Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Day Three, Part II

     Okay, I'm facing a dilemma. I thought I had the perfect two songs picked out for my slideshow... but then I found another really good one. And another. And another. So now I have six songs that are amazing, but I can only use two. Unless I made it thirty minutes long. Ooh, there's an idea...
     Unfortunately, my poor, weak, American stomach couldn't handle the food we were passing out to the HIV people, or I totally would have eaten a big plate full. Once everyone was happily eating and chatting, our team headed back to the guest house for lunch. After lunch, we all piled into our blue and white mini van (a theme throughout our trip) and headed up to Mount Toto. Mount Toto is a mountain just outside of Addis that has one of the oldest Ethiopian orthodox churches at the top. The mountain is also very heavily forested (or it was) so it attracts many women who strip the trees of their bark and leaves, strap it to their backs, carry it all the way down the mountain, and sell it in Addis for about 18 birr (the exchange rate while we were there was 16.5 birr = 1 dollar). Once we got to the top of the mountain, Helena, our fearless driver, discovered that the gas attendant had filled up our tank so full that as our van drove up the mountain, our gas leaked out. Oh yes, good times. Our team last year had toured the church and the museum, so I stayed back with Dave E., who had also gone last year, Helena our driver, Alemnesh, and Binyam, Alemnesh's son. Dave handed out a track put out by Desiring God called "For Your Joy", which people were really excited about. However, we attracted too big a crowd which made the guards nervous and mad so they told us to stop passing them out. Alemnesh got kind of worried that there were going to get even madder at us, so we ended up camping out behind the van. Once the rest of the team's tour was over, we headed back down the mountain but stopped a couple times to snap pictures of the view, interview a wood carrier, and give the van a rest when it's brakes started smoking. The women who carry this wood generally come from homes where the man is absent or an alcoholic, so it's up to the woman to provide for her family. In a country with an unemployment rate of 50%, people have no choice but to take drastic measures to feed  their family. It was hard to drive down the hill, almost effortlessly, while watching woman after woman staggering down under the weight of the wood, which would sell for about one dollar. According to the National Geographic "Typical Man" study, 46% of the world lives on less than a dollar a day. The "typical" American lives on ninety dollars a day. Wow.
     There is a family living in Stillwater who has adopted a girl from Ethiopia and has been over several times because they support several schools there. While in Ethiopia two years ago, they met a boy named Sami who sold gum in a market. They fell in love with him, but were not able to get any contact information. When they found out I was going, they gave me his name, where he worked two years ago, and three huge laminated pictures of him, and asked me to try to find him. I was really excited to look - it felt like a really important, nearly impossible mission. However, our Ethiopia guide was less than enthusiastic about it. "When was the last time they saw him?!" she asked when I told her. Our team leader very graciously let us stop at the market and try to find him, even though I could tell that not many on the team were very optimistic either. After we got down the mountain, we made our way to the market. During the fifteen minute ride, I looked out the window and prayed and prayed and prayed. Helena pulled into the entrance to the market where there was a group of boys standing around. He and Binyam pulled out the pictures of Sami and showed them to the boys. "Sami?" the boys asked. "Yeah! He's right over there!" And sure enough, fifteen feet away, there was Sami! Poor kid. One minute everything was normal and the next, he in a van surrounded by white strangers (we had to bring him in the van because the moment people saw white faces they surrounded the van to ask for money). Through Alemnesh, I was able to find out all his contact information, if he was in school and attending church, and give him money the family had sent with me. It was so cool. After about 10 minutes, I had asked everything I needed to, so we snapped a quick picture and left. As we drove away, all the Ethiopians in the car stared at me with huge smiles. "You know you're so lucky, right?" But it totally wasn't me. Only God could have protected Sami for two years. Only God could have made sure he was at the market on the day I'd be there. And only God could have him be standing fifteen feet away from our van. I ended up seeing Sami twice more after that, and the second time he told me that he'd already emailed and talked to the family. Coolest thing ever!
     Ciao! (Thanks to the Italian invasion, I have retained one Amharic word). 

1 comment:

  1. Haha, what songs are you referring to?

    And AWESOME about Sami! :) Praise the Lord. :D