("Johannes" and Jonas)
On our first trip we had a shopping afternoon planned for our last day. It was on our itinerary when we got there and I was pretty excited. We had a wonderful time browsing through the vibrant colors of scarves, traditional clothing, and beaded jewelry. It was so fun to be able to purchase little things for Tucker from his homeland. In one shop John noticed a little sign that said "Jesus is Lord" taped to the table with the register on it. A young man worked in the shop and he saw John smile at it so he came over and said, "it is true, no?" Of course John said "yes!" with a big grin on his face. The young man didn't speak much english - just enough to get by in the shop. We moved on to another shop and about 20 minutes later he came to find John again and asked him if he'd like to see a Bible in Amharic (language spoken in most of Ethiopia.) John said yes and left the shop with the young man. What happened next still brings tears to my eyes...
The young man brought the Bible out to John (who was standing on the street.) John flipped to the front and saw the table of contents. He pointed and said "old testament? - new testament?" and the young man nodded in agreement. John found the beginning of the new testament and went through the first four books saying, "matthew? mark? luke? john?" When he got to John and the young man nodded he said, "yes, yes, Johannes." So John said, "My name is Johannes." Then he found page number for John chapter 3 and found verse 16. He pointed to it and held it out to the young man so they could read it together... then he began to recite, "For God so loved the world..." and he finished the verse. The whole time the young man was nodding and smiling. Then he took the Bible back from John and pointed to the same verse ... and recited those incredible words in his own language.
John says it was a moment when time stood still and the gospel transcended all language barriers. They were just two young men in love with Jesus and sharing the joy of knowing Him. We brought that Bible home and have it sitting on our nightstand. It is a treasure in our home and we hope it will mean as much to our son one day as it means to us now.
When we returned to Ethiopia for our second trip I wanted to do a little more shopping so I went with a couple others from our travel group while John stayed at the hotel with Tucker. Who should I run into but the same young man! I had the sense to catch his name this time... Jonas (pronounced Yoe-nahs.) He remembered me and my "friend Johannes." He was so excited to see me and gave me a beautiful beaded necklace, "a gift," he said as he fastened it on me. Then he handed me a leather cuff for my "friend Johannes." I promised I would give it to him and he left.
Just one of thousands of experiences in Ethiopia... but one that makes it that much dearer to us. We truly love the people and the country and I dream of returning someday soon.