Hello again from Ethiopia! I am excited and yet intimidated to write this blog as there are many thoughts and feelings that I would like to share, but at times I can’t seem to grasp the words that would best explain. So bear with me as I try to describe all the experiences we have had here in the last week.
On Monday we moved into our newly acquired house! This is thrilling for me as well as the rest of the team because finding a home to rent in Ethiopia seemed to be quite challenging. We looked at a total of six houses within three days. The first five houses were fine and we could have made them work, but for some reason none of us trusted the people showing us the homes. On the third day after viewing the fifth home we made our way to an area of Addis called “Zeneba Work”. As we were driving to the last home our friend and Ethiopian father Pastor Mattewos stopped at a friends house. It turned out that his friends had servant’s quarters, which they were looking to rent. We walked into the house for rent and it was perfect! The house consisted of two average size bedrooms, one bathroom, a very small kitchen and a living room, just what we were looking for. There were also additional perks to the home: it was a twenty minute walk from school, it was on the same compound as Werku and Mambera (the owners of the house), and it was close to our father Mattewos. We wanted to rent the home. Before we could explain our interest in the home we were invited in to the home of Werku and Mambera for soda and traditional Ethiopian bread. In their home we were able to show our interest and our budget for rent. We were able to come to an agreement quickly into the conversation, so that afternoon we gave a down payment and we were moved in only four days later.
Now that we have spent a week in our home we have been able to get used to living in another country. It is no longer abnormal to purify all of our water, bleach our vegetables, wash our clothes by hand, have power outages every day, cook our meals over a butane-powered stove, and wake up to roosters crowing every morning.
The next big event that we experienced while being in Ethiopia is the millennium. For those of you who haven’t heard over the news, Ethiopia is on a different calendar than the rest of the world. The country uses the Coptic calendar, which consists of 13 months. Twelve of the months are 30 days while the 13th month is five or six days depending on the year. The only other differences between the Coptic and Roman calendars are that the Coptic calendar is seven years behind the Roman calendar and the Coptic calendar New Year falls on September 12th. So if you do the math you can see that we celebrated the year 2000 for the second time on the eve of September 11th. Most people in Ethiopia were celebrating at concerts, in the soccer stadium or different squares around the city. The four of us celebrated around our circle table playing cards into all hours of the night. We decided to celebrate this way because the transportation around the city was impossible and there were suspicions of terrorism. (So family members- be happy we are being safe!)
On New Year’s Day we were invited to Werku and Mambera’s house for tea, coffee, bread, popcorn and Ethiopian television. We sat with them for about two hours. It was fun being able to see all of the different celebrations around the city on television. The most memorable celebration we saw on T.V. occurred in a building built just for the millennium. There were thousands of people gathered in the building for a speech by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and other presidents and prime ministers of surrounding countries; as well as a concert put on by the Black Eyed Peas (a popular American band). While we spent our New Year’s Day with Werku and Mambera, others around Ethiopia spent their day eating injera and wot (traditional Ethiopian food). Many of our friends here even bought their own sheep to slaughter and prepare for the celebration!
After a great celebration around Ethiopia we were ready to get started with school. We were prepared to start school on Monday, September 17th, but over the weekend we found out from HOPE that the Ministry of Education decided that they wanted to have training for the Ethiopian teachers. It was mandatory that all Ethiopian teachers attend for the week of September 17th-September 21st. So now school will not start until September 24th. I believe that we all had bittersweet feelings about the delay of school. We are relieved that we can postpone teaching because we all feel slightly inadequate in this daunting task; but at the same time we are eager to get going on the task we have come for. It is at times very challenging to have the American “achiever attitude” in the African culture. We constantly remind each other that although we feel as if we are not achieving anything in the “American sense” that truly we are achieving by being a presence and building relationships.
During this week as well Maren has had the unfortunate experience of being the first to get sick from the food here in Ethiopia. Luckily, we were very prepared for this to happen during our time here. So Maren is currently on the medicine that we received from our doctors before leaving the United States and we are hoping that she returns to her normal perky self in the next few days! We will keep you posted.
Lastly, our team has been able to grow closer in the last week. We have had many great conversations revolving our adjustments to Africa, our life before Africa and our team dynamics. We are all very excited about our friendships with each other and are looking forward to how we can support each other better everyday. These conversations have blessed each of us and lifted our spirits.
There are so many other things that I could share about our life here, but I want to keep you all on the edge of your seat for our next entry.
With love and gratitude for life,
Bethany and the team
Thank God for: such a wonderful house, a great team of people working together, the many Ethiopians who have taken us in as their own.
Prayer requests: Physical health (particularly Maren), preparation and confidence as teachers, emotional health (again homesickness and overall adjustment to a new culture), personal and team visions.