written by Liane Wolbert, who recently led a mission trip with seven women to Ethiopia

Going to Africa is a ‘God thing’ for me in a major major way… I am afraid of sooo many things.
  1. I am afraid of flying in airplanes and I clutch the people next to me (even if I don’t know them) when there is turbulence.
  2. I am afraid that I will have a fatal illness in a foreign land and I will have to go to an African hospital that will not be up to my standards and they don’t have ambulances and who knows where the doctor has been trained… if at all.
  3. I might have a stomach ache and not have a flushing toilet.

The list goes on and on of the catastrophic events that I conjure up in my mind that ultimately revolve around control issues that I have and sin relating to my lack of faith in God’s ability to keep me and trust in His sovereignty. “Lord forgive me.”

How is it that He still draws me to Himself and saves me from myself and the possibility of missing all of the most incredible adventures and blessings that He has waiting?

Thank you Lord – that Your grace and mercy allows me to step away from my control and into Your loving arms for the ride of a lifetime!

So… we get off of the plane in Addis Ababa after 23 hours of travel and follow the masses to the staging area for customs and immigration. Hey, it’s like a foreign movie in there and I was transported from costuming – me wearing drab clothing (very wrinkled) and others are the real stars with fantastic colored dresses and shawls and turbans and hats (and these hats are not like hats that I have seen before). The men are wearing bright colored dresses with pants and many of the women are completely covered with black fabric that is folded and wrapped in the most amazing ways without any safety pins. The smells are different all around and most of the people near me are not speaking English. I am very tired but I am intrigued by all of the sights surrounding me.

Donkeys in the streets carry grain to the mill for the making of traditional Ethiopian bread. Herds of goats and cattle run through a major intersection and all of the traffic is halted… Goofy boys ride on a donkey facing backwards, swiping the donkeys behind so that he will go faster. All are laughing.

We all sit in the living room of an Ethiopian friend and share a meal that was prepared for us on the open fire in their cooking hut—I mean a real hut! We laugh and joke and share a cup of delicious Ethiopian coffee before we leave.

I sit in the home of a mother who is making an adoption plan for her daughter who is two years old. Her husband died of AIDS and now she is infected with AIDS. She is taking the anti-retrovirals and it makes her sick. She knows that she will be sick again and die soon. She communicates to our interpreter that she hopes that the adoption plan for her daughter will move quickly. She does not want her daughter to see her die. I ask if I can pray for her before we leave. We bow to pray and I thank God for her and her daughter and acknowledge her great love for her little girl. The prayer is complete and I look to her eyes to see them filled with water and tears rolling down her cheeks. She tells our interpreter in Amharic that today God has answered her prayers. God has made a way for her and her daughter and she is happy that she will not have to worry about her precious baby girl. All will be well.

We stop the van and buy long poles of sugarcane through the window as we travel to the Sudanese border. Our Ethiopian friend hacks the sugarcane into pieces like an old pro. She has hacked up sugar cane her whole life. We sit in the moving van surveying the beautiful sights out our car window and chomp on sugarcane and spit the sucked-out pulp out the window as we tootle down the deserted road.

Gift bags of bright colored fabric are filled with candy and treats for children. We have extras and they are shared with widows in a small village that we are visiting. The gift bags have Pop Rocks candy in them. We sit in the village church (hand-built by the pastor out of mud and dung and hay) on the bench with the widows and the children and teach them all how to eat Pop Rocks. The laughing is so loud that soon the windows of the church are filled with faces of people looking in to see what we are doing! They want some too! We fill their palms with the candy and they stick out their tongues too–can you just fathom this sight??

How much time do you have? I could go on and on—the big stuff has not been told yet.

To think that I might have missed all of this if I let my fear and control keep me from JUMPING into the arms of the living God – trusting, depending, abiding. clinging… to HIM and receiving a blessing and adventure of magnificent proportions!