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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Day 7

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I felt much better today...still a little weak, but I slept well during the night. We ate breakfast and then got ready to go back to Kechene Orphanage for the day. While we were waiting for Wass to pick us up, we were visiting in the living room when Chris proclaimed, " Hey Erica! I think we know that guy!" I looked out toward the check-in desk, and there stood Allen...a friend of ours from the Midwest that used to live in Ethiopia. He had just arrived from the states for a week-long visit, and just happened to choose the same guest house that we were staying at. Out of all the places to stay in a city of 5 million people...such a small world!

When we got to Kechene, we talked to the director for awhile and gave her some things for the girls' graduation ceremony. Some of the girls that live here are at the top of their class, and she wanted to have a special party for them. Chris and some of the guys agreed to go shopping after lunch for some books for the director to give the girls as gifts. They would also buy other supplies that the orphanage needed, such as new tin for some of the roofs. They hoped to be able to purchase some goats to donate as well.

As all the girls filed through the line to get their lunch and sit down to eat, we gave each of them a dum-dum sucker and a friendship bracelet. Almost every girl offered their plate of food to us, too...they were willing to share what little they had. We told them that they should eat it, as we would get lunch later. Hannah and Mekdes, my little friends from earlier in the week, found me right away and stayed with me. They asked if I was coming back tomorrow, and started crying when I said no. Oh my heart! :( I had Yohannes tell them that I loved them and would pray for them every day. Other girls wondered why I had to go back to America, so I told them that all the rest of my babies were there. They said I should just go get them and bring them all back to stay.

Wass handing out suckers to the girls.

The girls shared some snacks with us and gave us more bracelets they had made, and then it was time to leave for lunch. We ate at Lucy's again, where Alyssa played the piano for everyone.

Then, it was back to the orphanage where we helped the girls paint their hands so they could put hand prints on the wall to add some interest and personalize their space a little. They had so much fun!

We played outside with the girls while the men left to buy more supplies. They also purchased 3 goats to donate to Kechene. The girls were given bananas for a snack, and Hannah gave hers to me. Mekdes gave me a package of cappuccino crackers. They are so giving!

After awhile, it was time to leave, and the girls clung to me and sobbed. It was SO hard to go, and I will never forget the sorrow in Hannah's eyes as the van pulled away. It tore my heart wide open, and her sad eyes followed mine until we couldn't see each other anymore.

We went to Dema's cultural restaurant for dinner, and met quite a few of Hannah's Hope's former staff members...Tom, Alem, Genet, LeTi, Geb, etc. It was so great to see them all again! I showed the special mothers a picture of Jalen and Jordan on my phone, and they kissed the screen. Tom wanted to know where Ashton was, and sent him a message via video. He still has the watch that Ashton gave him last year, too. Those two, even though they didn't speak the same language, became best buddies for a week last summer.

We stayed for quite awhile after the meal and watched the dances, and then piled back in the van with some of the former staff to head back to Ember. Tom and Chris sat together in the back of the van. They hugged each other and sobbed. Tom has some medical issues, and I certainly hope he can get the help he needs. I'd love for him to be able to see Ashton again someday.

Back at the guest house, I took a cold shower and headed to bed. Tomorrow, we will go back to Hana school for the day. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Day 6

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I was sick with the stomach flu today, so I stayed in my bed at the Ember guest house while everyone else went to Hana school for the day. The team's tasks were tearing down 2 walls between classrooms to make a bigger space for a library and demolishing an old, condemned lavatory on the premises.

The older classes are held in these newer buildings.

This picture shows the condemned lavatory on the left and classrooms for younger children on the right.

The inside of the lavatory. I will spare you the actual photos of the toilets themselves, as they were just holes in the ground that were overflowing with waste. 

The floor was rotten in places, and children were in danger of falling through the holes.

The outside of the bathroom.

Classrooms for younger children. Many of the buildings leak when it rains, so nothing stays dry.

The school hopes to be able to erect some new buildings in the future.

The community around the school:

Here is where the children get water:

Starting to tear down the classroom walls:

Everyone took a turn using the sledgehammers.

A nice space for a new library:

At lunch time, the team came back to the guest house to see if I wanted to join them for lunch at Kaldi's, but I couldn't. I had tried to get ready for the day, but started throwing up and went back to bed. After lunch, the team continued work at the school. Wass tied himself to the outside of the top story of the building and began to throw down the pieces of cement from the walls that the team had demolished inside.

Along came a cement truck, which got stuck in the mud. So the team used the pieces of cement from the demolished walls to build a road so the truck could get out. The guys were jacks-of-all-trades today!

Meanwhile, the crew we hired to help on the lavatory project kept busy.

Taking a break:

The girls soccer team came to the school in the afternoon to practice, so Jessica got her run in by leading the team in laps around the field.

The team came back at the end of the afternoon, and I was feeling a little better. After everyone else ate dinner, some of them walked to the Safeway grocery store for a few items. Then, we had devotions and headed to bed. I was a little worried that I wouldn't sleep well since I had slept all day, but I was blissfullly unconscious all night long.