Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting There…

I'm writing in the back of a van, driving through the Rift Valley in Ethiopia from Addis Ababa to Asela. I arrived here last night at 2:25 AM, and got to the guest house at 3:30. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to sleep (because my body thought it was 5:25 PM). I finally drifted off around 4:15, only to be rudely awakened by my alarm at 7:15 for 8:00 breakfast, and a 9:00 departure. I don't have a lot of deep thoughts, so I thought I might just give you a step-by-step account of my trip so far. I don't know how interesting the blogosphere will find it, but I'm confident that my wife and kids will enjoy it. (By the way, for you Facebookers- it doesn't look like I'll have much access at all. I'll probably be limited to one hurried posting each evening.)

I found myself at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago at 7:00 Sunday night, waiting for a 9:01 flight. That was a hard transition, because 4 hours earlier I was watching my son, Ben, perform in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at Peotone High School. The show finished, and I had too little time to finish packing, load the car, and head to O'Hare. It's always difficult to leave, but this trip left very little time for adequate goodbyes. The sense of disconnection from my family can be pretty significant, especially if internet access is limited (which it might be on this trip).

The flight to London was about 7 hours (I think….I drifted in and out of sleep about a dozen times). I have heard so many missionaries who seem to have intense evangelistic conversations on overseas flights. I always seem to find myself next to people who have no interest in conversation of any kind (and, to be honest, I sometimes feel the same way). I saw the last hour of Toy Story 3, and found myself glancing around to see if people saw the tears welling up in my eyes.

Had a semi-stale deli sandwich in Heathrow and boarded my flight to Addis Ababa via Amman. This is the first time I've ever flown through the Middle East. I wasn't sure what to expect. In the United States, we get a little nervous when someone Middle Eastern gets on the plane. This flight was 80% Jordanian. I watched Toy Story 3 again…

The pilot from London to Addis gave us a running commentary of all the wonderful places we were flying over (The Mediterranean, Cyprus, Damascus, etc), but it was night, so it all looked a lot like Nebraska to me…

(writing at 9:30 PM now) We drove south from Addis Ababa to Asela today, starting at 6,000 feet (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit), dropping down into the Rift Valley (about 90 degrees), and back up to Asela (about 60). The countryside was beautiful. For some reason, I always expect the temperature in Africa to be 90+. My hotel room will probably get down to 50-something tonight. Not complaining- just interesting.

Tonight at supper, I drank coffee for the first time in years….possibly the first time since I got married 21 years ago. I don't really care for coffee, but I've always said that I'll drink it if it's "culturally necessary". Apparently, Ethiopians have a post-supper "coffee ceremony" whenever they guests over. They tell me Ethiopian coffee is some of the best in the world. I still don't like it…

We had supper at a church in Asela, along with a few pastors visiting from Kenya. They told us some interesting (and disturbing) stories about the increasing tensions between Christians and Muslims in Kenya, which has traditionally been a very "Christian" nation. I'll write more about that when I get a chance.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), we officially start our training. Pray for us!


  1. fascinating. Ethiopian coffee is probably pretty good, I think Hawaiian is better. Stay safe.

  2. Glad you made it safe brother. You will be in my prayers. Steve Kamp