Wednesday, December 12

This Year. Our Life.

Holiday Greetings to you all,

The end of a calendar year provides an opportune time to think back, reflect, and consider the last twelve months of our lives. As we go about doing just that, we will grant you all an open window into what the Lord has done.

We offer this for you because you are a vital part of our life and work, and it seems evident to us that we have done a poor job spelling out the specifics of the details that make up the last year. This letter will serve as an apology in two senses: to express our regret in not being explicit where that has in fact been the case and to explicate with more precision the specifics that are entailed.

Plans & Prayers
December 2006 – July 2007

Our focus within the work remained pointed and strong upon our return in late December last year. Even within the first week, I had preliminary meeting that eventually led to the Pastor’s Training Institute. We aggressively pursued this opportunity and anxiously anticipated the beginning of the Institute, which was eventually inaugurated in April.
To see with deeper insight some of the elements that made up those early days I will copy a page from Amber’s journal.

“The meeting yesterday with the Addis Kidan leaders far exceeded our expectations. In the meeting, Anthony just opened up and said, "This is our hope....this is our goal and our train men that will be sent to the un-reached peoples of this country." Immediately after he said that, Ermais pulled up a document on his computer that outlined a detailed plan for reaching the un-reached peoples in 8 of the 9 regions of Ethiopia. The plan includes sending men out by twos to plant churches in these areas. The reason they have not pushed forward with this plan is because they lack the finances to support these ministers and they lack the men to do the training. Ermais said that they have money pouring in for humanitarian efforts and development work, but few are willing to give money for this purpose...for the spread of the gospel to the un-reached. Ermais has given the responsibility of the training to Anthony. He said that he could do it in whatever way he chooses.”
“We are overjoyed at this, yet so overwhelmed at the same time…
Then we read the Daily Light this morning..."Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."-"Falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land."-"Fight the Lord's battles."-"Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work...Fear not."-"Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest."-"Yet a little while, and the coming one will come, and will not delay."
“What can we say to these things? I have not completely taken it all in. It seems that all the planning has been done and that God has sent us here to make connections and to pray and help. I was ashamed this morning as I thought about all this and how it is really more than I ever expected and sooner than I ever expected. I want to think that this was more of doubting self and not God, but I don't know. I imagined Anthony training a few ministers in the city and maybe seeing some reform in a few of them. That was my hope. This is far more than I could have ever dreamed up. It seems so serious and weighty to me. Now I am only asking that God will make this goal the burning passion in my heart and all would be poured out in prayers to Him…That I would love His glory and long for the spread of His kingdom across this land…That my desire for these things would be in no way connected to self, but that I would long for this no matter who God was using. This is just like the Lord, isn't it? To exceed our expectations in every way. I do not doubt that this work will bring trials and difficulties, but is our God not sufficient for these things as well? Lately I have found myself holding back from boasting in Him, for fear that He will not do what I have hoped. I want these fears to be taken away that I may boast confidently in my Lord and fully believe that He will be all that we need in every situation.”
Following these initial meetings, PTI did begin and has continued since then, meeting in April, June, and October of this past year. I will leave in about three weeks to conduct the fourth round with a focus on the ministry and work of Jesus Christ. About 65 men are involved in this systematic study of the Bible that should lay a sufficient foundation for them to pastor and plant churches that please the Lord.

Running along side these plans were amazing developments within our family as well. Having previously resigned to the apparent fact that adopting from within Ethiopia was impossible for American citizens, we did not expect that door to open. But God did open it up to us, with more than one agency notifying us of the possibility of adding to our family by adoption even while we lived in Addis. We took the Lord’s leading and began the process with positive encouragements coming from our church and families. Our prayer has constantly been that God would grow our family. We expected that He would in fact do that, after all He had given us Ellie already. Our presumption was that we would adopt from Ethiopia again, after all it is where we were living and how would anything else be feasible.

We completed our Home Study and began the process in late January. From there we were faced with one hurdle after another and could not seem to make any significant headway in the process. Wrong information here, ridiculous expectations there, we simply were unable to move forward in the slightest way for nine months. Disappointed and assuming that all previous work toward another child was lost, we found ourselves back in the United States to renew our visas and to hurriedly return to the work that we had left mid-July.

So with our trip home we hoped to accomplish the retrieval of two-year visas that would allow us to stay in the country for a lengthy period that has thus far been divinely prevented. We were facing minor medical issues that ultimately hindered our October return, so we tentatively planned on early December being the date of our return to Ethiopia. The reason for an October return was so that PTI did not have to miss a beat from the original itinerary. Due to our postponing the return I went to Ethiopia in October to teach round three of PTI on the Doctrines of Sin and Humanity. Two weeks before I departed, we experienced another interruption. (discussed at length below)
We had no reason to suspect that we would not be able to get back to Ethiopia as planned. We assumed that there would be no major kinks in the process of getting visas renewed and making travel plans. However, God chose this occasion to answer prayers.

Plans changed through answered Prayers
August 2007 – December 2007

In September, we received a phone call and e-mail from a friend. ‘There is a need of a family for a baby boy…are you interested?’ was the message we received. ‘Are we interested?’ Interested in God answering so many people’s prayers for so many years? Of course! Who wouldn’t be? Right? We were ecstatic initially, just to consider how God had orchestrated all things for His good pleasure and for our good by increasing of our faith through seeing Him answer another prayer. Our Home Study was completed on another continent, with different intentions, yet God was seated at the helm and working all things according to His purposes. People had believed God from the beginning and some had even provided for it each month of the process along the way. The nine-month process that seemed at times to be headed nowhere at all!
However, with most sweet things in life comes something bitter. With gain there is sometimes loss. Saying yes to God meant going against what expectations were for us. Allowing God to provide the answer to our long awaited prayers meant not returning immediately to the field where God has given so much opportunity in recent months. Yet we trusted and are trusting that God has been the initiator since the beginning and that He would see us through as well as sustain His work abroad.

We are now the family of Isaac Anthony Mathenia, born July 10, just four days before we boarded the plane in Ethiopia to return to the USA for ‘our trip’ home. This journey, though very brief thus far, has been a remarkable pleasure for us. And is not every journey in which Christ is at the helm?


Two Things:
1. The legal finalization for Isaac will happen the first week of May. We can at that time apply for a birth certificate, social security card, and passport. Upon attaining those documents we will need visas for travel and then it’s off to Addis.
2. PTI will continue this year with round 4 in January. Also, tentatively scheduled are rounds 5 – 7 in April, July, and October respectively.

In closing, may we solicit your continued prayers on our behalf? Will you join with us in petitioning Him to make much of Jesus in all things?

We cannot thank you enough for your genuine interest in our lives.

Anthony, Amber, Ellie, & Isaac