This blog will be silent from today until Wednesday, January 27. Why? Because Barb and I will be serving on a medical mission trip to Ethiopia. It’s been three years since my last overseas mission trips (to China and Iran), and I’m excited about this opportunity to serve overseas once again — and especially excited to be sharing this adventure with Barb.
The trip is being led by my friend, Bob Cornuke, called the “Christian Indiana Jones.” You can read more about his work and ministry here. In fact, my 2006 trip to Iran was with Bob when we traveled together to look for the remains of Noah’s Ark high up on Mount Suleiman in Northern Iran (you can read about that trip here). As an aside, Bob and Col. Oliver North are currently on Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, filming a special on Bob’s discovery of the anchors from St. Paul’s shipwreck (you can read about it here).
For many years, Bob has traveled to Ethiopia in search of the Ark of the Covenant (you can read about that here). During this trip he has fallen in love with the country, and in particular the widows and orphans. To that end, Bob and his wife, Terry, have sponsored an orphanage in Ethiopia, and we are headed to Ethiopia on a medical mission to a very special and needy group of women and orphans.
Here’s our itinerary for the next ten days. It should be an adventure, indeed:
Sat, Jan 16: Drive to Denver, fly to Washington’s Dulles Airport, depart from Dulles this evening.
Sun, Jan 17: Flying all day. Arrive Addis Ababa late in the day.
Mon, Jan 18: After breakfast we fly to Axum. The legends narrated in the Kebra Nagast (“Book of Kings”) recount how the city of Axum as early as the 10th century B.C. was already the city in which the Queen of Sheba resided. And, late in the morning we’ll visit the ruins of Queen of Sheba’s Palace and exotic tombs of former kings, an ancient hilltop church, plus a mysterious lion’s head dating back to the Knights Templar. In addition we visit the version of the “Rosetta Stone” of the Axumite Kingdom and visit some newly-uncovered archeological sites and recently-opened tombs. We will have an opportunity to visit with the administrator of St. Mary’s Church to discuss the Ark of the Covenant and the significance of its keeping it safe and see the crowns of Ethiopian Kings and other treasures. This afternoon and evening we’ll have the opportunity to serve at a medical clinic.
Tues, Jan 19: Early morning we’ll participate in the “Mihila,” a special gathering for prayers around St. Mary of Zion. We will see the masses of people all wearing white gauze clothing and clustered on the hills overlooking the pool of Sheba — at the head of the ceremonial grounds. The morning music will be heard early as we enjoy the sites and sounds over breakfast. Then it is down the mountain to join in the festivities of the Timket Festival! This afternoon we’ll spend time ministering at the Christian orphanage sponsored by Bob and Terry.
Wed, Jan 20: After breakfast we fly to Lalibela, the “New Jerusalem.” On our way to Lalibela, weather and time permitting, we will fly over the amazing Danakil Depression. Once there we’ll visit the amazing underground monolithic churches, which were hewn completely out of pink granite rock in the 12th century, and considered one of the wonders of the world. The Ethiopians believe that they play a part in the second coming of our Lord.
Thu, Jan 21: At Lalibela we’ll minister in a unique village situation. This afternoon we fly to Gondar, the first capital city of the Ethiopian empire. We’ll visit the church of Debre Berham Selassie (Light of the Trinity). The interior is decorated with beautiful frescos. There are a dozen castles built by various emperors over the course of 236 years. The city is said to be more European than African and also has Islamic influences. In the afternoon, we will visit the palaces, residences, and baths of Fasilidas. We will visit the church of Debre Berham Selassie (Light of the Trinity), which is located at the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescos. Gondar was once the home of the highly publicized Falasha’s. The Falasha’s was one of the Tribes of Israel that were moved to Israel in the last 2 decades.
Fri, Jan 22: Today we travel from Gondar to Bahir Dar. On the way we’ll we visit the thundering Blue Nile Falls, which is locally known as Tissat Falls — 100 meters wide, the water plunges for 45 meters and gives trise to steam clouds and rainbows. We’ll cross the Blue Nile in papyrus boats. We’ll overnight at Lake Tana.
Sat, Jan 23: Today we’ll visit several islands on Lake Tana, including Tana Kirkos — the island that held the Ark of the Covenant for many years. On the islands we’ll be attending a number of medical clinics that serve the monks. We’ll also be visiting the islands where Nargo Silassie and Ura Kidane Mihret Monastaries are located. And, Bob has made special arrangements with the monks to have artifacts from the monastery brought out for viewing.
Sun, Jan 24: This morning, we’ll worship with Ethiopian Christians, then visit local craftsmen. Then it’s off to Addis Ababa for a city tour of Addis, visiting the National Museum, known to be the best museum in Africa, where cultural and archeological relics, including a plaster cast of “Lucy,” the 3.2 skeleton of the “Hominid” is on display. Late today we head to the airport and depart for home.
Mon, Jan 25: Arrive Home.
Should be the trip of a lifetime, and we feel honored and privileged to be called to serve some of the medical needs while traveling — and also to see some amazing sights.