Oh my heart. This place. It keeps you on your toes and teaches you so much about yourself. The kids are everything I had hoped for and more. They have a joy so contagious and outrageous that it infects you even if you’re tired and your patience has worn thin.
The day (yesterday) started with some DELICIOUS cinnamon rolls; I unashamedly had two. Breakfast was not as uneasy as the day prior because we knew what to expect for the day as we had already been to the school and met the kids. In fact, I was so excited to go back just to hear their voices and see their smiles. They exhibit pure joy. We piled into the van, and traffic was insane like always, complete with honking and the aroma of diesel floating around. As the headache builds from the fumes trickling in, I look out the window at the chaos outside our little van. I’m amazed by the Ethiopian way of life. It’s so relaxed and content compared to our American hustle bustle, must-get-to-where-I’m-going lifestyle. They casually stroll alongside the street with no worries about time. Rarely do you see someone running to get somewhere or a driver huffing and puffing behind the wheel. Time doesn’t feel constricting here like it does in America. They will simply get there when they get there. I’m convicted about how consumed my life is by busyness back home and I make a mental note to slow down when I make it back. I have to take the time to slow down, build relationships, and be okay with the fact that I do not have to complete every single thing on my mental checklist for the day. Heck, I need to get rid of my mental checklists altogether and just be. Be focused on the relationships. Be focused on the people around me. Be focused on the people who are in need in the Gallatin Valley.
That has been one of the most humbling aspects for me. The streets are lined with elaborate buildings followed by shacks that are barely holding on. I oftentimes catch myself thinking, how is it that there so much wealth and poverty in one place, on one street, right next to each other? Then I immediately recognize that there is extreme wealth and extreme poverty in Bozeman as well. There is a need everywhere, not just here in Africa, and I have to be more intentional about doing what I can do to alleviate those needs.
I wish I could put in a box the emotions that circulate when you walk into the classroom for the day so I could give it to you and you could feel what we feel. The kids immediately start shouting our names–they sure do love saying Chuck’s– and we start off the day. Unlike my own classroom at home, the kids here are so eager to please that when asked a question, so many little hands pop up. I struggle to pick just one kid to answer. Thankfully, we have Abhi to help us out in the classroom and keep it under control. Abhi oversees “Keep One Home” where he organizes support for 156 kids who live in extreme poverty so they can continue to live with their single mothers at home. I don’t know what we would do without him. He’s so helpful and so willing to help us out and to be there. I absolutely and unconditionally love the people who are helping us and serving us, all while loving us at the same time. They have meek and humble spirits. I’m also so thankful for the team. Despite our varying personalities (all beautiful personalities, of course), we get along and they are quickly becoming family.
I can’t figure out if the days are going by slowly or if they are passing by in the blink of an eye but I do know that I am cherishing every single moment I witness, every taste I experience with the local food, and every word I hear from the children’s mouth.
Until next time,
Jourdan (or as the kids say it, “Jour-dahn”)