which kept me down for three days last week; and the unpacking of many trunks stored here in my seminary home. The rapidly growing cataract in my right eye continues to challenge me daily since it is growing in the bifocal area of my lens.
Two large gatherings of people will delay the start of the new semester until February 6: the International Missionary Society’s meetings here this weekend, with 10,000 persons expected, and the weeklong meeting of our partner denomination’s General Assembly—the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus—which starts next Monday.
Presently my time is focused on the preparation of the readers and syllabi for this semester’s courses: Intermediate English 2 and Spiritual Formation 2 for the first year Bachelor of Theology (BTH) students, Advanced English for the second year BTH students, and a new course entitled Personal Development for the second year Master of Arts in Practical Theology students. Because many students are away during this six-week break, I have spoken with only a few of my past students, which has been both heartwarming and heartrending. Beloved master’s student 36-year-old Tewodros (Tedy) Eyasu died of an apparent heart attack at a wedding this month. The mothers of two other students died during the past month. But in the midst of sorrow, new life springs up as newborn babies are bringing much joy to their families too.
Contrasting starkly with the bitterly cold and snowy winter experienced in many northerly places, summer has arrived in Ethiopia. A new bunch of bananas has set on my banana plant. The bananas will slowly fill out over the next six months, resulting in a sweet delectable treat. My flowerbeds are full of roses, succulents, snapdragons, begonias, iris, cannas, and many other varieties—several of which are in bloom.
Around the world, from Canada to Australia, from Germany to the Republic of South Sudan, Anyuak people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the complete Holy Bible in the Anyuak language. Many translators have worked with Rev. Niles and Ann Reimer and Marie (Breezy) Lusted over decades to finish the project. Niles, Ann, and Desalegn Omot just arrived in the Gambella region in southwest Ethiopia to meet with the leaders of several Christian denominations to promote literacy training in preparation for the Anyuak Bible’s arrival and also to plan the huge celebration as this Bible is released in late spring (hopefully) before the heavy rains come. For us who speak majority languages, it may be difficult to understand the importance of hearing and reading the holy scriptures in one’s native tongue, one’s heart language. Many persons around the world are unable to believe that Jesus’ salvation extends to them or that they are worthy of receiving healing—when they only hear the scriptures in someone else’s language—English or Spanish or Russian or Chinese. Thanks be to God for the long years of translation and proofreading that Christians have dedicated their lives to so that people may receive these life-giving words and know that God is speaking to them in their own language.
This passage from John Heagle’s Justice Rising: The Emerging Biblical Vision struck a needed note of truth and hope:
"For those of us who believe in the crucified and risen One—the cosmic Christ—this is a hopeful and a demanding vision. It doesn’t appear that injustice will be defeated anytime soon, or that the world of violence is about to end. Perhaps this is precisely the challenge of discipleship in our time—to trust that our prayer and action on behalf of justice will make a difference despite all indications to the contrary.
"… The nonviolent coming of God is unfolding as surely as scattered seeds will find good soil; as certainly as there is hidden treasure in the field of human history. And as confidently as grains of wheat fall into the ground in search of a harvest that is still to come.
"Hope has feet. And we are still walking."
Please pray for:
- Our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia who face many challenges.
- The Mekane Yesus Seminary students and staff, that we may boldly and bravely proclaim Christ in all plans, actions, and teaching to equip Christian servants.
- Timely publishing, shipment, and distribution of the Anyuak Bible.
- This work to be done with energy, intelligence, imagination, love, and peace as we are Christ’s ambassadors in the world.
Thank you for sharing in this life-giving mission—for your prayer, encouragement, and financial support. May God bless you, your families, churches, and communities
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 107
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