Learning to Trust

Written on 8/27/2007             Arriving to an airport in a foreign country is somewhat of an odd experience when it’s being done for the first time. Arriving to an airport in a foreign country located in Africa is just a tad bit more of an experience. And arriving to an airport in Ethiopia with no idea whether someone is going to be there to pick you up is something all together different and should be classified as something other than just an experience. Apparently, some people that were supposed to know we were coming didn’t, and the people that did know we were coming didn’t think we were supposed to arrive until a day later. Needless to say, we felt a little out of place as we were sitting in Bole International Airport at 2:30 in the morning with a small crowd of curious Ethiopians watching our every move.            When Elias picked up the phone for the first time, there was a small weight lifted from our shoulders. Elias is the brother of a woman we met just one day before we left for Ethiopia. The woman, Zene, told us he would be at the airport to meet us and that we could call him if we needed anything. After waking him up so early in the morning, he met us at the airport. He was somewhat hesitant as we introduced ourselves, but agreed to let us stay at his house for the night until we figured things out in the morning. We piled into two taxis with all seven of our bags (one of Bethany’s didn’t quite make it to Addis) and headed toward our new friend’s home. We all breathed a sigh of relief. It was cut short however, by the stop made at a small (what some might call sketchy) motel. Elias thought that this might be better for us, but we reassured him that we would feel more comfortable at his house despite the inconvenience. He agreed and we made our way through narrow, mud-covered, dirt roads until we reached his home.             As we walked in the door, we felt safe. For the first time since we stepped off British Airways flight 6565, we felt safe. Not safe like at home in my bed, but more like the safe that I feel from a climbing harness when I’m 50 feet in the air. It was at this point that I felt the Spirit speak to me and say, “It is only now that you are beginning to learn what it is to trust.” This was an amazing realization. All the trust that I spoke of in life up to that point paled in comparison to the level at which God was calling me to trust at that very moment. At 4:30 in the morning as I laid my head onto my makeshift pillow, I felt…alive.             We were awakened just a few hours later by roosters, chickens, street vendors, and crying babies. I’m not sure if I actually slept, but I felt a little bit rested. Elias’ mood had changed drastically for some reason. It turned out that he had talked with Zene when he woke up, confirmed that we were not in fact psycho white Americans, then contacted HOPE Enterprises (the organization which we are pretty sure we are still working for), and arranged with them a ride to take us from his house to a guest house. Elias is a servant of the Lord. God’s people are his people and this was evident from his generosity, humility, and hospitality. Shortly after we got up and packed up our sleeping bags, a table was prepared for a breakfast made especially for the four of us. A woman came with a bowl and pitcher and aided us in washing our hands before our meal. Then Elias’ wife brought out white bread, injerra (a staple food in Ethiopia…it’s really good, look it up), scrambled eggs with spices, and another very spicy dish made with injerra called “wot”. We were served each dish and ate as they watched. Elias got us each our own bottle of orange Mirinda (exactly like Fanta!) and poured it for us. We ate quite a bit as both Elias and his wife repeatedly offered more food, but this was great since it was the first meal we had eaten since the flight. After breakfast, we enjoyed a hot cup of tea. I found out that I like my tea with one lump. I’ve always wondered. We then entered a period of about 45 minutes where we waited for our ride. It became even more apparent that there was a language barrier, but we found connections through a frisbee disc we gave to their four year-old daughter Selamawit. We played the whole time and watched as she learned and progressively got better at throwing to her target. A couple photos and a short video later, our ride arrived and took us across the city to the guesthouse. The two men that picked us up were incredibly friendly and said that they would have been at the airport but they were told the wrong day. Tefera and Mattheios might be two of the gentlest men that I have ever met. We drove and talked for about a half hour before we got to our destination. It was on this drive that we got our first glimpse of the city. From herds of goats to hotel high rises, bulls in the roundabouts to a soccer stadium, crazy drivers to crazier pedestrians, Addis became a real place.Upon arrival, both an American couple from Chicago (Tim and Heather) and the two Ethiopian women that serve at the house greeted us warmly. We were shown to our rooms and tried to settle in a bit before we got back into the car and went to a small restaurant and shared two pizzas between the four of us. We felt at ease as we ate and came to the realization that just because we plan months in advance in the U.S. doesn’t mean that we have to (or have the ability to) here. And with that, we ate. Tefera came back about an hour later and took us back to the guest house where all four of us took the most rewarding naps of our lives and were awakened by the smell of spaghetti. The two women had cooked a meal for us and the other guests, so we enjoyed it with our new friends. After dinner we played with a little boy named Masud-Samuel. He is three years old and is one of two Ethiopian children being adopted by Tim and Heather. He and I played with a ball for about a half hour and then I taught him how to high five. He liked that a lot. His eyes and his smile warm the heart and I am thankful to God that he has found a wonderful home. It’s about 11:00pm right now and we have a meeting with Dr. Minas (president of HOPE Enterprises) in the morning. Hopefully more questions will be answered.  Learning the Art of Trust,Joshua

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