by Joy Casey in Ethiopia, Aug 2nd

Bumping down endless so-called roads today hanging on for dear life, it crossed my mind that if it is adventure and careening rides I crave, there are cheaper ways to do it.  We left Adama this morning bright and chipper, eager to see the new church in a village to the South. I have been there before, but memory had dimmed the jarring journey of bad roads made worse by the rains this time of the year.

Drought plagued this part of Ethiopia in the past 10 months but June brought much-needed rain and the farmers are glad to be plowing and planting with expectation of a harvest.  At last we saw the sun glinting off the new tin roof of our church set on a hill.  We left the road and traversed around huts and planted fields until at last, 2 ½ hours later, we reached our destination.

There are three missionaries serving in this area.  Two of the missionaries I have known for a long time, one is new.  They and their wives greeted us as did many of the church members.

The church building is a large structure made of poles with a dirt floor.  It is not yet mudded.  The 40 or so people, all recent converts from Isl*m, are still meeting in the smaller tarp church next to the new building and it was there where we gathered.

An impromptu Friday-go-to-meeting started with rousing singing accompanied by the thud of a drum.  Several men spoke and prayed.  Then we visitors shared:  Pastor Zerihun, Abebe, Mikiyas and I.

I said that erecting a large building such as they have done is a testimony to their vision that hundreds of former M*slims will fill it with worship and prayer.  It is a joy to be with this band of believers who are eager to further God’s kingdom.

Afterwards, the women served delicious hot tea and mermere, a cultural treat.

One of the topics of conversation is the need for a school.  The closest elementary school is 6 km away, too far for children to walk to and from.  So the children in this rural area remain uneducated.

Before heading out to one missionary’s home, we gathered and prayed asking God to provide a school for the many, many children.  It will be interesting to see how God answers!  Meanwhile, “K”, one of the missionaries, is going to start teaching  kindergarten children in the tarp church beginning in October.

Feiftu welcomed us into her home and served us mermere, a cultural treat, and freshly caught fried fish.  We were hungry and everything tasted heavenly.  This missionary couple and their three little ones live in a windowless one-room hut with a dirt floor.  They go to the spring “not very far away” to get their water.  I am leery of that description because when I have gone somewhere “not very far away” it can turn out to be anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes walking.

Regretfully, we bade our hosts good bye and started the three-hour long trek to Ziway.  All I will say about the drive today is we couldn’t have made it without our 4WD vehicle.  It is 7 p.m. and I’m heading out to have dinner with my Ethiopian friends and partners in ministry.  We are all physically tired, but our spirits are encouraged with the good work we are privileged to be part of.

It costs $6500 for the materials and labor for the specialized work of building a church like this one.  The church members provide the bulk of the labor and are responsible for constructing benches and the pulpit. A special thanks is due Sozo Church in Puyallup, WA who, through a neighborhood garage sale, raised  three-fourths of the money to construct this church. Nick and Mary Barta contributed the remaining one-fourth.  I passed along greetings to the church and they heartily blessed and thanked their American brothers and sisters.