What do people do when they go on a mission trip to Ethiopia? There are many end goals that are on the heart of Mark Wolbert, our Mission Director, as he meets a group of travel-weary Americans spilling through the doors of the Addis Ababa airport.
For many, this is their first experience with a culture radically different from middle class America. He understands that the first day or so there most likely will be lots of questions and one’s senses might be overloaded. It is comforting to meet our Ethiopian friends and allow the warmth of a traditional greeting and the taste of strong, good coffee to reinforce what you already know: God brought you here for a reason.
You may think you came to serve. To give to those who are without. To share Christ’s love. To learn about another culture. To play with children or to hold babies. All of these things probably will be part of your days, but God never wastes an opportunity and He usually has much deeper reasons for bringing you to Africa.
Each day brings a sense of adventure. But then you are disappointed because traffic stalls or the person you were to visit is not home, or all of a sudden the sky opens and the rains fall leaving everyone a soggy, muddy mess. Efficiency is not a value of this culture, and the long way of doing even the most simple of tasks will drive you crazy… but is there a small voice whispering for you to have grace and patience?
Each team of people traveling together has a different personality and each trip addresses something different. A group of college football players from the University of Kentucky just returned from Ethiopia. They had culture shock for sure, but also days packed full of getting their hands dirty while a glimmer of understanding soaked in that 85% of their world does not have the advantages they take for granted.
Days were busy bringing supplies to widows, preparing food for prisoners, building things, and playing with children.
They supplied obvious physical needs, but more importantly the act of lending a hand touched basic desires that lie at a much deeper level. The children, the women, the prisoners felt valued and important; they felt loved.