Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ethiopia - day 5...part 2 - Entoto Mtn

I think I can carry on from where I left off yesterday with my journaling now. My heart is ready for the lightness of today's post as the rest of day 5 was filled with joy, laughter, and a sense of peace.

After finishing our home visits, we headed to the most beautiful, secluded place on the mountain for a picnic lunch that the ladies at the guesthouse had packed for my team. Mesfin accompanied us and as we turned the corner and parked, I literally gasped at the view. It was breath-taking.

Me and Mesfin (Endihnew) - he is the founder of Endihnew Hope and who 
I work closely with in getting the children sponsored. He is a faithful follower
 of Christ and I couldn't ask for a better partner to work with. He loves these
 families and works tirelessly for them all... and I do mean TIRESLESSLY!!!

We finished up lunch, bagged up the left-overs for the little lurkers (aka - kids peeking at us through the trees) and handed them off as we made our way back to the vans and back down the mountain to the income generation building. The little ones chased the vans like they always do yelling "caramella" - candy - and finally caught up with us at our stop. Ha! They patiently waited outside of the door while we went in to greet the women and see them working their trade so carefully. These women craft the most beautiful pieces of pottery in no time flat and act as though they have been doing it for years. It seems to be second nature for them although in reality it is a trade that they have just recently learned. 

Our official sign!

These women work so hard and the ones who have small children bring them
 to work with them and those kids sit there all day while their moms work! 

Pre-firing...because it is the rainy season, it will take a few months for 
these pieces to dry enough to get the color on them...however that process
 works. Clearly I am so inept at this! Ha!!!

One lady on our team, Connie got to try her hand at making a piece of pottery, while the rest of us took turns making our way to the tiny room where the pieces that are ready to be sold lie on the floor carefully arranged. David and I looked through every piece in awe and had a hard time deciding what we wanted to bring back as each piece was beautiful and personal to us. These women are family to us and we were both so proud of their accomplishments! We finally settled on a small lasagna dish, a jewelry dish, and an Ethiopian coffee cup. All were a black color or maybe a dark navy blue...I couldn't tell but they are perfect! We mainly chose simple and more plain pieces because we didn't want to risk something getting broken in our luggage on the way home. There were other pieces that were way more elegant and detailed! 
After the purchasing of pottery was completed, the ladies held a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony for us which was AH-MAZING!!! And this, my friends, is coming from a non-coffee drinker! It was such a honor to participate in this and I loved every second of it. Plus, the coffee and the company were perfect!

After this, it was time to head outside the door and play with all the kids who had been waiting SO patiently for us to finish up and come outside. We had an organized game of soccer going on with Mesfin, Hope and Andy playing against a ton of little ones. I played frisbee and some Ethiopian song games with a group of girls (including my sweet little Mekesde Girma). I was thrilled and had been waiting a WHOLE YEAR to play this game again! Aaaah!!!! Hahaha!!!!! Pure joy. Others on the team played bubbles, painted nails, learned from the kids how to do the giant whips, and other fun things. It was an afternoon of joy.

Matiyos Temesgen showed up to get his things from his sponsor, my friend 
Becky Morgan! Isn't he the cutest little boy?!? 

Look at them lined up just waiting in the rain for us to come out and play!!!

Christine played with "Milo" every single day on Entoto. He found her
 instantly and they were together non-stop after that!

Another sponsored child!!! They were newly sponsored - as in a few
 days before we came on this trip!

Marta Tesfaye - a sponsored child blowing bubbles for all the
 little children to try to jump up and catch

little game of Frisbee

"my" game!!! Oh pase, oh pase.... 

Yep, David got ANOTHER donkey hair hat this year.
 Because 1 is not enough...

As we were getting ready to leave, our 2 sweet teenage girls on the trip did something I totally had not expected. Cheyenne had bonded with a little boy, Kolmhue, who has HIV and lives a really hard life. He needs medicine but must have food to take it. Right now he doesn't get food everyday so he can't take his meds everyday...which makes him sicker. It's a vicious cycle. He and Cheyenne were buddies during this trip and as she heard his story and got to know his heart more, she felt God leading her to tell Kolmhue that she wanted to be his sponsor. So, through weeping and a shaky voice, our sweet little Cheyenne told Kolmhue that she wanted to help him. That she wanted to be his voice and help provide for him because she loves him and wants him to be well. That he had touched her heart in a big way and that she wanted to be part of his life in a big way. Tears welled in my eyes as I watched this moment unfold.

And Hope...where I left off yesterday. Amayelu found her on the first day and looking quite dapper in his little vest over his shirt, he escorted her through the muddy terrain and held her hand so that she would not fall. He wanted to know her story as much as she wanted to know his. A bond was forming in a major way! He spoke English as much as possible and it was clear to Hope that this child was special. There was something about him that she just couldn't shake. Instead of jumping into sponsorship though, she told herself that she would wait and if he was there again on the next day we were there, that she would consider it again if things were the same...if God was leading her in that direction. 
Sure enough, the next day that we were there he was waiting on Hope to arrive and he called her name the second she stepped off the van. She knew then, and it was just a matter of timing of when to tell him. 

As we left the mountain, we came upon 2 women who were carrying the 180 pound branches on their backs down the mountain to sell them for firewood at the base. Our vans came to a screeching halt and like a boss we all jumped out. It was mission "Carry Their Burden For Them". The men put the sticks on top of the vans - and it literally took 5 men to get the load that 1 lady was carrying. The women got to work "pampering" the ladies. These ladies walk up and down this 10 mile mountain 1-2 times every single day carrying these heavy branches for $1/load. Most do it in thin little jelly shoes, if not barefoot. And many are pregnant or older women. So, in my van, we had sweet Kobe (Koe-bay). She had on a thin pair of lavender jelly shoes that were laden with dried thick mud and had no traction on them. I shuddered at the thought of her slipping and falling with those sticks on her back as she made the trek down the mountain, but I put that thought out of my head. Hope and I gave her wipes for her face and we washed her hands for her. Then we told her to take her shoes off because we wanted to wash her feet for her and give her a foot massage. She resisted at first saying her feet were dirty and she couldn't let us. I told her that we really wanted to and that it would be an honor if we could. She grinned and said "okay." So we got to scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing. When we got to the bottom of her feet, she just giggled and giggled - she was ticklish!!! It was hilarious!!! We all laughed at this point. As we were finishing up and I was thinking about her shoes, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to give her my shoes. Honestly, I tried to reason that I only had 2 pair of Toms with me and that one had holes in them that I was using for house shoes and the other were my new pair and I would ruin them in this muddy, rainy season. I tried to come up with an excuse but when the Spirit speaks, you better listen. So, we "happened" to have a new pair of socks in one of our backpacks that Connie threw up to the front of the van to me and I knew I had to give my shoes. As I was taking my shoes off and putting them on her, I experienced joy like none other. I was joyful, but her joy when it set in that I was giving her my bright pink nice tennis shoes... Well, let's just say she was giggling again, rejoicing, and when she got off the van, she skipped and kept looking down at them. It was so so worth it and I learned a valuable lesson. While the whole questioning in my mind literally lasted 30 seconds, it's not worth it. When God speaks, just do it! We also gave Kobe lots of protein bars, and 500 Birr to help her out. Maybe she can take some time off and not carry firewood for a while. Maybe it will pay for a doctor bill. I don't know but God does and it was no mistake that Kobe was where she was that day and we were where we were that day. I hope when I go back that I see those bright pink shoes so I can hug her neck again and check on her!

*several photos on this post are courtesy of Alison Weakley, an amazing photographer who was on my team! Check out her page and view her work...Alison's Photography Website