One of my favorite parts of being here (Ethiopia), and also the most difficult to remove myself from, is how we exist in community here. I think we talk about this idea of “living in community” a lot, especially around church/christianity, but I don’t experience life like this at home as consistently as I do here. Families here tend to live in the same compound for generations, so grandparents and parents are taking care of kids and grandkids and kids are taking care of parents and grandparents – forever. Not for a week or a month or a year. We’re living together as a team in a 5 bedroom house and sharing an 11 passenger van between the 13 or 14 of us, so we’re in close proximity most of the time – very familial and community oriented. Because we don’t have a TV or the internet, we spend our free time talking and getting to know each other. We don’t have to schedule it and we don’t have to wait two weeks to sit down to a cup of coffee. We’re not too busy and life ends up being relationship-oriented. It’s real community, everywhere, especially among Christ followers, and I love it. Most of you probably think I’m a little off my rocker…that’s OK 😉
One way we’ve been getting to know the staff here at Amazing Grace Guest Home (AGGH), and how to use amharic numbers, has been with ping pong (table tennis)! Trecie, Joe, Yoseph, Tare and I went to Merkato last Tuesday to look for a few items before the rest of the team arrived. Merkato is the largest market in Africa – it’s over an acre of mayhem. Yoseph (aka Yossi/Jossi) and Aki have pretty much refused to take me there with a team in the past – which now makes sense. Walking with our team is already a little like herding cats. They love to wander into the road – where Bajaj fly by and assume people will sense them coming and move, like Ethiopians who have a 6th Bajaj/taxi sense. I can definitely see someone getting lost/something stolen.
So anyway, I couldn’t find anything I wanted (“My Toyota is Fantastic” sticker and a compact flash card), but there was one of everything else. We wrapped up the unsuccessful shopping around 1 and turned our attention towards something much more fun – building a ping pong table. We bought a big 4×8 piece of wood/particle board, some paddles, a net, a few ping pong balls, nails and some eucalyptus for building “saw horses” to put the table on. It was an adventure and per usual, we were a spectacle with the wood flapping on top of Tare’s van. We came back to AGGH and Joe, Lijalum, Yosi, Nati, Yasin, Tare and I built and decorated a ping pong table. We’ve been playing every day since! I’m going to create a tournament bracket – I’ll post the final results sometime in the next couple of weeks (because I know you care)- but I predict Lijalum comes out on top. He’s definitely the one to beat 🙂
Pray for team unity, flexibility and growth, please. We’re here to learn and grow while working side-by-side with our Ethiopian friends and partners, not to “make a difference”, and that change of mentality takes time and guidance from the Holy Spirit! Thanks for all your love and support on the journey!