Lately, I have been missing Ethiopia. I know we weren't there long, but I have been home just long enough now to be totally settle back into typical American routine.
I have been missing constant interaction with people on the streets, the value of long conversations over freshly roasted coffee, and living with the mentality that time, distance, and plans do not take precedence to relationships with others.
I have found that the question I am asked most often in regards to our trip is, "What stands out as your favorite moment?" Truly, this question is so hard to answer- there are too many!! However- I can say my favorite thing about the trip was the people. Ethiopians are the most welcoming people I have yet experienced. Through my travels- I have met many wonderful and hospitable people. However, never have I been in a country that was so eager to welcome foreigners. This isn't something I am proud to admit... but we arrived in Ethiopia expecting to be pick pocketed, heckled, and at least have a few unpleasant run ins with strangers. This is partially because this has been a reality in every other country I have visited. Also, the guide books had us convinced that the streets of Addis Ababa were pretty rough and tough. Nope. Not one tiny problem. In fact, more often than not when we looked lost - people would approach us and ask if we needed help. Many people were eager to talk to us because we were farangi (foreigners), but not one of them had anything negative to say- they were just genuinely interested in what we were doing in their country. I don't blame them for wondering!
My opinion of Ethiopians is that they are warm, genuine, passionate, and timeless. I was also quite impressed and humbled by the great pride they have in their country. Almost everyone seems to have a solid knowledge of the history of Ethiopia. Whether it is explaining the line of rulers for the past 100 years, descriptions of the regions and 150+ tribes of the country, ancient trade routes, landmarks, or discoveries made (most notably coffee and the first human skeleton- "Lucy")- they are eager to share the richness of Ethiopia with others.
Despite living in conditions that in some cases are almost intolerable, they live with the kind of faith that can move mountains. Miracles are a reality, as people rely on prayer to heal when no other resources are available- we heard countless testimonies of this. God is with his people and revealing himself in awesome ways. I suppose when people die in your community every day, there is a consistent shortage of food and water, and general hardship all around- God feels it is necessary to take more dramatic measures. After all, isn't when we see his work in our life personally that we truly believe? It would be really easy to go to Ethiopia and see the suffering and think God isn't there. It is that bad. BUT- HE IS! And his people know it too!
So- my point in writing this post..... obviously, I was touched and inspired by the people in Ethiopia. In saying this, I don't just mean the individuals I got to know- I mean the people in the streets, the mini bus drivers, the shop owners, the saratanas, the guards.... you get the picture- all of them! Here are a few of the faces we did get to know- that will remain in our hearts forever (very cheesy, but also true!)
From now on, I am not going to keep posting only about Ethiopia. If something comes to mind I really want to share on this blog- I will! BUT I as I mentioned before- I also spent a lot of time putting pictures and words together for a presentation. I feel like if I keep trying to re-hash out all the details I will never move on with my life! I hope that makes sense, I don't want to keep my experiences or thoughts to myself- and by no means do I want to forget! I just don't want anyone expecting me to tell story after story about Ethiopia on this blog and not post about the rest of life that is happening now!