A letter from Carolyn Weber in Ethiopia
Grace and peace to you, dear friends, in the powerful name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
June brought much rejoicing on our campus as students completed courses, final papers, and graduation. Witness the joy of the first Mekane Yesus Seminary Master of Arts in Practical Theology graduates! A total of nine graduated (see photo). They worked diligently throughout the second year of the program to write theses as well as complete several other courses. It was a joy to teach/encourage these master’s students in their Personal Development course during their final semester, which was described in my April letter. During my final individual mentor meetings with them the students described how extremely important this course had been for their own spiritual development. They realized that most of their undergraduate and graduate seminary courses had provided them with several academic theories and analysis, but it all came together for them as they practiced lectio divina, a deeply contemplative way of engaging scripture with their daily lives. The triad groups gave them an intimate community, similar to an accountability group, where they shared the “stuff” of their lives—challenges, disappointments, struggles, joys, and sorrows—and prayed for one another as they were seeking to grow more and more Christlike. Many of them hope to engage their church leaders in similar study and triad groups. After that they would like to start small-group programs throughout the church to encourage their congregants to become small communities of disciples growing in humility and Christlikeness. Another photo shows several of the master’s faculty.
Just four days before graduation we were extremely saddened by the death of master’s graduate Dawit Kalbese’s young wife. Within hours of learning this, the master’s community joined the hearse and a whole crowd of mourners on a rocky, muddy, narrow little road and then caught mini buses to the nearby cemetery to attend her burial. Dawit briefly left the two-week-long lekso (when family and friends sat together to mourn her death and celebrate her life and entrance to heaven) to attend graduation and also be honored for having the second highest cumulative grade average for his master’s work.
At meals celebrating the end of the semester with the students in each of my courses, the students expressed their thanks and appreciation for our time together during the semester and extended blessings (see photos). Another joy from this semester has been the monthly gatherings with my mentor group (see photo).
As other mission co-workers, such as Rachel Weller, have shared in their letters, we all rejoice at the completion of the entire Bible’s translation into the Anyuak language! Many attended the July 6 celebration in Gambella, Ethiopia. We give thanks to God for the decades of careful work, including these final years by Desalegn Omot, Ajulo Ojwat, Breezy Lusted, and Niles and Ann Reimer. Bibles are now reaching people worldwide. Several of us were unable to attend the Gambella celebration, so Crosslinks missionary Hazel Maunsel hosted a glorious celebration for us to lift up our prayers and thanks to God (see photo). The Latin script in a photo is the Anyuak scripture posted on the wall from Luke 24:5: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” The Anyuak New Testament was previously printed using the 279 Amharic fidels (alphabet letters)! While it will take some time to adjust to the Latin script, it will be much more useful to those living in the worldwide diaspora.
On a lighter side, in early June—for the first time ever since I moved into my home in Addis, I had a banana thief in my banana tree. I was standing outside talking to the gardener when I looked up, and there was a monkey eating two of my ripe bananas! Before I could even run into the house for a camera, Gutu clapped his hands to chase off the monkey. Quick as a wink the monkey sprang to my roof and hightailed it the length of the house and jumped onto an electric wire and did a high wire act until he reached the electric pole. He scrambled down that and up another pole and sat on the top of it. I took his photo then. Sometimes we drive 300 km to see monkeys—and that day we had monkey business going on right here in my yard! (See photo.)
Five days after graduation I returned to the U.S. for my July 18 cataract surgery and all the pre- and post-op exams. My unrestrained response on the day after surgery: Today is truly miraculous! Yesterday after my cataract surgery they bandaged my eye securely and topped it off with a metal device that looks like a tea strainer. When I awoke this morning and began to peel off the padded bandages, I suddenly realized that I could see perfectly in the eye where my clouded vision has resembled looking through crumpled Saran wrap. Two images immediately came to mind—the incredible revitalization of my faith back in 1983 when "the scales fell from my eyes and I saw everything in full living color" AND the ending of a musical acted out in the Valentine Church where I was serving that depicted the forces of good and evil at work in Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection—the final words ringing out: "He's alive! He's alive!" Only this morning I was singing, "I can see! I can see!" All glory and honor to our Lord whose healing power and light have overcome the darkness! August 28 I will arrive back in Addis Ababa to prepare for the new fall semester.
Please pray for the following concerns over the coming days and weeks:
- God’s guidance and wisdom for all the plans that the Mekane Yesus Seminary board is considering about establishing a secular university on the seminary compound.
- Wisdom, creativity, and patience for the theology instructors in the Bachelor of Theology degree program and the professors in the Master’s in Practical Theology program as syllabi and course readers are being prepared for the fall semester courses.
- Peace and reconciliation in the countries of Africa—especially in Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan, which our ministries touch.
I invite you to partner with me and other mission co-workers through your prayers, encouragement and financial gifts. Thanks be to God and each of you for your remarkable prayers and support!
God bless you!