a lot of new beginnings have taken place since i last updated you. first off, the start to the new year (2003!!!) has come and gone, along with interesting traditions and celebrations. on new year’s eve it is fairly common for families to buy a large, tall bundle of sticks that are to be set on fire. this was no exception for those of us here at project mercy, as we were able to see some of the older boys start the flames as we marveled at its growing grandeur. many of the kids then began singing and shouting happy new year (melcam adis amet). on new year’s day (sept 11), it is tradition for a large “loaf” of bread to be made and eaten together with family and friends. let’s just say i have never seen such a large “loaf” of bread (it was circular in shape…so I don’t know if i can still call it a loaf but for lack of a better word, i am calling it that). we had some with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there was still plenty left. delicious. it’s also very typical for boys and girls to wear their nicest clothes, and many of the girls had their hair done in an extra special way for the celebratory day. yay for the new year and the many blessings that the Lord will bestow upon these people in the coming year!
last week (sept 6-10) i gained a small bit of insight into what lies ahead in the realm of teaching english. for about an hour each morning, i had the opportunity to teach the house kids (8 total) who are in grades 2 and 3. we worked on writing very short sentences, illustrating these sentences, and speaking. it’s was so great easing into teaching this way, rather than walking in to my class of 80 students, having very little knowledge about their english abilities. i have been able to see a little more clearly what they are capable of and it’s opened my eyes to how great the need is for these students to learn english.
on monday, september 13, i anticipated the first day of school and even had my picture taken in front of the school bell ☺ smiling, eager students piled into the compound, many having walked two hours or so down the mountains. the previous headmaster gathered all the students and had them get into extremely straight lines according to their grade level. he then addressed the student body, asking some students about their summer vacation and then told them that he expected better hygiene and sanitation from the students. he informed the students that they were to go home and clean themselves up, wash their clothes, and gather their school books and come back on wednesday to meet their teachers and see their classroom. the ethiopian flag was then raised and they sang their national anthem and were dismissed. this was all new news to me, so each day i’m learning more and more about flexibility and going with the flow.
on wednesday, september 15, zondra, my fellow american teacher friend (she is here teaching grades 6 & 7 english until june) and i reported to school and learned that starting date for school had been pushed back. we were told that classes would begin the following day (thursday, sept 16), but because they didn’t have all the teachers hired, classes will begin on monday, september 20 (i think i ought to get another ‘first day of school’ pic in front of the school bell…thoughts??). so i guess that’s the new and improved plan… this is definitely making me eager to begin teaching! thanks for your prayers as i start the new school year!
i’m adjusting pretty well to the food here. please allow me tell you what a typical days looks like as far as food goes. for breakfast (usually served around 7:30am) we have porridge, bread, and sometimes fruit (banana, papaya). on occasion we get pancakes. with syrup. yum! for lunch (usually served around 12:30 or 1) we have injerra (sponge-like, thin, easy to tear “bread”), cabbage and carrots, rice or potatoes, bread, and watt (often a spicy broth with some meat). for dinner (usually served around 7:30pm) we have some sort of soup (with lentils, vegetables, and occasionally penne pasta), salad, and bread. on occasion we get pasta. with garlic and cheese. delish. each meal is served with coffee (in Amharic—buna) and tea (in Amharic—shay).
so many of these house kiddos have such a passion for worship. more often than not one can find a young lady or young man who is singing praises to the Lord in amharic—it’s a beautiful sound that demonstrates that God is known and loved by people here. a few kids have asked me on numerous occasions if i knew specific worship songs in english, such as ‘blessed by your name’ and ‘you raise me up. ‘ i was so excited that they were familiar with these songs, so i ran and grabbed my ipod and we began praising the Lord through these english songs. this has been one of my fondest memories with some of the kids so far—all huddled close around the music and lifting our hearts up to Jesus. i’m looking forward to more of these moments as i continue to establish safe, trustworthy, and loving relationships with these children—i love how the Lord will use young minds and hearts to encourage my soul and remind me of the need to give glory to our Savior.
things i’ve discovered:
- there are 13 months in the ethiopian calendar. the last month is only five days long. guess that means i’ve already been here for over a month. time flies! ha.
- ethiopia is larger in size than texas and new mexico combined.
- my aim with a fly swatter is pretty darn good. i usually kill about 3 bugs a night before falling asleep.
- i am living at an altitude of about 8,000 feet…excellent for enhancing my endurance capabilities. don’t worry, i am staying hydrated.
- sweets are a true delicacy here. marta arrived with tasty cake from a bakery in addis on wednesday (sept 8). get this—the baker was trained by a baker from the white house. like where the president lives. let’s just say it was uh-maze-ing.
- there are no such things as lawn mowers here. instead, there are two ways to “mow” the lawn. the first would be the cows. the second would be with a sickle (if you don’t know what this is i encourage you to look it up…maybe i’m just the ignorant one who didn’t know about this device ha). daily i’m reminded by the people here what it means to do work whole-heartedly.
- i do not like eggplant. or ambo (sparkling water that is very popular here)—too much carbonation for my liking.
- i’m becoming a tea drinker. i usually drink 2-3 little cups a day.(mom i bet you are so proud! ☺)
- some of the best whips are made out of dried banana leaves and a little bit of synthetic rope woven together. these boys really know how to crack those whips. the sound is piercing and they look like little studs as they whip those ropes around.
- amazing people come through here for visits of various durations. it’s been wonderful meeting fellow believers and being encouraged in the process.
a group from america arrived to tour project mercy this past week; they were such an encouragement and blessing to be around. one of men in the group makes frequent trips to ethiopia and informed me of a company (you can google them…ClonCom) that allows you to purchase minutes and make international calls at a fairly reasonable rate, and my phone is not charged anything. obviously i got super excited and called home to tell the fam (another praise…i now have a cell phone!!). it’s pretty expensive for me to call the U.S. and through this company it will be much cheaper for people to call me. if you’re interested in learning more about the possibility of this, email my mom (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she can give you the info and my cell phone number…i’d love to hear from people, even if it’s just for a little bit ☺
-for each one of my students (around 300 total)—emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually
-for marta and deme—for strength, energy, and continued guidance from the Lord
-as I continue to adjust to life here and learn what it means to not dwell on the “have nots”, but rather on all the many blessings that surround me
-that i would have a teachable heart, absorbing all that the Lord intends for me to learn
-that i continue to pick up bits and pieces of the language ( it’s definitely tough)
-for patience and flexibility as i try to better relate to the people and the culture
a few things to consider…
“All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship”—a line from the song ‘Desert Song’ by Hillsong
when we give, He gives.