We have arrived! First impressions…

(Written by team member, Debbie Wyne)
     Our flight arrived on Saturday, Jan 31st, at 7am local time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My first impression from the plane as we came in for landing, is how brown and dry the area is. From the air I could see virtually no green plant growth and no water.
     After clearing immigration and paying $50 for a temporary Visa, we sought out our luggage and Kindri’s bins. They scanned everything as we left the airport and I had an anxious moment when I had to answer for some of the things in the bins. The officer accused me of having electronics and when I gave him a confused look I think he decided it wasn’t worth it and he waved me through. Phew!
The team gathers at

The team gathers at “The Amenities” for breakfast.

     We were met at the airport by a friend (Worede –pronounced “Waraday”) who works with Hope Enterprises. Hope is the local organization that our church is partnering with as we come alongside and bring support to Sintaro Village. Our driver took us through town where we met up with the rest of our group at “The Amenities”–which is basically a small hotel. We had a bite to eat together and then were welcomed by Dr Lemma, who is in a position of authority (General Secretary?) with Hope. He talked for a bit about current events with Hope and the status of projects in Sintaro. We enjoyed a few minutes of prayer together and then we began the long journey to Awasa.
     Driving through Addis Ababa I was struck by how much unfinished construction there was. There were many, many unfinished buildings surrounded by rickety looking bamboo scaffolding.  People walked everywhere. Street-side shacks were the town market. Men offering shoe shines were readily available to the dusty walker.
     It’s a six hour drive from Addis Ababa to Awasa. We made the drive in the heat of the day in an non-air conditioned small bus. It was a long, hot dusty drive, but I had time to observe life in Ethiopia from my seat. Lane markers are merely suggestions. Everywhere we went, we saw people walking. We also encountered countless goats, cattle, oxen and dogs crossing the road and many donkeys pulling carts. It was a constant dance for our driver to avoid the many obstacles in the road. I learned that goats are prized and drivers will stop and slow down to avoid them. Dogs, on the other hand are a different story. From my vantage point on the front bench seat of the bus, I saw the last look of a dog in our path before our driver hit it. He kept right on driving and I couldn’t bring myself to look back, but I’ll never forget that thud as long as I live.
     Walking is the primary mode of transportation for people here. We saw people walking with jugs and I’m sure they were making their daily trek to get water. Donkey-drawn carts, laden down to overflowing with everything under the sun, were also very prevalent. I can imagine how fortunate those with the carts felt that they didn’t have to walk everywhere and carry everything.  At one point our bus crawled behind a cart piled with kids. Three of them looked back and could see me through the window of the bus. I waved at them and they broke into big grins and waved back. We made a connection!
     Along the way, we stopped at a “restaurant” in the middle of nowhere. It was such a contradiction to everything else I saw. They had western style flush toilets and served delicious fresh strawberry drinks and even cream puffs! What a place of contradiction this is! It was hilarious how one person on our team would pick something out of their meal to leave behind and someone else would snatch it up! Whatever one person didn’t want, another truly enjoyed. We decided that we already make a good team!
     About four hours into the drive, I was really ready to be done with it. I was hot, tired and dusty. It had been 48 hours since my body had slept in a bed. I succumbed and shut my eyes a couple of times to help with the sandpapery feeling behind my eyes, but I didn’t sleep. I’m so tired that I can barely think straight.
     Finally, after 6 hours of driving, we arrived at our hotel in Awasa.  As soon as we get out of the bus, we are reminded by the wildlife that we are in Africa!  We see a giant billed bird up in the tree.  Moments later, a monkey scampers over and looks longingly into the open windows of our bus.  I’m sure he is eyeing our luggage and trying to decide what he can make off with!   The hotel staff offered a delicious fresh juice beverage, which was just what I needed to refresh my weary body, and then we moved on into the building to check in.  After a quick bathroom stop, the team met up again and walked about a half a mile down the road to the Lewi, a lovely restaurant where we ate beside the lake.  My grilled Tilapia dinner hit the spot, but I was beyond ready for bed.  We walked back to the hotel, I took a brisk shower (no hot water tonight) and now, after being “up” for more than two days, I’m headed to bed!
Monkeys greet us at our hotel.

Monkeys greet us at our hotel.

     Tomorrow morning we’ll be up early (breakfast at 6:30) and will make the 45 minute drive out to Sintaro to attend church with the villagers.  I’m anxious to see this place that I’ve been praying over and finally begin a personal relationship with some of the people there!  For now though, I’m off to catch a few  ZZZZzzzz’s!!!

Let the adventure begin–Feb 2015 trip!

Traveling Day Notes, Jan 29-30, 2015

(Written by team member, Debbie Wyne)

     Our team is beginning to assemble.  Mark and Cynthia have already been in Ethiopia for several days.  Their daughter, Caitlin, works for the Peace Corps there and so they arrived early to spend time with her.  She will also join us in Sintaro Village and will likely bring a wealth of knowledge of the Ethiopian culture with her.  Kindri moved to Uganda just a few weeks ago and has been putting on camps for youth and going through Leadership training with her team.  She will be joining us in Ethiopia!  The rest of us (Lori, Teri and myself) headed to the airport late Thursday night to being our trek to join the team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

All packed and ready to go! (L to R:  Lori Larson, Debbie Wyne, Teri Flynn)

All packed and ready to go! (Lori, Debbie and Teri)

     Kindri had left behind some of her belongings that we are bringing over to her in 3 large bins.  We have a weight limit of 50lbs per bag, and each of the bins comes in at exactly 50 pounds, or just slightly under!  Now that’s what I call great packing!  Lori, Teri and I will each check one of the bins along with our own luggage and we will not have to pay any additional baggage fees.
     Teri is the first to approach the ticket counter to check in.  Immediately the United agent discovers that Teri’s ticket has been “revoked”!  Lori and I silently pray for this to be resolved while Teri calmly deals with Ethiopian airlines by phone.  After much patience, she is cleared to fly to Washington DC, but we don’t know for certain that she will be able to be on the second leg of the flight, from DC to Addis Ababa.  We won’t know until we land in DC!  We take it on faith that it is going to work out and be resolved.  Otherwise, Teri is prepared to fly back home, and Lori and I would need to pay to ship the extra bin.
     The red eye flight is uneventful and each of us catches some cat naps.  Once we arrive in DC, we head straight to the ticket counter of Ethiopian Airlines and the helpful agent is able to resolve the issues surrounding Teri’s revoked ticket and she has a boarding pass in hand!  Praise God for answered prayers!  We are already feeling that great things are in store on this trip and that the enemy wants to throw obstacles in our path.  God is already at work in us and our faith is increasing!
     It’s 4:30am California time when we arrive at the airport, but that doesn’t stop us from chowing down on some Mexican food from Chipotle for breakfast!  We decide that rice and beans will be a filling meal to sustain us for the long flight ahead.
     I get on the plane and take some Dramamine to help me sleep.  Within minutes I begin dozing and sleep off and on for about 3 hours.  When I wake up, the sun is already starting to set.  Since I’ve left home, the sun has come and gone, and I still have many hours before I arrive at our destination!
     I watched a couple of movies while on the plane. One entitled “The Good Lie” is about the “Lost Children”–the refugees who came to the US out of war torn Sudan. It is based on a true story and I find it very moving. I feel that the movie portrays some of the culture shock and immense differences between African villagers and Americans. In one scene, the refugees find work in a US grocery store. One of their jobs was to throw away pull dated food. They cannot fathom why one would throw away perfectly good food when so many are hungry. It is a good question. The movie brings to light so much of what we, as Americans living a life of abundance, take for granted. I feel it is just the beginning of a very eye opening journey for me.
      As we begin our descent into Addis Ababa the sun is coming up and is a burst of color in the sky. My first African sunrise.
     We have landed! Let the adventure begin!