Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ethiopia, forever in my heart!

On June 1, 2008 I set out with my team of 9 other 20-somethings to the Denver Airport bound for Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia. We had no idea not really knowing what the next two weeks would bring, but excited for any and all of the opportunities the Lord had waiting for us there.

We worked with Compassion International, a child sponsorship program that works to support underprivileged children all over the world. We worked with three of Compassion's projects in Addis Abbaba and it was wonderful to be able to serve these communities.

The first project we plastered classroom walls the first day, painted them the second day and the third and final day we were there, we got to play games with the kids! Aimee getting the plaster up on the previously clay walls.Uzzi up on some homemade scaffolding reaching those high places.The crew...almost done!

Now the reward! Playing with those kiddos! They were so fun! Always wanting to teach us new songs and games! This was my favorite time we spent here.

The second project we went to was on Saturday. This day every week is when all the kids that are sponsored through Compassion get together in one place and the moms attend classes about nutrition, caring for their children and a myriad of other things, and the children attend Sunday School classes, or I guess you'd call them, Saturday School classes ;-) The morning we spent playing with the kids, and in the afternoon, we went into their classrooms and taught them the story of David and Goliath and then some songs of our own. I was amazed at how many of the children spoke English, but it is, apparently, part of their school curriculum.

These were two of the girls I met, and below is a video of a song they taught me.

The third and final project we worked with was a much smaller one than we'd worked with previously, but it ended up being one of my favorites! The classrooms at this compound were also in need of some TLC so we painted the walls, fixed broken benches and desks, and then decorated the outside. These were two of my favorite kids! Maharin, in the red, loved telling me all about the history of Ethiopia. He was an incredibly intelligent young man and it encouraged me and showed me all that Compassion is doing for these kids who otherwise would have no opportunity to quench their thirst for knowledge. When I wasn't receiving a history lesson or being tutored in logarithms (yes, that's right), they would teach me fun card games!
Sorry, it's so small, but here is one of the classrooms we worked in. Our third and final day at this project we painted with water colors with the kids, and they just LOVED it!

Again, a small picture of Uzzi, our resident artist, decorating one of the walls. Steph with some of the project children

One of the project staff members serving coffee for the coffee ceremony. Ethiopia is very proud of their coffee, claiming that it originated in their country. During the course of this activity, they wold roast the beans in the pan in the back left of this picture, then take them away and grind them before brewing the coffee in a beautiful pot. This was some of the best-and strongest-coffee I've ever had! They sure know how to make a good cup of coffee!

After our work at the projects was done, we had a free day where Compassion took us to a famous hot spring in western Ethiopia. It was fun to have a day to relax and enjoy the weather. I missed those kiddos, but we got to see monkeys! Actually, they were part of the ape family, but I think they looked more like monkeys. This was the hot spring where we got to swim. They actually collected the water from the spring into this pool and it was really warm! Nice to dip in, but not really swim. The actual spring was up a ways, but people would actually bathe (naked) there, so we decided not to visit that part!
The river beside the spring
One of the many monkeys we saw. They were like seagulls at the beach, it was crazy! See the little baby! Those little guys could really hold on when it was time to move!

On the way back to our compound after a long day...we were all pretty tired!

We left the next day for Nairobi, Kenya where we met up with all the other teams from theMILL that had been spread out all over eastern Africa. It was great to see everyone and hear about their wonderful experiences. We enjoyed the last two days all together and then it was time to go home...well at least for everyone else. I met up with Emily and we stayed behind, excited for our next adventure together. We thought we were just going to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, but little did we know what God was going to do on this "vacation".

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