pictureThe Fourth of July is a day in which we celebrate independence, including independence from a government that would restrict our ability to worship the one true God – the Great “I AM” whose Holy Spirit washes over the United States and over Ethiopia, and all the nations, regardless of the boundaries man erects. Today, we celebrated that type of independence in the U.S., but also the independence the Ethiopian people have to worship as they desire – Muslims, who know Jesus as the greatest of the prophets, Jews, who have worshiped the one true God in Ethiopia for centuries, and Christians of various flavors, including the Orthodox Church, the Protestant Church and various Evangelical varieties. Our team spent time praying, seeking to be closer to God, praying prayers of gratitude for our freedom, praying prayers of gratitude for governments that uphold rights to worship freely in whatever style a person desires, and praying for the time of worship at MPPC, in all of its styles, especially for Blues Baker and his first time preaching at Menlo.

picturueOur day was spent traveling, via bus, on dusty and sometimes unimproved roads, to Dessie. We left at 8:00 a.m. and arrived in Dessie to fireworks for several weddings taking place, around 8:00 p.m. Along the way, we took in the sights of rural Ethiopia, some of us marveling at the changes over the past five years. New cellular towers spotted the landscape, alone with new high-utility towers for the extension of electricity to more of the country.

And the roads to Dessie? Oh, how they have improved. Other than three mind-numbing and butt-numbing detours, the roads to Dessie are greatly improved and are continuing to improve. By next year, we anticipate that someone traveling via bus will make it in eight hours or less.

picturueWe were tired from traveling, but grateful for our safe arrival and for the skill of our driver, Bebe, and his trusty assistant, Amhara. (Todd has worked with Bebe three times now, and with Amhara four. In some respects, we felt as if we were in the hands of family. This seemed especially evident from the fact that no one from HOPE accompanied us to Dessie, something that Todd explained with gratitude, as both a sign of trust and a relief from the burden that our trips must place on our ministry partners each time we come.)

picturueAs our team settled into our new home for the next week – the Guest House in Dessie – we prayed prayers of thanksgiving and surrender, excited to see what might unfold in the next week according to God’s plan, not ours!