Update from Ethiopia

African landscape

We arrived in Addis Ababa and made our way to a retreat center that Becky called Edenic.  We are on the top of a hill that overlooks a large lake.  In the early morning, you can see men in large truck tubes throwing nets to catch fish.  At night the hyenas crackle and call as they hunt their prey.  It is surreal.  Even more breathtaking is the presence of 18 men and women who work with some of the most despised people on the earth.  I asked my group of men how people in their culture view those who work with prostituted women.  They roared with laughter.  Their voices are rich and deep with the rhythms of the continent and the years of rich suffering.  ‘Crazy’.  ‘We are crazy and people wonder why we have thrown away our lives to work with such despicable people.’  Jacob said, ‘We are princes of men to be so honoured to work with the most loved of God.’  Tears were in his eyes but his laugh filled the air like eucalyptus.  Fragrant.  Passionate.  Weary and alive with goodness.

We are as near to Eden as one can be and still feel the sweat of labor and hear the cries of predators seeking to devour their prey.  We are in the presence of deep waters of goodness and it is impossible to drink it in and so we take gulps and hold tightly on to our cup.

Our first group is finished and we teach tomorrow morning on abuse, dissociation, the work of evil, and how culture affects our ability to read others.  It is a full day ahead.

We need your prayer for hearing the distinctive African voice both in terms of clarity of language and the depths of what is said when English is not the first language of most who are here.

We are tired.  We awake at 1am but due to the gift of ambien we are able to crawl back to sleep.  We need your prayers for good rest.

Perhaps the most central prayer is that we can grow hearts as large as those we interview. It is odd to think about teaching people who easily could be the ones to sit at the right and left hand of God.  Such is the unbidden paradox of our privilege and the oddity of the invitation to offer what we know in this context.

We will do our best to borrow a computer and write as often as we can while we are here.

Becky, Abby, Jan, and Dan