By Francis Maull, Member of the Wales National Advisory Committee
Off-road riding for hours, spine-jarring bumps, diesel exhaust fumes, dust and heat - these are memories of Ethiopia but they are not those that will remain with me for ever.
The real memories will be the love and kindness shown by our hosts, their dynamic daily faith, the determination of men and women in both urban and rural situations 'to drive poverty out' and their hope in Christ.
In a rural community, a young mum shared with us how being even too poor to save a single birr (the local currency) - she put aside what she could, just three coffee beans from their daily brew.
This determination to do something, helped by the Kale Heywet Church was changing her life and that of her neighbours. Our Ethiopia trip showed how Tearfund through its partner churches is providing a 'help up' not a 'hand out'.
Through the self-help group concept individuals and communities are having an opportunity to take control of their future. By coming together and meeting regularly, they can provide mutual support and prayer. Many members are saving for the first time after receiving training from Tearfund's partners.
Part of the trip was immersion in the local way of life and we stayed with families in Hawassa in the south of the country.
This was demanding for all of us. I live on the coast in Pembrokeshire and dreamed of sea breezes to cool me when trapped under my mossie nets in a hot, dark room listening to packs of dogs roaming the alleys. However we made it and we were overcome by the care shown to us.
Going back to memories, it is the people of Ethiopia that will stay with me. The enthusiasm of church leaders and their first class organisation, the children chasing after the minibus, the HIV/AIDS drama with teens and twenties in the school field, the coffee ceremony (I drank 7 cups one night!), the foot-washing - a traditional Ethiopian custom before I went to bed.
Nevertheless as one of two Welshmen in our UK and Ireland party, perhaps the unique memory should be that at Addis Ababa airport on the way home. My luggage had a Welsh flag stuck to it and the attendant while he was lifting the suitcase onto the security scanner pointed to the dragon and said these immortal words - 'Ryan Giggs'.
Tearfund's Discovery course launches in Wales!
Do you want your church to become a transforming influence within your community?
Discovery is one of the leading courses designed to help you do just that. Written by skilled practitioners who have worked extensively in inner-city communities, Discovery draws on Tearfund's experience of working with churches and community groups in the UK and overseas. It aims to build on the strengths and aspirations of your church group and help them put their plans into action.
If you think you might be interested, contact Patrick Parkes on 07960 102001, email@example.com for an informal chat about the course.
For more details about the Discovery Course or running one then please see the Serve UK web site
The latest issue of Tearfund Together, our volunteer newsletter, can be viewed here.
The Tearfund team in Wales are Hywel Meredydd and Fiona Michael.
Hywel Meredydd, Director
Fiona Michael, Regional Manager (volunteers)
17 Maes yr Hedydd