OUR PLAN FOR THE DAY
Today we will worship with the people of God at Lalo Aira Congregation, our companion congregation. We will have a chance to speak to them and receive their blessing and their prayers, a deeply moving and enriching experience. We are one body in Christ.
GOD’S STORY/OUR STORY
Moses summoned all Israel and said: “Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today” (Deuteronomy 5:1-3).
“It was not with our ancestors . . . but with us, with all of us who are alive here today” – that’s to whom God comes. With us – at Good Shepherd, at Lalo Aira Congregation, throughout the world – in the Word, in the story, in the bread and wine. God is here!
We arrived at Lalo Aira Congregation as the service began, and were ushered to the front bench. The service was the traditional style – probably taught to them by the German missionaries, but in the Oromo language. I heard “All Glory Be to God on High” as the hymn of praise – although it had a little Oromo swing to it. The choir music was very different though – spirited and upbeat. They sing from their throats and in unison. And they sway as they sing. Rachel especially appreciated the up-tempo music. I must say, worship is a very emotional event for a lot of the people there.
We were invited forward to meet the congregation. I made a brief greeting, then Girma introduced us (in Oromo, of course, so we had no idea what he said). When he talked about Rachel, there was great laughter throughout the congregation. We found out later that Girma said Rachel was 22 and looking for a husband. I’m not sure Rachel appreciated that – but she’s a good sport!
After 3+ hours of worship, we were invited to lunch with the elders of the congregation. We went to a restaurant uptown in Aira, and spent some time talking. Girma spends a lot of time translating, because not everyone of the elders can understand English. It was a congenial, warm time.
After lunch, Girma ventured out to see family who live in Aira, and Ron, Rachel and I walked back to the Guest House. After a little rest, I prepared for visitors we knew were coming and Ron worked on a brief report for the synod president. At 4:00 the synod president, Rev. Iteffa, and Rev. Tadessa appeared. We had tea together, then talked about the items on their minds.
Rachel had intended to go look at capped springs in the countryside with Dr. Toren, a pediatrician who is working here for three weeks. He had worked here many years ago, when his children were young, and now returns intermittently to help at the hospital and teach at the nurses school. But when rain threatened, they called off the expedition, not sure about the safety of the roads.
In the evening we went to a dinner hosted by the chief medical officer at the hospital, Dr. Tariko. He make a brief speech after dinner, thanking Good Shepherd for their support in the past and funding Global Health Administrative Partners trip here, then presented us with a certificate of thanks. He obviously enjoyed working with Ron and Rachel this past week.
Back to the Guest House, then more work on a report for President Iteffa by the four of us. It was a late evening.