Yesterday our family began another journey to the capital. This trip is so Dawit can participate in a field day at the international school, where we are part of their home school co-op. We will also visit the Addis Bridges, and Jon has to handle some business odds and ends. I was struck by a realization. As we complained about the awful road down the mountain and the animals in the road I was watching scenery pass by and thinking about how this is more like home to me now. I’m much more familiar with the subtle changes along this road connecting two dots through the southern part of Ethiopia than I am the place I called home for 33 years. We touch down in NC about every two years and each time I’m struck by the differences.
My familiar surroundings now consist of observations of rain carved gullies in the road. We watch Isuzu trucks get loaded down with bananas during harvest. We comment on the number of motorcycles, or Bajajs, or people, or over turned vehicles on the road. We drove past one bus lying on its side yesterday. We search the same lake side for hippos every trip. We’ve only ever seen one, enough to keep us constantly watching. We’ve entered the end of the rainy season, a season of cooler temps and breezes and the occasional rain shower. They call this season, Tsedey. Everything is lush and green after the rains. In a few months as we make this drive again the dust will be stirring and the grass and plants will be browning. Then, Lord willing, the Belg rains will come and provide a short respite to the dryness. This cycle is now in rhythm with who we are; what we wait for. We mark the passage of time by rain and the availability of fruits.
It is amazing to think that in 6 years of life in Ethiopia so much of my history has been rewritten. The US is now a place that holds the beauty of family and the memories of who I was before I embraced this new journey. It is a place we visit for weeks or months to reconnect, an effort to not completely feel we’ve lost our former selves. When we return “home” it is to the southern highlands of Ethiopia.
My other realization on this drive was how God knits so much of our experiences together, like a blanket of familiarity. Perhaps it is a way he provides comfort to us as we are pulled between two homes, old and new. As we drove I watched for birds and plants as I always do. I mentioned to Jonathan that a certain plant growing in one farm plot looked like tobacco. His response, “it is.” Somehow in all our trips past that field (seriously probably close to a hundred) I had never noticed tobacco. Jonathan then added, “cotton and tobacco,” in a deep southern twang. They grow cotton here also, which I did know. I added, “and red mud.” Like that it hit me, while this is my new home it is tied to my other home though time, and generations, and soil.
God has called us to this place and these people. In his care, which is beyond understanding, he also provided us with connections to our origins. Though this is now home, we often feel like the alien and then we see tobacco growing along the roadside and a continent and an ocean away suddenly doesn’t seem so far.