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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Our trip to Ethiopia, Days 1, 2, and 3

Friday through Sunday, July 10-12, 2015

Friday afternoon, after getting the kids and their luggage delivered to Mom and Dad M's and saying some long goodbyes, Shana and I headed to Fort Wayne to pick up Chris at work. We drove to Indianapolis, where we checked into a hotel near the airport. After grabbing some sandwiches and chips at Jimmie John's, we tried to get some sleep since we would be getting up a little after 2 in the morning. We must have been too excited, though, because we didn't sleep very well.

In the morning, we got ready and prepared to meet our taxi at 3:30. However, we couldn't find our van keys anywhere, and all of our luggage and donation totes were locked in our van. We obviously couldn't leave without our stuff, so we tore apart the hotel room looking for the keys. We called the police and several different locksmiths, but no one could help us at that time in the morning. While I was on the phone with AAA, Shana looked through Chris's backpack one more time, and there they were! Of course we had overlooked them the first few times we had searched. Whew! Even though we were later than we wanted to be, we still had enough time to make our flight. Thank goodness for the patient taxi driver who waited for us. He was interested in the fact that we were going to Ethiopia since he was from Eritrea. :)

We finally arrived at the airport, met Kristi, Alyssa, and Jessica, checked in, and flew to Washington D.C. There, we got breakfast at my favorite little bagel place, talked to the kids at home, met Richard who had flown in the night before from Phoenix, and boarded our loooonngg flight to Addis. I only slept about 1/2 an hour on the trip, but we made it...and so did all of our luggage! We had a little bit of a scare when we arrived in Ethiopia and Kristi couldn't find her passport, though. Eventually we found it in her backpack, right where it should be.

When you can't find your  airline-provided sleep mask, you improvise with one of your Ethiopian Airlines special socks! Ha ha!  ;)

We met Wass and loaded our bags onto the top of the van. He drove us to the Ember guest house, where we met Kiersten, checked in, showered, and rested. There were several other teams staying at the guest house, too, and all the rooms were full. So Chris and Richard took one room while all of the girls took another. Azeb came to help us sort through all the donations we had brought, and we divided them between different orphanages and schools. Then we all loaded into the van and Wass drove us to AGCI's new office. We climbed about 5 flights of stairs to get there, and we were all huffing and puffing by the time we got to the top.  The effects of the high altitude were definitely felt!

Ember guest house.

Sorting donations.

AGCI's new office space is in this building.

We met Mathewos and he explained his role with AGCI and described what we would be working on for the week. He gave Shana a big hug and could not believe how much she had changed in the past 2 years! Afterward, we went to a local coffee shop and enjoyed jebena buna (traditional coffee). It was so good, and fun to watch the other girls experience it for the first time.

Wass then drove us to Entoto Mountain, where we appreciated the gorgeous views of Addis Ababa from above. The eucalyptus-scented air is so fresh up there! We toured the oldest Ethiopian Orthodox church in Addis, along with caves that were used for worshiping and burning incense. All of the paintings in the church were made using flower dyes, and depicted scenes from the Bible.

Afterward, we visited the Lion Zoo, where everyone stared at us and took our pictures. Our group was definitely more interesting than the lions to some people! :) We then toured the National Museum, home of the bones of Lucy, the oldest human being ever excavated in an archaeological dig. Wass called Seble, one of the former special mothers at Hannah's Hope, and took us to meet her. We picked her up and took her to her little coffee shop/house. She gave us a little tour, and hugged us over and over. It was so good to see her again!

We went back to the guest house and enjoyed a dinner of  chicken and rice. We stayed up and visited for several more hours...our devotions and conversations proved to be quite interesting, and it helped to get to know everyone better. When we finally went to bed, I slept intermittently due to Orthodox chanting from the top of the hill and a dog that barked in the street all night long.

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