As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Day 6.....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed. It rained pretty hard last night, so the animals weren't out and there were no "braw-braw-braw" noises right outside the screens. I finally got up the nerve to wash my hair in the freezing cold, brown water - it must come straight from the river.

After breakfast with the team, we headed back to Brothers and Sisters for the morning.

On the way to the care center:

The Gambella flag next to the Ethiopian flag:

The Baro river:

More of the new flooring was laid in several more of the smaller rooms, and they have enough left over to finish the rest of the building if they desire. We also purchased new corrugated metal fencing to go around the property, and the workers there were so excited. Part of my American drive pushed to get much more work done, and yet as I look back, I think it was good to give the funding and empower the men there to do the work themselves. I kept thinking of the book "When Helping Hurts," and realize that we can't do everything when there are able-bodied men that need to feel as if they've accomplished something, too. Part of our donors' money also went to buy new panes of glass for some of the broken windows and paint for some of the rooms in the orphanage.

We played with the kiddos and enjoyed another coffee ceremony. Several women from the community, including some more birth mothers whose children were adopted through our agency, came and spent the morning with us. It was great to visit with them.

There are many brightly-colored birds here:

Babies in the sun:

Shana purchased this parachute and some balls for the children:

Stone hiding in the parachute:

The kitchen and storage room at BSCC:

The bathroom:

Getahun (Yilma's brother) and Chris (we finally searched around town and found a bigger scissors with which to cut the flooring):

"L" was a gorgeous young lady who loved snapping photos with my camera. We all fell in love with her.

A stack of the new fencing:

Chris, Guta, and Getahun:

We hugged all of the staff and children goodbye, and then headed back to the hotel for lunch. Afterward, we went to Bethel Church, where Ochar is pastor, to see the projects that the last team had worked on in April/May. Bethel Church and Brothers and Sisters Care Center work together in outreach to the community. They care for orphans and widows, and have income generating programs for some of the families.

More sights on the street:

As we arrived at the church, children seemed to appear out of nowhere. Soon, many members of the congregation were there to welcome us, too. Ochar told us that on a normal Sunday, 250-300 people gather to worship.

Walking to the church:

Bethel Church:

Several of the children played the drums for us:

Kiersten, Ochar, and Chris:

The little boy on the right had an old bicycle wheel for a toy. He rolled the hoop along the ground with a stick.

Some of the congregation:

Being at the church was amazing, and brought tears to my eyes. These people had absolutely nothing of material value, but they were rich in everything that counts. They were so happy, sincere, and welcoming. They sang a few songs for us, and then Ochar introduced us by name and explained why we had come. Then he asked Chris to say a few words, which he translated. In turn, the rest of us spoke a few words and thanked them for their hospitality. One woman praised God over and over, and talked about how happy she was to meet us. She spoke briefly about the Anuak tribe and the hard times they've experienced over the years. She also told us that the Anuaks always have to tell the truth; they cannot lie, according to custom. I nudged Chris and told him that we were going to have a talk with our 2 little Anuaks at home - they have some explaining to do! ;-)

Our group sang "Jesus Loves Me" for them, and then the congregation met us individually with huge embraces. We mixed our languages as we hugged them back: "Dedijote" (Anuak for "hello"), "Amaseganello" (Amharic for "thank you"), along with "It is so nice to meet you - God bless you" (English for "It is so nice to meet you - God bless you" -just in case you didn't know what that one meant), but nobody seemed to mind. We took a walk behind the church, where a small village of mud huts was clustered. Some women there were making beaded bracelets and necklaces, similar to the ones our boys still have from their birth mother. Wow - a lot of work goes into those!

This woman was wearing the good old American flag on her wrist! So nice to see in the middle of Gambella, Ethiopia, Eastern Africa.

It amazes me to think that my boys used to live in a house like this one:

From there, we walked to the fields where the women in the AGCI farming initiative work. AGCI does a great job of reaching out and helping members of this community. Some of the people from the church and a big group of children accompanied us. The bugs and creepy-crawlies were thick, and I soon had ants crawling all over my legs. We were amazed at how fertile the soil here is. I can't imagine the crops we could grow in Northwestern Ohio if we had soil like that! With our donors' funds, we were able to rent a tractor for the members of the farming co-op to use next season.

This boy showed us how to make a trap for birds using string and corn:

Yilma and Geb held hands as they walked, in the traditional Ethiopian friendship style..... Brian and Mathewos did the same. Poor Mathewos wasn't too sure about the whole thing, but by now was getting used to the weird Americans!

Ginny, Mathewos, Brian, Chris, Ochar, me, and a member from the church:

AGCI farming initiative members:

The children here are so friendly, and loved hanging out with us even though they couldn't understand anything we said.


Mango trees:

We also took a walk down by the Baro river, where people were playing foosball and basketball. And let me tell you, those basketball players were tall! The shortest one played point guard and still probably reached a height of 6 feet 6 inches tall! The people in the streets crowded around us, and I felt like we were a display. Now I know how my boys feel when we're out in public! 

This man was very friendly and knew English very well. It was a pleasure to meet him.

There were some men bathing near the spot where we had seen the alligator. I asked Ochar if anyone ever gets attacked, and he said they do. Yikes! It soon started to rain, so we piled into the van and headed back to the hotel.

It poured as we ate dinner, and the sidewalk right outside became a rushing river. When we arrived back at our room, there were some new friends to greet us:

I definitely learned how to be thankful for the clean, clear water that we Americans are used to. Here is an example of the water we showered in while in Gambella. Our shower drain was clogged, so the brown, chunky water collected in the shower basin and ran over onto the floor:

When it drained away, all of this dirt was left in the bottom of the basin:

So next time you shower or get a drink of water, thank God for your blessings and say a prayer for the people in third-world countries for whom clean water is unimaginable. For us, water is just another everyday necessity that we take for granted and use as much of as we want. For them, it is a precious and luxurious commodity that has to be hauled from the river each day.

Tomorrow, we leave our boys' first home and return to Addis Ababa. This is the first time that I've ever considered the trip to the capital city a return to civilization! But I have absolutely loved our time here, and it has taught me so much. It has been so amazing to be immersed in Jalen and Jordan's culture for a few days. And I'm looking forward to coming back again someday.

1 comment:

  1. There really are no words....and it is so strange to sit in my comfortable, air-conditioned, American house with no limits whatsoever on my fresh water supply and to read about the daily existence of my child's first mother. Oh my heart...