Saturday, January 21, 2006
No crazy stories this week
What an honor to sit down with each and every one of my 32 students today and help them see the good in the pieces they had to write at the start of the week as well as to identify areas which they need to improve.
There was one day this week that I wasn’t feeling too well—eating strange food tends to catch up at some stage, plus, I believe, the “excitement” of all that I had encountered during my short time in Ethiopia caused my body to say, “Stop!” My colleague, Dr. Willie Addai taught all of Wednesday, allowing me to I take a day off to recuperate. Though Thursday was a national holiday, we had class, and so I taught the entire day.
“National holiday?” you may wonder. “Didn’t you just have a national holiday last week? We did indeed, and I’m eager to see what holiday may pop up next week as I’ve been led to believe that Ethiopia has several holidays each month. In fact, yesterday’s holiday actually started on Thursday and ended today.
While the Muslim Ethiopians celebrated The Day of the Ram last week, it was their Orthodox Christian countrymen’s chance to celebrate Epiphany this week. This religious holiday marks the end of Christmas, and is celebrated 12 days after Ethiopian Christmas (hence “The Twelve Days of Christmas”).
I was not able to take photos of any of the celebrations this week, or of the crowds, but I am told that while I was teaching on Thursday, as many as 70,000 Ethiopians gathered in our town in a procession to walk with the Ark of the Covenant (or a replica of it, at least). Many of them even spent the night in the field on Wednesday as the procession started that day. Some of the streets in town were blocked off so that the people could celebrate.
After class today, I only saw remnants of the celebrations as Orthodox Christians were walking along the main highways heading home, all dressed in white. It’s really a beautiful sight!
I may have mentioned before that all four lecturers who have been teaching at Debre Zeit have been staying at a resort halfway between our city (or town, rather) and Addis Ababa. There’s really nothing at this resort other than the rooms, a few restaurants, and a pool. You just hear the constant roar of traffic as we’re right off the highway that connects Addis to the south of the country.
Heading home today, I noticed a farm behind our hotel and decided to take a photo of the haystacks. I probably did attempt the one daring deed that could’ve potentially gotten me into trouble: I scaled the guards’ lookout tower in order to take this photo. (Our resort is surrounded by fencing and bushes, making it impossible to take a photo otherwise of the surroundings.) I didn’t get into trouble. Phew!
So, tomorrow (or today, by the time I get to upload this onto the Web) we are being taken to Addis for lunch, after which we’ll have some time at the Internet café. One of our professors (Dr. James Kantiok) has already returned to the US. Another (Christine Wood) is leaving on Sunday to teach in another district, which leaves just two of us to finish out the week.
Has this been a good experience? Despite the challenging encounters I have had in the city, I have been blessed to be a part of a program that is truly affecting the country on the whole. (Right now, more than 300 Ethiopian leaders are enrolled in Operation Impact!) But on a more personal level, it really has been a joy connecting with the students on a personal level. From the highest government levels to leaders of NGOs, Christians, Orthodox Christians and Muslim alike, the students have been a joy to work with.
But it’s not over yet. Next week, I’ll start the final week of teaching. And on Saturday, I’ll fly back to Kenya—hopefully, if the Ethiopian Airlines flight doesn’t get canceled.
This week, will you please pray:
* for the 65 students from the past two weeks, that our discussions will remain with them and that God will allow the seeds to grow
* for meaningful interaction with the remaining 30
* for my flight next Saturday NOT to be canceled
* for a safe journey back to Nairobi, and a safe flight onwards to Eldoret
* for the children and staff in Kenya—I truly miss them, especially the kids!
Blessed that you’re on this journey with me,