An update from Brenna (8-7):
Last Friday the team made the journey to Lalibela to see the famous rock churches. It was hard to leave the youth center even for just two days (the trip was three but the youth center was only open for two of them), we all missed the kids. We hired a van and began the drive which we were told only took 8 hours. It did not. In fact on the way there it took 14 and on the way back it took 16 on account of a terrifying oil leak. Overall it was really fun and a great opportunity for some team bonding, but we are all relieved to get back to work. The scenery was beautiful and lush on account of the rainy season. Whenever we would stop in a village or town tons of people would crowd around the van and tap on the glass and smash their faces against the windows. Now we all have a real appreciation for the fish in Finding Nemo. In the small villages it’s possible that they had never seen white people before.
Saturday morning – our only full day in Lalibela, we got up early and rode mules up a mountain to see a rock church at the very top. Both Ren and Brenna’s mules attempted suicide by trying to go off the cliffs that we were precariously ascending. Most of the time the land was shrouded in fog, but we were still able to experience the beauty and miracle of God’s creation. The mountains were rocky and covered in grass with traditional mud huts nestled into the foothills. In the afternoon we saw the more architecturally distinct churches in town. The churches were all carved out of one piece of rock. It was pretty impressive and we got a sense of the deeply rooted culture, history, and religion of the people of Ethiopia. That night we went to a Tej bar and tried the famous honey-wine, Lalibela makes the worlds finest. We had a great time and were able to grow stronger as a group.
Then at 5:30 Sunday morning we hit the road again to head back to Mekelle. We didn’t get back until 9:30 pm. We lost the daylight at 6:30; so again, it was pretty nerve wracking driving along hairpin turns in the mountains in the dark. We did get to see our first real Ethiopian wildlife though. We saw three hyenas running along the road.
Work at the youth center has been going great. Jacob has really stepped up his time spent with the older boys who can be hard to get to know. He is doing his best to reach out to them and be a good example. The girls are finally starting to get past the point of surface level friendships to more intimate relationships and creating deeper bonds with the teenage girls. Ren has found opportunities to get to know the younger boys in the English class for 5-9 year olds as forming a friendship with the local computer technician.
Our teams’ health has greatly improved. Thank you for all the prayers! We feel ready to get back to the youth center and commit our entire being to the kids for these last two weeks. Alison is having trouble with her plane ticket though. She really feels called to stay in Mekelle longer than her previous summer schedule allowed. Unfortunately, dealing with the airline is very complicated. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as we try to work the situation out.
Team Ethiopia ‘06
A quick note: Alison worked out her flight schedule and will be departing Addis on the 20th! The team is very excited about this.