Friday, April 8, 2016

"I'm freaking Diane Sawyer up in here interviewing this bajaj driver. I love my life." Ethiopia Day 8 aka the Best Day Ever

Mornings start with buna at camp. And they make sure to pour tons of sugar in the buna (or tea) before they serve it to all of camp. The baker was busy making rolls for the hundreds of kids at camp.

Camp Kitchen Tour: (Hey Tecumseh and Tex at Timberwolf check this out)

In the far back corner are four spots for giant pots over open flames-- they build the fires underneath the pots. That's a cement sink where the woman is filling the giant red bowl but most of the washing happens in the tubs, not under running water. The woman in the black shirt is filling up smaller bowls of oatmeal from the giant one. And yep, that's another open flame for cooking right up front.

There's only one real prep counter in the kitchen. There's the plate of pancakes they made special for the work crew and you can see some of the carrots for lunch. There is one small fridge on the right side of the picture but we never saw what was stored inside of there.

In the back is where the real action happens. This is the Ethiopian YL Camp version of pits. As we cleared the dishes from each meal we'd bring stacks of plates and cups back here and put them on the ground--for dinner dishes it was already dark so this happened on the floor in the middle of the kitchen. (When we collected the plates from campers we saw a few groups putting their leftovers into plastic bags to take back to their cabins to eat later because they didn't want to waste anything.)

Then back here on the cement ground a group of women would wipe the leftovers from each plate (often eating the food right off of the plates as they worked). They washed the dirty plates in those two large bins before making clean stacks of dishes on the ground.

Most YL Expedition teams bring shirts with them when they come to Ethiopia and give away extra shirts to the friends they meet here. We're going to make our shirts back at home, sell them to YL and Wyld Life friends, and the give both the proceeds and extra shirts to our friends in Ethiopia. We'll have the shirts at Ethiopia Club on May 7th for YL and Wyld Life friends who want to come.

Now that we've gotten settled at camp Alex is starting to feel better and sitting up instead of always lying down. We sure do love this kid. "Alex Craig, Clap, Clap, Clap-Clap-Clap."

Smoon and I had been waiting to break out our overalls until we got to camp. Little did we know that overalls would also be part of G's program character's outfit. You can just call us triplets. 

Kah-tee, Fre and Hanna-- three of the coolest women I've ever met. I'm lucky to call them friends, to do ministry with them and to share adventures. I loved living life with each of them this week and wish we could do this together all the time.

And of course Escadar, G and Smooney are part of that crew too. These are the party people.

At Club this morning they put a new twist on a toilet paper mummy game we've tried before. This time the person getting wrapped had to do the spinning which made things extra hilarious when they got dizzy.

Ebe, Wonde and Hanna led us in worship which is always beautiful and the kids belt out the words with them.

This morning Fre gave the Club Talk. Even though we couldn't understand her we still wanted to stick around to listen because we just really love her.

It has been a pleasure seeing Moges in action for a week. This man oversees all of YL in Ethiopia and is obviously incredibly passionate about the people on his staff and the kids that they serve. Moges has dreams for growth and how God will move in this country. It's a beautiful thing to see how he is so loved by all of the people on his team-- everyone knows him, looks up to him and wants to follow this leader.

Julia was excited about this Ethiopia trip since the opportunity was first announced. After seeing Julia's enthusiasm, people's willingness to support her and urging from the Holy Spirit, Janelle joined the team as well. This has been quite the adventure for this mother daughter pair, one they won't soon forget. Now it's exciting for Janelle to think about doing something like this with Jack and Lucy as they get older.

Before lunch we camped out on our porch-- braceleting, list making, granola bar eating, laughing. We explained monograms and discussed if G is really a player.

But Kah-tee is bold and intentional in her questions so we always talk about serious things as well. She desires to really know the heart of these people, to understand what life is like for them. She asked Fre about the role ISIS has played in Ethiopia because we don't hear much about Africa in the news in the US. We didn't know what to expect, but we were definitely surprised when Fre told us that two of their YL kids had been killed by ISIS. They were with a group of people traveling to Italy to escape poverty, seek asylum, find work and then send back money to their families. Along the way they were stopped and then murdered by ISIS. For us, that's unthinkable. Our lives look so different and the amount of opportunities we have here are so often taken for granted. I can't begin to imagine what it was like to be those kids or to be the families that were left behind.

Before lunch Rach and I tried out the tire swing hanging from a tree. The branch it's attached to is just out of the frame of this picture so there wasn't a whole lot of swinging room. Still Rach died laughing so we'll call it a success.

Rachel spent the morning teaching just about everyone (Americans and Ethiopians) how to waltz.

Remember how the camp is right beside a farm in the compound? The bulls that they use to till the fields take a trip over to the lake a couple times a day to get a drink of water. So about 12 bulls come walking right through the middle of camp. They're not dangerous but you definitely want to get out of their way.

At lunch we piled up more food on top of the injera. The boss women, Meste and Yummy, had to keep correcting us if we were giving too much or too little food. Some of the kids were fasting so that limited which foods they were allowed to have on their plate. The language barrier made that a little tricky but we'd just say, "eshie, eshie," (it's okay, it's all good) when we knew they needed the fasting food we were serving.

On our way back to the YL house from lunch we noticed a bajaj that had been parked just off the road. Kah-tee had been trying to ride in a bajaj all week so we didn't want to pass up the opportunity. A large group of people from the farm were eating lunch in the area beside us and we figured one of them must be the bajaj driver.

Fre and Hanna asked the people who the owner of the bajaj was so we could get permission to ride. Before they found the person Kah-tee just took the proverbial bull by the horns and started climbing through the window of the bajaj.

Smoon gave her a boost to push her all the way inside since the doors wouldn't open. Just when she got behind the wheel, the bajaj owner arrived and started yelling at Fre and Hanna because this empt firenje was in his bajaj without permission.

Even though we couldn't understand what he was saying, we realized we had to get out of there real fast. Kah-tee tried diving out of the other window and Rachel had to start pulling her out so she didn't completely land on her face. Meanwhile Fre and Hanna are still talking to the bajaj driver trying to explain that this empt firenje didn't mean any harm. Kah-tee was screaming while she climbed out and Rachel ended up peeing her pants she was laughing so hard.

Even though we can't always understand each other, most of the Ethiopians think we're pretty darn hilarious. This women, cutting the grass with these giant sheers, was cracking up just watching us laugh. 

After asking nearly every single day if we could ride on top of the bus, Fre finally told us it was time. It didn't take much urging before all of us had scampered up to the very top of the bus.

HECKING YES. We're on top of a freaking bus at a YL Camp in Ethiopia. This is living the dream.

We drove through the camp on top of the bus which became an even more adventurous ride when our driver went straight for the rubber tubing stretched across the road. We all had to lie straight back so we wouldn't be clotheslined. Then he may have purposefully drive right into some low hanging branches as well just to make us scream. (Don't worry Mom- no one got hurt!)

Before we got to the main road we climbed back down and got inside the bus to drive to town to Kaldi's for a snack. More ice-cream, mocha frappuchinos, machiatos, tea, french fries and cakes.

Smoon is allergic to both dairy and gluten so you can imagine that her stomach was really hurting on this trip. We stopped at a grocery store to see if we could find anything she could eat. MEGA HUGE BOX OF CORN FLAKES!

And then, as if riding on top of a bus wan't enough, WE RODE IN A FREAKING BAJAJ! Fre, Hanna and G talked to a couple drivers and found the best price. Kah-tee and G got in the front seat with the driver and Smoon, Rachel and I climbed in the back.

This nice bajaj driver drove us most of the way back to camp (G came with us to make sure we'd be ok) and Kah-tee screamed and asked the bajaj driver questions the whole way. "I'm freaking Diane Sawyer up in here interviewing this bajaj driver. I love my life."

Kah-tee is one of my fav partners in crime, Meredith and Christina-- this is how we roll. In a freaking bajaj.

Easily one of my favorite moments from the whole week.

We got dropped off on the side of the road so we could get back in the bus but the sun we setting over the mountains.

G spotted a hyena out in the field so he, Rachel and Kayden took sprinting off to follow it. They ran far off in the distance and got close enough to see it. G threw some rocks near it to try to get it to come closer. Chasing hyenas in Ethiopia-- is this real life?

We rode on top of the bus back to camp again-- a couple branches might have gotten in our way but we survived. Smoon had a delicious plate of corn flakes for dinner.

Kah-tee and I hung out with our Ethiopian gal pal Becky who had just arrived to give the Club Talk.

G (aka Chris Brown), Kayden and Escadar reached the climax of their program skit. Escadar had to choose between the two guys. Please notice Kayden's bright yellow jelly shoes with black socks.

Kah-tee and "Alex Craig, Clap, Clap, Clap-Clap-Clap." Like mother, like daughter.

Straight up joy. You were made for this.

One of my favorite parts of Club is watching our friends lead hundreds of kids singing. Moges, Wonde and Hanna are rock stars.

One of the Club games involved several boxes of kleenex which resulted in piles of tissues all over the floor. Part way through Becky's talk I started stuffing kleenex in Kaitlyn's Chacos. A little while later I put them in Rachel's shirt. Fre was cracking up and told me to put them on one of her YL girls beside me. Soon everyone was stuffing the kleenex into the pockets, sleeves, pant legs of everyone around them and I was laughing till I had tears in my eyes.

The day wasn't over yet. Moges, Fre, Hanna and G came to get the empt firenjes from the YL house to take us hyena hunting in the field. We had a few high powered flashlights to spot their glowing eyes from far away. It was a bit thrilling to think we were looking for hyenas but only ended up finding some deer.

The power had gone off in all of camp so our highs and lows, devotions and showers were really in the dark. After such a good day it was hard to think about going home tomorrow and leaving behind all of these friends and adventures in Ethiopia.

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