Chapter 22 – Things Are Really Looking Up

Toyota van

On the way to a wedding in our new vehicle …. all dressed up; Borema in western clothing to the left and a gentleman in traditional Ethiopian dress.

Finally …. A Better Vehicle

The old Land Rover that had been a super work horse finally quit. I took it to Addis Ababa for repairs but there it sat for a month with nothing being done. I had to run around the city looking for the parts needed to fix the problem before the garage did anything. We needed a new vehicle!

The mission leaders also realized that something had to be done and were able to release funds to purchase a brand new Toyota van. Wow! After the use of Brant’s VW camper, two old Land Rovers, an inadequate Opel car, and the kind loan of the Meed’s jeep, we finally had a vehicle that would “fit the bill”.

Returning home from Addis Ababa with our new vehicle we stopped for a weekend holiday at Bishaftu, the SIM center designed for this purpose on a crater lake near Addis Ababa. This gave us the opportunity to spend time with Cathy and Jeff who were at boarding school.

Cathy had very badly infected eyes so just before we were going to go for a rowboat ride, Betty thought Cathy should wear my sunglasses which were in our new van. After retrieving them from the vehicle, Betty locked the van and brought the sunglasses down to the lake. I was sitting in the boat waiting for her to return. She was in the process of handing the keys to me when someone thought it was time to launch the boat with a little shove. The keys didn’t make it from Betty’s hand to mine. I watched in horror as they slowly drifted out of site down into the murky water of the crater lake! The situation became more serious when I realized that the only two keys to the van were attached to that ring some twenty feet below. I should have separated those two keys long before now! Not only that, but the ignition key also locked the steering wheel. Now what?!

I and another guest tried diving but to no avail; the water pressure was too great on our ears and it was black down there. As a family we prayed! Maybe I could retrieve them with a magnet attached to a strong string. It was worth a try. The keys disappeared at about noon and by four o’clock I was still fishing. Nothing! I bobbed the string up and down on several places the keys would have probably settled. Then …. one final time I raised the magnet and there I saw the keys slowing rising from out of the mucky water. The keys were make from alloy metal so it was only the small steel ring that attached to the magnet. Very gingerly and slowly I grasped those prodigal keys! Whew!

We Move into our New Home

Betty in lodge Living rm

Our temporary living in the main lodge. Nothing fancy but we were comfortable. The fireplace was yet to be completed with bricks. The little lamp attached to the wall was fuelled by a propane tank in the next room.

Development of Langano camp was moving ahead at a rapid pace. Keeping up with the potential kept us on the run …. literally. Betty dashed from house to clinic to lodge and back to the tin house or the clinic again and again each day when we hosted a conference. We decided living in the unfinished lodge would be more practical. Two guest rooms were located off the large dining area with an open entry passage between them to the outside. The one room I divided into two smaller ones for the children; the passage way became a full bathroom after constructing a wall across the open side. We shared the kitchen with the camp and a section of the dining area became a comfortable sitting and lounge area for us. Not the most ideal situation but it worked for us.

Cathy with baby

Cathy with visiting baby

The bathroom was sheer delight. This was the first time living in Ethiopia we had a flush toilet in our own home. Plumbing was not my favourite construction task, but I was able again to devise the hot water system using a barrel and fire box encased in cement blocks. A bath tub and sink brought our luxury living to a new level!

I drew plans for an additional living area on the back of the lodge which would become our private kitchen and living room. But construction would need to wait; other priorities loomed.

Borema Pays the Taxes

One thing had never been done …. paying the workers’ income taxes. The little town that administered those details was inaccessible to us by car so I prepared a chart for the three years owing and sent Borema on the three hour mule ride to Carsa. His father and the local chief accompanied him.

We prayed that the authorities would accept the payment and not ask too many questions. But they were not even aware of our presence in their area so they did have many questions of Borema. The chief was especially appreciative of our being here, so he gave a good report to the officials. We laughed with Borema when he returned. He had worn his best clothes to do this honourable errand in the government office and apparently he looked so honourable that the officials all got up from their desks and bowed … they didn’t know who he was! Borema always had a pleasant manner about him; we would have been lost without him. He was about 19 years old at the time.

First Believers Baptised

Futto baptised

July 20, 1975, the first Arsi believers baptised

Three and one half years had passed since we came to live among the Arsi people and we were standing on the sandy beach witnessing Langano’s first baptism. Excitement was high for the ten new believers and for the crowd that had gathered. They had never seen anything like this before and to them it was a celebration; they were excited to the point where one of the men, when brought up from the water, dove back into the lake for a vigorous and noisy swim. But the elders called him back and carried on, taking it all in their stride.


Buli came to teach the new believrs

Baptism was a major step and we wanted to make sure each of the individuals was properly prepared. We asked an Ethiopian church leader at Sheshamane if there was someone who spoke the Arsi Gallinya language and who could come in and give a one week evening course to our new believers in preparation for baptism. At our request the church sent us Buli Kinaso, a young Arsi unmarried man who has just graduated from the S.I.M. Bible Institute in Jimma where we used to teach. He was authoritative, poised and patient, and gracious in his dealings with the Arsi people around us. For six evenings the new believers came down to our compound from their homes in the hills around us. After one hour of teaching, we gathered together for native food in the camp dining room. This was a lovely time of getting to know one another. Then they returned to the classroom for another hour of teaching, and spent the night in one of the camp cottages, returning the next morning to their farming.

baptism communuion

Communion Service following the baptism

On the following Sunday, July 20, 1975, the elders from the Sheshamane church, some 50 miles away, came, examined them and with great joy baptized all ten of the believers. These included two married couples and six young men. Leaving Satan worship was no small thing. The area being nominally Moslem was also a strong binding force against their following Christ.

Moving on ….

When we first arrived in Langano our primary assignment was to build a conference centre and youth camp, Little did we realize there would also be an outreach to the local Arsi people with Betty’s clinic responding to their medical needs and my building project developing good relationships. Then there was the faithful teaching of Alemu and Buli with the life-changing message of God’s love transforming the lives of these who were baptised. God knows how to fit all these details into His eternal plan!

baptism dinner

At the end of the day we all gathered in the dining room for a celebration feast.

But we did not loose sight of our primary objective. Guests would soon arrive for the first conference of national church leaders and missionary personnel ….. and we would need to feed them. So we better get on with it!

5 Responses

  1. Pearl says:

    Did you just happen to have a strong magnet on hand? It’s amazing you didn’t give up? four hours of “fishing” is a long, long time!

    You mentioned that people who came to be baptized were “leaving Satan worship.” Were you using a catch-all phrase or were they practicing a religion where they literally worshiped Satan?

    Norm, I’m in awe of your endless inventiveness and, Betty, of your endurance and more!

    • Norm says:

      Yes, that was quite an ordeal! In regard to “leaving Satan worship”, if might have been better if I had phrased it more like “leaving the fear of Satan”. A number of rituals (looking like worship) were involve in offering sacrifices to placate Satan so that he would not, what they considered, constantly inflict them with various calamities. This was very real to the new believers. What a joy to see that new sense of liberty for the Christians! You could see it in their radiance and joyful songs of deliverance.

      Don’t get too excited about our “inventiveness”; we did, with God’s help, what we could. (we were young then!) Thanks for you comments.

  2. Betty Harrison says:

    Pearl, there is a book you might enjoy about the beginning of the church in the south of Ethiopia. It is called “Fire on the Mountain” by Ray Davis. xo Betty

  3. Pearl says:

    Ah! I better understand your wording of “leaving the fear of Satan.” I think there are many Old Testament stories about this especially, as I recall, in Elijah’s time.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, Betty. As usual, I’ve stacks of books on my list but I may get to it. In a broad sense, I’m interested in the history and development of the Christian church – Western Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Reformation and what developed therefrom. But right now I’m reading a short book on the history of Islam!

  4. Betty Harrison says:

    Thank you, Pearl. You have always, in my mind, had some interesting goals in your life! I hope you are able to get to some of those books! Happy reading. xo

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