Day 6




You might be tempted to think that spending 11 hours and 14 minutes on a bus ride over less than spectacular roads might be a pain in a certain part of our anatomy.  Well, you are right!  But that pain was nothing compared with the incredible opportunity to see Ethiopia!

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Images from the bus window:

  • Little boys shepherding cows on the green hillside;
  • A family group sitting on a hill, leaning against a sitting cow;
  • A boy, covered with a green shawl, his hand to his mouth, his cheek resting against a pile of stacked wood;
  • A little girl in a yellow shawl waving from the side of the road, young boys behind her herding oxen four times their size;
  • Layers of green hillside;
  • Thatched houses high on hills—hills reminiscent of Northern California;
  • White lillies in patches below the hills;
  • A man and woman walking away from the road, the woman, dressed in pink, green, white, a few paces behind the man, smiling;
  • Eucalyptus branch fences;
  • Clusters of shepherd boys on the rolling hillside;

About six hours into our drive, we stopped at Tamaber Pass, near the top of a mountain on the way to Dese.  We chased Steve up the hill to watch monkeys (which look like baboons, but which Steve adamantly insists are not baboons) scamper up and down the side of the cliffs.  The view dropped straight down and offered a breathtaking view of the Rift Valley.  Shepherd boys eager to sell us woven hats partially made out of horse hair (“monkey hats”) followed us up the hill and stood with us as we watched the monkeys.  Justin was happy to buy one of the whips the boys use to herd the livestock, as a few days prior he proudly received lessons from the men at Roggie Village about how to make a whip “crack”.

  • Cypress trees and camels toting wood;
  • Dirt road tunnels through the mountains, 10,000 feet up;
  • Justin, Kristi, and Kurt, on the hillside, in the middle of a swarm of Ethiopian boys who are trying to sell “monkey hats”;
  • Corrugated tin roofs, colorful clothing hanging out to dry;
  • A little girl walking next to the road, following her mother;
  • Cornfields, mango trees;
  • Patchwork squares of green and brown;
  • Town of Robit, next to a dry river, garbage on the hillside;
  • Soil erosion and mud (lots and lots of mud); and
  • Joyous smiles, children, children, everywhere, running at the bus yelling “you, you, you . . .  !”(aka “foreigner”) as we pass.

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What words can really describe my first week here in Ethiopia? I thought I saw poverty visiting the villages in rural China. I thought I touched poverty while building homes in the desert slums of Juarez.

But it’s different here in Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia you feel poverty. You feel not just poverty in regards to the horrific living conditions and malnutrition of the people, but a personal poverty as well.  I am robbed of appreciation for what I have at home.  I feel impoverished with my understanding of salvation.

The people here live such simple, yet difficult lives.  I see this in the boys playing soccer barefoot in a mud and manure-filled field in the rain.  They have very little, yet their faces are filled with so much happiness.  I’ve seen a six-year-old girl carrying her one-year-old sibling on her back, walking around Roggie Village picking up sticks for a fire.  My own burdens seem so insignificant next to hers.

My heart breaks so badly for these children and their families.  Many parents have died from AIDS; their children unknowingly, and highly likely, infected with HIV as well. I went into what is considered a kindergarten class here – 50 children between the ages of six and eight. The second I stepped inside, they stood up to greet me with what is probably one of the few English songs they know. “I have given my life to Jesus, I will follow his ways,” they sang. Tears started to fill my eyes, but I puzzle through whether I am crying out of joy that the gospel has been brought to these children, or out of pain and sadness seeing ill ones, tattered and dirty uniforms, bodies whose growth have been stunted since the day they were brought into this world?  Perhaps it is both. I struggle to understand God’s provision of the latter.

It has been surprisingly difficult for me to be around the kids because of this tension. I interact with those of similar age in the U.S. so easily, but it’s another story here. Yet, I have found much joy in working with the teachers. I admire their dedication, their interest in the subject matter, their amazement of “Why would you want to come all the way here to teach us?” (Why not???  J  We share a common love for the same children.)

There is so much more I can write about as our team is on the road to Dese. The countryside is lush and beautiful. We encounter a lot of cattle in the road, as well as sheep, goats, and camels. Although there seems to be an abundance of livestock, it’s unfortunate that they are as thin as the ten-year-old boy herding them.

The natives are kind and friendly. Being Asian, I feel that they are extra curious about me. :-) It’s odd – I ask to take pictures of them, but they want to photograph me!

I have not yet been to the orphanage, the Sisters of Charity Hospital for the Destitute and Dying, or the HOPE Enterprises feeding kitchen, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about after that.  Our team can certainly feel that we are in your prayers!  Thanks for your faithfulness!