PictureSunday morning we left the hotel at 6:30 a.m. (!) and headed for Roggie Village – about 3 hours south of Addis. We drove through ramshackle towns, fields of corn, past greenhouses (Addis is the flower capital of Africa), crowds of people going to worship either at Ethiopian orthodox churches or Moslem mosques, as we shared the road with burros laden with goods or pulling carts, cattle and goats meandering on the road, plus all kinds of buses and trucks.

PictureWhen we arrived at the turnoff to Roggie, we took a bumpy, rocky road as if we were an off-road vehicle, and finally, stopped with deep mud and water sitting before the bus. We walked the rest of the way in to the well – a total of 5 km. in all.  As we neared the water tower that we could see in the distant, we could hear people singing and clapping long before we could see them, their voices growing louder and louder until finally we could see what appeared to be a sea of purple (and later turned out to be the students standing in a group in their blue uniforms).  When we arrived at the well, we celebrated the gift of the well by MPPC, the elders saying how the well had saved the women from walking 10 km. each way, each day.  They uncovered a dedicatory plaque with great ceremony.

PictureAs the children surrounded us, I asked for and was led to the boy our family was sponsoring, Temam Habib Abdurahman, a third grader in Roggie. I showed him the letter he had written at Christmastime, and then to my surprise, he read the English translation of the Amharic back to me. He shyly put his hand in mine and gravely introduced me to his grandfather, sister, and later, his father. What amazed me was that though his native language is Oromo, which shares the 400 letter alphabet with Amharic, he and his best friend could both speak with me in English well enough to communicate!

Then accompanied by the crowd of villagers, perhaps 250 in all, we walked past goats at the well and up to the school. A string of flags and many balloons decorated the entrance to the school compound. Inside the compound was the six-room, cinder block school for KG1 through 4th Grade, a small administration building, a flagpole with the Ethiopian flag, and two makeshift tent shelters for us, the elders, women and babies.  The schoolchildren and other men stood or sat in the hot sun.

PictureSteve, Todd, and Jeff, who had previously been presented with elders' robes, sat in the front. The elders thanked MPPC for the well, for building the school, for the gift of goats from our Shepherd's village children (originally a gift of 250 goats, but which now number 650!) and especially for coming to their aid during the famine caused the drought of last year. I hadn't realized that our gift of $30,000 fed 10,000 people for three months!  Although the town is mostly Muslim, the people realized that it was a Christian church that showed compassion for their need at a time, according to the elder who spoke, “when no one else stood along side us.”  The presence of this community, including many whose children did not even attend the school, showed their gratitude to God for MPPC and its heart to help them, as the pastor said, “from the other side of the world.”

To my complete shock, Steve called me up to receive a robe as the one who had been responsible for initiating our church's response to the famine. I really did nothing except respond to God's whisper in my heart when I heard about how bad the conditions were in Ethiopia.  Someone later pointed out how sweet it was for a woman to receive this honor from the town's elders as an encouragement to the women in the crowd who toil so hard all their lives with no recognition.

PictureAfter the ceremony and the dedication we went into the classrooms to take photos for the children's sponsors. Even though the children were in their school uniforms, they were very ragged. They crowded into their desks, 50 to a classroom, and shyly approached the front of the room to have their pictures taken when the teacher called their name. Some members of our team visited the home of one of the village students, a typical round mud hut with a thatched roof.

Finally, amidst a crowd of children waving goodbye, we took off for the trip back to Addis. It was such a moving day because we could see the amazing difference MPPC’s gifts are making in the lives of this very poor rural Ethiopian village.  My heart was full with the realization of their gratitude and from meeting Temam. It was definitely a high point of our trip!