Saturday, March 01, 2008

News from Lalibela, Ethiopia

I've been having the hardest time connecting the past few days.

But here, in the little town of Lalibela, deep in the heart of the Ethiopian highlands, I finally succeeded to connect to Blogger!

Here's the news:


I’m still shaken up. This morning, the taxi Bethany and I were in hit a pedestrian. The guy was going at least 40mph (60kmph) at the time. And like all taxis here seem to do, he kept squeezing through really tight spaces at high speed. He was going down a straight road (Equatorial Guinea Drive, I believe) and seemed to decide he could squeeze between a truck on the left and the pedestrian who walked on the road, just off the sidewalk.

But he couldn’t.

It’s one of those really, really bizarre moments when you think, What’s this guy doing? But you can’t get it out soon enough.

So with the corner of the little blue Lada we were in, we hit her! The whole car shook. The driver came to a screeching halt, still smiling, and ran to get the girl. He was literally carrying her holding on to her breasts as handles (!!!), half dragging her. And still smiling!

As I’m sitting there, he’s pushing her into the back seat, telling Bethany and I we cannot get out! But we did. He had to get her to the hospital! He seemed more concerned to get the fare from us than to care for the girl. We paid him and urged him to get to the hospital. The side view mirror was busted. The front corner of the car was dented. The insulation from the window was ripped out.

As we walked the last 200 yards or so to the hotel to meet the group, Bethany and I prayed for the perhaps teenage girl, that she would be OK. And that the man and women who jumped in the cab with her would fight for the girl! They seemed adamant not to let the cabbie get away with the accident. I heard them mention “police” several time while talking Amharic.

I keep wondering about the girl, though. Does she have internal bleeding? Will the cabbie pay for her bills? How’s this accident going to affect the rest of her life? Her right arm and leg HAD to have been shattered! God, help her!

We spent some time in class yesterday talking about justice. How do we live justice daily. Personally. As families. Businesspeople. Educated individuals. NGOs.

And so, as we’re heading out to visit a monastery, the sight of the young teenage girl haunts me. The anguishing pain was all over her face… Was getting out of the car the right thing to do? Is that “living justice”? If it weren’t for the fact that several Amharic-speaking eyewitnesses jumped into the cab to help, we would’ve gone with her to the hospital. But as foreigners, we would’ve been in the way.

Still, it bugs me that we don’t know how the girl is. It’s hard.

On a different note: We went to visit the Archbishop of the Catholic Church yesterday. He’s a delightful man with a heart for uniting the Trinitarian churches of Ethiopia (as in, the churches who believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) He urged us to visit the Missionaries of Charity, which we did. However, it’s very, very awkward walking into a ward filled with men in uniform pj’s and be told, “And this room is the men with TB…” None of us felt comfortable with being tourists of other people’s suffering. So Ray (our prof) politely explained that we love what they are doing, but we need to go because we’re late for our next appointment, which we truly were.

Oh, about Kenya. If you’ve read the news, you’d know that today’s mass protests were called off, that 200 youth militia were arrested in Kitale (not too far from where I live), that Kibaki finally agreed to creating a Prime Minister position for Odinga. How exactly it will work, I don’t know yet. But things are looking up.

Class is officially over, and little by little, the students are leaving. Tomorrow morning, I’ll fly to Lalibela for a 2-day visit before returning to Nairobi. Lalibela is famous for its rock-hewn churches dating to the 13th century. I look forward to time alone with God in places where people have been worshiping him for centuries.

I will only be able to blog again after my trip to Lalibela.

Till then,


Last Sunday

It's been a very, very good experience. An eye-opening one in terms of urban issues and ministry. Today, we were supposed to visit 6 churches, but due to getting stuck in a church parking lot behind other vehicles, we ended up just visiting 5. Everything from an Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the morning (where, by the way, you're not allowed in if you've had intercourse in the past 48 hours, or if you're having your period) to a Pentecostal church, a Lutheran and an international evangelical church. Huge differences, not only in the style of worship & liturgy, but also in the type of people they attract.

Our class is made up of a fascinating bunch of people. There are 3 students from the US (2 of whom are the only other ladies in the program), and then one guy from each of the following countries: Angola, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria. And then 2 guys from Ethiopia.

Yesterday, we drove for 13 hours (seriously!) to see the Nile River Gorge. Actually, it was about 6 hours there, and then we turned around immediately. We weren't even allowed to get out of the bus to walk across the bridge over the Nile. We made the mistake of taking photos of the bridge (as well as the grand one they're constructing right next to it), but the military came and insisted we had to erase the pictures. I don't get it. Anyway. We turned around, drove 4 hours to a monastery (Dobre Libanos) where monks stay in mountain caves, but by then I it was too late to visit the caves, so we saw yet another church. And then drove back to Addis.

Had a good time visiting in the bus, though, especially the last 2 hours when we were really, really tired. The 3 American students plus the program coordinator and the other Kenyan guy and I were having a blast, singing songs, playing "two truths and a lie" and so on. Just fun stuff. The only American guy (other than our professor) is African American, and a pastor at that. He was getting us to sing songs the African American way. Much fun was had. At least by us.

Want to get home early and get some good rest before we head into yet another packed week. Hopefully I'll get to upload a photo or two tomorrow. Will try my best.

My mind's turning from all I'm learning, and with the thought of how things are in Kenya right now…

Back to Today

So, since I didn't think I'd come to Ethiopia anytime soon again, I decided to take a 2-day trip to Lalibela, to see the famous rock churches. Saw 6 of the 11 yesterday, and in the evening, decided to go out with the group I connected with an have some tej (honey wine). It's not good, by the way. I had hardly had a few sips when I decided to head home. On foot, since it's so safe. Over rock roads built hundreds of years ago. Crawled into bed at maybe 9 pm, just to wake up several times in the night. It was either the tej or something I had eaten earlier in the day, but I didn't feel good at all. Still don't. I've taken some meds and decided to stay in this morning.

If I feel better by the afternoon, I'll walk around the Saturday market. And very, very early tomorrow morning, I'll head back to St. George's (look it up on Wikipedia) and see a celebration. People will start gathering there at midnight tonight to start with chants. Should be interesting.

I'll connect again on Monday, when I'm back in Nairobi.

No comments:

Post a Comment