A Breath of Fresh Air

I awoke Friday morning to a glorious sunrise on Lake Kuriftu. I sat by the lakeshore as the birds called for the sun to rise. I could hear monkeys calling from the distant hills. As I sat in silent awe, thanking God for the moment, I regretted that it would soon fade away. The farm started to come alive so I left my perch to pack my bags so that we could leave. The fleeting quality of these moments is what makes them so special.
I am revived and recharged as I look forward to my last week here in Ethiopia. Last weekend I spent several dreadful days overtaken by physical and emotional illness. I owe a large debt to all of you. The love and hope that you sent to me helped to pull me through that difficult time. I am now back to my jovial and optimistic self. As I look about this city I no longer see just the despair. I also see hope and opportunity for recovery.
Also helping with my recovery was a much-needed retreat from Addis. Joe, Nega, and I traveled to Debre Zeit for two days to visit a couple of agricultural projects. Debre Zeit is a town that is about the size of Sanford, NC. It lies on a level plain surrounded by hills, reminding me of the San Luis Valley, Colorado that almost stole my love once. The weather is warm and arid. There are several colleges and a huge Air Force base. Agriculture is important there, which is what attracted us. It was a networking and planning trip. CHE has a vision of developing an agricultural project that will support the ministry. This was the hook that they used to get me and Jess on board initially. The focus of our work with CHE is to be this Ag. Project.
The first farm that we visited was Genesis Farms. It is a large, green oasis nestled beside one of the beautiful crater lakes that Debre Zeit is known for. They have so many different facets to the farms. We passed under papaya trees on the way to the flower and tree nursery. From there we were guided to an intensive egg laying operation, then on to the milk cows. We wandered through the market that is located right there on the farm. Lettuce, tomato, onions, cabbage, zucchini, fruits, meats, eggs, and diary products were available fresh and all were raised right there on the farm. We were invited to wander through the fields of veggies that gently sloped to the edge of the lake before returning to have lunch at the restaurant.
In the afternoon we traveled to one of the projects that is run by the Kale Heywet Church. It was actually an integrated child development project. On that site they had a children’s home, school, HIV/AIDS clinic, guesthouses, and farm. The goal is to be a fully functional, self-contained, and self-sufficient site. As we topped the ridge that overlooked the farm site it took our breath away. We stood on the rim of an ancient volcano. Below us was a nearly perfect saucer of level, fertile ground surrounded by steep slopes. Just to the left of that we could see another crater shimmering in the sunlight, Lake Kuriftu. We were escorted to our room, which overlooked the lake. From there we were left to wander freely around the farm and campus. The farm wasn’t quite as modern as Genesis Farms, but they grew many of the same things. We took our time as we talked with the farmers and rested periodically in the shade.
Nega has many family and friends that attend and work for the Kale Heywet Church. So we are well connected already. This summer Jess and I will be working on several Kale Heywet Ag. Projects. It will be a networking and research trip. We have been invited to Debre Zeit, Woolita, and Chencha. I will work on the farms, talk to farmers and Ag. Professionals, and do some market research. Jess will be our meal ticket. Farm workers are a dime a dozen here, but people’s eyes light up when I mention that my wife has an English degree and that she teaches. Native English speakers are at such a deficit here. The people are naturally welcoming, but they will roll out the red carpet if Jess just teaches a little English.
In the morning after a quick visit with the manager of the site we headed back toward Debre Zeit. On the way we visited a couple of the other lakes. We finally made it to a café in town that overlooks Lake Bushooftuu. We sat in the shade looking down at the shimmering blue water and watching the birds soar. We stayed there for almost four hours taking in the beauty and resting. As we sat we laid out the vision for the Ag. Project.
A vision for the future is a wonderful thing. I’ll be sharing the vision with all of you soon.

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5 comments

  1. Glad to see you’re back to your optimistic self. You just needed some time to rest and soak it all in. I look forward to reading more of your travels and adventures.

  2. hey glad things r coming along for. I lreadyour words and I can’t help but think what it could really be like over. In some instances it seems beautiful. I can’t imagine seeing monkeys and elephants and beautiful birds daily, it’s like TV to me. I enjoy reading your experiences it’s more than any of us will ever see. Have a safe trip back.

  3. It is such a relief that being in the valley means there are mountain tops all around. I’m so glad you are once again able to view sizeable tasks, to once again be able to formulate a plan for areas you can impact and have positive energy to get the job done. We all look forward to your return on Saturday. I know that too will be sweet sorrow that you will have to work through. With every experience we grow, never to reach full maturity. I so much look forward to all the stories you have to share. God’s speed on your return to the US of A! Love ya! Dana

  4. We can officially start calling you Farmer Jon.

    I can’t wait to hear about your vision for the future and do whatever I can to see it come to pass.

    What an awesome responsibility you’ve been given. I have no doubt you are equipped for the task.

    Can’t wait to see your face on Saturday. I would also appreciate you bringing THE CUTEST BRIDGES BOY home with you!

  5. We are looking forward to you getting home! We just Praise the Lord all has gone according to His Plan! Thank you for stepping out of the Comfort Zone and into the Comfortors Zone! He will use you as you remain surrendered to His will. Our prayers continually for you and Jess in the coming months and as you travel home this weekend.
    Dad and Mom

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