My husband and I went to Ethiopia about 10 years ago with Habitat for Humanity. We were there for three weeks and we helped begin 8 houses in Jimma. By the end of our stay the foundations had been dug and laid, and the walls of each home were about waist high.
We went because we wanted to help, but was the primary objective really for us to come and help carry bricks or did I miss a deeper lesson?
Looking back I am a little sad to see how much I failed to really see during our visit, but I am thankful for my memory which isn’t always the best, but usually holds onto the things that don’t seem important at the time, but later prove to be quite relevant and important.
The other day one of our Ethiopian Habitat leaders came to mind, Elias. I haven’t thought about him in a long time, but I was so happy to remember him. Thinking of him made me smile!
He was with us throughout our entire stay in Ethiopia. He met our group in Addis Ababa, traveled with us to Jimma, worked along side our group everyday and then saw us all the way back to the international airport in Addis Ababa at the end of our visit.
He was a quiet and thoughtful man. He was born and raised in Ethiopia and had the opportunity to study engineering abroad. After his studies he returned home. I remember he told us how he loved Harrison Ford movies and I remember him eating traditional Ethiopian food at every meal, even at breakfast. I am not sure why this surprised me at the time considering that we were in Ethiopia, but for some reason it did and every morning I was shocked once again to see him eating injera with wat for breakfast.
Most of all though, I remember watching him bow his head and pray before every meal. I noticed it and I registered it enough to remember, but the beauty of his gratitude didn’t truly touch me at the time. I can’t even recall if I had the consideration to bow my head and give him a moment of silence at each meal… I hope that I did, but I can’t say for cetain.
The name Elias means The Lord is God. I think my friend’s name was well chosen and for the short time I spent with him, he truly lived it’s meaning every day.
I pray for a heart full of gratitude like my friend Elias, and I am so thankful that 10 years later, his message of thanksgiving and love for our Lord, God, is finally getting through to me.