Written on 9/13/2007
Seven days ago when I last wrote, things were still a little hazy as to what life was going to look like here in Ethiopia. I had made an agreement to rent a home, but weren’t living there. I was committed to teaching at the HOPE Enterprises school in Addis, but the first day of classes is on the 17th and I hadn’t met the teachers, gotten a schedule, or received any curriculum. I was here to be doing something but had yet to begin. That has changed in the last week and this place that has seemed so much like a vacation (and at times like a bad dream) is starting to feel something like a home should. There are four main reasons why this feeling has come about.
One. We have a physical home. Just a ten minute walk from school in the lower income neighborhood of Zeneba Work, we have a quaint two bedroom, one bathroom, tile-floored house on the property of an Orthodox Christian family native to Ethiopia. With the front gate guarded 24 hours a day by a tall, dark-skinned older man, we are safe from any harm and feel constantly protected. The family that lives in the main house on the property is a gentle couple in their seventies and a consistently visiting son who is a successful electrical engineer. Mamabera, a motherly Ethiopian term of endearment, is what we call the old woman and Ababa Werku for the old man (Ababa meaning father and Werku is his name). Our house is still having the kinks worked out of it but is perfect for us. Yesterday the sink faucet stopped producing water, but for some reason it is half working today. There is also a semi-large in the tube that fills the toilet with water. We have band-aided the problem with a large washbasin until it can be fixed. Werku has assured us that whatever we need will be done. Things have been a little slow on that front however since yesterday was the first day of the new Ethiopian millennium. The country basically took the day before, the day of, and today off from doing anything. It’s cool in a way, but not in a lot of ways as well. Regardless of its quirks, our home is perfect for us.
Two. We don’t eat diarrhea and heartburn inducing Ethiopian food for every single meal. Now that we have a house of our own, we can make whatever we want and our diet can include fruit and vegetables. Before, we were pretty much confined each day to either an Ethiopian dish containing meat, a bucket of spices, and injera, or one of three semi-American dishes that the woman at the guest house knew how to make. On New Year’s Eve (September 11th) we had French toast and a veggie scramble and last night we had a split pea, cabbage, zucchini, carrot and tomato soup. It has been amazing for morale to be able to eat more familiar food. This was a big deal for me because I am sort of a big fan of food and as good as Ethiopian food is, it isn’t the stuff I’m used to and my system cant really handle it.
Three. We had a meeting on Monday with the three Ethiopian English teachers and the branch director regarding our roles for the school year. It was good to be able to finally understand more of the expectations (while still not really complete) that the school has for us this year. We now have more of a picture of what we’ll be doing but not enough to start planning yet. What I do know is that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will be sharing the gospel (with Pastor Mattheios) at the feeding center to street children and homeless families. Also, I’ll be helping with spiritual development and ethics courses at the vocational school. This will be on top of my English teaching on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’m excited for it all, but am a little hesitant due to the amount of stock everyone puts in us. I hope I don’t let them down.
Four. Our team is becoming more of a team. With the whirlwind of emotions and experiences that filled the first two weeks, we were all stuck in a sort of survival mode. This didn’t allow for any conversations regarding the internal struggles of each team member, but only for the outward focus on the events that were taking place. Observations and complaints about uncontrollable situations were the main talking points. Last night at dinner however, we started to open up a bit about how each of us had been feeling about this whole experience and how each one of us felt about the other members of the group. Thoughts, emotions, hurts, and desires were shared that seemed to both unite the group and lift the weight that everyone was carrying on their shoulders. Praise God.
I was reading from Colossions, chapter three yesterday. Earlier in the trip I was sharing with the group about a certain professor who quotes Colossions 3:1 in the King James Version maybe ten times a day, so yesterday I decided to read on. This is what I found:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against one another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:1-17).
This is my prayer.
Still remembering home, but trying to make a new one,