The Lord tells us in Exodus 20 that we should remember the Sabbath and rest. Well, after playing and ministering to the children at HOPE school in Dessie for five days and then driving for 10 hours from Dessie to Addis Ababa on the sixth day, today, we rested.

We all slept in this morning at the Ghion Hotel, even with the chanting from the local church and mosque blasting all around us. Then, we dressed up to go to Pastor Matthew’s church for Sunday worship. The women wore skirts, blouses that covered their shoulders and bandanas to cover their heads. The men wore basically what they always wear – khaki pants with a nice shirt. As we drove to church we wondered what the church would look like, how we would worship and whether we would offend anyone by our lack of cultural understanding.

We would have liked to have quietly slipped into church and sat in the back row, but this was not to be the case. We arrived in our large bus, so large that it couldn’t even make it under the welcoming sign for the church. We parked, got off the bus and were escorted to the front of the church. That’s right - rows one and two. Did we stand out? Oh yeah! Yet as the church service began, we soon forgot our self-conscious thoughts and enjoyed a service that turned out to be quite modern in style in terms of songs and drama. The worship service lasted two hours and twenty-five minutes and focused on their children, the children of Ethiopia and the children of the world. The young 26-year-old evangelist spoke with forcefulness and passion. Without even knowing what he was saying, because he spoke in Amharic, we could see the Holy Spirit pouring out of him. Fortunately, we had a translator at the end of each row who explained to the person closest to him what was being said and then each person would pass it down – the telephone game, only in church. I am sure the person at the end of the row heard a slightly different message than the first person, but we trust the Holy Spirit still moved each of us.

The preacher described how, just as young David overcame the challenge of Goliath, the young generation of Ethiopia can overcome the challenges they will face by trusting in God as David did. The Ethiopians were very involved in the service and we were especially delighted when we heard shrill sounds of joy. (It is impossible to described. Ask one of us to demonstrate when we get back.) As the service ended, we recognized that, although we may speak a different language than the Ethiopians, we both speak the same language of Christ’s love. Although we may come from different “villages,” we all belong to the same church of Christ.

We ate plenty today. Besides breakfast, we had an Italian lunch at the Makush art gallery where we visited with MPPC sponsored missionaries, John and Ann Wheeler-Waddell. Ann grew up in Menlo Park and attended MPPC. We learned about their teaching responsibilities in Addis Ababa and what was happening at their local church. What a God-honoring couple and what an encouragement for us to hear how they are following God’s call. John asked that we keep them in our prayers as we ask God to give them peace from all of the noise (believe us, the chanting is frequent and really loud, usually beginning before 5 a.m.) and for future direction as their time in Ethiopia will end next year.

We had dinner at Yod Abyssinia where we experienced traditional Ethiopian food and traditional cultural dancing. That’s right, we ate with our hands and tasted food that . . . well, we weren’t even sure what it was. We watched several dancers shake and move their heads and shoulders in ways that don’t seem possible. Several of us tried to follow along with the dancers, but couldn’t keep up. Fortunately, there were few locals in the restaurant to observe us.

We finished the day watching the final game of the World Cup as Italy played France. Ethiopians love football and the street near our hotel was blocked as people parked their cars, stood and cheered as they watched a large screen showing the game. Several of our team watched the game in the hotel lobby, along with dozens of others, including several Italian couples that had recently adopted Ethiopian children. There was quite a commotion when Italy finally won the game. Then, we went to sleep and continued our rest.