Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Gotta dream big, always stay positive." Ethiopia Day 3

Sunday morning arrived earlier than anticipated. Around three am we were awoken to the sounds of prayers from the Orthodox Church up the street. But at 3 am we didn't know that's what we were hearing-- it was just very loud singing in a language we couldn't understand. Talk about culture shock.

We went back to sleep until 9 am when we woke up to the sound of rain. Watakay made oatmeal for us before Fre picked us up to take us to Beza (which means Redemption) International Church where she and Hanna attend. We got there in time to hear the end of the Amharic service which was cool even though we couldn't understand what they were saying.

Fre bought macchiatos from church for each of us-- just like most of our churches serve coffee and food between services.

The next service was in English. The song "Good, Good Father" will forever remind all of us of this trip to Ethiopia.

Beza Sermon Notes:

For we live by faith and not by sight.
God I want something big and I want that something big to be part of your kingdom. I am a change agent.

Conditions change because of the power of the blood. We are surrounded by a great and mighty army-- we don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you. The battle is not yours, the battle is the Lords.

The tabernacle is just a shadow of the real tabernacle in heaven-- the shadow tells us what God is up to, the shadow is always connected to the real thing.

Start with thankfulness, "I will enter his gates with Thanksgiving in my heart."

We have a great propensity to forget, but God says to take communion, "In remembrance of me." Take communion as much as possible.

In Eden man was kicked out, but the tabernacle gave man a way back in. 

Even though we were born again we still look the same. We can't see the change, but the power of God resides in us. God says, "Take your limitations off of what I can do."

KCraig always sits shotgun in the bus-- partly because she gets carsick and partly because she loves to be right in the middle of the action. She tries to talk to the driver, laughs after everything she says, hits the dash like she's honking the horn and yells out the window.

Ethiopian's don't make the "th" sound in words like Ethiopia or Kathy so her name ended up sounding like Kah-tee. I then called her Kah-tee the rest of the trip.

Back at the YL house we had buna, met up with Hirut (Moges' sister) and colored our wrote Top 10 Lists.

Top 10 Small Things Going On Right Now:
1. KCraig chomps gum in her back teeth
2. Julia pounds her marker on the coloring page
3. Kayden's resting face is a smile
4. Alex likes napping wherever the most people are
5. Janelle spins her earring
6. Hanna decided to color because everyone else was
7. KCraig flips her hair across her part
8. Smooney rolled her eyes at me
9. Julia readjusts her hair with multiple hair flips
10. Janelle looks at the watermelon before and after each bite to avoid seeds

We asked our friends if we could go visit Megabi Skate Park (which Mitch Rankin had found online and told us about) and they already knew the guy Izzy who runs it. We'd actually noticed him at church this morning because of his really cool dreads but never would have realized the connection. Smoon and I got skate park ready with our snap-backs.

Izzy (whose real name is Isreal) welcomed us as soon as we got off of the bus. His dreads are so freaking cool and he cut out the top of his baseball hat to go around his hair.

Before going into the Megabi Skate Park, Izzy invited us to come into his house, away from the swarm of kids, so he could tell us about the project.

Izzy grew up here in this area of Addis. Later in life he discovered skate boarding in Sweden and fell in love with this sport. He saw the community that skating created and how it gave people purpose. He wanted to bring those things back to his community.

He came back with a skateboard and the kids immediately all wanted to try. The project was first called Love In Action- Ethio Skate and later re-branded as Megabi Skate. They have been visited by Tony Hawk, X Games and other skateboarding enthusiasts. They have the only cement half pipe in Addis.

The kids don't only learn to skate board at Megabi Skate-- they have service projects, get to go on skate trips, put on shows for the community and have things like Make Someone Smile Saturday where they all go try to help someone in their community out and make them smile.

Izzy took us over to the Megabi Skate compound where upwards of 100 kids were hanging out. Even with the language barrier, it didn't take long before we were making friends and hanging out with the kids.

They loved playing with our hair, braiding it and getting it all knotted. We danced in circles and learned hand clapping games.

On the stage they started that afternoon's show. The President (the little boy in the red shirt) was the emcee of the event. Kids took turns skate boarding, doing choreographed dances that had obviously been rehearsed and sharing poems and stories they'd written. Every single kid got a round of applause when they finished.

Varsity FBC had made several bracelets for kids in Ethiopia and I brought along many more. I gave a bracelet to each of the little girls Smooney and I were holding and then was immediately swarmed by dozens of other kids wanting bracelets.

About 30 of them were gone in a matter of minutes. Then I couldn't explain to the kids why they couldn't have the bracelets on my wrists and my backpack because they were all given to me by FBC girls and friends at Tecumseh. When we got back home I ended up taking them all off and untying them from my backpack so that wouldn't happen again. 

The only unfortunate thing that happened was Smooney's phone was taken from her backpack by one of the kids. We told Izzy and he tried to find it but it was never recovered. Smooney's reaction was phenomenal-- she realized there was nothing she could do about it. She embraced not having a phone with her the rest of the trip and recognized how much more she was able to focus on the present. We are so addicted to always have our phones with us that we don't even realize when we're not paying attention to the people around us. 

Music was playing over the speakers the whole time, including a song that Israel wrote from Megabi that tells kids, "Gotta dream big, always stay positive." It's obvious that this movement is having a profound impact on not only these kids but the entire community.

Smoon told me, "It's so powerful that Izzy came back and brought his passion back to his roots and his history in Ethiopia. He could have easily stayed in Sweden or ventured to the US to become skateboarding famous, but he knew the impact he could make on the kids and community of Addis."

Before we left we went back inside with Izzy to see some of the videos that have been made about Megabi Skate. Look up Megabi Skate on Facebook, watch Megabi Skate or Megabi Trailer.

Back at the Young Life house we ate the pizza that Watakay had made for us. Most nights we would do a devotion together as a team before heading to bed. Tonight we talked about what it's been like being here with these people, these YL friends and how our perceptions of Ethiopia are already changing.

Living life together like this is all kinds of crazy.

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