Thursday, November 25, 2010

this past week (11/15-11/19) was not our typical week of school. i got to school monday to discover that we were going to have the rest of the week off! tuesday was a muslim holiday, and the local government had cancelled school wednesday-friday so that the students could be at home with their families to help harvest the crops. this was a pleasant surprise, kind of like our own extended thanksgiving break, just a week early! it was wonderful having extra time to relax, read, and reflect on my experiences here thus far but i was eager to get back into the classroom and be with my kiddos.

some exciting things happened this past weekend as we had the chance to go into addis. zondra, taylor and i went into the city with margot and her father, denis, and their family friend colin. the two men had been hiking in the simian mountains in northern ethiopia for a week and came down to visit margot and experience all the various aspects of project mercy. we headed to addis after lunch on friday, and zondra, taylor and i had the privilege of staying at marta and deme’s home! they stayed in yetebon for the weekend and were so kind to share their beautiful place with us. margot, denis and colin stayed at the hilton where we joined them on many occasions. we were spoiled in countless ways, as we enjoyed fine dining, laying out by the pool, and wonderful shopping experiences. there was a bazaar on saturday where many local artists from addis gathered and hundreds of foreigners crowded to see and buy their amazing work! it was really funny arriving at the bazaar, as they were blaring christmas music! i was definitely not expecting this, and it felt rather strange to hear christmas music in such warm weather. i guess i’m so used to christmas in michigan or indiana that i always associate christmas with cold weather and snow! nonetheless, the music was a great reminder of the wonderful upcoming holidays!

get ready for this—on sunday morning taylor and i got to run in the 10th annual great ethiopian run! margot and her dad were already entered to run, and he was able to get each of us the shirt to be able to participate! it was an amazing experience, definitely one of my highlights so far. the course wasn’t exactly what i would call flat, and combining that with the altitude made for quite the run ha! there were around 32,000 participants running and walking in this 10K (6.1 miles)! we all wore yellow and green tshirts and there was so much energy, dancing, cheering, and singing throughout the run—very memorable. we even received medals when we crossed the finish line! way cool experience.

even though i was only gone for the weekend, i was excited to come back to yetebon and be with the house kids and staff in a place that really has begun to feel like home. these people are simply incredible and i so wish that all of you could share in this culture and people; for now i guess you can live vicariously through me!

classes were cancelled on wednesday (11/24) afternoon, as the whole student body had to help harvest the wheat and corn in the fields here at project mercy. it was really neat going down there with the students and watching them work hard and have fun with one another at the same time. zondra and i even helped carry a few loads of corn and wheat—the students definitely found that to be amusing ha. great photo ops presented themselves throughout the afternoon.

a large group of students and adults have been here for the week from CO. noel and tammy cunningham, who head up the cunningham foundation in denver, have been supporting project mercy for years and have blessed this organization in numerous ways. here’s a little promo for them...they also own a restaurant in denver called strings, which i hear has amazing food. it’s been wonderful seeing all of these people serve in various capacities using their God-given talents, whether through the venue of bead making, teaching, photography, painting, teaching computers, and cooking. under the instruction of one of their bead artists, i had the chance to make a glass bead all by myself! let’s just say it’s not as easy as it may look ha.
i didn’t know if it would be possible and i didn’t want to get my hopes up ahead of time, but we were in fact able to celebrate thanksgiving here in yetebon! noel bought all the necessary grocery items in addis (including 2 turkeys from the u.s. embassy!) and all 25 of us feasted together! it was such a nice surprise getting to enjoy little tastes of home! yummo. i will admit that i have definitely missed watching football this season, especially on thanksgiving. to make up for this, a big group of us went out and played volleyball which was a lot of fun. gotta do what you can with what you have ☺

i’m learning more and more what it means to take things as they come, being sure to recognize the little blessings of each day. i see the beauty of exhibiting a positive attitude and truly desiring to display a grateful heart each and every day. the people here exude with joy so naturally and i pray that i may continue to learn by their example.

things i’ve discovered...

- peanut butter m&ms are a delicious treat that i am savoring. mmmm.

- harvesting the fields takes a long time when you are working without machinery.

- listening to Christmas music is a must this time of year.

- my family will be here in 23 days!!!!!!!!!!!!! (as of 11/25)

things i’m thankful for...

- the love and grace that Jesus showers over me daily.

- my precious family and their faithful love, encouragement and prayers.

- the joy and love that my friends share with me.

- the beauty of this place that i am privileged to call “home” for 9 months.

- all of the children here at project mercy—i can’t begin to put into words what they mean to me.

- each one of you—thank you for sharing in this journey with me and being a blessing along the way!

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