Monday, March 9, 2009

Ethiopia - Day 7 : Sugar on Valentine's Day

The morning after our visits with our children, we left out on our speedy yellow bus on the way to Nazareth, a good 2 1/2 hour ride through rural Africa.

While I'm on the subject of our bus ride, let me just take this time to explain that this vehicle and it's driver would give Dale Jarrett a run for his money on a test track! Our driver loved his little musical horn. Any car/truck that happened to venture within his safe zone (about 2 inches radius) was treated to the music of an ice cream truck. Same for any animal that even glanced at the road if we were within eye shot. But really, eye shot didn't matter as our driver was passing 2-3 transfers, other buses, or dumptrucks on the wrong side of the road..... in curves...... and on hills. Let me just say - prayer works!!!

I also have to say that I completely take the blame for my screwing up of this year's Valentine's Day! This was the first V.Day that I didn't spend the late hours explaining to my hubby how I don't care about roses, jewelry, or nice Hallmark cards - but a hand-written note, at the very least, would be great! Anything showing thought or preparation. In his defense, he always says that since he tells me he loves me every day, why does he have to make a big deal about loving me on just one?? To make matters worse, if you remember this post regarding our surprise 4-legged family member, my last written words to him were "" - and then I up and leave for 3 days into remote Africa with no internet and no way to even say "Happy Valentine's Love, I was just kidding.." Completely unintended punishment, I promise.

Anyway, once we got to Nazareth we were to spend all day at a project with arts, crafts, and sports activities. I came all prepared with paper bag puppets (which were gone in about 15 minutes!) to make with the little ones.

I was also able to meet the Director and look at the Child Survival Program where the babies are weighed/charted, vaccinated, and their mothers are trained on infant care and how to stimulate their minds and development. In the main office, we were able to look at individual files on children and see their age progression pictures, grades, health tracking and test results, and home visit information. Compassion keeps a great deal of data on each child! In the main office was this artwork which says "The Lord is my Shepherd" in Amharic letters and was made by a Compassion student. Pretty impressive?!?

After lunch we split up to visit some of the senior's homes. I jumped out at our first stop, the home of a boy named Robel (Robert). He lived with his grandmother and little sister as both his parent were dead, although he didn't elaborate on what had happened. He and his friend, Addisu (Addison), were the best hosts! It was here that I learned the majority of my facts about Ethiopia. Both boys plan to go to the university to be engineers. Robel had even had the chance of coming to America as an exchange student for a year but turned it down to stay with his grandmother and friends. The boys had been part of a choir that sang Ethiopian praise songs for us and then broke into "Lord I lift your name on High". Pretty neat to hear on Ethiopian soil! These guys had awesome English and asked great questions about the US and religion. When I asked them if they had ever seen white people before, they answered, "only in the movies..." (I assured them not to believe everything they see.)

Robel's grandmother, like every other hostess, was so gracious. After our coffee, bread, and popcorn, she proceeded to bring out more injera and shuro (a spicy sauce made of beans which I would love to get the recipe for!) Robel's yard had orange, mango, and coffee trees and when he asked me if I had ever tried sugar cane - I told him no, thinking he probably had some growing around the corner! His eyes lit up and he asked excitedly, "do you want to try some??" After I agreed, he ran to his room and brought out several birr which he handed to his sister to run to the market to buy with! I felt awful as this young boy had just spent money which he probably, no definitely, needed - to buy me a treat! When I told him no and insisted on paying, he told me, "I am your host! For you to pay would be insulting!" I tell you what - we had the MOST fun that afternoon socializing with those guys and chewing on our sugar cane. They had to teach us to peel it back with our teeth, grip and tear an inch or so off, and then chew on the cane until it looses it's flavor. My entire face and arms were covered in sticky but it really tasted great! I'm still counting myself lucky that I didn't break a couple teeth off though! So ladylike peeling, chewing, and spitting my cud - but by far one of my most memorable experiences of the trip!

When asked about his sponsor, Robel ran and retrieved his photo album and pointed out each picture of his "family", with a proud smile. He and his friends meet every Saturday, just to pray. He has a 4.0 GPA. Addisu was just the sweetest guy and had such beautiful and caring eyes and smile. He is to be an LDP student after graduation. On Robel's desk, in addition to his textbooks, were an Amharic and an English copy of the Bible. I could go on and on about how great these young men were. They impressed our entire group with their maturity, both spiritually and intellectually. I can only imagine how God will use them in the coming years and feel a little envious that I wasn't able to be their sponsors and be able to claim them as additional sons as they would make any mother proud to call their own!

Friends Zerihun, Addisu, and Robel (Zerihun didn't speak as much English or was very shy! We didn't get to learn as much about him.)

A billboard in Nazareth voted "The Best Billboard EVER" by our crew:
"The only soap that eliminates unpleasant smell of foot."

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