Merkato Madness

One of the kids just showed up at the office unexpectedly. Joe and I are the only ones here so communication is a challenge. Joe is doing quite well with his limited Amharic. Kids are the same here as they are everywhere. She and Joe are jumping rope and counting to see how many jumps they can get. Joe was able to sit down with her and have a quick writing lesson with her on the new whiteboard that we bought yesterday at the Merkato. She is a sweet little girl. She actually isn’t in the program, but has been coming with Edalawit. She claims to be 7 years old and she lives on the street with her mother under a plastic bag. She had to travel across the city to get here. Could you imagine a 7 year old little girl travelling alone through a city the size of Charlotte or Memphis?

Yesterday I had my first real experience with the Merkato. The Merkato is the largest open air marketplace in Africa. It can be a scary place for a foringe. Most of those who know me know that I despise shopping. So you can imagine what a nightmare this trip was for me. There must have been several thousand little shops and stands. The streets were crowded with people and cars. They tell me that it wasn’t as crowded as usual due to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrating Epiphany this weekend. We were there to buy suits for Ephrem, Nega, and Joe for Ephrem’s wedding this weekend. We spent all day searching through shops and haggling over prices. We visited some of the same shops 4 and 5 times. We finally found most of what they needed and I even splurged on a cheap pair of knock-off “Skechers”.

There were huge celebrations throughout the city all weekend. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was celebrating Epiphany. They crowded the streets as they marched behind replicas of the Ark of the Covenant. It was quite interesting to see all the people dressed in white robes marching and singing.



  1. Everyone we have sent your site to are raving about how good it is. Only wish they would all comment to you about it instead of to us. Keep up the good work learning, experiencing, writing and ministering.
    The girls are on their way home. Didn’t leave Memphis until 4 our time. We are getting ready to call and check on them.
    Our Love, prayers and encouragement!
    Dad and Mom

  2. Jon,

    Glad to see you are still well and discovering all that Ethopia has to offer. I am sure you already have found this, but one thing Bianka and I were amazed by when we visited Malawi (especially after we returned home and had time to reflect) is how people are able to live in conditions we find near impossible.

    At first, my above statement may sound judgmental, as in “oh, how horrible.” In one way that is what I mean. But, there is something amazing in their strength as well. As you walk the streets, I think you will also see that our need to survive is strong. I am sure that you and Joe are already seeing the inspiration in that strength.

    Keep safe,

  3. Hey JB,
    It’s nice to see you’re using the whiteboard. If you’d like we can send Chow over to help you use it…. Really.
    Scott 🙂

  4. Waddup Jonathan! I concur with Mr Preston that TOR is mighty pleased with you for instituting the TOR legacy even in distant africa. Chow Yun Fat is very pleased, indeed!!. Just make sure that you mention safety first and take 2, ensuring that SICK is updated is also of major importance!

    I am glad things are going well for you!


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