by Joy Casey
written on 2-27-12
Down into the Rift Valley over hill and dale, past camel herds
our van weaving in and out of donkeys burdened with loads
bunches of cattle and goats moseying across the road, through a bit of road construction, then off the main road with twists and turns along dusty paths… about 4 hours later we pull into our compound at Gutumuma.
Yep, the worship tree is still there! The children in the small kindergarten are bending over their books learning their numbers, the playground is waiting in preparation for recess and the cooks are preparing lunch for the children.
But wait! Something brand new is happening! A large area is cordoned off, there is a LOT of dirt being shoveled, rebar is laying about and then I spot the contractor that I met in Addis when the contract to build a worship center in this village was concluded.
It is wonderful to see the building begun, and my heart burst with thankfulness to our faithful God and the visionary donors who linked arms with this amazing move of the Holy Spirit here. There are now 250 families who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
Jamie, Cinnamon and Stephanie, friends from Texas, braved the trip with Jeff and I to this hot, dusty spot to see for themselves what God is doing. Of course the children are always the highlight and visitors are great fun for the children. The kindergarteners are sponsored and receive schooling and two meals a day… and the contrast in health and energy to when they first came is remarkable. Amazing what good, regular food will do for a fella!
The evangelists who live and work in this village were there to greet us, and then Stephanie from Texas brought a word from the Lord to these faithful men. Abebe and I also shared words of encouragement with them.
With food prices soaring and most of them with many mouths to feed, their monthly sponsorship is not adequate income. An American family who is deeply committed to the work in Gutumuma has donated money to buy 150 sheep. All the workers for the ministry plus some other needy families in the village will comprise 10 groups of roughly ten to twelve people to care for 15 sheep. The group will decide how to best generate income from their sheep and, by cooperating together, will be able to supplement their income. Through the donation of sheep or goats from Adoption Ministry’s gift catalog, we are also giving an extra animal to the wives of the evangelists to further help with their needs.
I am grateful beyond expression for the outpouring of love for the people of Ethiopia as expressed in our gift catalog and this is just one example of how impactful those gifts are!
I wanted to check on the construction of houses in this village, and so we walked to two of them and saw various stages of progress. The people receiving a new house thanked us again and again for this amazing gift, and I pass on their thanks to the people who gave $400 so a family in Gutumuma could have a home that is bigger than a round stick and mud house and is much, much drier. A luxury! My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has donated a house through our gift catalog!
We next visited a church in a town outside Gutumuma called Bulbula. One of the men from a mission team last summer donated money to put a tin roof on the new church they are constructing. The sanctuary was large and roomy and the roof was shiny new. It still needs a cement floor, windows and doors. By faith, I hope to sit in that church and worship one day. I have become good friends with the leadership of that fellowship and they are dedicated shepherds. This building is a tool that will be used to the fullest.
It was dusk and the cool breeze of Addis was a welcome relief from the scorching sunshine we felt during the day. We walked to a nearby restaurant for a snack and cold drink and then thankfully welcomed our beds.
As you think of Joy and Jeff, please pray for renewed strength to finish strong! They’ll be meeting up with several YWAM families who are now in Addis Ababa for their Embassy appointments, having time with several birth families in the city to pass along photos and letters, and finishing up some work with Kathy Holliday, the case worker from CHI. They board a plane headed for home on Thursday night!