Friday, October 19, 2012

Pastor returns from life-changing trip to Ethiopia-Lewistown News-Argus > News >

First Christian Church Pastor Rick Page, left, poses with Rebecca and Sean Cox and Getinet "Dundee" Teferi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during Page's life-changing trip. Teferi is from Addis Ababa and is one of the "difference makers," Page said. Photo courtesy of Rick Page

News-Argus Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:15 AM MDT
First Christian Church pastor Rick Page walked into familiar territory Friday, taking a seat at the Southside Fish and Clam Café on West Main Street.

When asked if he was ready to order, he hesitated.

“I still have an Ethiopian stomach,” he said.

It was hard for him to order, as he was now used to eating tef, wot and other meals unique to Ethiopian culture. Even the spices were different, such as berbere.

After being encouraged to try the buffalo shrimp, Page talked about what was truly on his mind.

His stomach wasn’t the only part of him he left in Africa.

“Ethiopia stole my heart,” he said.

Page, who is originally from Florida and has done several mission trips in the past, could not believe how much his experience in Ethiopia impacted him.

“Most of the stories I heard I can’t even think about without choking up,” he said.

The trip was a gift to Page from First Christian Church elders as part of Pastor Appreciation Month, he said.

“Some called it a vacation,” he said. “But I wouldn’t call it that. My pillow was wet with tears every night.”

Page played the part of missionary, spreading the word of the Gospel in a village north of Addis Ababa called Kore, where he met men, women and children struggling with leprosy, poverty, HIV, cancer and more.

A lot of Page’s time was spent in hospice, where he prayed for the dying.

But it was Page that learned something, as he was re-energized by the love of Jesus Christ he witnessed in those suffering.

“I’ve preached on garbage dumps in Mexico, I’ve seen the hollow eyes, but Ethiopia is different,” Page said. “The difference is the people. They were full of joy. It’s amazing how many smiles I saw.”

There were homes lit by a single light bulb, rats the size of prairie dogs, mattresses on the floor in mud brick homes. The conditions, Page said, were heartbreaking.

Page said he prayed for a man dying of cancer whose living room was the size of a walk-in closet.

“It was first-hand poverty like you wouldn’t believe,” he said.

There are many stories Page could tell, and he wants to share as many as possible. Sometime in the near future, he will host an evening at First Christian Church open to the community, all about his journey.

Making it through that night without crying would be impossible, he said, as he couldn’t make it through his sermon Sunday without a few tears being shed.

Going to Ethiopia was a life-changing experience, Page said, just as it was for missionaries Sean and Rebecca Cox.

Sean and Rebecca – both Montanans – have made it their mission to help those in need in Ethiopia, to give to those in Kore that are struggling.

After a few years being involved, there are people in Kore that consider them family, Page said.

Some day, that could be Page, as he told his congregation Sunday he will definitely return to Ethiopia and even bring his wife, Suzanne.

“She needs to see what I saw,” he said.

Page also encouraged members of the congregation to take the trip with him, with a glow in his eyes and newfound enthusiasm.

His stomach will recover from the trip, but his heart, he said, will never be the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment