2006-11-08 Wednesday Afternoon

A strictly Islamic town openly welcomed its Ethiopian Christian neighbors, Marta and Deme, in its time of starvation during the famine of 2003 when Project Mercy became the hands of God’s love through its food relief ministry delivery of “atmit”. Followed by training and instruction in planting vegetable gardens, this town -- which had never allowed “foreigners” to work within its boundaries -- opened its gates to us yesterday and today and its people gathered by the hundreds to receive medical treatment, supplies, medicines and public health training.

Yesterday I had the honor of cuddling one of a set of twins in my arms. I could not help but marvel at the miracle of survival by which these babies existed. Their little feet were not as long as my thumb and their little hands with delicate fingers were smaller than the dolls with which I played as a child. This would have been a wonderful sight for any mother of a newborn. However, these were the hands and feet of starving seven month old children. The tears flowed as I prayed over their mother in my heart and over these babies whose future could change their Ethiopian world.

Gazing over the hundreds and hundreds of people who sat like sheep on the mountain side, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Considering our small supply to give, and the brevity of our time, I struggled with the severity of this picture. Yet these people are so grateful for anything! An example that was repeated among these crowds is the illustration of one man who had walked three hours down rocky mountain paths and waited from sunrise to sunset in line to receive one small tube of antibiotic cream. The interpreter had to explain to the man that we had run out by the time we had come to his number. Without any hostility or anger with a most gracious spirit he accepted the offer to return the following morning to receive his cream. At the opening of the clinic he was there. His testimony of having walked a total of twelve hours and having waited for twelve was a phenomenal testimony of perseverance and conviction.

To witness the compassion and dedication of the missionaries with whom we must part, is heartbreaking as they hold so much of this world alone upon their shoulders. They ache and cry and laugh and hope like everyone else. Yet they remain and we will leave in a matter of hours.

If I was not fully aware and sure that God is real and that His power and mercy are greater than us, I could not and would not leave these people who have captured my heart.

Marshall shook us this morning with his personal words of convictions followed by Frank’s summary: “Among any excuses that we could make about our personal histories, if my conscience refuses to struggle with what I have seen, heard and experienced here in Ethiopia, that will be the greatest loss.”

“Our God needs to become bigger and a bigger part of our lives. As we become less, whatever we use as security must be released where all on which we truly depend is God Himself.”

Our Yetebon Cup
by Steve Belton

Towering clouds reflect
The setting sun’s glory
As we return to camp,
Bones tired, hearts overflowing,
Minds racing;
We sift stories heard,
Timeless stories brimming with life,
Indelible images these
Which fill our cup of tear
As east and west collide
In hope and love;
Heaven descends – triumphant –
Moment upon moment,
Hearts connect,
The darkness becomes light,
Grace abounds,
And we see anew
The Suffering Servant’s gift of peace.

Yetebon, Ethiopia
November 6, 2006

To our families: We will be leaving on November 10, Lufthansa flight #591: Addis Ababa -> Frankfurt, then Lufthansa flight #454: Frankfurt -> SFO. That flight is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Saturday, November 11 at 12:15 PM. Looking forward to seeing you there! We miss you terribly.

With love,
The MPPC Ethiopia Medical Team.