The only way to described this trip so far… TIA (This Is Africa)! The things I have a seen and the emotions I’ve felt and the stories I’ve heard, can’t be explained or told in words. They are things that have to be experienced, things that only happen because truly, this is Africa, and in Africa, life is very different. I have never been so in awe of life, than right now watching the Ethiopian people live their lives. So here I go trying to put into words what we are experiencing when words really don’t do it justice.
Today we woke up to our routine we’ve comfortably settled into since arriving here. Everyone met in the living room with their books, notebooks and iPods, waiting for our breakfast to be ready, while we sipped on the strong Ethiopian coffee we’ve all come to love. Today was a little different though, instead of the mild morning we are used to, it was down pouring outside and didn’t look like it’d be letting up soon. So a van was hired for our transportation instead of the 1 mile walk we normally make.
During breakfast we came up with the plan for our day and soon we were all climbing into the van waiting outside for us. We were sent off by the kids with hugs and waves and, after waiting for Colin to get outside (I’m pretty convinced he had to finish brushing his hair), we were driving down the muddy road headed to Kora.
It was still raining lightly when we arrived in Kora at Great Hope Church. The walk towards the school was muddy and we had to dodge puddles. (one of my favorite parts about the church) The kids slowly start to notice our arrival. First, one child’s face lights up and they run towards us, then another, and another, until slowly the entire road in front of us is filled with a crowd of children smiling and shouting “hello, how are you? I am fine” and running up to be the first one to hold our hand.
After returning the greetings to everyone, we headed to the main building. The “main building” is a few tree limbs and corrugated tin fixed together in the shape of a box with a concrete slab as the floor. But it’s just what we needed for today’s activities. We started off with a handful of kids who had followed us from the road. Walter lead a game of Simon Says, we sang songs, played hangman, acted out the story of Peter walking on water and played games involving balloons and animal noises…don’t ask. Before long, other kids had caught news of us being there, and the room was packed. One of the kids’ name that floated in is Sisay. He is a little guy, nine years old and reminds me a bit of my little cousin. I was informed that he has an amazing singing voice and when we asked him to sing for me, he told me he’d sing for me later. The rest of the morning he didn’t leave my side. During our conversation he said something that really struck me. Most of the kids will ask you to pray for them, and their request is always a reminder of how open we should be about our faith in prayer. But instead, Sisay told me he would pray for me, even after I went back to America. It tugged on my heart strings, that even though he was the one in physical need, he was willing to put my unobvious needs in front of his own and make a commitment like that. I’ll definitely be keeping him in my prayers, even after I go back to America.
Time went by fast this morning, and before long we were feeding them lunch. Here at the church they have a program called Project 61. It’s a project were people can sponsor kids and Great Hope Church uses the money to feed and care for them. So during lunch time we made injera for the sponsored children and they ate until they were full. We had so much left over afterwards that they went out and found other kids who were hungry, after it was all said and done I bet we fed 120 kids for close to $40.
We left the church after lunch and walked the short distance to Alert. Alert is the largest hospital in East Africa, and world renowned for its leprosy treatments. There is area of the hospital were the leprosy patients hand make scarves, bags, wooden trinkets, etc. and sell them in a gift shop. We walked past the rooms where a few of them were busy weaving. It was incredible to watch the way their hands moved, and we were told that some of them don’t even have fingers left, but still work fast.
After making some purchases from the gift shop, we all walked to the nearest bus we could track down and headed to Chocolate for a late lunch. Chocolate is a restaurant within walking distance of the guest house and has been our go-to place to eat while we’ve been here.
After filling our stomachs, we headed back to Amazing Grace, and played with the kids until dinner time. One thing about being here: we definitely get fed. Tonight the boys were in charge of making us dinner, so we sat in the living room playing games with Measgonewe and Geringa, while Colin, Dean and Walter made us some bomb spaghetti. We finished, had our devotion time with cookies and tea, and it was time for bed.
The end of another incredible day, shared with some amazing people. I am definitely looking forward to the things that are in store for us in the rest of the week.