Team Ethiopia, a short-term missions group from Central Church in Collierville, TN, is now on the ground in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and ready to serve! Here is an update from Cathy on Friday, day eight of the trip. Today was a FULL day of fun-filled activities, rain, a visit to the lake and TRAFFIC, lots and lots of traffic.
We started the day by getting up an hour earlier than usual so we could head out to Debre Zeit, a city outside of Addis Ababa, for a field day with the kids. We hit rush hour traffic in the morning and witnessed “fast food”, Ethiopian style - people on the side of the road were selling bread and waffles during traffic. It was definitely different.
On the road to Debre Zeit, we passed the dump. The dump is not only a dump, but also a community of people. They use the trash and trash bags to build little houses for themselves and their families. It was smelly and disgusting, but God reminded me that He loves those people the same as He loves us.
Once arriving in Debre Zeit, we made about 4 u-turns before heading to the correct location. Imagine 3 city busses full of city kids and a van full of a bunch of “forengees” (that’s what the Ethiopians call us foreigners) making u-turns on a 2-lane road that runs in the middle of a bunch of shops. It was quite comical, I’m sure.
We had around 130 kids come today, and they were beyond ecstatic. Imagine telling your kids you are going to Disney World, and that is what this field trip was for these kids. We planned a field day for them with games like volleyball, baseball, soccer and three-legged races. Ben, Joyce, Howard and I (Cathy) tried to teach the kids to play baseball. They seemed to get the concept after about 30 or so minutes, but all they wanted to do was bat, so we base coached and played the field positions to let the kids bat. We definitely each got a turn at bat, though.
Joe joined in on the baseball after awhile, but first he and Kelly started a round of volleyball with the kids. Apparently, volleyball is really big here in Ethiopia, so all of the kids really enjoyed that as well as the staff. Lana quickly joined in on the volleyball game and had a lot of fun scoring points for the other team! Kidding! She did great.
Natalie, Lauren, Candice and Katie all played soccer with the kids, and I can only imagine how much fun they had with them. Katie continued to take fabulous pictures throughout the day as well. Liz played goalie during the staff vs. kids soccer match and was faithful to watch all of our stuff during all of the other games.
We have to give a huge shout out to Meme for planning the fabulous field day and being flexible when it didn’t go quite how she planned it, but it was the best day ever for those kids, the staff and all of us.
We had another Ethiopian lunch at the compound and ate with the kids. It was our last traditional Ethiopian meal of injera (the big tortilla-like bread that Ethiopians eat with every meal) and tibs (meat in sauce). We played soccer with the staff against the kids for about 30 minutes after lunch and then right on cue it started raining around 2 PM.
Then we all loaded up on the busses and van and headed to the lake, which was another special treat for the kids. I am not sure what lake it was, but it was the most beautiful view with the mountains in the background of the lake.
We played more games with the kids there, including a piñata type of game where the kids were blindfolded, spun around seven times, and then tried to hit the pot that has chalk dust in it with a big stick. The first one was broken by one of the kids, but our very own Meme broke the second one!
We had a wonderful send off from the kids and staff, all of them thanking us for taking the time out to come and serve and love on the kids. We were all very moved by the words the staff had to say to us. Then we got a special treat: the testimony of Fikadu, one of the boys who has successfully been through the program from life on the street to living in the halfway house. It was so amazing to hear the story of one whose life has truly been changed by the work that Onesimus does.
I know I am way over on the blog, but I have to give a huge shout out to our driver for the week, Tess. He has been phenomenal, but nothing compares to tonight. We hit traffic jam after traffic jam! And when I say traffic jam, it’s not an American traffic jam. There are technically lane markers, but no one follows them, so there are about 5-6 cars wide on a 2-3 lane road all honking and trying to get around each other. What should have been about an hour or so ride home was just short of 2 ½ hours. Exhausted from such a long day and stuck in traffic, we could have been jumping down each others' throats. But, instead, for the last 30-45 minutes of the drive, we sang praise and worship songs a cappella in the middle of the traffic jam. As much fun as I had with the kids today, that was the highlight of the day for me, imagining God’s smile as He listened to us singing praises to Him.
We finally made it home. Praise the Lord, the staff here at the guesthouse kept our dinner warm for us! Tomorrow is another early day, so I’m off to bed (and possibly to shower if we get the water tanks refilled). Thanks for reading and commenting! We read your comments every morning and love love love to hear the comments from you all!!
Team Ethiopia and Cathy