Thank you thank you thank you!! We finally were able to read all the comments that everyone has been leaving and it was sooo amazing. It was so great to hear from everyone, a welcome touch of home. Both of us felt recharged and we really wanted to write another post right then. But guess what—you guessed it. Suddenly the power went out.
So here we sit… Sunday morning. We are going to church in about 30 minutes at the International Evangelical Church. Both of us have several personally significant reflections on the last couple of days, so first from me (Keely):
As Kelly may or may not have mentioned, the two of us were sick. Well, let me rephrase. Kelly had a scratchy throat and “sinusy head” and I well… to maintain some modesty lets just say: the toilet became a common seat for me, we are almost out of toilet paper and all the Ks in the house realized that the walls are incredibly thin. NOT my proudest moment. But the Cipro we got from the Dr for just such an occasion worked like a charm!!
And now to Kelly’s rant:
I am going to punch our shower in the face! The water pressure has steadily dwindled each day to now being a small trickle or sometimes no water coming out altogether. My hair is long and thick, and I can put the shower head right over me and no water will reach the shower stall…it is simply absorbed into my hair. It takes me twenty minutes to shower, as I can barely get the shampoo and conditioner in and out of my hair. Also, this morning, the water was either scalding hot (like, first degree burns to my scalp) or freezing cold. No happy medium. I would love to say that I’ll only be showering once a week, but I just can’t do it. We get way too dirty here in Addis (which can be noted by the black bottoms of my feet everyday). Ah, the drama.
Enough of the funny stuff—we have had some really amazing experiences in the last few days.
On Friday, Kelly, Kelsey, Keely and I (yeah, its quite a mouthful—and I think both Keely and I can state that it is VERY crazy having to use that name… and not be talking in third person!) Anyway, we all went to the foster care centers at Gladney. This is basically a transition area for the children. Once the agency matches a child with an adoptive family they are taken from the orphanage and cared for in the foster care center while all the paperwork and court issues are handled. Typically this is about a three month process, but occasionally it can take years. It was amazing for us to see the difference that resources can make!! These children are so much healthier, happier and better cared for- there are just way more caregivers, a full-time doctor at their disposal and toys… yes toys!
We had a very significant job to do. We were to write personality updates on 40 children which are sent biweekly to their adoptive parents. All of us were really humbled by this assignment because of our interactions with the parents a few days earlier. One dad, holding his new little girl in his arms teared up and said: those five sentences may seem insignificant to you or even a burden, but they were our lifeline for our baby. It was the highlight of our week. Needless to say we all approached this with our whole hearts… and we pretty much loved just playing with and getting to know all the precious kids. My personal favorite was when we opened the gate to one house to find 10 tiny babies, under the age of about 6 months nude sunbathing!! They were all out on mats absorbing the vitamin D and drying out their diaper rash. It was adorable and hilarious!!
And what a day we had on Saturday:
It began with a trip to the Bizarre at the International Evangelical Church. This bizarre is held the last Saturday of every month and contains all hand made crafts made by people with disabilities. It was amazing. There was everything from spoons made from bull horns, rugs (Kelly bought a beautiful one), jewelry, furniture, wooden toys, paintings (Keely bought some of those) and sooooo much more. I am in love (obsessed as Kelsey continues to say) with an old photo I got of a “patriot” Ethiopian family from the era when they were fighting the Italians. It is amazing!!! Everyone in the family has guns…even the little three year olds. Nothing makes me feel happier than little kids with guns! (just kidding, for those of you who don’t know me… that really was a joke!!!) And Kelly’s take on her cross…this thing is amazing. It is old (but not antique, I was told) and was used during prayer ceremonies when the crosses were put on sticks and paraded around. I have seen a lot of these all over the city, but this one really was different to me. In the middle of the center little cross, there is a carved angel bowing its head. I can’t explain why this one means so much, but I just really couldn’t pass it up (although I tried…I even left the store because I wanted him to bargain a little more!). I can’t wait to show it to you once I’m back in the states
Back to Keely…
We went shopping near the city center during the afternoon. There were tons of typical souvenir shops lined up along one street. And all four of us managed to find some great treasures: purses, scarves, more pictures and paintings and a huge beautiful nickel cross. The four of us have a lot of fun together. There must be something about the Ke- name thing. Very cool people! The cab ride home was hilarious! We met a cab driver who waited for us to finish shopping and after some significant haggling on the price, we rode home with him. A ride that consisted of blarring rap music (poker face and boom-boom-pow and others) lots of dancing (from the cabbie and us) and Kelsey getting scolded for taking a picture of the presidents house (its illegal to take pictures of government establishments here).
But the uniqueness of our day had only just begun. We spent the evening bringing the term wedding crashes to a whole new dimension. Keely (number two) had met an Ethiopian guy on the plane who had invited her to experience a wedding. He was the best man. The four of us were not about to pass an opportunity like that up!!! We got in our finest clothes (an order which proved to be quite difficult as all of us had packed for a trip to Africa, not the prom… but careful trading amongst all of us, and we were able to come up with four pretty cute outfits! All of us in our signature scarves).
We got there and had a little difficulty finding our way in to the 800 person reception. But Sammy (Keely’s friend) sent an assistant to help us find our seats. It was a great mix of traditional and modern. We are all surprised that the overall vibe was pretty Americanized. Dinner, buffet style, was our first official taste of Ethiopian cuisine complete with Injera (spongy bread that they pile everything up on) and raw meat. We had heard that this is a true delicacy- they literally just take a butcher knife ( a VERY sharp one) and just… ywisht (that is the noise the knife made) chip off a hunk of meat from the hanging carcass.
And the dancing . It was great fun. Basically it went something like this. They sang a repetitive song for about 20-30 minutes. They were primarily worship type songs wishing the bride and groom a future filled with prosperity and the blessing of Jesus. With each verse the enormous mass of people formed a huge circle and performed the two signature aspects of the dance routine: either jumping up and down arms raised exalting praise with loud singing or doing a massive crouch with the bride and groom at the center of the circle whispering the words. We went back and forth between these two styles over and over and over…
There was cake cutting and feeding each other, champagne toasts with the bridal party and lots and lots of dancing. The bride and groom were so cute, both obviously having the time of their lives. We were all so touched that we could be a part of it- what an experience.
This is a great time to comment on the overall generosity and kindness of the people that we meet here. Obviously, an impromptu invite to a wedding illustrates that. But we also met several people at the wedding who we made quick friend with who invited us to church etc with them. We are growing increasingly popular… our phone has like 12 contacts!
This post was actually finished after church:
Again a very inspiring and fulfilling experience. The church that we went to today was truly international. The church was packed!! From Kelly’s perspective…the church was MUCH different than last week. It is much more traditional and as Keely put it, “I felt like I was in Texas” (the pastor was from Texas, but also talked about his North Carolina ties!). It was refreshing to hear some known worship songs that really touched my heart. The sermon was the last in a series about heroes. The mantra appeared to be, “in heroes, character matters.” We were talking about Caleb and the story in Joshua where Caleb and Joshua go and wonder, according to God’s will, for forty years. Some important points I noted (although random in connection to each other)…it is important to stand up for what is right, even if it’s against the majority; we hold our opinions, but our convictions hold us; and in Proverbs 4:23…guard your heart (for God), give your heart (to God), as in release your talents and skills to bring glory to God in all you do. These points really meant something to me today. So thank you, my heroes, for your love, support, integrity, selflessness, commitment, courage…for your character, that encourages me to look to you, and to God, to discover His will for me.
Keely again, just got chills from reading what Kelly wrote. At the beginning of the sermon, the pastor said something that really struck me: as he returns to the U.S. for the summer, his wife said that she most misses how tangible Jesus is here. For me, I am continually amazed at how tangible the love is, the Spirit, in the people. It really fills you when you enter these churches, its awesome!
Now we sit at Kaldi’s coffee. Kelly sitting next to me sipping down her mocha frappicino. This is known as the Starbucks of Ethiopia…and also one of our favorite hangouts (if only it had wireless internet) It has awesome juice, every kind, color and texture you can imagine. We love it.
Thought of the day:
In case any of you are wondering our return address is as follows:
Mattios house, house of Barbie
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
(we don’t actually get mail here, there is no address on any building and therefore were left to create our own. Do not actually try to send us mail. But expect to see this return address on any mail that you receive from us)
So we will sign off for now. Thanks again for all your love.