by Kristin Huffman, Associate Director
It was 9 o’clock and I finally had my chance to slip away from the team and crawl into bed for a long sleep. We were six days into a 10-day mission trip to Ethiopia and I was tired and full to the brim with sights, sounds and emotions from seeing what God was doing in that land. We had spent 15 hours in the car the day before and my body was crying for a hot shower and the bed.
Leaving the dinner table, I went to my room to discover that the toilet wouldn’t flush. It may not sound like a big deal, but in a developing country where the tummy bug can strike at any moment with cataclysmic results, I just didn’t want to spend the night without a working toilet.
So I went to the front desk and, despite my limited language skills, got someone to come to my room to take a look. He jiggled the toilet handle and pronounced it “fixed.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Fifteen minutes later, I was back to the front desk with more hand signals trying to explain my problem, and we were back to fix my toilet again. “Now fixed,” the man said. It was still not fixed. Another 10 minutes passed and I found myself at the front desk yet again. This time I tried another angle and asked to speak to a different person. “OK, no fix. Tomorrow,” he said.
I had just reached the end of my missionary tolerance rope. I went back to the dining room to find our Ethiopian host and team leader. In a quiet voice that hopefully didn’t betray my desperation, I said, “I need your help.” He came with me and along with both of the men I’d spoken to at the front desk, went to my room. When it was clear that I wasn’t crazy and that the toilet was busted, Urgessa got me a new room and had me completely moved in less than five minutes. I fell apart, tears flowing. He gave me a big hug and patted my back and softly said, “Kristin, you should have come to me sooner.”
Those gentle words pierced my heart. I realized that he was right on so many levels. I am a stranger in Ethiopia—a middle-aged white woman who doesn’t know the language, the culture, or clearly, the toilets! Urgessa is native-born; he knows the language, holds respect and authority in the culture and could take care of the problem. He was reminding me that he was there for me, ready to take on my burden.
In those simple words, I also heard the invitation of Jesus, “Kristin, come to me sooner.” Jesus is here, available, powerful, full of authority and wisdom; He loves me and wants to help. May I heed these wise words of my Ethiopian friend and turn sooner, not only to my brother who can help but even more importantly, to the one who offers life and hope and help, Jesus.
Read more from Kristin about our partnership with Light of Hope Ministry Ethiopia in the summer edition of The Frontier Journal, arriving in mailboxes soon!