“Naggan olla!” That is how our team would describe our first full day in Nekempte! It is a phrase we learned while visiting a nearby church elder – it means “spend the day in peace.”
Today was our orientation day. It was a day of sipping Ethiopian coffee and learning about Travis and Emily’s life and ministry here in Africa. CMF, their sending agency, began working in Ethiopia 53 years ago with a heart to share the gospel with an unreached people group called Oromoo. Today Travis and Emily train those national leaders to lead their people, reach more people groups, and develop business strategies to be self supporting. Our “orientation” lasted several hours because we continued to bombard them with questions. We learned more than I can share on this post – but this is the highlight from each person.
Esther: Understanding and experiencing the strength of Travis and Emily as they raise their children isolated from their family and close friends. The season of life with young children is difficult…but they have incredible strength.
Kathryn: To hear the history of the Giles (among the first missionaries) and how the Weeks are continuing that legacy.
Nikki: Learning about all the challenges missionaries face to live and work in a foreign country. Everyday tasks like paying bills or doing laundry are things that we often forget they face are not small tasks.
Eric: Learning how the early missionaries challenged the new Oromoo believers to reach a “lesser” people group living in a village down the hill. The people refused to interact with this other group but the missionaries led the way to reach the other people group. That church grew to over 600 people! Now, through the gospel there is reconciliation happening today between those clans.
Tim: How the early Oromoo believers would take a two week walk from their villages to the capital (Addis) to receive training from a CMF missionary. Then those believers would share their new training with each village on their two week walk back home! This was when the first missionaries returned to Ethiopia after they were banned for 20 years!
Me: How Travis and Emily (and the CMF team) have a Christ-centered vision for the future of the church. Their strategy is to empower and train the Ethiopian believers to be missionaries to other people groups in Ethiopia.
After orientation the ladies spent some time together praying and encouraging each other. Esther said this was the highlight of her day! The guys went out on the muddy roads attempting visit a couple churches and find a place for drink tea. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit the first church because the road was washed out due to the rain. However, we did experience Travis’s impressive off-road driving skills as he was not easily turned back. I guess growing up southern serves him well here.
We were able to visit one church and met a church elder and a young worship leader who is the evangelist’s son. The church is a testimony to CMF missionary’s continued faithfulness to this area. I love how local leaders are leading the churches with passion.
It continues to be an honor to be here in Ethiopia and share in the Week’s life. They are an amazing couple with incredible girls. I’m so encouraged by their passion for Ethiopia and vision for the future.