Monday, April 4, 2016

"I have the name of Jesus, so I won't vomit." Ethiopia Day 4

Monday morning Kah-tee and I walked with Escadar to the bank down the street to exchange all of our American money to birr. 1 dollar is about 21 birr. Escadar took care of the money at the counter while Kah-tee and I waited in the seats-- multiple bank attendants approached to ask if we were okay because we were so obviously out of place.

Then Mule (Moo-lay) and Girum (G) drove with us out of the city to the mountain. Just driving through Addis is an experience in itself.

Most of the time we had no idea where we were, but some landmarks like this blue and white church were familiar sites.

Little shops like these were everywhere. But we were always asking ourselves, "Who buys stuff from these people?"

Before long we were out of the city and on more rural roads. There were more donkeys...

The erosion on the way up the mountain was crazy.

We were driving through villages at the same time kids were getting out of school and walking home in their uniforms.

We parked at the top of the mountain and started walking out to the point.

More donkeys roaming free...

And then we made it to our destination.

G, Rahel and Mule led us in prayer for Ethiopia, Addis, Young Life and the upcoming camp at the end of the week. Usually when we prayed together people would be praying in both Amharic and English.

On the way back down the mountain we found another spot to get out and explore.

Heck, we really love exploring together.

And it's such a gift to have this adventure with my best pal Smoon. She lives in WI right now and time together these days is a rarity. We just get each other after 9 years of friendship and 2 summers being CILT counselors together.

Rachel Phillips is a freaking lover of adventures. This girl has been to more places in her lifetime than most people will ever go. It was common to hear someone yell, "Rachel! Don't go too far." And Rachel was always the first one to fill her plate with new Ethiopian foods and eat all of them.

Julia and Kaitlyn, the other two HS girls, bring so much enthusiasm and excitement to the table. They've been thrilled about this trip since the start and soaked it all up. Their journal entries about this trip could probably be a novel.

This just makes me laugh.

As we were sitting up on this mountain Smoon and I talked about all the people who live in Addis. How can we wrap our minds around the idea that we just happened to be born in America and they just happened to be born in Ethiopia. We have no control over that but it affects our life in profound ways.

BC Serna recently traveled to India and wrote thoughts along the same lines, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. I've dreamt of this place for over a decade and what happens when you're sitting amongst a moment you've only seen in your dreams? The world needs you to come alive-- it doesn't need your money or you to be perfect. It needs you show up and shine." 

"90% of humans on this planet don't have the resources, possibilities and opportunities that you have. I'm sitting in the second most populated country in world, thinking how in the hell did I get so lucky?! What did I do to deserve a healthy body, functioning culture, infinite possibilities and the chance to live beyond my means? These kids give praise for the simplest things and rejoice for whatever the day brings. If you don't live a life fully alive you don't only let yourself down, you let down billions of people that never even got the chance."

Back in Addis we stopped at Tamoka coffee. We bought bags of Ethiopian coffee beans to bring back to our families and the people who helped sponsor our trip. Janelle and Julia got a coffee and macchiato to try-- they both raved about how good and how strong it was.

Back at the YL house we ate spaghetti for lunch (have you noticed the Italian influence on their cuisine?) which was delicious. While some of our friends ventured out to the grocery, I played cards with Rachel. Oh how this girl makes me laugh.

I learned to play Michael Jackson, my new favorite card game, and then we made up a couple of our own games too.

Rachel won.

I copied her winning.

Kayden came back and jumped in the game too.

Rachel and I also tried out Janelle's fancy camera.

After resting we loaded up in the van and headed out again. This time we were in search of an area of Addis called Lebu and the compound where Kah-tee had come before to build a library and work in the community center.

KCraig remembered that from the Safeway in town you turned left on a dirt road. From there our Ethiopian friends asked people if they knew where the community center was located. Eventually we found the government compound and walked in.

The Lebu library was finished on KCraig's last trip. It was a labor of love to say the least. After visiting Lebu earlier, she listened to the people there who said they wanted a library, a place where kids could come and read and learn and grow. KCraig shared this vision with friends who worked together to raise the funds to make it a reality. But when we walked into the library today it was exactly as she and the team left it two years ago.

A few men were working at a front desk but no one was reading the books, no kids were studying.

It was frustrating, to say the least, to see that the potential of this space hadn't been pursued. KCraig had done this for friends in Lebu because this is what they said they wanted. But then they didn't follow through with using it and growing what was started.

Our YL friend Alemtshay (aka Becky) was a huge help in translating with the men working there and articulating what KCraig wanted to share. As an educator, KCraig understands the importance of reading for pleasure, reading stories and sparking creativity.

There is so much more that can happen here. The hope and prayer is that the conversations we had today will redirect what's going on so progress can be made in a shared vision.

We left the library and walked across the compound to the community center where KCraig and her team worked on their last trip. Inside we found a weight lifting room, cafeteria, tae kwan do room, and upstairs there was a computer lab and a second library. Yes, a second library. This made no sense to us-- why did they ask for another library when they were already using this one? Why did they build small offices beside the new library instead of just using that space for the offices? Why were they just letting it sit empty?

KCraig didn't know what to expect when we came back to Lebu and what we saw wasn't good. But we were able to have good conversations with the people working there. Rahel, our YL friend who works in this area, was able to make connections with people in the compound. Now that she's seen what's going on first hand, KCraig will be able to talk to the people at All God's Children about what's going on and their lack of involvement. There is hope for what can still happen in Lebu and the realization that even though we can't see the bigger picture, God is still involved and has a plan for the people here.

"Alex Craig clap, clap, clap-clap-clap."

After touring the building, we trickled outside to the basketball and volleyball courts where we made some friends. Sports are a universal language-- everyone can communicate with smiles and laughter.

By this time of the day we'd been out for awhile and had to go to the bathroom. But usually there aren't any bathrooms available so it's just not an option to go. We noticed that our Ethiopian friends would rarely drink as much water as us because they knew if they drank water they'd have to go to the bathroom and that wasn't possible.

"Alex Craig clap, clap, clap-clap-clap."

In the van we joked with G about how he needs to date either Fre or Hanna. None of them were to keen on the idea, but that didn't stop us from telling them all the reasons this was a great plan. The YL staff gave all of the Americans new Ethiopian names and we gave them new American names. It's such an interesting social experiment to try to figure out what names people look like and what names say about someone's personality. My new name is Zauditu which means, "She wears the crown." The American name that stuck the most was Becky for Alemtshay-- that woman was made to be a Becky.

Back at the YL house we found more of the noodle, potato, onion, carrot soup that we love from Watakay. G had traveled to Addis from the East side of Ethiopia so he was going to be staying with us until camp at the house.

Tomorrow we will be leading Wyld Life training so we spent the night coming up with a plan. It's so interesting to think through why we do what we do, what we've learned in the past few years and why we're passionate about sharing Christ with Junior High kids.

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