Chickens on my Lap and an iPhone

Written 6/25/2008

So today has been pretty uneventful. Bethany and I spent the night at our friends’ house last night (Damon and Heidi). We watched Dasia again for them which was just as amazing as it always is. She’s growing up so fast and her personality is hilarious. Last night she made up for all her terrible two-ness when she laid down on the floor with Bethany and I and sang songs like “Jesus Loves Me” until she fell asleep in my arms. Then Bethany and I watched House on DVD until Damon and Heidi got home from their date. Then this morning, we watched and discussed the film “Invisible Children.” If you don’t know, it’s about the children in Uganda that are abducted in the night by the rebel army and are forced to kill and are brainwashed until they become soldiers themselves. It’s an incredible story and it reminds me of the tragic injustices that so many people turn their backs to day in and day out. Anyway, I stopped by the house before I went to school where I finished my grading and submitted them to the Tesgera, the English teacher. So today…I’m finally done. No more school. It’s a sort of bitter-sweet thing I guess.

Anyway, on my way to school a woman sat next to me on the taxi who was dressed in the typical clothes of a less-than-middle-class Ethiopian. She was carrying five live chickens and since there were only two of us in the back, she set them on the seat. Bound at the ankles (do chickens have ankles?), they laid motionless throughout the ride. I thought to myself. This is a true picture of Ethiopia. The government and the people desire so much to be “developed” but they have so far to go. The sad thing is, they try to implement American and European life into their culture without going through the growing process by which those developed nations came to be. It’s like putting a band-aid on a chopped off finger. It just doesn’t work. Development is a process. A long, tiring, sometimes defeating process. It doesn’t take place over night and it doesn’t ever happen the same way twice.

Just then, we hit a bump and then swerved to miss another taxi merging into our lane. The chickens became unsettled and began to flap their wings, flailing and flopping, feathers flying everywhere until the bunch landed awkwardly on my lap. I think the woman would have removed them, but just then, she received a call on her phone. Reaching into her burlap, homemade purse, she pulled out a brand new Apple iPhone….hmm. She can’t afford new clothing, probably not enough food to feed all her kids, and she argued for fifteen minutes with the minibus caller over a five-cent price increase on the fare to where she was going, but somehow, she thinks it appropriate to own a $500 cell phone that can’t even be used to its full capacity in her country. I asked her about it and she proceeded to tell me that she saved up all her money with her husband to buy it. She said she feels “like an American” when she uses it. She told me how much she loves America and how she wishes that just one of her six children could go live there with an American family.  I knew what was coming. “You take my baby to America. You are rich to make her school.” “Aichelem. Ena enay habtam aidelem,” I  replied. It’s not possible…and I’m not rich.  Again…a picture of Ethiopia. Cell phones and internet don’t equal development. And it’s obvious when children are given away by their parents to go “anywhere but here” to grow up.

After getting myself to school, I finished up and headed here to the cafe to get some emails and other stuff done before the busy weekend ahead.

ONLY 17 DAYS LEFT!!!!!!!!

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Be thankful and be blessed to be where you are…wherever that is.

Feathered…but not tarred,



5 Responses to Chickens on my Lap and an iPhone

  1. laureninethiopia says:

    The Land of Contrasts, that is for sure. I’m glad you survived the chicken incident. I remember taking a few taxi rides with goats…those were the days. 🙂 So, when are you going to start writing your book about your time in Ethiopia?!?

  2. jon says:

    wow, that’s crazy. what a skewed perspective. Did you tell her she should have waited till July 11th when the iPhone 3G comes out?? Haha. Love you man, talk to you soon,


  3. Dave Parisi says:

    Dear Mr. Tuggle,

    It would seem to me that you are experiencing all types of intense emotions all at the same time. Ones we cannot understand.

    We continue to pray for all of you regarding your transitions (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) and for your safe travel through Europe and back to the US.

    Your friend, brother, and step Dave

  4. klstrovas says:


    You are such a great story teller and writer, I told Chris he had to read about your green shirt story a while back. What incredible things you have been witness to-I love reading about your adventures with Jesus. Blessings as you travel home soon!


  5. grafmiller says:

    What a story – the best part is that this is probably not that big a deal in light of all your experiences but so amazing to us. Either way – only a couple more weeks until you’re in my arms again.

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