Our Mission in Ethiopia

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We saw some AMAZING churches carved out of rock in the 11th century here in Lalibela, Ethiopia today!!

This was the first church completed by King Lalibela.
There were 12 churches carved below ground level
to keep them unseen from invading armies.

This is the Church of St. Mary, the 2nd one carved out of rock.
Some anthropologists estimate they took 23 years to
be completed by 40,000 workers!

Symbol from Axum

Baptismal Font

The bottom window symbolizes
the key to heaven.

Communion is prepared behind
this door. All 12 churches are in
use today.

This is a window with the Latin Cross

Each church has a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.
They are always behind a curtain and seen only by
the priests.  The carvings above are King Lalibela's
shields and crown.

This is our guide, Getachew, demonstrating playing
 the drum used during mass.  Everything in the
churches has LOTS of symbolism, including the

This window at the top symbolizes
This is the fertility pool where once
a year barren women come and
 are dipped in the water 3x.
Jesus' ascension to heaven.

The bottom window is the Roman cross.

Bob took this as we walked through from one church to another.
(Sis. Tanner and I tucked our pants into our socks because you have to take
off your shoes each time you enter one of  the churches .  The
rugs inside each church are VERY old and we were told they probably
have fleas on them!  Sis. Tanner got quite a few bites! : /  )

The circles at the corners of every pillar symbolize
angels' eyes that watch over all of us.

This arch represents Noah's ark and this is the dove
with an olive branch in his beak.

This is a house we passed as we walked from one cluster
of churches to another one.

This is one of several tukuls over 300 years old. They
are not currently in use.  The animals slept in the bottom
part and the family in the upper level.

This is the last church King Lalibela built. It is
the Church of St. George.  It really was AMAZING!

It is surrounded by beautiful scenery!

Across from the Church of St. George

It was quite a walk to get to the bottom
but here is the church.

This is "holy grass" in water.
It is picked and used for rituals on
special holidays.

This symbolizes Mount Ararat where
Noah's ark came to rest.  The straight
line in the wall at the right symbolizes
the rainbow.

Behind this door are mummies of
pilgrims that walked from Jerusalem
to Ethiopia hundreds of years ago!

This is on the way to the second
cluster of churches. This is called
the Stairway to Heaven.  (Notice
the "IRON ROD" Ü ~ which is
actually a railing...)

This Church is believed to be a palace
built for King Lalibela.  It is VERY
different from any of the other 11.

We met this priest in one of the
churches.  He is standing in front
of the curtain leading to a replica 

of the Ark of the Covenant.

These holes are used by the guards to sleep in.

The Eye of the Needle

This was my favorite church.  It is believed to have
been used only by King Lalibela and his family.
We had to walk through a pitch dark tunnel for 26
meters just feeling our way along a wall on the right!
The tunnel runs from the palace to the church. It is

called The Church of Emmanuel.

This is our room at the TOP TWELVE Hotel
in Lalibela.  Our balcony had a WONDERFUL
view of the whole valley below! Not bad for
$55 / night!! Ü

The view from our balcony


  1. Very interesting! I love the symbolism in the architecture. Makes me wonder why they built 12 churches?

  2. These are great shots! Isn't Lalibela amazing? I forgot to tell you to wear old sox and slip on shoes for your tour of the Lalibela churches!