7/24/15 Ethiopia Update (Written by team member, Debbie Wyne)
Today we begin the long journey home. Our drive from Awasa to Addis takes about 6 hours, including a stop for lunch along the way. We continue to see many pedestrians and livestock of various kinds everywhere we go. We also see many areas of agriculture where various crops are being grown. The farmers are out in the fields using oxen to plow the rows and it’s interesting to realize that such basic techniques of farming are still employed.
The team is quiet on the bus. Some nap, but I suspect there is a lot of quiet contemplation happening as we all observe our surroundings and reflect on the happenings of the past several days.
Arriving into Addis is a bit of a culture shock all over again. The traffic and congestion is overwhelming. The smell of diesel and smoke permeates everything. Our driver is doing an excellent job of weaving amongst all of the obstacles, whether it’s another vehicle, a pedestrian, motorcycle, Bajaj (a tuk-tuk type taxi), a donkey pulled cart, or a herd of cows or goats. In a place where lane markers are rarely used—or if they are, they’re merely a suggestion–this is no easy task!
After we’ve been driving through Addis for a while, I begin to see some familiar sights. I have my bearings, and I know that The Amenities Hotel where we are staying, is not far away. I’m shocked to realize that I’m beginning to learn my way around this city of chaos!
For dinner we are going to a place where we will be served a traditional Ethiopian dinner, and see a show with live music and dancing. Pastor Mattewos is meeting us there and we are thrilled to see him again. He has been such a positive and inspirational presence with us on this trip and he is someone I will miss. As he says, he has a “fire in his heart for God”, and from what I’ve observed, this is an accurate description of who he is. My conversations with him this week have been very inspirational.
Dinner is an adventure! It begins with a hand washing ceremony. Our server brings a silver basin and we are to hold our hands over it. He puts some soap into our hands, and as we rub them together, he pours warm rinse water from a kettle over us. When the food comes, it is little piles of wat (various meats, lentils, vegetables, potatoes, cabbage…) over bed of Injera. Injera is a flatbread made from a sour dough with a very unique, and spongy texture. Cooked and seasoned lamb is delivered over a bed of hot coals to the table. Eating with your hands, you are supposed to tear off pieces of Injera and use it to sop up the rest of the food. We are also served Kocho, which is a staple of the diet of the people of Sintaro. It is made with the false banana plant that we saw growing all over the village. We are adventurous and dig into our meal. Meanwhile, we are being entertained by music, song and dance. I learn from Mattewos that they are performing in a manner typical of the Sintaro region.
Dinner ends with traditional Ethiopian coffee. When it is delivered, there is also a little container of wood/incense that arrives and begins to permeate the air with scented smoke. Mattewos tells me that this represents the smoke that would be in the hut from cooking, and symbolizes the presence of God in our midst, in the form of the Holy Spirit. Finally, we receive a small basketful of popcorn. As I’m eating, I realize that we have experienced many elements of this meal while in Sintaro: When we were in the village, someone would pour water over our hands before we ate lunch, Injera and wat were part of each meal, and was followed by coffee and popcorn. It’s very cool to have experienced this so authentically.
Dinner is over and we are sad to say goodbye to Mattewos. He reminds us once again that God should be first in all things. He has such passion, and I will miss him immensely. Before we board our bus to head back to the hotel for the evening, we stand on the busy sidewalk of Addis, put our arms around one another in a circle, and pray together. It is a sweet moment and feels like the benediction to our trip.
We will continue to be in prayer for one another, and ask that God will bless both of our ministries!