Thursday, June 30, 2011
A little over a year ago I travelled to Ethiopia with a group of 9 other families. I would have never imagined that we would connect so well. In just a few days we'll be getting together with 4 other families. I seriously am giddy about it.
S & M: I love you dearly. And I'm thankful that I manage to connect with you every few months.
M: We really don't live that far from each other. After all, I'm only 35 miles from your state's border with mine. I'm super excited to see you and the rest of your crew.
K: Oh my word. I'm so giddy to see you again. I just read your blog and I laughed. You crack me up. Loved your comment to M in the email you sent last night. And the food you're going to cook, I guess I'll be trying something new
J&S: Seriously, can't you both move closer to the midwest so we can get together eaiser? That or become super wealthy, buy a jet and come hang out every few months. I miss you ladies. A lot.
Oh, this weekend is going to be fun. Hopefully my maid shows up before you do. But if she doesn't, know that it's because she, which is me, is busy working on a few other big things which you'll hear about when you're here. K? K.
Last trip, the kids were taught the sign language sign for "I love you". They all knew it this time. Even kids in town knew it. So, we were bombarded with greetings of "you, you, you" followed by "I love you" and the sign. Too sweet.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
One of the things I love and appreciate about Ethiopia is the culture. I've found similar cultures before. Commonly called warm climate culture, they valued relationships over their task list. I love it and I find it annoying. Tonight while washing the dishes I was thinking about this. And I think their culture might be a little more biblically based. Do you know the story in the bible of Mary and Martha at Jesus' feet? It's a story I've struggled with as long as I've known it. Found in Mark chapter 10, the take home message of this story, in my opinion, is that relationships (especially with Christ) are more important than the task list. That's hard for a person like me to swallow. After all, I have a task list in my journal of all the things I hoped to accomplish. But in this Ethiopian culture, they are choosing relationships over the task list.
So, we had lots of ceremonies. Lots of officials who came to thanks us for coming. Lots of precious moments where the children entertained us with skits and songs. Lots of coffee served. Lots of traditional dancing and singing. And even lots of waiting for those things to happen. But you know what else occurred in that time? Lots of relationship building. And it was beautiful. Building relationships is important no matter what culture you're in.
As somewhat of an outsider to FOVC, it was great to see how the Ethiopian government was so supportive of the work FOVC is doing. That was certainly evident by the many officials who came to thank us. Who, in a poor part of the country, brought books for the private school who educates the orphans but also some children from the community.
If I remember right, they were math books and hygeine books. I might be wrong on that detail but none the less, the support was obvious. And it wasn't just the government officials. The local priest met us our first night for supper and then joined us Sunday after his mass was finished and spent the day with us.
Of course, all these ceremonies take time. The children did so well patiently waiting for all the big people type of business. When it came time for them to get involved, they did that too. Below are some of the older children dancing for us. Some are in uniforms while others are in a traditional shirt. Their dancing was amazing. Some of us willingly danced with them while others were drug out in the middle to shake their thang!
And when it came time for more formal gift giving, the children took part. The teachers have amazing control of the students. They have been taught well. The children thanked each person for coming and presented us with a traditional scarf. The two little girls who gave us scarves were adorable.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
We pulled into Shanto. We knew they were waiting for us. At one end of town was the open air market. As soon as the landcruisers pulled in, people began leaving the market and gathering around our vehicles. Eventually we were told to go ahead and get out of the vehicle and to take only our camera. We were met by a large number of villagers. The elders dressed in traditional attire, were dancing and singing the traditional dance. It took us almost an hour I'm guessing to walk down the road to the compound. Not because it was a long walk but because we were surrounded by curious onlookers. Like, worse than the shopping mall on Christmas Eve. Like worse than the football stadium right after the game ends. I'm a people person so I loved it. Being surrounded by tons of people I didn't know didn't make me uneasy at all. What really touched my heart was that as I walked I had one child holding my left hand and not sharing with others while I had 4 different children holding my right hand. And when we came to a mucky puddle, rather than let go of my hand and walk in front of or behind me through the dry spot, the children would wade through the puddle so they could keep holding my hand. I wondered what they were thinking as I tried to let go and let them go ahead of me. I'm not even sure what I was thinking.
When we finally reached the FOVC compound, we were greeted by this group of children and their teachers at the front gate. They were singing a song, in English, for us while proudly holding up their signs. It was warm. They were hot and been waiting a while so I'm sure they were as glad as we were that we were finally there!
One of the coolest parts of all this was when Jo locked eyes with her sponsored child and they ran for each other. Their embrace was one of long lost friends. What I didn't know then was that when Jo left in January, Ayelech was quite upset. Jo assured her that she would come back and said to look for her. Well looking she was and she found her and it was precious. When they hugged, Ayelech said "my mummy, you've come back". Yes, indeed she did Ayelech.
Of course, there was one sweet boy that was holding a sign with our names on it. We made sure to track him down and Julie grabbed a picture of us. This was the beginning of many little buddies that we would come to know.
Below is a picture of some of the town elders who were dancing, singing and playing their instruments. These people danced us all the way down the road and then continued after we greeted the children at the compound gate. They must have burned a lot of calories that day doing the "hand drying" (as we called it) dance.
Just a few of my friends are below. Really, I don't think I really knew any of these kids yet except the one to my immediate right. She stuck close to me all week. Love that sweet child. What was even better was that she asked about Ingrid shortly after I got to know her a little. How cool is that!!! She was asking about Ingrid, one of 4 people I know from last January's team of 28. I had brought her a little photo book from Ingrid and was so glad to be loving on her for my friend. As the week progressed, my little buddy would rarely leave my side.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
This photo above captures much of our journey. And a journey it was. Literally and figuratively. In 12 days time, I spent approximately 88 hours, or 3 and 2/3 days, travelling. That's a lot of sitting. The following are some pictures, and maybe some stories mixed in, of our travels in Ethiopia.
The above photo was a typical scene: people travelling along side the road, livestock travelling along-side and across the road all while the driver speeds down the center at 80mph. Even though there were lines painted on this road, drivers had no regard for the lines and would even pass on a hill going around a corner. Crazy driving to say the least. So much so that one driver earned the name Speedy because of his crazier than normal driving.
The picture below speaks of travelling to the South for me. I first saw the picture on Bethany Hutchison's blog. Then on our first trip to Ethiopia, this hill stuck out like a sore thumb as we passed it. Of course when we saw it on this trip, I once again asked Ryan to grab the camera. I had no clue we were headed the same route as our trip to Durame until I saw this beautiful landmark.
If you live in my world or better yet, work in my world, this picture grabs your attention on many levels. What I want to point out to you here is the chocolatey-brown river in the center of the photo. Could you imagine your nearby river looking like this? How about if it was your drinking water. Getting drinking water is a daily journey for most Ethiopian's in the rural country-side. They travel for hours, carrying jugs to get dirty water like you see below to use for the day. The next day is a repeat. What I wish I had a picture of was the last day on our way out of town. It had just rained. A lot. Water was running down the side of the road through a ditch. Women were huddled over the draining water scooping it up. In their hands. In their storage jugs. Washing their face. Dirty, parasite filled water. Out of the road ditch. So sad. It makes me sick. But not as sick as it makes them. I wish I had that picture so you could see why we need to help them provide clean water.
The reason I waited to post was so that I could take the time to write detailed, accurate posts. But now that I'm sitting on the couch, I don't dare get my lazy butt up and grab my journal to get the name of this next place. We stopped twice on our drive down to Soddo. Once was at an open air national museum called Melka Kuntere. On a beauitful location we saw soils profiles and information, as well as digs for human bones. The second place we stopped is the next two pictures. It's a site of really, really old burial sites. Ancient would be the word I was looking for. Anyway, these ancient burials were of soldiers. The back side of the stones were carved. The swords indicated how many they'd killed. The circles indicated if they if they were male or female. We even had a tour guide.
PS, when we took our missions leader training in February, one of the important things we learned was to entertain your host when they want to show off their pride and joy places. So, while we struggled with just wanting to get to FOVC and getting work accomplished, we also knew the value of seeing the things our host's wanted to show us.
So this next picture didn't load big enough. Seriously blogger, you're driving this tired, grumpy lady crazy. Anyway, this picture shows how the ground is tilled up. It's old school. But it works. Plowing with this method is quite the journey for the oxen and the man. It takes me hours and steps to get this field prepared for a crop to be planted.
This next picture is one of my favorite. If I could have only stepped into this woman's life a little more, I would have been speechless I'm sure. As we pulled along side the road for a quick break, locals began to gather around us. As I turned my head to the hill side, I watched a middle aged woman rush down the hillside. I wondered what was going through her mind. Did she want to see the ferenge (white people)? Did she think we had something to give her? Never-the-less, she hustled down the hillside and as she got to the bottom, she made sure to wipe the mud off her feet before she greeted us. The least we could do for her was to take her picture. Imagine her surprise, having never seen herself before, when she saw a picture of herself on my camera. I couldn't leave without taking a picture of this sweet woman on a journey, along with about 20 other curious locals.
For the most part I did just fine. We may have drove in style while in Ethiopia but because of my easy car sickness, I made sure I rode in the center, and most uncomfortable seat, so I wouldn't get sick. Though my team offerred to change, I preferred the discomfort of the seat over sickness. On our flight home, after a 4-hour drive from the country-side, I believe God had pity on my hind end (and my husband) by leaving an open seat next to me. Being emotionally and physically wiped out, and a little help from a muscle relaxer, I spread out in those two seats and crashed.
This concludes my first installment of the posts about my trip to Ethiopia with FOVC. More are coming. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. But I guarantee I have lots more pictures and stories to share!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
If it takes you to the ifpri homepage, just navigate to the country of ethiopia in the top bar and then go down to a May 2007 publication. And if you're interested in agriculture things like me, you might read the whole document. This 108 page document titled "Ethiopian Rural Economy" talks about crop production, access to clean water, livestock, etc. Don't be overwhelmed, for each map/graph in English, there's a subsequent map/graph in Amharic. And really, the first 17 pages explain all their processes. So, if you do the math, that should really only be 37 pages of reading... I might just start tonight. Then again I have four loads of laundry to fold, 4 more to wash and blogs posts to write about my trip... wishful thinking...
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
- met with some people who wanted to hear about our trip
- rambled to some close friends about the not-so-pretty parts of our trip
- Had a filling in a tooth. I hate cavities!
- facilitated our missions meeting at the church
- Ordered thank you's for our Ethiopia trip and Father's Day cards for the dad's on my list.
- Attended a presentation for one of our church sponsored missionaries and went to supper with him, the missions committee and my family
- Sat on the couch and did nothing even though I really should have been cleaning
- Hosted my in-laws and their friend, Kathy, in our home for supper. Thank you honey for doing ALL the food prep.
- Worked all week. Boy did that suck the first day back.
- Weeded the garden mostly until I was tired of getting bit by bugs. At least I don't have to worry about malaria here.
- Presented to some people in our church about our Ethiopia trip. (that's a whole 'nother ramble)
- Addressed and filled out all the thank you cards. Except the few I left for Ryan.
- Edited our pictures from the trip
- Prepared a presentation on the trip for a work meeting. Not quite done with that one.
- Hosted my favoritist FIL for the evening.
- Read Tom Sawyer to Scott. A few chapters that is.
- Drooled over other team members pics
Now I'm ready to crash if only the bug bites would quit itching.
Next on my list:
- Begin blogging about the trip
- Pull weeds in the flower beds
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I would love to be blogging but I have company coming and a crazy, not guest friendly, house. And two presentations to prepare. And a photo book to create. More from me next week... unless I share bits and pieces here and there.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
and of course another sneak peak at a photo. One that's not yet on FB.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
On Monday morning, our driver took us back to Ms. A in his landcruiser. My emotions were overwhelming as I watched the local village people break branches along the foot path so the "ferenge" could get through in the landcruiser. While one woman walked along the path that led us to Ms. A, I was overcome with how wonderful the people of Ethiopia are.
We did meet Judah's birth mom for a second time. And we met the brothers. And I'm so, so thankful. In addition to that, my friend, Dr. Jo went along with us to check on our birthmom who said she'd been very sick. Jo happily reported that mom and boys were well and then proceeded to treat 30+ people for MMR.
Thank you FOVC staff, Dr. Jo, and Guillermo (our driver) for blessing us in such an incredible way!!!
For the other AP's reading, there was no involvement of Holt for this meeting. They didn't have the staff available. We did not take her anything except the one picture of Judah. She had received the letters and pictures we sent in the past. Great news.
More from me later...
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Please continue to pray for our team. That everyone will arrive in Addis safely and then return safely. Pray for God to bring Shalom to our team!
from the guest house where the kind lady lets me sneak on her computer...