Day….Um…Huh….what day IS it now?? (by Lisa Stoll)

I’m pretty sure that according to our calendar we just passed the one week mark since we arrived in Ethiopia.  But don’t quote me on that.

The new day starts at 6am here instead of midnight, so the clocks don’t line up even with our calculations of trying to figure out when to reach out to family that’s supposed to be only 8 hours behind us.

The calendar here isn’t in the month of October.  Heck, it isn’t even 2015 here.  It’s only 2008.  Try to wrap your head around THAT.

To say that there’s been quite a bit to adjust to on this trip would be like saying that the Green Bay Packers and the Bears have a little bit of a rivalry going on over the years.  It would be the UNDERSTATEMENT of the century.

Case in point – Friday’s trip to the market. Whoa.

How do you describe something that you can’t even wrap your head around yourself yet?  How do you help others experience what you’ve never even known was possible yourself?  Thanks to Susan’s sleuth-worthy photography skills she was able to take a handful of pics without drawing (any more) attention to us, but even those couldn’t even BEGIN to share exactly what it was like.

Apparently Ferenges (pronounced ‘Fah-ren-gees’ – the local word for us white folk) are a novelty here. Especially 4 white ferenge women with purses ready to go to market.

And 4 white ferenge women about to walk into the market, now that i’ve SEEN the market, I understand why it was probably even more reason for them to follow along.

Our minds were blown and our hearts were overwhelmed in a way that I know we’ll be trying to process long after we get home from this trip.

Poverty isn’t easy to be in the midst of, but going to the market to do what we thought would be pretty ‘everyday’ added a level of awe to our already culture shocked minds. Thank goodness for Tony and Josh who agreed to come along with us, and for the young local boy that our guide, Kidist, hired along the way to help clear the way for us and protect us from the ones that were following us a little too closely.

Built into the hillside, rows upon rows of men, women, and children – selling everything that they’re able to sell –  set up their shops for about 1-2 burr/day rent.  We had to keep our eyes glued to the ground in front of us as we walked so we wouldn’t trip over rocks and garbage and piles of what donkeys so lovingly leave behind as they walk through the market around us.  And if you didn’t walk carefully you’d lose your footing on the constant incline you had to navigate as you made it to the top.

As we walked and stared cautiously at the terrain in front of us, trying to not smell what we were smelling and trying to follow the guidelines we were given not to make eye contact with the young children that were following us and asking for money, something grabbed all of our attention.  To the left of us was a group of people in the middle of the market road, singing, while a young girl danced and twirled around.  It was in SUCH stark contrast to the world we were walking amongst.  Or was it?

Music and dancing.  Hope in the midst of hopelessness. Joy in the middle of struggle. If that’s not proof that our God lives, I don’t know what is.

We may be worlds apart in just about every single cultural nuance we witnessed on Friday, but we share one thing that transcends everything:

We are children of the Most High King.

And the joy of the Lord transcends color, transcends social status, transcends education.

Now, no matter where we are, no matter what we’re struggling with, no matter how overwhelming the circumstances around us look like to the outside world, we have the Only true reason to run around singing and DANCING because our Daddy sent His Son to suffer in our place….and He WON.  For us!!!

Because of Jesus, none of us are really that different after all.

Thanking God this morning for that sweet little girl and her beautiful dancing, and for the reminder that no matter what circumstances we’re in the middle of today, we can throw our hands up in praise because off Who we belong to, together.