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A letter from Carolyn Weber in Ethiopia

April 5, 2010

Seven weeks have now passed. More images from my Ethiopia collage:

  • Donkeys briskly walk four abreast down the sidewalk in front of the seminary here in the city of Addis Ababa, each loaded with a large bag of flour, hooves clacking on the new sidewalk pavers, guided by a young man talking on his cell phone.
  • Students working in groups of seven-10 persons have presented to our Holistic Ministry and Development class on a variety of topics: the Hermeneutical Circle which Paolo Friere and other liberation theologians proposed as a way to connect with and hear the needs of voiceless, grassroots people; ways poor church members can share what they have with the poor in the larger community; development ministries that equip and empower people rather than making them dependent and the struggles with isolation temptation, disease and poverty for persons who move into urban areas, leaving tribal and support systems behind. Students worked intently to complete their Block C exams in three-plus hours. The seminary is now on Easter break.

    One true story we read in Wilbur O’Donovan’s Biblical Christianity in Modern Africa illustrates how God uses the creative generosity and love of a few very poor Christians to meet some urgent human needs and to open the hearts of their neighbors to Christ: “Members of a local church in a very poor community decided to look for older non-Christian widows in the community who lived alone and needed help ... They offered to help 5 widows with their housework. The offer was received and the widows were amazed that people who were as poor as they were and who had no relationship to them were willing to help them. Each of these widows has since put her faith in Christ.”
  • Hundreds of enthusiastic worshipers mostly aged 20-40 gathered Easter eve at the Mekane Yesus Mekanisa church to hear choirs and preachers and praise God while awaiting Easter dawn to process by candlelight to the streets to proclaim, “Jesus Christ is risen today!“ It was impressive to see the number of persons who brought Bibles and carefully took notes from the teachings. After spending six hours there, I left the vigil five hours early for some much-needed sleep.
  • Photo of Carolyn in white clerical garb, flanked by a man on her right and a woman also in clerical robes.

    Carolyn preaching at Anuak Easter service. Pictured on left is translator, Adak Ojulo, and on right Kes Akwata Okeng, the first and only ordained Anuak clergywoman.

    Yesterday I was honored to preach and assist in serving communion at the four-hour Anuak Easter worship service. A student translated my words for the congregation.

    Three weeks ago while preaching, I told the Anuaks that I always pray for the Holy Spirit to illumine my heart with understanding as I hear them pray, sing, drum, read (lectionary) scriptures, preach and share testimonies. We were all saddened to hear about swiftly moving grassfires that burned three of their villages (Okuna, Abari and Perbongo) around Gambela to the ground, killing two persons. Please pray for their rebuilding.
  • Later yesterday RCA missionary Barbara Kapenga and I enjoyed Easter lunch — injera and dorowat with Dean Teshome Amenu’s family pictured below. Their 3-month old twin girls were asleep.
  • Brilliantly colored flowers and luxuriant vines abound at my new home here on the Mekane Yesus Seminary compound. While recently doing the wash in the backyard and pinning it to the clothesline, I caught flashes of scintillating green out of the corner of my eye: two bright green parrots alighted in a nearby tree, a bit of heaven for this birder! I now live just a few minutes’ walk from the chapel, my classroom, and the compound next door where my Amharic language studies continue each morning. Recently I noticed that my language training is wearing new grooves into my brain as my mini-bus taxi rushed past a shop where a chest of drawers stood on the sidewalk and the first words that came to mind were (sounds like) koom sahtin.
  • Photo of Carolyn sitting with three people in their living room.

    Easter dinner at Dean Teshome’s.

  • PC(USA) Mission co-worker Breezy Lusted has introduced me to a life-giving support network here: the weekly Inter-Mission Prayer Meeting which brings together mission workers from across the world — Australia, Finland, S. Africa, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Canada, U.S.A. and more. Tea time is at 4:30 p.m. followed by the host’s devotion and then powerful and effective prayer as each person shares what is on her/his heart.

I give thanks daily for your powerful and effective prayers and mission support which are bringing life to so many. God always takes ourcheerfully-given “little bits” (of time, prayer, money, resources) and blesses and multiplies them. “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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