Thursday morning we woke up early, loaded up the large bus with all of our suitcases and headed out of Addis. We drove an hour and a half to Kuriftu, the camp that YL uses for Discipleship Camp. The staff arrived early to get things set up before the hundreds of kids came with their leaders. We had plenty of time to explore. Camp is built around a giant lake-- we couldn't swim but it was still really beautiful.
After being in the city for so long it was good to be outside in a more rural area. The smog in the city was so intense that our snot was black and gray from inhaling so much dirt. Now we were ready for the clean air.
We took the road the other direction past our guest house and wandered past a few fields where people were tilling the field and planting. The camp is part of a larger compound which means that Young Life people weren't the only ones around.
Rachel, Smoon, Julia and I decided to climb into one of the trees lining the path. One of the kids in the field was watching and laughing at us the whole time. Kids here don't climb trees for fun that often.
Smoon tried her hand at a pump...
We explored a greenhouse...
And then hung out in the YL guest house living room together. This time there were three bedrooms that each had a double bed, 2 bathrooms and then four people slept on extra mattresses in the living room. Compared to our house in Addis, we now had so much room.
Sidenote: Any time we left our house in the city or at camp we locked the door to keep our stuff safe inside. All of us were horrible at locking and unlocking the doors-- usually it would take us several minutes to get it unlocked. We often had to ask an Ethiopian to help us out and they would get it on the first try. All of the locks knew we were empt firenjes.
It was SO DANG HOT and no campers were at camp yet, so Smoon and I put on shorts while we sat on the porch and journaled. We had to take some pictures in our shorts of course, like our CILT photo shoots at camp, to document the one time we weren't wearing pants.
After 5:00 groups of kids, all from different tribes, started arriving to camp with their leaders. We put on our Work Crew shirts and headed down to the lake to meet some of them. Because it's a Discipleship Camp these kids are about Junior or Senior age and have been to camp before. I later found out that it's common for kids to leave HS and then come back to finish when they're much older. Those kids, even if they're 25, are still allowed to be part of Young Life and would just have an older leader.
G's boys arrived from the East side of Ethiopia after their 10 hour drive. After spending the week getting to know G it was so cool to get to know his guys. We told them our Ethiopian names and then gave each of them American names like Simon, Henry, Noah, Peter.
The firenjes and Ethiopians made a giant circle and we taught them to play 5 and Bunny Bunny. G translated the directions and then once we started playing the language barrier didn't matter anymore. So much laughter and silliness and fun-- just like YL camp at Sharp Top or Castaway.
Hanna and Fre's girls weren't able to come to this camp. But lucky for us, that meant we got to spend more time with them for these three days. Getting to know these Ethiopian friends so well wasn't something that I had expected on this trip. After being so loved by them, I feel so motivated to get to know the international counselors at Tecumseh this summer. I have such a greater appreciation for making them feel comfortable, building relationships and helping them figure out how everything works.
This. Is. Young Life. Empt firenjes to the extreme.
We ate dinner in the pavilion as work crew first. This camp had a bakery so we quickly got used to have giant fluffy rolls in addition to the injera. At lunch and dinner we also got bottles of Sprite, Coke or Ambo. Then we each took a spot in the line and served up food on the camper's plates as they filed in to dinner. The boss ladies moved us where they wanted us and would take the spoons out of our hands if we were serving too much or too little.
Soon it was time for the first Club of camp up at the giant Club room. I don't know if I've ever met someone more gifted at controlling a crowd than G. This man is the king leading songs and games for hundreds of teenagers.
He had us do a Horse Mixer where we all pounded on our laps like a galloping horse, made the horse jump and then run again. Somehow, because G was leading, it was incredibly entertaining.
One of the things we brought in our donations was stacks and stacks of Young Life shirts. Moges had reached out to Young Life camps and areas across America asking for any extra Work Crew, Summer Staff or area t-shirts. We got to throw some of those t-shirts out to the crowd as prizes during Club. YL shirts are a hot commodity in Ethiopia. As a whole they have a pretty phenomenal collection because their shirts come from literally everywhere.
G was in charge of the program skit and he got Kayden to be a run-on character with him named Goshmendi. I don't think we ever got to see the real Goshmedi but when everyone Kayden would tell people that was his name he got quite the reaction.
Cultural Difference: The boys in Ethiopia sing so much more confidently and loudly than the boys in America. Whenever we sang in Club there was always a guy on the microphone, the boys in the crowd sang at the top of their lungs and you could barely hear the girls.
Once Wonde started the Club talk, the firenjes went back to the YL house to pray for the talk and the campers.
The bathrooms are the only rooms without working lights so we got to take our showers in the dark. Remember how we can't drink the water in Ethiopia? Or eat food that has been washed in the water? That means when you shower you don't want to get the water in your mouth or on your face either. By day 7 we were pros at this task.
We shared our highs and lows before talking about the parts of faith that are most difficult for us. I'm so thankful for a crew that can be genuine and vulnerable. Only be being truthful about where we are can we make any forward motion.