Monday, March 8, 2010

American Food and Reflections

Jan 26(27)

I am here in Washington! Land of pizza, fries, Caesar salad, water fountains, and Spanish instead of Amharic announcements after the English ones! The past few days have been kinda crazy-- I got sick all Monday night after that delicious Ethiopian meal (although thinking about Ethiopian food now makes me nauseated) and Tuesday morning. I slept most of Tuesday in order to have some small bit of energy for the flight. I felt better and better as the flight went on, and I had plenty of time to sleep on the plane, which helped a lot. Traveling has gone really, really smoothly this time around, and I am very thankful for that.

I am a little sad that I was unable to participate in Tuesdays activities (especially because I really wanted to find an Ethiopian doll for my niece), though I rally needed the sleep. I woke up in time to pack up and eat as much dinner as I could before we left for the airport. Although I was extremely weak when I woke up, the more I was awake (and the more Gatorade I drank) the better I felt. I'm pretty sure eating at the Fasika Monday night is what made me sick-- when I smelled the injera and wat that Sam sent home with us in some crates, I felt very nauseated. I guess I will have to stay away from Ethiopian food for a while now. It's different than what I expected-- because I really liked Ethiopian food coming into this trip, I thought by this time on our trip I would be craving Ethiopian food and seriously missing it, but since I got sick (and actually before that) I have not been craving it.

It is very strange to look out and see snow on the ground! The small plots of houses and grass are covered in white-- it's a lot different from Ethiopia. I wonder if there is snow in Indiana...? I am ready to go back home, as I have stated in many past entries, but adjusting back to Taylor life will be difficult (only one more semester of craziness!). I am entering a pretty busy and challenging class load, along with a senior recital, an apartment with new roommates, and I still have a whole lot of reflecting to do on this whole trip. I am really excited to share my experience with friends, family, and acquaintances...anyone who inquires!

I have realized that I take some things in my life for granted. Who would've thought that I would come to that conclusion going to impoverished Africa, right? I live s pretty modest lifestyle, but even as a modest American, I am living materially immodest compared to most Ethiopians, yet most Ethiopians find so much more satisfaction in their lives than most Americans. I think because Americans have more options, we have more opportunity to be unsatisfied. Ethiopians are happy because they have no reason to be unhappy. Their life is all they and their parents and their grandparents have ever known including traditional roles, religion, and other family or village practices. I wonder, though, how different the house kids' perspectives are, especially being exposed to Americans as much as they are. As I have commented before, Project Mercy carries a sub-culture that is different from others living in Yetebon, but I wonder exactly or specifically how different those perspectives are. I'll have to think more on that.

It feels great to be home, but I hope never to forget the lessons I have learned and the people I have met in Ethiopia. God is moving in this world.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

City Love

We left Yetebon to travel to the capital where we stayed with the Tregos, American doctors working with the American Embassy in Ethiopia. They cooked us AMAZING comfort food (including Mexican and bagels) and had satellite TV (the same TV that military people have overseas), which allowed our many sports fans (mostly males) to watch the Champoinship NFL games.

Jan 25

Our big day in Addis!

Today was so wonderful-- we woke up to a luxurious breakfast, headed out to go shopping with our wonderful driver Tamrat, went out to eat at the Fasika ( a restaurant that serves traditional food), at which we ate, danced, and laughed the night away. I was really glad to have the shopping experience we did, even though I was really scared of the haggling that was required of us. It worked out really well, though, because Trevor, a finance major and business-minded man, was in my shopping group. He is really good at haggling.

Our driver knew all the right places to go, and he got us to each place safely. I bought gifts for all kinds of people, and our last stop was an amazing coffee shop that sells its coffee to Starbucks. We spent such a long time at the coffee shop because everyone ordered at least three bags of coffee and the most was nine bags. Take the average and multiply that by 17 and you have a LOT of coffee. I'm pretty sure they ran out of their stock of beans because they had to call someone in to bring in kilos and kilos more. We got back to the Tregos' house with only a few minutes to spare before dinner. We left to go to the Fasika with all our American friends, although Dr. Trego and Andrea were not feeling well and decided to stay back.

The people working at the Fasika were very helpful (I think they were used to tourists) and were kind in helping us know what to do. First we ordered drinks, then Sam (Marta's son and good friend of our team) came, then we went out to get our food from a personal buffet they set up outside for us. They explained to us what each thing was and were even a little impressed when we knew what some things were called (mit mita for example, which is a spicy powder added to things to make then if the food needed that!). We went back inside to eat, and then the band began to play traditional songs. After they played some songs (Sam explained to us that they were mostly secular songs, although they had set some secular words to a sacred tune in one song), the dancers came out and dances three dances from different regions of Ethiopia.

We had been hoping that, coming from Yetebon, which lies in the Guragi region, that we would get to see the Guragi dance. We did, and the second time they performed it, they got Nathaniel and Eric (two of our American friends) to go dance with them. They also came out into our group on another song and told us to "COME" as they shimmied and swayed. We tried our best to shimmy and sway our rhythmically challenged American bodies, and although I am sure we looked foolish, it was a blast. I had a great time dancing and being able to talk with those around me. The day was a very tiring day, although I am more awake than most tonight as I went to bed early last night.

It was like one big sleepover at the Tregos' house!

I cannot believe that we will be on our way back in less than 24 hours. As I have been saying-- I am ready, but I know it will be a crazy adjustment. I am just starting to feel comfortable with the culture and just starting to get the feel for Addis. I feel almost like we, as Andrea, Aaron, and Nathanial are doing, are only taking a weekend away from Project Mercy and that we will return to our "normal" lives with the house kids in a few days. It won't hit me that I am coming home until I am there, similarly to how I didn't feel like I was going to Ethiopia until I stepped out of the airport here in Addis on January 4th.

Being on this trip has further convinced me that I am ready to step out of the incubator that is Taylor University and into the cold, cold world to serve God in a big new way (wow, so cliche, right?). There is so much outside of Taylor, though, even though Taylor life consumes you when you are there. I am hoping I can be less consumed when I live off-campus next semester. The next big question, though, is what is life after graduation going to look like for me? What is my next step? What will the next 6 months even look like for me? I am learning every single day again and again about patience for the will of the Lord to be done in my life in whatever way God chooses to do that. It is extremely exciting!