We have been in Addis for a month now attending Amharic language school. It has been a nice break from Langano – warm showers and 24 hour electricity (aside from the occasional power outages). We are staying in a place called the “Press Compound” – the name comes from that fact that there is a printing press next door to our house. Our language school is actually here at the Press which is wonderful since we don’t have a car yet. The kids are attending school at the SIM school, Bingham Academy. There is another family that lives here that takes our kids to and from school each day. What a blessing!
Mary, the kids’ homeschool teacher is here, but she is also in language school with us, so for now the kids are at Bingham. Bingham is set up really nicely for families like us. They have a homeschool program that we can enroll our kids in which allows us to put them in school whenever we are up in Addis as long as we give them some notice. It also gives us access to the Bingham library so we can get supplies to take down to Langano for homeschooling. We are very grateful for the flexibility Bingham gives us. The second week the kids were in school, Bingham had its annual field days. Field days are a BIG deal here. The kids were buzzing about it for weeks! At first we didn’t understand what the big deal was because we were comparing it to field day in the U.S. Nope – very different. This was a whole family affair and it lasted 2 full days. There were all kinds of competitions and even some parent-child races. It was a wonderful time to meet people and to really feel connected to the expat community here in Addis. (You can check out Mia’s latest blog entry to see pics from field day.)
This is our teacher Abera. Check out the Fidel! We feel like we are school kids writing in a secret code.
Amharic has been very difficult to learn, but we knew that from the beginning, so we don’t feel quite so discouraged. The course we have been taking is wonderful. Not only do we learn language, but every afternoon we have a “cultural orientation” seminar. The seminars range from presentations about different ministries here in Ethiopia to learning about Ethiopian weddings and funerals and all of the cultural nuances. It has been so helpful. One of the more recent field trips that we took was to the Fistula Hospital here in Ethiopia. It is amazing what they are doing. We would highly recommend watching the documentary “A Walk to Beautiful” by NOVA. You can download it from iTunes and it highlights the stories of several patients. It is impossible to watch it without crying.
Below are some pictures from a field trip to one of our language teacher’s homes where we learned how to make injera, spin cotton, grind wheat, and enjoyed a coffee ceremony.
Shane got to make injera for our lunch.
“Biofuel” – cow dung! This is what fuels the fire.
Traditional bread that is cooked over a fire and wrapped in banana leaves to hold in the heat.
Another side benefit to being in language school is that we have met lots of new people. Some people are also with SIM but there are people from many different countries and all types of organizations. It has been great to be able to form a network of people here in Addis. Below is a picture we took when we went out for lunch with some friends from language school. This “juice bayt” is just down the street from our house. It is one of our favorite places to go for a quick bite to eat. We have gotten to know the ladies that work there and we practice our Amharic with them. Even reading the menu is good practice!
From left to right:
Corrine Gokcen, here with CURE Int. She and her husband were previously in Kenya and the Mendonsas moved into their house! Small world.
Mary, the kids’ teacher – we love her!
Steve and Melanie, a couple from Canada who are here with SIM. She is a nurse and he is a youth worker. They live at the Press with us.
Here is the menu – can you read it??
This is what we typically order – an “esprise” – a smoothie with layers of mango, papaya, and banana. It’s really good and only 50 cents! You can also get it with avocado in it, but we haven’t gotten up the guts to try an avocado smoothie yet…
These are “sambosas”, lentil beans wrapped in a wonton-like wrapper and fried. They are a great after school snack and the kids sometimes like them in their lunches. They are only 10 cents each!
This is our main grocery store down the street. The picture shows the entire store. Believe it or not, we can find almost everything we need here. The flour and sugar, etc are in big open bags behind the counter and they weigh it out on a scale when you buy it. It reminds me of Olson’s Mercantile on Little House on the Prairie.
This is how we buy our eggs. We love how resourceful they are in Ethiopia. The bags our eggs come in are “recycled” geometry workbooks that have already been written in! We always get a kick out of reading each bag we get.
Here is the lady who Hannah has befriended. You can read more about their relationship on Hannah’s latest blog entry.
Meet Bocatu, our guard. He has the greatest sense of humor and enjoys helping us practice Amharic. The only problem is that he loves to mess with us and teaches us wrong and we’re never sure when he is serious.
This is where we are staying at The Press along with Mary and the Murdocks. It’s really quite nice! It’s a triplex – all of our houses are connected.
It was great to have a team from The Village come see us for a couple of days. We were able to spend time with Matt Elkins, Dick McFarland, Josh Patterson, Jeremy Pace and John Wright. They were only here for three days so we took a whirlwind, one night trip to Langano to show them around. It was fun to be able to introduce them to our teammates and some of the Ethiopians we work alongside. They also got to tour the clinic, school, and camp. The trip out to Langano is an experience in and of itself, so they definitely got a feel for how we live even though they were only here for a short time.
Honestly, the past month has been a hard one for us. We have had to fight discouragement many times. Many of you know that I (Allyson) and Hannah have both had malaria. The type of malaria we contracted is one that goes to the liver and kind of camps out there and then resurfaces whenever it wants. It is very hard to kill. The Langano area is known to have malaria that is resistant to the normal malaria meds. So… Hannah has now had malaria three times and Allyson twice. Basically, whenever we get any other minor kind of illness, the malaria kicks back in on top of it. It is just horrible! This last bout lasted a week and I was laying in the bed shaking so hard the bed was banging against the wall. I kept having to convince myself I wasn’t dying. It just takes so long to get over and it’s a complete energy zapper. Shane has also had giardia twice and we are in the process of de-worming Moses (yummy), so it has been a rough few months. Right now we are all on the mend and hopeful that the worst is behind us. Please keep us in your prayers. It’s just so discouraging to be sick so much. It feels like there is no purpose in us being here if all we are doing is trading off illnesses. Shane was sweet to remind me of all the patients I have developed a relationship with and that to them, our being here is worth it! I think it’s common for people to struggle with “purpose” when they are in language school since we are in learning mode and not actually serving in the roles we came to fill. But knowing the language is so key to ministry here and we are really, really thankful for the opportunity to have concentrated language learning time.
It has also been difficult to not be settled into our house yet. Prior to this summer, we lived in the same house for 8 years, and we have calculated that since August we have lived in 13 different places! Living out of suitcases is getting really old. There is this low level anxiety at all times, being in a new culture and not being settled in anywhere. Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I think about all the foster kids in America. Can you imagine anxiety they must feel moving from place to place without their parents and not having anything to call their own? PLUS, having a new family environment to adapt to with every move. It breaks my heart. I am thankful for all the constants in our life despite our multiple moves. The Lord has been so faithful to us. Really. Our kids have adapted so well and seem no worse for the wear. Shane and I are doing well in regards to our marriage and in our relationships with the Lord. Each day we are so dependent on God to encourage us and carry us through. Our suffering here is so minimal – we really lack nothing, but it is still a stretch for us. To be stripped of our normal comforts is hard, but that’s okay. We are learning and growing closer to the Lord through all of it. It is the Lord and your prayers that sustain us! Thank you for loving us enough to pray for us.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.