FYI: Packing an alarm clock for a work trip to Ethiopia during Ramadan is not essential. Around 5am every mourning, the call to prayer wakes us light sleepers up from dreamland, much to my displeasure.
We started our day back at Korah today with more of a game plan to entertain the kids. Our three activities were coloring, pasta nacklaces, and a David and Goliath reenactment… you can guess which character Colin was cast as. However, when it rains here it can put more of a damper in perfectly laid plans, for upon our arrival at the church we discovered less kids than the day before, due to the fact that many were at home around their fires just to stay warm. We scrapped the play to save for a larger crowd, and split up to do our respective activities. Another fun fact for future teams to log away in the ” don’t do this” memory bank is to use food as jewelry… wow, we were not thinking. Half the kids were stringing it on the cord like instructed, while many were eating, then stringing, then eating, then stringing, then shoving in their pockets, then stringing again. Our efforts to save some for the next group of kids were foiled as well, since more than once an older child would run in the “classroom”, scoop the pasta off the table into their shirt, and run off. The extra bag of pasta was hijacked as well. Melissa, Cody and I weren’t sure what to try to do, how do you tell a hungry child that the pasta is for making jewelry and not for taking home to your sister so she can have a lunch? Needless to say, little was left fo the second group of kids, so just tying the remainder of the string around small wrists and necks had to be good enough.
A few games of hang-man on the chalk board managed to keep the attention of the second group a bit longer, but as our organized activities continued to decend into choas I had a revelation. These kids cared less about what they were doing with us, and more about just being around us. It was only our second day, yet every one of us has a specific group of kids that attend to us and know our names. My little snuggle buddy Mellat, who is maybe 25 lbs and all 2 foot tall, is very protective and will try to full on slap other larger kids who try to hold my hand, though I’ve been trying to teach her to share me with others. After the we managed to help the church staff feed the kids lunch, I had to try and fullfill my promise to play soccer with some of the older boys. Everyone was just kinda relaxing with the kids after their meal, and since the sun had come out I got the ball from the office and asked where the field was. I was told the field had a fallen tree on it so we could play here… and the staff proceded to open the gate to a connecting area that was a larger dirt area. Well, it would have been a nice dirt area during the dry season but since it’s the rainy season, we proceeded to play a small soccer game in a mud pit, complete with pools of stagnent water on each end to keep things interesting. Lizzy cared for the smaller kids and kept them from falling neck deep into the mud while myself and a few hardcore boys played some keep away and juggling. Another ” go ahead and pass on this idea” for future teams, don’t play soccer in the mud pit. My suspicions about the mud’s unusual consistancy was later confirmed when we were told the run off from many outhouses made its way to this very mud pit. So since the soccer was my idea and I had followed it through, I took the responsisbilty to clean the poo-mud off the ball and put it away.
We departed after having our own lunch in the church and instead of touring more of the city, went back and spent our afternoon relaxing with the staff at the guest house. Card games and ping-pong were the preffered forms of entertainment and the hours ticked away as we enjoyed the company of our hosts.
Did I mention the people are rediculously attractive here? I mean like realy hot, man. Both in appearence and heart, I have met few Ethiopians that aren’t genuine and from Sashemene to here in Addis, the quality of service and care from these people has been five star. I’m particularly fond of our driver Tsegay ( Si-guy) who not only has avoided countless collisions with other cars and pedestrians, but seems happy to see us every mourning and gladly braves the streets to get us to our destinations. I’m in love with this experience, and though our trip is half over, Pray for more amazing encounters as this country continues to pour into and grow our team.