Friday, August 29, 2008 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
(Katrina here, Please note: I’m sure many of you were worried for me as to whether I was able to use the hair dryer this morning after Chris’ crazy electrical moment. I was. I have no hair issues to report at this time! But it was interesting to wake up three hours later and read that account while Chris was able to keep sleeping.
We had heard that the Ethiopian people are very sweet natured. It is true. The sound of their speech is very soft and easy and they are very humble. We had also been told how important it is for us to try and use their language. Well, we’re mostly getting laughed at and then talked to in English. “Chigger alem”, I guess or “No problem.”)
We had our first Ethiopian coffee this morning. Very strong, and good. Drank it straight-up – no Splenda here! Spent breakfast with another couple traveling with us. We had a nice time chatting and discovered they go to a church similar to ours in the Detroit area.
After a really good (and spicy) breakfast we settled into our first full day in Africa. Katrina napped as I tried to get my mind around why I’m even here (I do know why, but I was in a deep-thoughts kind of mood). I spent an hour or so thumbing through the Bible, looking specifically for verses about adoption or being chosen as God’s children. I became a bit frustrated as I searched for that clincher verse from which to write this really great expose’ that correlates God’s adoption of us (His children) to our adopting of our daughters (Yididya and Melat). In the end, the last verse the Spirit led me to was, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) I may not be able to get my head and heart completely around why I am here (other than the obvious). But the steps of these ten days were determined in eternity-past by a faithful and loving God. In that, I must rest content. This part of my story is as much about my own dying to self as it is about bringing home two orphaned sisters who need love, care, and Jesus.
On another note, I woke-up with a puffy, red, and sore eye this morning. Similar to pink eye, but hopefully not as bad. It still bothers me tonight, but I don’t think it is any worse. I’ve been putting antibiotic ointment on it with hopes of doing a self-cure. We’ll see.
At 2:00pm we were taken by our driver, Sami, to accomplish two things: get our flights outta here confirmed and then take a driving tour of Addis. After having no issues with the flights, we set out on an interesting journey around Addis Ababa – the capital city of Ethiopia.
Addis is a dichotomy. It has the extreme poor, as well as the wealthy. Just outside our hotel room, men and women work along side each other to build very nice homes for government officials. The workers use a restroom, which we can look down into. It is basically metal corrugated roofing slapped together. I suppose the poor and the rich living together is true in any big city, but it seems especially noticeable here.
Later, we saw a man eating from a rain-soaked bag of garbage sitting in the street. If that wasn’t shocking enough, he got chased away by another man who apparently wanted the garbage as well. More startling was the sight of a man dressed only in the remnants of plastic bags. I spotted at least a half-dozen blind people. There are many children begging. We were told not to give them money. Instead, we are to give them a ticket for a free meal. We bought 40 tickets for the equivalent of $2 US. Pretty amazing. The sad thing is these tickets are used to barter for other things. We observed a few kids trading the tickets for suckers.
Men and boys urinate in the streets. Men were washing themselves with the reddish-brown water running down the roads from a rainstorm (it’s the rainy season here). This was the same water into which the urinating mentioned above was occurring. And for good measure, this water was used once more to rinse large plastic bags that I assume would carry something of value at some point.
Very few people appear to be doing anything. Most just lean against buildings along the sides of the road. When we stopped to purchase the meal tickets, we were mobbed by 4-5 men selling necklaces and maps of Ethiopia. They were very insistent, even sticking their arms inside our van. It was a little uncomfortable.
There are goats, cows, and donkeys free-ranging in the poorer parts of the city. There are also dogs here and there and an occasional cat. At one small open area, three boys were playing soccer about 20 yards from a very dead and bloated cow.
Traffic is crazy. The air very smoky/smoggy. Everything runs on diesel and horns are continuously honking – although politely. People are constantly crossing the road wherever they wish. Driving lanes are non-existent. During our whole 1.5+ hour tour I think I saw only two stoplights.
Overall, it was an enlightening tour. I felt sad that so many like our daughters will have to grow-up in the squalor of the poor section of the city. Yet, I was excited to think that God has chosen them to be a part of our family and come to America where they will have the opportunity to thrive, be fed, be warm and drink clean water. We are blessed people.
In true American fashion, after our tour we stopped at a coffee shop (Kahli’s) that looks strangely like Starbucks (no mermaid on the sign, but the baristas do wear green aprons). All I can say is Starbucks has nothing on Ethiopian coffee. Pike Place seems like Sanka compared to ET coffee. Oh well…
We ate at a Thai restaurant tonight. Katrina commented that we had to come all the way to Africa to eat our first Thai food. Tomorrow (Saturday) we head to Awassa, which is where our girls were born and where their mother still lives. We will meet her either Saturday or Sunday. We have much anxiety about that meeting. We have a small photo album to give to her showing our home, church and family. We also included some Scripture in Amharic (the primary language here) with hopes that a gospel seed will be sown. The girl’s mother is HIV positive and knows her life is ending soon.