My plan and hope this year is to do a better job keeping up with the blog. We’ll see how it goes ;).

We’ve been back in Soddo for about a week and life seems to have taken off at a sprint. As Becca wrote, our trip to Addis, while long, went well and passed uneventfully. God’s provision and grace through it all was amazing. The kids did great and we passed through all the airports with no difficulties. As we stood outside the airport waiting for our ride to arrive, it was a cool evening in Addis and the airport was bustling with people from the international flights that arrive and leave each evening. The sights, sounds and smells, while so different from the US, were familiar to me and it kind of felt like home. It definitely felt more like home than I thought it would. We stayed at the familiar SIM guesthouse and left for Soddo the next day.

We arrived in Soddo late last Sunday afternoon and it was good to be home. We were all tired but the reunions were great. We enjoyed seeing the familiar families again: Duane and Jackie Anderson, Ruth Droppers and the Bowers (Harry, Stephne, Ben and Karmyn). We also enjoyed seeing the Aarsland’s again (Asle and Kari). Asle is an anesthesiologist and they’ll be with us for a year. Finally, it was great to sleep in my own bed again! Man, I’m definitely a homebody when it comes to beds… I’ve been missing that bed.

We spent Monday getting unpacked and resettled. That was all the time off I was allotted, though. I was called by the on-call resident that evening with two emergencies. There was a young woman with possible appendicitis and a man with a bowel obstruction. The reintroduction to medicine in Ethiopia was representative: weird and tragic. The young woman’s story was not really typical for appendicitis and it looked like she might have an ovarian torsion (where the ovary spins on itself and strangles itself). Either way, though, she clearly needed an operation. The man with a bowel obstruction looked bad. He had been in severe pain for three days and his vital signs were worrisome. He was very dehydrated and needed to be resuscitated some more before going to the operating room. So, we started pouring fluid into the man and took the young woman to the operating room.

In the OR, after she was asleep and her abdominal muscles were no longer tightly contracted, it was evident she had a tennis ball-sized mass in her abdomen. We opened her up and found a large, abnormal ovary that was very black and very dead. It had indeed twisted on its blood supply and died. We removed it and looked at the other ovary. It too was clearly abnormal and large. It was a tumor called a teratoma which has multiple types of tissue growing in it in a disorganized fashion. The hair growing in it gave it away. Unfortunately it meant removing that ovary as well. It left a 19-year old woman with immediate menopause and no chance of ever having children. Horrible.

I left the OR to check on the man with the obstruction and found that he had died during the first operation. The second punch in the gut. I suspect his problem was similar in that his bowel had likely twisted on itself and killed itself. That is a deadly condition to have.

The suffering in Ethiopia continues, just as it is happening in every other country in the world. The only way anyone can’t see that this is a fallen and horribly broken world is if they have no understanding of what it is supposed to be like. The Bible teaches that the world as we know it is an aberration, a fractured and broken world of conflict, both interpersonal and spiritual, that is not going to last forever. It teaches that the world as we know it is clearly set between two historical bookends: the rebellion of mankind at the fall and the return of Jesus at His second coming. The hope that Jesus has given me of the world to come helps keep me going; it helps keep it all in perspective.

The difficult truth is that, while mankind is suffering, mankind brought this on itself. Romans 1:20-21 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” It goes on to describe how men exchanged God for the worship of created things and how we have spiraled out of control. It ends with this: “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

It’s a miserable truth and my pride makes it hard to swallow, but God in His love did not leave us there. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in Ephesians. It’s the amazing rescue. After again describing the woeful state of mankind, Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.” He made us alive together with Christ by killing Jesus in our stead. Jesus died the death of which we are worthy. That’s the great Truth I have the privilege of proclaiming here in Ethiopia.

The man who died last Monday is going to live forever. We talked with him before operating on the girl and we told him there was a chance he might die that night. We asked him if he was prepared to stand before God and he smiled and said ‘yes’. He was already depending on Jesus for his life. He believed that Jesus has died for his sins and that he had received forgiveness by that death. I wish that we could have helped him that night because life is still precious. However, for that man, the death of his body was only temporary. When Jesus comes back (and He will, make no mistake), I believe I’ll see that man alive again and we’ll enjoy eternity together.

Please pray for us as we share this Truth. God has given me the opportunities to talk to many people this week who do not know or recognize Jesus. As far as I know, none of them were receptive. But then again, no man ever saved a soul. As the apostle Paul says, some plant and others water but God brings the growth. I believe God can draw those men and women to Himself. This world will end someday but until it does, may God bring home all those that He desires.

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