7/23/2015 Update from Awasa (written by team member, Debbie Wyne)
After such a great day yesterday at the celebration of water, we all awake this morning, rarin’ to go back to the village. It has been raining quite hard during the night, and we’re concerned about what travel might look like on the muddy roads. Worede (the project manager from Hope) was able to join us in the village yesterday and he is scheduled to meet us at the hotel this morning. Although our driver arrives early, Worede is not yet here. We assume that he is making phone calls to try to figure out the road conditions and if it’s safe to make the trip or not. Around 10:00, Worede arrives and gives us an update.
He had stayed at the village later than we did yesterday afternoon, he reports that it began raining really hard there in the late afternoon. This is significant information because we didn’t get any rain in Awasa until around 2am. We didn’t realize that the weather pattern could be so different between the two locations. Worede also tells us that because of the heavy rains, a big tree fell down just a few hundred yards from the school and blocked his way out. We are sorry that he got stranded, but we thank God for our protection and that we were not in the same position! The villagers worked together and cut up the tree to clear the path. Worede ended up getting back to Awasa about 9:30 last night.
Armed with this information, and the weather report for Awasa (rain, rain and more tain), our team gathers in prayer for wisdom as we make a decision about whether to try to make the trek to the village or not. We gather with Worede and talk through our options, and ultimately make the decision that, as much as it breaks our hearts, we will not be returning to the village today. That also means that our time in Sintaro is over, because we must begin the long trip back home no later than tomorrow morning.
One of the things we were supposed to do today was to visit Hailu, my sponsor child, and his family, in his home. I’m more than a little disappointed that this won’t be happening, but also feel very blessed that God provided the opportunity for me to see Hailu several times this week, and to visit with Hannah yesterday at the water ceremony.
A decision made, we move forward with our day. Worede leaves to attend to other business and our driver takes us to another area of Awasa for lunch. At this establishment there are a few shops, so we take the opportunity to explore a bit and make a few purchases. I don’t have any Ethiopian cash (Birr), but I’m pleased to find out that they will take US dollars. I make my purchases and move on to the next shop. A few minutes later, the shopkeeper from the first shop hunts me down and basically tells me they can’t accept one of my bills because it’s the old style and they can’t verify it isn’t counterfeit. This is surprising to me, but we swap out bills and all is well.
We return to the hotel and wait for our interpreters to arrive. One of the things that we wanted to do on this trip was to document the interpretation for various Sedama words and phrases, and videotape someone saying them. The intention is to be able to make this information available to future teams so they have some exposure to the local language before their arrival. All of the CPC team members and the interpreters sit around a table as Berhano, Sarah and I type up a list. It is a fascinating to work through this and I find I am beginning to anticipate spellings, pronunciations and meanings of some of the words! I begin to realize that there are often several ways to say basically the same thing so we all work together through the nuances of both languages to arrive at the best selection. This process is joy-filled and there is much laughter with everyone around the table. It’s awesome to see how two separate teams have bonded together and truly become one this week.
We are able to ask our interpreters more questions about local traditions—including how the people of Sintaro shake hands and greet. We’ve noticed some variations and we learn that some of the things we are seeing are the villagers way of showing us respect and affection. There are several people that I embraced in a hug and it occurs to me that perhaps I have overstepped a cultural line in doing so. I’m assured that this is okay and is in fact, a sign of great affection—which of course is exactly how I intended it. Phew!
Near the end of the day, Worede returns and we say our final goodbyes to the translators. Berhano tells us that he wishes there was time for us to visit their homes in the local countryside and have their mothers cook us some of their local food. I feel honored that they have extended this invitation to be in their homes. We stand to say goodbye and Berhano extends his hand to me. I reach for it and pull him into a hug, and I remind him that it is a sign of great affection, and we all smile. We have enjoyed our time together with the translators and it is sad to see them walk away.
Our time in Sintaro and Awasa is coming to an end. It’s time to pack up and get ready to leave early in the morning, but first, we enjoy some pre-dinner Gelato. We are all a little sad that we are leaving this place and these people, but we know we’ll carry them with us forever in our hearts.