Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ethiopia....Party Time, Excellent!

Joey with a bunch of kids at Mekelle Youth Center

Annalise and Danny at the blind school

Us in Aksum in front of one of the giant obelisks

Workin' the Beyonce T-shirts

First we want to apologize for not updating you all for a couple weeks, we have been extremely busy. The missionaries we are partnering with here left to go back to the States earlier this week. On top of our daily routine at Mekelle Youth Center we are going to Operation Rescue to teach orphans English, act out Bible stories and sing a lot of "Father Abraham" for them. We tell you, it's one of the most freeing feelings to dance ridiculously in front of 50 students while they stare at you like you're ooh-id (Tigrinya for crazy). We take turns in partners going to the blind school in the area on Friday mornings. We love going and hanging out with the kids, we might go a couple times a week when our commitment at Operation Rescue ends. We are getting a little tired and have a hard time staying up past 9pm, as we are working 6 days a week. However we were able to take a bit of a vacation last weekend (though it gave us no time to rest.)

This past weekend we hired a "party" bus (we nicknamed it that) to drive us up to Aksum. It took us about 6 and a half hours on the bus to get there on the Adigrat Road. Although it looks close on a map the terrain was very extreme so there were lots of switchbacks and turns and at least 2 different mountain ranges on the road. Luckily we only saw one car on it's side and our drivers understood that we wanted to make it back to Mekelle so they didn't drive "too" fast. The scenery was gorgeous and the drive was entertaining as we passed livestock, many people walking, and police checkpoints.

Aksum is a city in northern Ethiopia (we could see Eritrea at one point....awesome) that is the center of the old Aksumite empire. We saw the obelisk field there that was constructed sometime in the 4th century AD. The obelisks (called stelaes by the locals) are tomb markers, carved out of a single block of stone, the largest one being 33 meters, and 250 tons. We saw the reconstruction being done on one that the Italians took during their occupation here and only recently returned to the Ethiopians. We also saw the St. Mary church compound. This is the location where over 250 Ethiopian kings were crowned and the Arc of the Covenant is said to be kept. It is believed that the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon had a son who went to Jerusalem and brought the Arc to Ethiopia. We also saw a toucan there…absolutely awesomely fantastic.

On the way back we were booking it so the drive only took 5 and a half hours. Joey, Matt, Mikayla, and the Irish guys each took turns driving the bus for a few minutes, all while Annalise mentally yelled at the people who said they would teach her how to drive stick but still have yet to do it. Don't worry though, there weren't many cars on the road… although when Mikayla was driving she had to stop abruptly about 100 yards away from a random police checkpoint. The driver jumped back in his seat and thankfully as we began our approach they just waved us right on through.

Our daily schedule involves us getting to the youth center at 8:30 or sometimes earlier if we feel like eating at the café for breakfast. At 9 am we begin sports and English with kids younger than 12 years old. At noon, we have a break for lunch. On Monday and Wednesday we go to teach Operation Rescue during lunch. We're back at MYC at 3pm (or 4 pm on Operation Rescue days) the time in the afternoon is full of bingo, sports tournaments and English for the older kids (age 12+). We usually wrap up the day around 6pm and then get some dinner. We normally get about 9 hours of sleep, and then the day starts over again.

The guys bought four chickens 2 weeks ago and had a chicken dinner. They almost had too much fun killing them and eating them. Next on their list is the goat. They bought the goat yesterday (Saturday) and named it "Bret" after the guy from "Flight of the Conchords." They are planning on having a block party Ethiopian style towards the end of the trip with all the friends we have made. Until then the goat is eating lots of grass and keeping the girls up at night (their house has more grass).

The girls are hating the boys and thinking about throwing the goat out of the gate door in the middle of the night. Otherwise they're enjoying there time here especially their bible study on Wednesday nights with the women missionaries here, there is so much wisdom when you mix generations together. Last Thursday, they went to lunch at one of the high school age girl's house. They ate delicious food, played with her 4 year old brother, and watched music videos on Arabian MTV which made them feel a little like they were at home. On Wednesday night they ended up outside a brothel where a little 8 year old HIV positive girl named Yordanos lives with her older sister. She is being placed in a new home soon thankfully. We ask prayer from all of you that her placement will work out for her (as she refused profusely the first time and that's why the girls and a missionary ended up taking her back to her sister at the brothel on Wednesday night).

We are loving our time here and it is going by so fast. We could use prayer for good health, Mikayla is getting over her sickness and Joey has been fighting a soar throat and fever the past week. We also would like prayer for opportunities to share the gospel with people we have built relationships with for the past 4 weeks. We also need wisdom in where and how to spend our time, so we wont be spread too thin, but at the same time we are doing what we can, and being as useful as possible.

Chow for now!
Team Beyonce
Annalise, Joey, Matt, and Mikayla (which is a boys name here…hilarious)


Jason and Ann Shdo said...

We loved the update. We will be praying for Team Beyonce and Mikayla's driving... ;)

Love, The Shdos

katie said...

I am waiting for you to come home so we can go see the Mummy together. And if you're curious, Stela is the comman word for slabs of stone with writing on them, it's a Greek word (art history, not latin). Blueberries are in season, mommy and I are going picking this weekend.
You are doing wonderful things over there, helping to give those kids a little bit more of an actual childhood (which, as you know, I feel is crucial). Remeber you guys, you're never too old to play dolls. We miss you and love you, but know that you are doing great work, my good thoughts are with you. Can you feel my hug Shorty, and my kiss... now get off of me, you're such a cling-on.
Love you,
Katie Rose

Africa: a hope said...

Oh how i miss you all. It is so great to hear the updates with everyone! Annalise- Nice Shirt ;). Im actually sitting here watching BBC news thinking about the delicious fries and cokes at Axum- then i think about the last time i was there.

Great job all, keep up the good work. You all are in my prayers!