Saturday, August 6, 2011

Quick Reflection

So the past three days have been a time of reflection.  I feel like I'm not doing enough, but at the same time, I have no more time in my schedule.  Also, now that Trish is gone, I'm starting to notice things that I didn't before as I walk by myself.  Like crowds of people gathered outside the Child Care center, seeing if their child got a sponsor, or women taking a "squat" or "number 1" on the road side (yes I've seen men relieve themselves before, but this week was the first time I noticed a woman).  Also, I've noticed the stares before from the people, but when you walk by yourself you notice them more frequently.  Some might feel awkward, but it's actually kind of nice because most of them have a big grin on their faces.  It is, however, a reminder that I'm a firengee and stick out like a sore thumb...

Wednesday we had class and finished painting the outside building.  I must say that I actually look forward to the painting.  It gives me time to socialize and also time to think and process.  The kids are starting to learn some of the new songs that I've been teaching them: The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Ring Around the Rosey, the Hokey Pokey, and I'm a Little Tea Pot.  And yes, I'm doing hand motions too...  :D

Wednesday night, I started thinking and was led to read Galatians 5 that talks about the fruit of the spirit being things like love, joy, and patience (read it for a complete list).  It's interesting how things that people normally think of as a means to a destination, might in fact be the destination.  For example, we're patient so we can get something or we love so that we can build a healthy relationship.  This changes what we should be focusing on.  Not the work, but how we do the work.  For example, I'm doing soccer camp, teaching, painting, etc. but am I loving through it?  Am I being patient?  How can I show more love and connect better with these people.  How can I use my service as a way to build lasting relationships instead of just being "that guy who come to paint and teach that one time..."

I took this to heart and noticed a change.  Thursday, at soccer the girls asked for me to sit with them after the game, a bunch of them cornered me and braided my hair.  A bunch of the guys in my typing class are inviting me to play Foosball with them and try to speak as much English as they can with me.  Kayla, the full time missionary is starting to open up more.  I'm using this time to try and encourage her as much as I can since this is the first time she's been on such a long term trip (2 years)!

Friday, a couple of the moms and Hebtambu (the gentleman that I had an incident with) taught me the alphabet.  I spent a good hour spelling out their names phonetically and I could tell they really appreciated the time I took to learn their language.  After that I got invited to one of their houses to have lunch later on today (Saturday).  I have also started learning an Amharic version of "Father Abraham" so I can sing it with the kids.

As my time is winding down, I'm trying to make the most of it.  I know that when I look back, I'll miss every moment.  Keep praying for me.  Miss you all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Feeling at home

The past few days have been a transformation of sorts. I was feeling a little overwhelmed during my last post but have really started finding my "groove". Friday was a great experience as I went to support Strong Hearts on the first day of their Gospel series. It was a great experience. Dundy had one of his friends translate for us (Trish and me) and two people came to Christ. The building was packed and it was very charismatic in nature. Dancing energy and tons of emotion filled the room. People were making noises and praising God. Some were even crying. It's times like this like I begin to think, "how much more faith must they have in order to live in the situations that they live in." With all the materialism stripped away, all that's left is the spiritual and I was fortunate to get a taste that night. I hope I get an opportunity to see more over the next few days that I'm here.

Saturday morning I painted with Masresha, Trish, and Habuba (the handy man) and we pretty much finished the second class room. Tamrat, Dundy's friend and the government's coordinator for LaVolunteers (the organization Trish came with), stopped by the school for a visit. He proposed that we go see Hawasa, a city by the lake. I initially declined thinking that Dundy would want me here but when I came back to the guest house, he insisted that I go. I guess he really wanted me to get an opportunity to see other parts of Ethiopia and to take a break after all the work I've been doing. We took a five hour taxi ride that was quite eventful. Long story short, the taxi got a ticket before we left Addis and left a passenger behind at a gas station when we stopped for gas... Glad I didn't go...

Sunday we spent the day in Hawasa. Tamrat made friends with a taxi driver and he became our permanent driver. He would drop us off and pick us up whenever we needed something, then continue working his normal route. The first thing I noticed was how clean the city was. There were cobble stone streets and the streets were well lit and seemed relatively safe. We went to the lake and took a boat ride. For the first time ever I fed wild monkeys peanuts and saw wild hippos. We had a great time. Getting a taxi back, however, was tough. There was a lot of arguing back and forth about price and taxi drivers fighting over us and our business. The whole process took about 2 hours and I could tell everyone was getting irritated. It helps to know in situations like this that God is in control. It was a good opportunity to be there for Tamrat, who I could tell was getting upset. Side note: I saw my first Chadt and the guy chewing it was missing teeth... Doesn't seem like a good idea to get mixed up in...

Monday was great as far as teaching. I'm not sure what you all think about dreams but I sometimes I feel like there's a divine element to them that help me find resolutions to issues or bring issues to light that I haven't thought of before. Sunday night and Monday night brought resolution and I somehow began to feel a lot lighter emotionally. Perhaps the day trip was good for me to have a change of scenery. My uplifted mood definitely couldn't have come at a better time. Trish was asked to do a workshop for the teachers (she has been a teacher for a number of years and has a Phd) which means I was going to have to teach the kids and keep them entertained for an hour and a half straight. The class went by extremely smoothly. In the afternoon, I found that my computer class is becoming extremely popular. All of a sudden more kids want to take my class and there are like three classes now. The kids are learning fast and it's great to see. I think it's a combination of God's blessing and the fact that I gave the kid's candy on Friday during a typing race competition...

Tuesday we continued painting and had class like normal. I'm starting to really connect to the people here. They are already asking me when I'm coming back. Kayla (the full time missionary) said that I'm picking up a lot of Amharic and that she was really impressed with how much I've picked up. Apparently I know way more than she did in two and a half weeks. Every time I walk people look at me and kid come up and talk to me. Some people will yell "farengee" (which means foreigner) at me, which offends some people, but I just yell back abushae (which means Ethiopian) with a smile and I get smiles and laughs. I'm really starting to feel at home here and am starting see familiar faces. Can't believe I only have another 12 days. I wish I had more time... I will say that there is a lot to be done here and now that I've seen the needs first hand, I feel moved to put together a team for next time. Let me know if any one's interested! ;) No experience necessary!