Last Thursday, I said good-bye to my family at the airport in Addis Ababa. Praise God, they had a safe journey back to Texas. It was an awfully quiet night afterward. The next day, I got busy taking care of hospital business in the capital. It was good to keep moving. That evening I took a taxi to eat dinner at an Indian restaurant at the top of one of the hotels. Afterward I rode the elevator down until it unexpectedly stopped between the first and second floors. As all the button lights started flickering randomly, I hit the alarm buzzer and pounded on the door until I heard voices from the lobby below me. After a while it became evident that, though there were voices and some kind of activity, no one seemed to be doing anything tangible. Unless I wanted to spend the night in the elevator, I figured I had better help myself. I pried the doors open and found myself looking at the wall of the elevator shaft. The floor of the second story was at my chest height. As I started pulling on the doors to the floor, someone finally saw me and flipped the lock so that it would open. As I shimmied out, I couldn’t help wondering if the elevator would suddenly resume its journey to the lobby and chop me in half. Thankfully, my legs are still attached.

As dawn broke the next day, I was jammed into a very full Ethiopian bus headed for Soddo. The hospital van was staying in Addis to pick up the next visitor so I was trying out the local bus system. After a long journey it was good to be back home. Everything went fine, though my appreciation for comfortable transportation has gone up exponentially. Apparently many local people believe they will get sick if wind blows on them so no one would open a window. Well, I can check one experience off the list.

It wasn’t until I was back in the quiet of our house that I felt the full effect of everyone leaving. It’s just so empty. The tears finally came when I saw a note Becca had written to our house helper and Nathan’s chair attached to the table. I’ve written it many times before and I’ll write it again. God has blessed me immensely with my wife and family. This separation makes me wonder when the transformation took place. I remember being a single guy living quite contentedly on my own. Since getting married and now, since having a child, we have worked hard and prayed hard on uniting our hearts and lives together. When did God complete that fusion so effectively that now, when they’re gone, it feels like a chunk of my body is missing? I don’t know, but I thank Him for it. This is a good pain to have.

When I went to medical school, I was amazed at how steep the learning curve became compared to my prior schooling. In a sense, I feel like I’m now in a spiritual graduate education. God is teaching me so much here and, though it can be unpleasant at times, I’m thankful and excited to see the progress. I believe firmly that all things are from God’s hands, both pleasant and painful. This too is from Him and I believe He has good things to teach Becca and me.

In the mean time, the hospital shenanigans have resumed (instantly) and I’m pleased to say I won’t have time to sit around and flog myself. For now, though, I’m feeling sappy and mushy and have decided to inflict it on all of you as well as my family. I have three messages in song that I want to deliver to my family.

Dear Becca,

Hey, Hon, just play these songs from i-Tunes on your computer and pretend I’m singing them to you.

To you: Diamond Rio, I Know How the River Feels

To Nathan: Donavon Frankenreiter, Call Me Papa

To our family, in light of the hope we have in Jesus: Newsboys, Something Beautiful

Love, Paul


If the rest of you want to know what the songs say, look ’em up.

From across the pond,