Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 27, 2014

Life in Slow Motion

Shire, Ethiopia

I am still learning the value of slowing down — something that seems to come easier for me when I am far from home. One benefit of serving in a place like Ethiopia is that I am forced to do life at the pace of the people who live here. Among other things, that means walking from place to place, accepting invitations from locals to sit and drink coffee, laughing and playing with kids in the street, or just sitting and observing people going about their daily routines.

Ethiopians have a fascinating coffee ceremony that we have enjoyed daily. The invitation to a coffee ceremony, something that can easily take an hour or more, is an important social matter. But, that’s ok because it provides an opportunity for good conversation while the host prepares the coffee. Preparing the coffee starts with roasting coffee beans over coals, grinding the beans in a mortar, and mixing the coffee into the boiling water that will yield an aromatic black brew that is thicker than motor oil.

Hair Color
Walking slowly among the people is one of the best ways to gain insight into local life. This afternoon I met some teenage boys outside of a local pool hall. They invited me to sit with them. By combining their limited English vocabulary, we somehow managed to string enough words together to communicate. They explained to me that they were coloring one another’s hair to make it even darker. I watched as one guy poured black hair coloring (made up of who knows what) onto his friend’s head. He then vigorously rubbed it in with his hand that was wrapped in a plastic bag. If I had enough hair I might have asked to be next.

Two Cute Girls
Meeting and talking with people is definitely the best benefit of slowing down in a place like this. The streets here are filed with children entertaining themselves with whatever toys they have found or fashioned. Everywhere you see kids you also hear lots of laughter. The kids in Ethiopia are absolutely among the most beautiful I have ever seen anywhere in the world. And there are so many other interesting people who smile and wave or who want to chat for a few minutes. The pace of life here makes room for these kinds of encounters.

This morning I had the privilege of preaching in one of the local churches. After breakfast we walked to church. We could hear the sounds of their high-energy and passionate worship as we approached the modest little church building. After the service, the folks prayed for us and then greeted us with handshakes, hugs, and even kisses from some of the kids. One young man told me that today was his first time in church. He had actually come at the invitation of my translator. The young man assured me that he intended to continue attending church because he was new to the town and needed friends.

Ethiopian Man w Cane
In the morning we will head to the Endabaguna Transition Center to start our work with the unaccompanied Eritrean refugee kids. Life for these kids is definitely lived in slow motion. Hours pass slowly because they have no opportunity to attend school or any place where they can play safely. If they wander away from the center they are in danger of being kidnapped by human traffickers. If they stay at the center there is nothing for them to do. We hope to change the world for these kids by being the hands and feet of Jesus and making provision for their safety, welfare, and future.


  1. Enjoying reading this Omar! Shire is a marvelous place! Jealous I am! Blessings on you and the group!

    • Thanks, Mark. I am standing here with Jerry. He sends his greetings. Wish you were with us.

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