on friday (oct 29) i had the privilege of going to butajira with many of the americans from the medical team. this wasn’t my usual trip into town for internet usage, but rather a time of soaking up the local culture by means of the market! i had been to the market once before, almost two years ago when i was here with taylor university, so i was excited to be able to go back and take in all the sights. the market is home to the ethiopians from the surrounding towns and villages who come together every friday, walking for hours to sell food, furniture, clothing, household items, livestock, and the like. thousands of people are present, with our group of ferenges (the word for foreigners) sticking out from the crowds quite nicely. two of the high school guys that live here on the compound took us around and made us feel safe and secure, which we were very grateful for. both times i have gone, i have felt like it’s a scene straight from a national geographic magazine image—the authentic african market is truly incredible to experience. while making our way through the market, i came across some pumpkins and got really excited about getting one. for a couple of weeks i had thought it would be fun to get a pumpkin and carve it with some of the house kiddos, explaining that many children in america enjoy doing this around this time of year, so when we stumbled across them i knew i couldn’t leave the market without one! i sent gezahegn to go get one for me (knowing that if i were present during the purchase, they would rack up the price), specifying that i would like a very orange pumpkin. he returned a little while later with my pumpkin, which was in fact orange, but extremely long in shape! i didn’t think i needed to specify that i wanted my pumpkin to be round (i thought it was assumed ha), but oh well...my pumpkin has lots of character! ☺
saturday morning the medical team saw all the house children for dental check ups and physicals. in addition to perusing all the work that was being done in the tents, i had the opportunity to witness a surgery for the first time! mike, one of the surgeons from america, was so kind to allow taylor and i to witness the small operation. he removed a rather large cyst below the left eye of an 8th grade boy from the school and i got to stand right next to mike as he worked, proving isabella, the nurse, with extra gauze when needed. i was doing good for a while, and then i started feeling really clammy and my head did not feel right so i decided to sit down. i was glad i didn’t pass out haha, and it was really interesting seeing what i saw, but this experience demonstrated that i would not be able to watch a more intense surgery, and i’m a-okay with that. it was super interesting and made me appreciate the work of surgeons and nurses that much more! knowing that these students wouldn’t be able to afford these sorts of treatment (root canals, surgeries, and receiving medicines) makes the work that has been done that much more incredible, as these wonderful people have so willingly given to the people here. the work that they have done is amazing and such a blessing to this community.
my alarm went off at 5:35am sunday morning, reminding me of my early mornings working this summer at the michigan international speedway. thankfully i wasn’t going to work at such an hour, but rather getting up for the hike that we were about to embark upon. there were about 15 of us (with 3 ethiopian guys as our guides) geared up to spend our morning hiking up the mountains; half of us went all the way up to the fanna waterfall, and the other half went to the orthodox church. due to their hike being a shorter distance, those who went to the orthodox church made it back in time for the entire church service. those of us who hiked up to the waterfall made it to church a little later, as our hike took 5 hours round trip. we had such a blast hiking together and being immersed in God’s glorious creation. the views were breathtaking, and all the pictures and memories that were made along the way were wonderful. i couldn’t believe it when i saw a couple of my students way up in the mountains...definitely puts things in perspective when i see how far some of these students walk to school. and they loved helping me along the trail and making sure that i was doing ok...i think they were pretty shocked to see their teacher outside of school ☺
i finally have documentation of me teaching! on monday morning weldon, one of the members of the medical team, was so kind to come into a few of my classes and take hundreds (no joke) of pictures and some video footage! i was thrilled for him to see my kiddos and am forever grateful for the images he was able to capture for me. hopefully some of them will be posted in the near future (and all credit goes to him) so you can finally see what a class of 95 kiddos looks like!
on wednesday morning i had the opportunity to bring tesfaye, one of my 4th grade students, to see jenny, the physical therapist on the medical team. i have been concerned about the way he walks (he walks on the outside of his right foot and the inside of his left...major limping) and wanted jenny to take a look at him and see what she thought. she worked with him for quite some time, noting the lack of strength in his legs and quite a bit of immobility with his ankles. with kidane translating for us, we learned that when tesfaye was 2 years old, he fell off a bridge into a pile of rocks. thankfully he went to a hospital in butajira and they were able to give him a lift of some sort to put in his shoes, but he hasn’t gone back since. he said that for a long time he walked on his knees because he wasn’t able to stand up. his story is heart-wrenching, as i look and see what he has to deal with each and every day. when i asked him how long it takes him to get to school, that is when i about lost it—he walks over an hour each way. i will be working with him everyday after lunch to stretch his legs and hopefully strengthen his muscles, and we have alerted marta and deme of his condition (along with a few others) and need to see an orthopedic in butajira. a little bit of my heart breaks each day because of stories and experiences like this one. i can’t even begin to describe how i take things for granted...like when my parents bought me orthotics in high school to relieve my hip flexor problems, something that now seems so minor when i look at sweet tesfaye’s conditions. i pray that the Lord would continue to soften my heart so that i may see people the way He does—as beautiful and special creations of His intricate design.
after lunch on wednesday the medical team made their way back to addis. i never have been fond of goodbyes, and it was especially hard saying goodbye to these remarkable individuals. it’s amazing how close you can bond with fellow believers when you are immersed in a new culture and living in such close proximity each day, serving others and ultimately Jesus. i am confident that the Lord used them in mighty ways as they served with arms outstretched, day in and day out. i was thoroughly intrigued by all of the medical work that was being done and all praise and glory to Jesus for the 800 or so people they were able to see and assist! in addition to all that they contributed medically, they were a true source of encouragement to me as they took time to get to know me and allow me to share about my family, what God has been teaching me while i’ve been here, and teaching. i’m so blessed by all of the amazing people God brings through this ministry.
following dinner wednesday evening, us four girls (zondra, taylor, margot and i...the fearsome four, the fab four, the feregne four...still deciding on our name haha) had a movie night! zondra had a projector brought to her (via the medical team) and we were able to hook it up to her laptop and watch the movie bride wars! we even made popcorn on the stove. yum-o. definitely a fun evening and something we will have to do again.
get ready for this—we now have internet access here in yetebon. i’m still in shock and totally psyched about it. zondra had purchased this device in addis a couple months ago called an EVDO that allows you to pick up a network signal and obtain connection to the outside world! after a whole lot of waiting and trying, we finally got everything sorted out and can now use the internet in the comforts of our own rooms. she has paid for the month of november and we will see how it goes! my next goal—getting skype to work. rather ambitious, i know. ☺
things i’ve discovered...
- men do not wear shorts in this culture. interesting.
- i love hiking. and i want to do more of it.
- my amharic is improving. i’ve been told by multiple adults that my pronunciation is excellent (hopefully they aren’t just saying this to make me feel good ha). nonetheless, i’m encouraged.
- power outages can occur at the most inconvenient times— for example, during computer class when half of the students are using desktop computers. yay for lessons of patience!
- watching people get cut open is not for me; one time was enough ha.
-margot, a 26 year old from scotland, arrived about a week ago and will be here until nov 19. she has her bachelor’s degree and much experience with early childhood development and is using her gifts as she teaches at the kindergarten (taylor is helping her out as well)! i’m really enjoying getting to know her, as well as learning about scotland and listening to her beautiful accent! i’m thinking i ought to delay my arrival in coming home and do some traveling around scotland with her in may...thoughts?? ☺
- for the safety of the medical team as they travel back to CA—may they continue to shine brightly for Jesus as they serve back in the u.s. and share stories of all they experienced while here.
- for zondra as she teaches with such passion and care to her 6th and 7th graders—may she be encouraged and know that she is loved and appreciated.
- for margot and taylor as they give of themselves to precious KG students—may they be creative and flexible in their teaching, and may they remain healthy.
- for continued understanding of this culture and these people—may they sense how much i love them and how Jesus loves them even more.
something to consider...
I was encouraged by a friend back home with this excerpt from one of Chuck Swindoll’s books, “...we are where we are:
-by His appointment
-under His care
-in His training
-for His time”