MALAWI AND ETHIOPIA
After a 13 hour plane ride to Addis from D.C., we had another short lay over before another 3.5 hour ride to Lilongwe Malawi.
It's rainy season in Addis, but in Lilongwe, it is winter time dry season. I've posted some pictures of the view from where we're staying at. Africa is quite beautiful~
The brick house is where we're staying at, and the pictures of the sunrise were captured from the porch. There are also additional structures (one's with thatched roofs!)
According to Dr. Choi (the leader of this trip), Malawi is one of the poorest parts of Africa; Dae Yang Luke Hospital (which is known by the natives as the "Korea" hospital) is one of two major hospitals in the region. Amidst the hospital grounds is a nursing college, which offers free education to a class of about 30 nurses a year after a strenuous screening process. Housing is provided as well for them, so it truly is a full investment into the natives themselves. As Dr. Choi states "success without successors will lead to failure." One of the main objectives is to educate and train up the natives of the land; the vision is to grant the natives with opportunities and to equip them with the proper skills for self sustainment in hopes of eventually reshaping the region, and eventually the country in health care. Of course, there is a spiritual aspect of sharing the Gospel, embedded within the interventions.
We headed out to the "Capital City" in the morning (which is the the capital) where we did some browsing. We all packed in to the back of an ambulance, and was driven around by our trusty guide Samson. We went to some stores that reminded me a lot of K-mart and Costco, then hit the bazaar. We were hoarded by the shopkeepers, constantly shaking hands and being forcefully escorted to their designated shops. The currency they use here is the "Kwacha," where 1000 Kwacha = roughly $2.80. The sellers start their bargain at outrageous prices, and cut it down to half eventually, which makes it sound like a deal, but you'd still be hustled if you pay half of their initial offer. The trick is to go to at most 1/4 the initial price and lower.
Far end of head of table: Dr. Chisoo Choi, Family Practice MD from Tulsa Oklahoma
To his left: Dr. Sylvia Park, currently a 3rd year resident in Tulsa Oklahoma specializing in family medicine.
Left of Sylvia: John from Jersey, going on to his junior year in Ruckers College.
To his left is me.
To my left is Mrs. Younhee Choi, wife of Dr. Choi.
Samson, our awesome guide at the closest head of table in red shirt.
John Lee to Samson's right, ICU and Anesthesiologist at Baldwin Park, CA
To John's right is Ms. Valerie Walker, director of UCLA Medical Alumni Association.
Right of Valerie is Ms. Debbie Chon, wife of Dr. Chon (Radiologist) who was not with us.
Dr. Sylvia Park
Samson and I
Rest of the pictures:
Went to an art shop and had lunch at "Mamma Mia."
(Fanta tastes BOMB overseas; just like when was in Turkey!)
Later on during the day, we headed over to a rural village close by the hospital. Immediately, we were bombarded by the villagers as the children ran up in their bare feet and tattered clothes, along with nursing mothers trailing behind them. The team brought boxes of much needed apparel for everyone, but before distributing, a word of encouragement along with a blessing in regards to God and his love for them were proclaimed. We then lined the individuals up according to their age and gender, and began systematically distributing the clothes. Balloons were also brought for the children's entertainment, and of course "soccer" was a hit with all of the kids there. After the distribution, we gathered the individuals together and said prayed a blessing over them, and reminded them that God's love is unfailing, and that he personally loves them all.
The trip has been obviously tiring, but it has been a blessing to be exposed to a whole different world, literally at the other end of where we call home.
Just hearing about the different perspectives on life, goals and visions from Dr. Choi and the rest of the team members have been challenging, and refreshing. Dr. Choi and his wife plan to come every 3 months starting January, with the aim of slowly transitioning in as a full time family practice doctor here in Malawi. Hearing about his aspirations, prior goals and current goals and outlooks on life and money have been challenging, yet insightful. Other individuals such as Dr. Sylvia Park harbor similar aspirations, and hold subversive goals and visions when compared to what i'm accustomed to at home in modern western society. Sitting at the foundation of their inclinations is the Gospel, and the desire to minister to others, and reshape an entire country through their skills, talents and relationship with God.
Honestly, i'm not too sure where I sit with all of this and have much to assess and think about in regards to the paradigms that shape my current mindset. I'll definitely continue to pray to the Lord, for he has allowed me to come here for a reason.
Thank you for your attention and prayers~
Not sure when I can update again, but will try my best to do so.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or etc if ya wish.
Howdy do folks! How are YOU doing?
I woke up to another gorgeous day today, and took a quick snapshot in the morning from the porch to share (picture #1).
It was church day today so we starting heading down after breakfast to get there by 10 a.m. Picture #2 and #3 shows the construction sites for the expansion of the overall compound, possibly for more hospital space, dormitories for the nursing college and etc.
Pictures #4 and #5 show external structure of the worship place (which is about a 2 minute walk from the hospital), and the following pictures thereafter are of the service inside, and also of the children playing outside right after.
Dr. Choi was our special guest speaker today, and the main pastor translated the Gospel message to the people throughout the sermon. I was in charge of manning the video camera, and couldn't help but observe how fervently attentive some of the attendees were throughout the service (some were dozing off like we do back at home). An alter call was made at the end, and giant crowd rushed over to the front. It definitely was an amazing sight to witness. Another thing to mention is the music..... the participation and unity in voice were amazing and everyone let loose and jived with the music. I took video footage of course, and will share it when I get back (too big to upload).
Surely, he is the God of all nations.
Today was a restful day overall; after service, we all took naps and fully recovered from the traveling and such. Still, later on in the evening, Dr. Susie Makin (a visiting OB/GYN doctor) severely injured her left ankle. Luckily, we had a bunch of professionals ready to go, so we called on Dr. Irvin Oh (Orthopedic Surgeon) and my buddy John (Anesthesiologist) to treat her. They made due with the limited supplies, and treated her for the time being.
Dr. Susie Megan has spent 10 years in Malawi, serving as a doctor and currently teaches at a nursing school in Daejeon, Korea. The aim was to patch her up, and to fly her over to Korea as soon as possible (she has health insurance there) so she can get the proper surgery with the proper equipment.
Personally, it was a vivid reminder to tangibly experience how useful our skills as health care professionals can be anywhere we go.
I had an amazing late night talk thereafter with Dr. Choi and some of the guys sharing about our past experiences, our motivations and our visions for the future.
I will definitely share later on in person, or through writing (when time allows), but I definitely feel like my perspective mindset and worldview is being chipped away, into something quite different.
Thanks all for reading, your prayers and concerns. Monday is going to be full day, with lots of traveling so i'm going to turn in for the night.
Will get in touch with ya'lls again.
I woke up early today at 3:30 am, and couldn't go back to sleep.
Listened to a sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller about joy and love. One statement that stuck out to me was his description of how love operates as he states that when you love someone "their joy becomes your joy; one becomes attentive to what brings joy to the other." How much more so with God and yourself? Naturally, I meditated upon this truth and applied it to the context of my own life; at times, God allows you to fail, feel lost, doubt, but works through such circumstances to challenge us, wake us up to truths about ourselves unforeseen, and to shape us. He does so because he loves us, because he wants us to prosper (according to his standards, not ours) and be joyful. As in the story of Jacob, God wrestles us into a transformed life instead of comforting us into one.
Let us meditate on this truth, because life is a battlefield at times.
Later on in the morning, we took off to a "Mcheche Clinic (shown in pictures above)," which is a clinic currently under construction in a rural area. We traveled with a group of individuals from Korea, who affiliated themselves as being part of "Project Malawi." This group is here from Korea to gather statistical data on causes and prevention of HIV, AIDS and mortality rates related to maternal issues. They're a sponsored group by the Korean government, and were the one's responsible for the startup of this clinic. Mcheche Clinic is being built to focus on obstetrics, labor and delivery and for the monitoring of cervical and uterine cancer. Malawi has a high mortality rate related to these issues, and therefore the starting of this clinic was birthed to provide services, and for the gathering of data.
I was personally very humbled by what the Koreans were here for, and what they were also capable of doing (All of them are bilingual in English and Korean, and are involved with projects all over Africa).
(The couple depicted in the picture is Dr. Choi and his wife Younhee).
(Group pictures consists of the us and the "Project Malawi" team).
Next, we headed to "Nkhoma Hospital." Nkhoma Hospital was built in 1889, and is one of the first sites built by missionaries approximately a 100 years ago. It was built on top of a mountain, since it was believed back then that insects wouldn't want to reside in elevated locations, thus reducing the onset of tropical diseases such as Malaria.
The tall individual depicted in pictures 2 & 3 is the main doctor overseeing the complex at this time. It was amazing to learn from him that his grandfather was a medical missionary for 30 years in Korea beginning in the 1920's; his mother was therefore born in Korea, and attended Pyung Chung University, which is now modern day Pyong Yang in North Korea (wow!). The Doctor following in his grandfather's footsteps stated that he is amazed to see how the people of modern day Korea venture out to unreached places to serve and minister; he hopes that two generations from now (like with his grandfather), he'd want to see the people of Africa be able to do the same. We were given a tour of the vicinity of what is one of one of the oldest running hospitals in Africa, and you can assess from the pictures that the quality of the overall facility is waning. Still, I was very humbled by the heart of the missionaries, and their sacrifices.
Yes, I LOVE Fanta out here and will take a picture of it every time I have it ^__^
I was sharing with a couple of my teammates on the way back of how I sometimes second guess and wonder about my decision to be in the health care field (and some i've shared with as well), and how I feel that I abruptly jumped into it before.
These doubts and thoughts still reside, and being exposed the numerous things here, it has been difficult to process.
Still, when I really do assess myself, I think the desire to want to take control of my life in many arenas stands as a pertinent factor. What can I say, i'm just very selfish.
What comes to mind is the passage from 1st John 1:3, where John states to "behold," meaning ponder on and personalize the truth and manner of God loving us, and calling us his own. Going from a cognitive arena, and having an experiential heart felt encounter with God requires "beholding" him, meditating and personalizing the truth of who he is, what he has done and why he has done it. Acknowledging him, for he will show us our paths, and we'll gladly be able to let go of the things that ensnare us.
Hope everyone is doing well~
Til next time.
We're in Addis, Ethiopia now; it was awesome being woken up to the sound of donkeys in the morning. We pretty much traveled all day yesterday to get here, and will be attending a conference here at Myung Sung Hospital. This hospital was started by "Myung Sung" church, which is a mega-church located in Korea. This hospital stands as one of the most advanced, prominent and self-sustaining hospitals in all of Africa; it is looked to as the ideal model for many developing hospitals in Africa today (those Koreans again). Tomorrow, there will be a ceremony of the opening of a medical school through the hospital, which is another huge step in promoting self-sustainment and investment into the people of the land.
Internet is ultra slow here, so will follow up with a more formal update w/ pichas later on.
bye for now~
Howdy folks. I apologize for the lack of updates here in Addis; the internet here is ULTRA slow and bootleg. A more proper update is to come with photos and pichas later on, so hang tight! Today will be our last day here in Africa (so fast!); there will be a ceremony for a grand opening of a medical school at Myung Sung Hospital, then we'll be parting ways with some of our teammates (I'll miss you guys!) and then will be flying out to Rome later on. From Rome, we fly back to D.C., then finally back to LAX. It's gonna be a long one.
Just want to thank my supporters again; much gratitude goes out to you folks. I hope to see many of you very very soon!
After 20+ hours of traveling, i'm finally back to the land of hot showers, flushing toilets and stable internet. Will post stuffs soon after some recovering and rest.
Hello everyone! It feels like i'm still dreaming being back here. I could not sleep due to jet lag, and have decided to work on an update until I get sleepier. So i'm going to have to back track to fill everyone in on events that had happened before.
So these pictures were taken on 8-21-12 (the sunrise always gets me), which was the day of the annual medical conference at the hospital. It was a space for many visionaries to gather to present information and data on current medical trends, findings and projections. Topics included data on HIV/AIDS, information on family practice, uterine/cervical cancers along with updates by the "Project Malawi" team on their endeavors. Medical professionals from various parts of the region traveled in to hear; the conference was driven by the common hope of reshaping the region through enhancements in health practices, and education.
Above is a picture of Dr. Susie Makin; she presented sitting down due to her leg injury as mentioned earlier. She was advised to rest after her operation, but was determined to make it down to the hospital somehow and up the stairs to give her presentation.
Dr. Makin received her medical education in the states; immediately after finishing medical school and all its entailments, she moved to Canada to learn French. After several months in Canada, she flew over to Congo to begin her services there as a doctor, focusing on obstetrics, cancer prevention and education. After several years serving there, she moved on over to Malawi to provide her services there, and has resided there more than 10 years. She is currently teaching at a nursing school in Daejeon, Korea. She plans to wrap up her services there in about 2 years and plans to move back to Malawi to continue to serve with all her capacity.
She hasn't worked a day in the states for a paycheck thus far; what was amazing for me to witness about this individual was the drivenness and passion for what she does. Very humbled, I was.
Wishing you a quick recovery, and safe trip back to Korea Dr. Makin.
More pics from 8-21-12
Picture 1: Samson and his ultra rad shirt; I love this guy.
Picture 2: John has the gift of being able to sleep anywhere, anytime.
Picture 3: My two best friends ^__^ Jenny (left) and Jisoo (right)
Picture 4: I choose orange Fanta.
Pictures from 8-22-12
Another gorgeous sunrise~
Today was our day of goodbyes, farewells and maybe see you later. Started the morning with a devotional for the hospital employees, led by no other than our buddy John. After, we loaded up and took off to the airport.
Naturally, we said our final farewells to the individuals seeing us off.
Above is a picture of Dr. Susie Kim; she's not a medical doctor, but holds a doctorate in nursing. She did her education at UCSF, and in Massachusetts many years ago. She is the head dean of the nursing college at Dae Yang Luke Hospital, and has been there for almost two years now. She lectures, sets up events, mentors students, keeps track of the overall curriculum, etc. etc. etc. One of the most vibrant individuals i've ever met.
In the picture above, the individual in the middle is "Sister Baek" (Baek, Young Shin).
Don't be fooled by her stature or by any aspects of her appearance, for she harbors an amazing testimony.
Sister Baek grew up on Jeju Island, which is located south of mainland Korea. According to Dr. Choi, the women of the island are known to be "strong" in both spirit and will. They also have a reputation of being excellent divers; being able to dive down to the depths of the sea and back without any supportive equipment.
Sister Baek chose to pursue nursing as a profession, and later moved on to work at a hospital in Seoul. But around 20 years ago, she felt a calling by the Lord to venture elsewhere. Soon after, she moved to Kenya, and lived amongst the "Masai," a warrior tribe that dwelt in huts made of cow dung. Sister Baek lived with them, lived like them and provided medical services, starting her own mobile clinic along with churches for the natives to attend and hear about the Lord.
A few years later, Sister Baek heard of a region even poorer than where she was residing and decided to move there; "there" being Malawi. She began providing similar services, setting up clinics and places of worship; in need of more help and being continuously exposed to the great amount of need daily, her dream and vision of starting a hospital conjured and continued to solidify. With this vision in mind, she flew back to Korea in hopes of garnering support from the doctors and other individuals there. With almost every approach, many of the doctors and medical professionals there scoffed and turned her down; aspects of her characteristics such has her being a woman, secondly a nurse, and also having an idea that seemed so far-fetched and of no benefit to the doctors and medical professionals themselves were factors that fueled the rejections. Pounded by discouragement and with a heavy heart, it seemed hopeless in her perspective at that time.
But the Lord works in unfathomable ways, beyond what we can even come close to perceive. There's an individual named Yoo Geun Chung (저유근), who is involved in the industry of international importing and exporting. Coming from a very humble background, Mr. Yoo's goal earlier on was to become the richest man in all of Korea. Years before, he predicted that the import and export industry would take off in China. After investing in cargo ships and equipment to follow up on his prediction, they came true as the industry in China exploded. Due to this, Mr. Yoo became exorbitantly wealthy, amassing much. But during Mr. Yoo's mid to late 40's, he came to really know the Lord, and become a follower of Christ. Naturally, his perspective on money, and management of power began to shift in drastic ways. Soon, a desire to use his wealth to uplift a people group, and eventually a nation was formed. Mr. Yoo wanted to discern where the Lord wanted him to do so, and prayed about it for 5 years.
Later on, Mr. Yoo was overseas in Europe where he was staying at a hotel for business reasons. Down on the first floor of the hotel, there was a Christian missions conference beng held. Out of curiosity, Mr. Yoo ventured down to see what was going on; there he was able to engage with various mission-minded individuals. There Mr. Yoo share of his desire and his prayers in regards to discernment. An individual who turned out to be the daughter of a patient that Sister Baek took care of in Malawi, heard Mr. Yoo and began telling him about this woman that had helped her mother in Africa, and how she had been serving pretty much all by herself to reach out to the natives there. Moved by the story, Mr. Yoo sought Sister Baek out and flew out to Malawi to meet her face to face. Upon encountering her in person, Mr. Yoo realized that God had answered his prayer through this woman. Upon asking her what her dream was and how he could be a part of it, Dae Yang Luke Hospital was born in 2008, being fully funded by this gentleman.
The Hospital is currently serving many of the inhabitants; plans to enhance the nursing curriculum, and to start up a medical school for the natives to be trained are in the works at the moment, but much of this has come to be through the actions of Sister Baek.
(If you google Mr. Chung 정유근 홰장, he'll pop up immediately. Here is an article of him and the hospital in Malawi, which is in Korean: http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/10/19/2010101900490.html)
So that concludes the Malawi portion of the trip. I'll post the Ethiopia portion later on. Above is a video clip of the children's group after church service on Sunday.
So this will be the final and largest update~
The pictures above are from 8-23-12, right outside "Baks Hotel," which as where we stayed. Right outside the entrance were a group of herded sheep ^__^
It was rainy season there, which was drastically different than what we encountered in Malawi. In contrast to Liliongwe, Addis Ababa means "new flower," and is a bustling city. Sitting at an elevation of about 7,700, malaria is a condition that is extremely rare in the city. Standing as the capital city of Ethiopia, it is estimated to be about 125 years old. Early in the morning, we walked over to "Myung Sung Hospital," which about two blocks away.
Today was the day of another health symposium at the hospital, where medical professionals from all over Africa gathered as visionaries, to share their views and knowledge in regards to various topics. Again, the goal was to plan, predict and implement various pathways for enhancement in healthcare, and eventually betterment of the nation itself.
Myung Sung Hospital was planted about eight years ago, by Myung Sung Presbyterian Church located in Korea, and is known to be the biggest church in the world (1,000,000+ members). Beginning as a for profit hospital, this servicing center has become a prominent location for provision of health care services, and also for ministry.
As shown in the pictures, the interior of the facility is reminiscent of many of the hospitals in the states; a nostalgic feel for myself when I entered.
The symposium took place in a newly constructed church building near the hospital; again prominent figures and visionaries voiced their insights in regards to various topics.
The latter photos depict the amount of unused land owned by the hospital; lots of potential for the construction of schools, clinics, dormitories, etc. The yellow building is a dormitory, for many of the volunteer staff members from Korea and the states. There is a section for singles and another section for married couples along with a garden.
The portion of land in the second and third to last pictures show property where a multi-leveled clinic is to be constructed in the near future.
After the symposium, we were finally set free to travel around the city. After heading back to the hotel (it's more of an motel) to change, we hopped on a bus to venture outwards.
So if you thought smog in L.A. was bad, you're going to consider it spring clean air compared to Addis. Many of the motor vehicles here were very old, meaning they were running on lead fumes or other older fossil fuels emitting not so clean fumes. Another thing to note was the traffic; the 405, 5, 10, or 110 is preferable compared to various parts of Addis. So, it's not so bad back here in SoCal ^_^
But yes, it is a bustling city with people walking and running around EVERYWHERE. Younhee commented that current day Addis resembled South Korea in the early 80's, but we were told that many international businesses were coming and starting businesses, meaning potential for vast economic growth, leading to development and modernism.
We stopped by various souvenir stores (they pretty much sell the same thing), and also stopped by a very famous coffee shop, which has been run as a family business for the past 70 years.
Last Picture: Seriously, John can sleep ANYWHERE he feels like.
So an interesting observation in the city is that there really aren't any traffic lights managing and directing traffic, or even pedestrians. As shown in the clips above and below, cars kind of go at their own will, and people willingly yield, allowing other cars or pedestrians to run or walk by. Certainly says a LOT about the temperament of the people there. If there were no traffic lights here, people would probably start shooting each other. Although a little confused in the beginning; personally, it was an amazing thing to witness.
The area where a lot of the bill boards are planted is the central area of the city; it's also where a lot of the olympians train for marathons here in Addis. I think Ethiopia took gold for women's marathon this year.
After rummaging around the city, we met up many of the hospital staff and volunteers at the dormitory. Definitely had a community feel to it as many of the people trickled out to greet each other. We were escorted to a very westernized restaurant called "Addis Rodeo," where we were introduced to many of the overseas missionaries living in the city.
That orange drink is called "Ambo" and it was DELICIOUS~ Kind of like a light sparkling soda, which also comes in apple, pineapple flavors; almost on par with the orange Fanta.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel (really a motel) and got ready for the next day.
The pictures above are from 8-24-12. This day was the ceremony of the opening of Myung Sung Hospital's Medical School. An embarkment of their vision to train the native individuals with modern medical education, and to send them off to different areas of need throughout Africa. The agreement to undergo the curriculum required serving as a doctor in Africa upon completion of the program.
It was a time of endowments, celebration and songs.
Sadly, after the ceremony came our first farewell amongst the teammates.
It was such a blessing getting know Sylvia throughout the trip; randomly, our initial encounter was at the airport and has definitely been an honor serving and spending time with her thereafter.
We shall meet again right? I miss ya already Sylvia. I wish you the best with your upcoming year. I'll give you a giant hug next time we meet~
Next, some of the acquaintances of our teammate Valerie were kind enough to take us out to the city once more. Mr. Moges and his sons David and Daniel chauffeured us to the National Museum of Ethiopia, where we were exposed to some intriguing fossils and bits of history. Supposedly, many of the oldest remnants of bones were found throughout scattered regions of Ethiopia. This was also the home of "Lucy," a famous fossil collection (incomplete collection though) that dates back to about 3.2 million years ago.
Pictures 1 & 2 depict the tusk and teeth of a GIANT mammoth like creature hundreds of thousands of years back. The 3rd picture shows a much smaller jawline and teeth of mammoths in the ice age; how big could they have been before the ice age? Geez.
Picture #2 shows the region in south east Ethiopia where "Lucy" was discovered. Supposedly, the temperature goes up to 125 degrees over there.
The real remnants of "Lucy" were probably on tour or something, but the ones there sufficed for myself. Shoot, got me excited. ^__^
A more recent and significant find is "Ardi," a much older, yet more complete fossil collection than Lucy. The significance of this finding is due to the structure of its anatomy. As scientists analyzed and compared the bone structures to that of chimps, and other more human-like fossil findings. It disproved Darwin's theory of humans evolving from chimpanzees. The shelves housing the there pelvis' and skulls show comparison between Ardi, chimps and humans, conveying that they do not come from the same origin. Interesting indeed.
Picture #1 shows a slab with ancient characters used by the people in the past.
Pictures 2 shows a sculpture of a woman, and pictures 3 and 4 show engravings on the its sides of men worshipping the woman. Unlike many cultures in history, the Ethiopians subversively worshipped women. Instead of kings, they had queens who ruled; Queen Sheba is a famous example, who is recorded to have visited King Solomon upon hearing of his wisdom and majesty. Traveling from Ethiopia, she sought out his council during the Biblical times.
Picture 1: Dice existed long before vegas did.
The pictures of the gold coins show a design with an individual holding a "cross." According to our tour guide, this implied that early on after Jesus' life, Christianity had a heavy influence in early Ethiopian culture.
More historical artwork throughout the museum. The giant red chair (fourth picture) was supposedly where the last king of Ethiopia sat throughout his reign. The portrait of the lone woman is supposedly the founder of Ethiopia over a hundred years ago.
Artwork (above) by an extraordinarily famous Ethiopian artisan; Afewerk Tekle.
He passed away April of this year (born in October of 1932).
That's our ultra passionate tour guide (guy in gray top, jeans and white shoes); explains things to the max!
Raddest car design (or paint job?) i've seen in throughout Addis.
Next the Moges' took us to "Weyin" for some authentic Ethiopian food. As you can see, the design, inlay and display of artwork were gorgeous.
Picture #2: That's Mr. Moges and his son to your right. We sat down and the server came around to each one of us to cleanse our hands. After, they laid out the "Injera" (the spongy bread) and stacked different types of meat, potatoes, carrots and other assortments onto it. Injera is composed of a tiny grain called "teff;" supposedly it is very high in iron, thus the woman of Ethiopia hardly ever suffer from cases of anemia. Mr. Moges also noted that conditions such as cancer and obesity were almost non-existant in the past, until western diets were introduced.
After the main course, they brought out some more injera with an extremely spicy pepper set in the middle of it. I tried a bit and it was like lucas times 1,000,000. They then brought out a piece of coal and lit it up (to set the ambience i'm guessing?), then brought out some BOMB coffee.
According to Mr. Moges, Coffee was discovered in the southwestern region of Ethiopia in the province of "Kaffa." A shepherd named "Kaldi" discovered it as he noticed his goats eating a red fruit, and then "dancing" afterwards. Upon observing their strange behavior, he tried the fruit himself and began experiencing the side effects of the coffee beans. The "Imams" (Islamic leaders) observed this from Kaldi and realized that it was no regular fruit. Soon after, it's fame spread throughout Ethiopia. This story is known as the "legend of the dancing goats." This was said to have occurred in the 9th century, implying that the land of origin of "coffee" is Ethiopia. No wonder it tasted soo good! Coming right from the motherland~
After lunch, the Moges' took us around to see more of the city. The first 3 pictures are of the African Union (A.U.), which was built by the Chinese government as a gift to the African nations. The union consists of 54 African states, and this building sits as a hub for international meetings and conferences as well. A massive sight to behold indeed.
The rest of the pictures depict different parts of the city, and the last two show giant residential complexes housing countless individuals dwelling in the capital.
Our last stop was at what is considered to be the oldest part of Addis. According to Mr. Moges, the city has declared that no demolishment of any part of this section is allowed so that the historical aura of the city can be preserved.
This was also where a whole row of jewelry stores (mostly of gold) were set up; the price of gold here is a lot cheaper then that of the states, due it being mined and manufactured in the African region.
Picture #3: The lady was probably like 6ft 5in or something; just towered over everyone there~
That concluded our day with the Moges'. I wasn't aware while we were hanging out with them, but Mr. Moges used held a very high position in Ethiopian Airlines (and still does), he also owned a lot of agricultural resources such as coffee trees but lost it all when the communist movement took over for a brief period of time. But after those times, he recovered and started various businesses of his own. He and his two sons run a total of five different businesses at the moment, including a bottled water company (he started the very first bottled water manufacturing business in Addis), manufacturing of gases such as oxygen (for medical supplies), and even a hospital (the other two i'm not too sure what they are).
With this said, it didn't dawn on me until after we said our farewells that we were being taken out by a bunch of millionaires. No wonder so many of the business owners we encountered acknowledged their presence~
Much gratitude to them for their generosity and kindness. I thank the Lord for allowing us to have such a great time through such unexpected and unlikely encounters. Thank you God!
After, we headed to the airport for 20+ hours of straight traveling.
This concludes the Ethiopia portion of the trip.
Inevitably, more goodbyes were said to the rest of the team.
Above is Ms. Valerie Walker, and her friend Hannah (to your right). Ms. Walker currently works as the director of UCLA Medical Alumni Association and resides in west L.A. She is also the founder of "Operation Medical Libraries," which runs with the intention to "collect and distribute current medical textbooks and journals to war-torn countries through a partnership with American medical schools, hospitals, and physicians and the United States military."
Thanks to her, we were able to transfer three 50lb boxes of books to Malawi during this trip.
Keep in touch Val~
Operations Medical Libraries link:
Next is Mr. John Lee. This young buck will be starting his Junior year at Rutgers College. He's an active member of Intervarsity on campus (woot woot!), and currently is aiming to attend medical school after his college career. He has the gift of being able to fall asleep anywhere, ANYWHERE!
WIll miss ya bud.
Lastly, we have Dr. Chisoo Choi and his wife Younhee.
Dr. Choi and his wife have embarked on about 30 trips overseas; many of which to provide medical services and others for mission oriented reasons. He's been on trips to Ecuador, Haiti, Kazakstan, Mexico, different parts of Africa, etc.
He is currently working as an MD in Tulsa Oklahoma, and is preparing to move with his wife to Lilongwe Malawi in about 3-4 years, to live out his vision and dream of empowering the one's in need. He hopes to take part in the building and running of a medical school that is to be constructed at Dae Yang Luke Hospital. He hopes to empower the natives there, so that they themselves can be educated and self-sustaining. When asked about why he chose Malawi, and how he discerned this "calling," he explained that when he was praying about long-term overseas missions, he always requested that he'd go anywhere BUT Africa. Ironically, God led him on many journeys and intentionally brought people into his life who shared a common passion. It just so happens that many of these relational encounters were individuals from Africa, more specifically Malawi. Therefore, through the most unlikely circumstances, he was led the place he dreaded most. Naturally, he was also concerned about finances and whether or not he should leave immediately or later on. But ironically, shortly after Dr. Choi committed his vision towards moving to Malawi; the hospital he was working at expanded 1/3 of its facility and was seeking a physician to fill in the position. He decided to take on responsibilities there, and knew that this was God answering his prayers. He currently works 7 days a week, but is driven and motivated by the things that are to come.
Dr. Choi is also an ordained pastor/minister, and loves to preach when needed, and to also counsel individuals (he is also a director of a psychiatric facility).
He is probably one the the most patient individuals i've ever met; definitely a role model for myself as his character stands out amongst many.
Thank you for leading Dr. Choi.
If anyone is interested in medical missions, please let me know. Can definitely connect you to sources and individuals who have connections such as Dr. Choi himself.
Younhee is another amazing individual, who has embarked on many adventures with Chisoo and has taken their two sons with them to many places.
Younhee briefly touched upon her past and elaborated upon her family background, regarding her difficult experiences growing up. Amidst the hardships, she stated that there are grains of wisdom to be observed and beheld from any situation. She stated that it was through the experiences, that she was able to assess the dynamics of her own family, and properly raise up and empower her children and her husband. Difficult times will come, but you will not stay the same person when you encounter them. Either you sink, or you get stronger; up or down. Character growth comes mainly through hardship, and wisdom is gained though them as well.
Her advice to me is that we have no control over the families we are born into, but we do have control in choosing a spouse. But with this said, the type of person you find yourself attracted to, is a reflection of yourself; the values and priorities you hold. So know yourself, and let the father above all fathers teach you.
Maybe I will drop by Tulsa sometime ^__^
So personally, how was this trip for me? What were the thoughts that came to mind?
I personally went in not knowing what to expect, but I was preparing myself for heavy duty work. But ironically, it turned out to be more of a "vision" trip. I think the observance of the character and visions of many of the individuals I met were the factors that really humbled me, and burst my miniscule modern western bubble.
I was in many ways, hoping that this trip would really fuel and catalyze my motivations and desires as a serviceman in the healthcare field. This trip has shown me that these skills are indeed useful, but to be very honest; it is something that i'm not too passionate about. But upon conversing with some of the team members and really assessing myself, the issue isn't simply with my title and career path, but with what I look towards to shape my identity.
Speaking for myself, it's a mosaic of elements that I look towards including my career and title, the need to be validated, codependence or the "need to be needed," and also my perception of how others perceive me. With these things said, this goes hand in hand with my desire and need to control so many aspects of my life, including circumstances and relationships. When these things rule over my life, Paul Trip (a minister currently residing in Texas) puts it perfectly that "you always go out loaded with silent agenda, loaded with silent expectations; you're essentially saying to people 'I love you and I have a wonderful plan for your life, and I will judge you by the law of my own claustrophobic kingdom of one.'" What a scary thing that is.
Albeit the things mentioned, the Lord definitely provided for me a passage of which i've been meditating on throughout the trip.
Romans 8:15-17 records:
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Many profounds implications in this passage, but i'll point out a just a few.
1. The metaphor of being "adopted" is used when describing God's acquisition of ourselves. When a child is adopted by parents, there is nothing that the child does to become adopted; it is all through the actions of the parents. It is through the actions and by grace of the parents, that the child receives the right to be part of the family. As with this metaphor, the works of salvation grants us a change in status. Just as the Israelites passed through the red sea, they went from being "slaves" to liberation. By status, God was able to take them out of slavery in a moment. Still, it took a process to restructure the conditions of the Israelite's hearts, as he led them into the desert. Likewise with adoption, if a child suffered abuse in their childhood, the scars don't instantly vanish even after being adopted; it takes a process, as the child will heal through the commitment and love of the parents. By grace we have been saved, and through grace we'll grow.
2. Receiving "sonship" and being his children implies that God is not just any father, but the father beyond all fathers. It was through his actions that we became his children, and he is now forever committed for the growth of our well-being. This can't be undone. With this said, my worth and value is embedded in what it cost the father (the life of his only son), to take me in as his own. With this said, if I center my identity on what this Father says about me and how he validates; I can be liberated from factors mentioned earlier. I can let go of control, and get off his seat. I am pray that this truth will manifest in my life; i know it in my head but I know that it'll take more for it to be truly grasped.
3. Romans was written in Greek, but the word "Abba" is Hebrew. Paul may have used it in this manner to preserve the contextual meaning, and to highlight its essence to the readers. "Abba" doesn't just mean dad, but more "dada." When 7-9 year olds say "dad" or "daddy," they usually call because they want or need something. But when an infant utters "dada," they do so because they desire the presence of the father (or mother), and not just to get something from him. Likewise, Paul may be emphasizing that if we have the spirit abiding in us, there is a natural yearning; as it states in the text, his spirit "testifies" with ours that we are his. If we have a desire to seek him out, even though we feel like he isn't present; we wouldn't be seeking him if he wasn't seeking us, for our spirit cries "abba" in response to him.
4. Lastly, Paul writes that we become "heirs." When one gets adopted, they also attain the rights to the possessions of their parents. Just as a woman gets married to the husband; by grace, everything he has becomes hers and likewise through adoption. Now if Paul writes that we become heirs to the king of kings, what would be the things that we'd inherit? So many wonderful yet mysterious things, but one thing for sure is himself. We get him, and his unconditional commitment towards us.
It's probably because I try to hold on so tightly, that it squelches the discernment of what God is saying to me, and what he has in store.
Being back here and just meditating upon the passage and things I was exposed to, I believe he is definitely saying that it's time to let go, and to find my validation and worth in him. The practicalities of it, i'm uncertain about but I know that the process has started.
Remember, that we are his children; directly under the care of the King of kings, and the director of all things. If you were the ONLY person on this entire earth, he still would've have given up his son just to have you. Chew on that~
So what of medical mission trips? I definitely plan to embark on many more short term adventures; one's of which to empower folks and to provide services as well. That i'm certain of. But what else is in store? Not too sure, but am excited to find out as opportunities come.
Thanks for reading everyone. Thank you so very much for your support. Hope to see every one of you.