Life is funny sometimes.
Not actually funny.
The very same months that we were preparing to go to Bolivia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of camp ministry there, Camp Langano in Ethiopia was suddenly and tragically shut down.
There had always been challenges in that place with the ‘neighbors’, but we never expected they would be able to force all the foreigners out.
After only 11 summers.
Three months before Jake and I moved to Ethiopia, we visited the Langano property.
It was February, 2007.
Our mini-van stopped before the container bridge so we could walk the two kilometers down the sandy road through majestic trees and monkeys and birds to the rustic conference hall.
Those were serious kilometers for me, trying to picture living there.
My friend turned and said, “Here’s your new Home, Sweet Home, Sarah.”
I kept my thoughts to myself. Something nice like, Easy for you to say. You aren’t moving here.
Jake had been recruited by the organization Sports Friends to fulfill their vision of soccer camps for Ethiopian youth. His job was to use the thousands of dollars donated, to improve and convert this church conference center into the first known residential camp in that country.
We went back to Ethiopia in June and, after one year of language school, we moved to a small cabin in that beautiful forest bordering the vast Lake Langano.
We were committed to staying there until all the building was done: new bathhouse, cabins, a big meeting hall, sports pavilion, plus upgrading solar and electric and water systems, managing the funds and working with three different languages and cultures. . . that was Jake’s job. And he did it.
I was pretty proud of him.
Ethiopians, who had never known a camping ministry, learned the value of getting away from the city and focusing on spiritual things and they did an awesome job staffing the programs. That is where we met and started to love our Son-in-law #3.
I am still proud of him.
Even though it was really hard for me to live in that isolated, rural outback, I appreciated being a part of giving good experiences to under-served kiddoes and I saw God work miracles in hearts and lives — my own heart and life included.
I was proud of Him, too. (Is that okay? To be proud of God?)
So, today I am puzzled: Why would our great God allow this vibrant work to be stopped by hostile neighbors?
“He is the Lord. Let him do what is good in his eyes.”
Those were the words Eli told child Samuel after he heard the prediction of judgment for his family. (1 Samuel 3:18)
Are those words of faith? Or just resignation?
I don’t know, but I am borrowing them today.
He is the Lord. Not me.
His eyes see all. Mine don’t.
He has done what is good in his eyes.
So even though I grieve the untimely and tragic ending of Camp Langano, still I believe:
He is the Lord of Langano.
May His will be done.