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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Day 8

Sunday, June 1, 2014

This morning we met in the hotel lobby at 7:30 to go to Kisanet school for the dedication of the library. When we arrived, we found that the staff, students, and community had pulled out all the stops. A group of children played the drums and sang for us while townspeople lined the yard.

We then led the way to the library, which had been given a nice exterior coat of white and blue paint the day before. An Ethiopian flag hung in one of the windows, and in true every-thing-is-laid-back-and-never-on-time-in-Ethiopia fashion, a door and some windows were leaning against the building still waiting to be installed.

A lady showered us with popcorn as entered the library, which had been filled with desks for everyone to sit in. A coffee ceremony had been prepared, so popcorn, traditional bread, and coffee were passed out while one of the teachers announced the morning's festivities.

 Speeches and awards were given, traditional Ethiopian music was played, and groups of children performed songs and dances.

Kiersten, Tiffany, Kelsi, and Mathewos gave speeches, which were translated by Weldie. The staff at the school thanked All God's Children for the wonderful work they are doing in Ethiopia, and everyone was so appreciative of the library.

Lots of awards were given:

Then Kiersten was called back up and awarded a traditional Ethiopian dress and scarf, in which she was immediately clothed.

Kelsi, Tiffany, and Kiersten were invited to dance:

Mathewos was given traditional clothing as well:

I love the traditional Ethiopian shoulder bump:

 Chris presented the staff members with the donated computers and books:

When the ceremony was over, we talked to and took photos of the kiddos we had spent time with. Abraham hugged and kissed me, and gave me an envelope that contained a letter and a rose. "I love you so much, Erica!" he said. It brought tears to my eyes as I said, "I love you, too!" 

Group photo time!

The kids were so sweet as we walked toward the gate to leave. They presented us with letters, flowers, snack bars, a package of instant coffee, a Bob Marley glove....anything they had in their pockets became a gift. These children have so little, and yet they were giving us everything they had. Several of them asked us if we had extra pens they could have, so we dug in our bags and pulled out a couple. They were thrilled! How often do we take pens for granted?

We all sobbed as we left. We met these kids just a few days ago, and already they have taken up residence in our hearts.

Back at Axum, we gathered in the hallway on the 4th floor to listen to a church service. Then we packed our luggage and checked out of our rooms. We ate lunch outside with Kiersten, Weldie, Yohannes, Mathewos, and Tadesse.

  Afterward, we walked to Metekel school, where AGCI has another project planned for next year. A few of the other team members took a bajaj.

Metekel school:

We climbed to the roof of the school, where AGCI hopes to add a second story. There is not enough space here for all the kiddos, so one group has to leave at lunch so another group can come to school in the afternoon.

Our Ethiopian friends: Tadesse, Yohannes, Weldie, and Mathewos.

A group of street children followed us:

 Yohannes tried to teach the girls how to dance Ethiopian-style as we stood talking on the roof:

Kiersten and Uncle Lester have a heart-to-heart:

When we arrived back at the Axum Hotel, we loaded our luggage onto the taxi and said our goodbyes. Kiersten and Yohannes, who were originally scheduled to fly back to Addis with us, changed their flights so they could go back to Samre on Tuesday to meet with the sponsored kids who did not show up yesterday.

Back at the airport:

Not a great picture, but check out that bald tire!

We were soon in the air enjoying the beautiful scenery below:

On the plane, Mitch was teasing Ashton...just like he always does. When the flight attendant came around with drinks, Mitch told her that Ashton could only have a sip because he was a baby. Instead, she called Ashton back to the kitchen and gave him a full bottle of pop and a kiss! Ashton has been like a celebrity on this trip...everyone loves him.

Wass picked us up at Bole airport and drove us back to HH, where we were greeted with huge hugs from the kiddos. We played with them for awhile, and then changed for dinner. 

 A little while later, we loaded into the van with Wass and headed to Yod Abyssinia for a cultural dinner.

After Wass explained what all the food was, we dug in. Yum!

At one point, Wass got up on stage and danced, and not long afterward, some of the dancers came to our table and took Tiffany up on stage with them. She participated in a skit and then danced with them. She was so embarrassed, but did a great job! 

Soon we headed back to HH and our beds. Tomorrow is our last day in Ethiopia!

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