Update from Ethiopia

We are quickly moving into our fifth week here in Africa! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by! This past week I have been in Addis Ababa. Addis is the capital of Ethiopia. Over the weekend we transitioned into a city called Debrezeit. We will be heading to another city called Adama today. These next couple of weeks are designed to be fast paced covering as much ground as possible. Please pray for safe travels for our team! Please also pray for the communities we will be visiting in these next few cities. The cities we will be in and out of include: Adama, Jimma, Addis Ababa, and Debre-Birhan.

Not knowing much about African culture or government prior to my trip, I just assumed many of the countries in Africa would be similar. Arriving in Ethiopia last weekend, I quickly realized these three weeks would be in very few ways similar to our experience in Kenya. I was immediately excited but also a little nervous about culture shock x 2. I’ll give you just a little history of Ethiopia that you might want to double check on google after you read just in case I misinterpreted. Ethiopia was one of the two countries in Africa not colonized by the British. In fact, it was a communist nation a little over 25 years ago. The government system now is a parliamentary republic. Ethiopians speak a language called Amharic and overall know very little English. The three most dominant religions in Ethiopia are Protestant Christian, Orthodox Christian, and Muslim. (Majority Orthodox) Even their physical appearance is different from the majority of the African population. In most African countries you will find a very dark skin color due to the environment. However, the majority of the Ethiopian population is of much lighter skin color. In each of these categories Kenya differs. It has truly been a blessing to step into a completely different kind of people and learn of their extremely rich culture and history.

Life In Abundance Ethiopia operates at a unique angle due to many of these differences. Because it is a wholistic ministry such aspects come into play. This past week in Addis our team has received some training and knowledge necessary to understand fully the pieces needed to be effective in the community and to minister to people not yet born again. I found that Life In Abundance Ethiopia is more so focused on projects. The process is essentially that they begin by locating seed money from support countries to inject initially and throughout the course of said project. Once funds are allocated the project which has been planned and prayed over for months is ready to officially begin. Life In Abundance partners with a local church to identify needs, the vulnerable population and people in the community to help in meeting those needs. The project lasts three years with direct support from LIA. After three years LIA will phase out in hope that they were able to empower the community to sustain implemented programs on their own. This week we were able to go visit past projects and witness the fruit of the Lord’s work. One of the projects was called the OVC Project. OVC stands for orphans and vulnerable children. In 2013, LIA partnered with the local church and government programs to build a cobblestone road at an upper school in addition to a fully functional elementary school. It was truly a blessing to be a witness to the change happening in the lives of vulnerable children via LIA’s wholistic approach to ministry. A second project we were able to visit was called the Livelihood project. The goal of this project was to encourage and educate on sanitation by building community bathrooms and creating job opportunities in the process. At each bathroom site LIA has employed 7-10 people to collect funds per usage in order to generate income and keep the sites clean. A big part of the LIA model is to empower through education. Both of the projects are great examples of this key part of wholistic ministry.

This past week has truly been special for me on a personal level. I just recently graduated with my degree in nursing from the University of Alabama. I chose nursing because I knew I would have countless opportunities to show others compassion. I have always felt called to love people any chance I get. In fact, the reason I decided to come on this trip was because I knew God had a plan to show me what it truly means to love people the way He does. Since arriving in Africa, I have been awaiting affirmation in my career choice. I knew that I could love people well through nursing, but needed confirmation that nursing is indeed what GOD called me to do to love like HE does. We were able to visit the Zoe Medical Clinic in one of the sub cities in Addis this past week. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 9 says “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other....and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.” I left that clinic knowing God had called me to serve his Kingdom in this way. If you read nothing else please know that through your support the Lord has affirmed my steps taken over the last four years to pursue a career in nursing. I’m not sure where that will lead or what exactly it will look like, but I am thankful for a God who has plans “...to prosper me not to harm me and to give me hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

If you’ve made it this far I apologize for the lengthy update! Thank you again for being a part of this journey. So many are coming to know our Father in Heaven through your prayers and support.

God is good; All the time.
All the time; God is good.

With much love always,

-Win Woodson

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