A Sunday in Ethiopia


The day started like any Sunday.  A breakfast of sweet rolls and fruit, and then quickly dressing for church.  Somehow there never seems to be enough time on Sunday mornings.

Sliding on my shoes, I rushed out of the door.  Instead of concrete, only tall, dead grass stretched before me.  Across the small field, grass roofs of huts could be seen through the sparse trees.  Small boys, herding scrawny cows out to pasture, called and sang in the wind.

As I passed the huts, strange words, scents of corn and spices floated from the darkness inside.  I found the small dirt path between the banana trees and crude stick fences built around the huts.

Then I saw the church.  It looked like all the other huts with rounded walls made of dried manure.  Outside barefooted children with torn clothes played chase while women talked in hushed whispers.  I approached quietly, but as a white, American woman I couldn’t exactly enter unnoticed.  The smiles of the people quickly embraced me with acceptance.

I stooped to enter the dark hut.  The coolness inside struck a great contrast to the dusty heat outside.  Three rows of small plywood benches followed the curves of the hut.  A small space in one corner remained open.

A man directly in front of me softly plucked an instrument that could have passed for a large slingshot.  Singing surrounded me.  Children, women, men all in unison, singing.  Singing to the Creator who formed each person, the Savior who died on the cross, the King who is coming again.

I closed my eyes, wanting only to hear the voices lifted in praise.  What were the words they were singing?  I couldn’t understand, but somehow it didn’t matter.  Tears streamed down my face as I basked in the wonder of the moment.

I had left behind my comforts for an isolated village without electricity, phones, and running water, but I found family.  Our differences faded away.  I was home and our Father was with us.  I was with family on a Sunday in Ethiopia.

Copyright © 1996 by Jane Carole Stein


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