Monday, November 11, 2013

Culture and Blessings

It’s 2am, and the Orthodox Church nearby has an excellent set of speakers.  Hopefully I can catch more shut-eye here soon when the melatonin kicks in. 

In the meantime, I have been so blessed to see God’s kindness towards us on this trip.  Our hosts at the guest house, Ephraim and Yeshi, are believers in Jesus and the fellowship has been so wonderful.  We haven’t talked extensively with them, but the times that we have are fun and relaxed. They have true joy in serving others, and their guest house is a comfortable place to rest.  We love their children, Naomi and Sammy.  Naomi (pronounced ‘No-AH-me’ in Amharic) warmed up to me this morning and we sat and popped bubble wrap together for quite some time.  I guess some things are totally cross cultural!  I was impressed by the dexterity of her two-year-old fingers, and her ability to communicate without saying a word.  Yeshi and I will probably go get our hair braided at some point.  Apparently it’s only about $2 USD.  Sweet!

This evening, we met the other couple that is staying here this week, Jack and Ashley from Ohio.  They are here meeting their 15 month old son, who wailed inconsolably today when they first met him.  It’s refreshing to run into another couple with a similar background, similar values, and a fellow belief in Jesus.  This is their second adoption from Ethiopia, and they are great to have around for advice and ideas.  How great to know that there are other normal (or equally as strange?) people in the world, and we are grateful God allowed our paths to cross in the middle of Africa!

Can’t beat it: around the dinner table with an Ethiopian family, a family from “near” home, and us, practicing for Heaven when we will spend eternity in similar fashion.  God is indeed good!

I am so loving the culture here.  Never having been to Ethiopia before, or even Africa, I only knew what I had read or heard second hand.  I had heard that Ethiopians love children. That is TRUE! Philip and I were talking before lunch today and it seems that in the States, parents show love to children by giving them stuff and expecting them to be occupied with their material possessions.  Here, they don’t have an abundance of stuff to give their children.  So, they give them the gift of relationships, which has far greater value.  There are children everywhere, accompanying adults in all activities.  They all seem content, not demanding, and are part of the ebb and flow of daily life here. 

It seems that Ethiopians look out for each other.  No one is in a hurry.  Everything gets done eventually.  Along the way, relationships are built and maintained, children are brought along, and there is a mutual love and respect for others.  It’s easy to get used to that!  It’s super common to see people hugging in greeting or touching throughout daily activities, showing a bond of affection.  No one cares about appearance or time or schedule.  It’s allllll relational!  I’m thankful for the training I have had in the past years that has helped prepare me to adapt and be comfortable here.  I have heard fellow adoptive parents describe Addis as “just a dirty city”.  Well, there is dirt here, but if that is all you see, you miss out on the richness of culture. Americans have MUCH we can learn from these people!

caught a soldier...  in blue camo.
I have never seen such an ingenious culture.  They don’t have ready access to gadgets, so they improvise.  Need a bigger wheelbarrow?  Use cardboard!  Streets get muddy?  Build higher.  Goat won’t be led?  Grab its front feet and make it walk on its hind feet.  Want a sheep?  There are hundreds in the market.  In the middle of the city.  Need a place to keep a donkey?  The middle of the road is acceptable.  There are sewing machines on random corners with people available to mend.  People mend shoes on other street corners.  There are cabbages, bananas, fruit, tires, underwear, bed frames, sunglasses, flatbread, and everything else imaginable sold almost everywhere. 

A few oddities: chanting at 3am. Perhaps over time it becomes a lullaby?  The military wears camo that is blue.  I’m not sure what they are trying to blend in with.  Green, brown, gray, all understandable.  Blue??  Hopefully I can catch a picture on the sly and share it with you.  It’s kinda odd.

Ok, let’s try this “sleep” thing again.  Ciao for now.

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