Day 1, 2 and 3
“In different times and in different ways, God offers us a simple proposition: Follow me beyond what you can control, beyond where your own strength and competencies can take you, and beyond what is affirmed or risked by the crowd - and you will experience me and my power and love.” Gary Haugen, Just Courage

PictureWhat do we really know of this idea of following, beyond our control, beyond our strength and competence and beyond the affirmations and risks of the mob-mentality? What do we really know, being born into relative privilege, taught self-sufficiency, and grown to be capable? And when we don’t follow in that way, what do we lose?

Our team got an early test on whether we were going to depend upon our own self-sufficiency or something else, when, upon our arrival at SFO, we found that only two of 11 had seat assignments. We made it to the gate early and waited, until a gate agent (with a patch over one eye – and we are not making this up) showed up. By that time, we knew we were facing a situation.

Mobs of people had begun to form around the gate desk. It turns out that this Thursday night, before the Fourth of July weekend, red-eye flights to Washington, D.C. were somewhat popular – so much that the two prior red-eyes had been overbooked, as was ours. So as the mob formed, and we made our way to the desk, we heard the simple, but discouraging words, “I know you have a reservation, but I can’t provide you seats yet. I’m looking for volunteers.”

PictureWe reported the situation to our team, to general groans and fears. And then we prayed. It was a simple prayer – “God, there is nothing we can do about this situation, but we know you can and we believe you mean for all of us to get to Ethiopia at the same time, so we await on you.”

Over the next half our, our team obtained seats, a few at a time, as we wondered, “should some of us really leave, if others are left behind?” One-eyed Joanne worked hard to get us all on, at one point, telling a late arriving 1K member that his check-in was simply too late. And yet, as they made the final call, Todd still stood at the gate desk with Catherine, waiting to see if Catherine would receive a seat.

Joanne called last call again.

Nothing.

She made a final last call announcement, but again, nothing.

And then she said to her fellow gate agents, “Let’s book her on the flight.”

pictureWe learned later, that a man named Nick was in the airport and his other three family members were on the plane, but for some reason, he didn’t respond to the announcements. (After we boarded and they closed the door, we heard from the flight crew that he was outside, knocking and trying to get in.)

Our flight left on time, at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, July 1st. We felt badly for Nick, but we knew we had placed our trust in the right place.

Twenty plus hours later, we disembarked the Ethiopian Airlines flight in Addis Ababa to be greeted on Saturday morning, July 3rd by good fortune and good friends. Not only did they unload the plane from the front AND the back (leaving us as some of the first off the plane), but our bus hit the airport first, and we were the first in line at Immigration.  Before our team made it through immigration, all 19 of our bags had come off the baggage system and we were in line to move through Customs with 19 bags, loaded with craft supplies, a trampoline, ten laptop computers and a desktop computer. 

pictureCustoms only looked into three bags, and motioned each one through without a problem. The desktop computer caused some pause, but Pastor Matthewos was standing ready with the documentation and the Amharic to explain the situation and five minutes later, we were boarding our bus for the Global Hotel, 25 minutes after unloading the from the plane.

We took the day (July 3rd) slowly, showering, reorganizing our supplies, eating a nice lunch (at Arcabeleno), visiting the progress at Hope University College, and then on to watch World Cup Football and rest.

Tomorrow, we load onto our bus for Dessie at 8:00 a.m.  (For those who have been before, you will not a somewhat late start – a result of advice from Pastor Matthewos that the road has greatly improved.)

As this is being written and sent, the team is all healthy and sleeping. Please pray for God’s continued provision. And thanks for the prayers!