One of the first things that we were invited to do in Ethiopia was to climb Entoto. The Abesha (the name that Ethiopians call themselves) have been climbing this mountain, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, for centuries. More recently is has become a popular tourist attraction for foringe (the name that Ethiopians call us). Looking from on top of Entoto you can see the entire sprawling city of Addis Ababa in one breathtaking view. It also boasts one of the oldest orthodox churches in Ethiopia. As we climbed to the top of Entoto I couldn’t help but wonder why people seem drawn to climb mountains.
Climbing a mountain is certainly no easy task. Even climbing Entoto with it’s paved road and help from taxi buses can be a challenge. I remember the climb to the top of Big Bald, on the Appalachian Trail, many years ago. The air was thin and the burden that I carried, though lighter than most, made every step a struggle. Obstacles came frequently and progress was slow. I inched my way to the top with each short, plodding step. The only things that kept me climbing were thoughts of the beauty that lied ahead and encouragement those who were with me.
We have come to Ethiopia to climb mountains. Entoto was simply a warm up for the mountains that lie ahead. We are here to climb the mountains of poverty, hunger, and disease. So onward we climb. Progress is slow and obstacles are many, but oh what joy awaits us at the top!
For the current CHE beneficiaries the progress can already be seen. There are notable behavior differences that we feel sure will only continue to improve now that CHE has its ministry license. These children are hungry and now that their physical needs are being met it is important to meet their spiritual needs. After the Drop-In Center opens, CHE will be adding several more beneficiaries. Please be in prayer for the current and future beneficiaries and the CHE staff.
As for us, we are plugging right along. Our days are rather predictable. We get up and head to the office compound, which is a long taxi ride. We usually stop for breakfast somewhere and get to the office by 10 am for Jess to have an English lesson with Emu. We eat lunch at the compound or go out to a nearby restaurant, spend the afternoon at the compound, have an Amharic lesson with our teacher, Yenesaw and then we head somewhere for dinner. After dinner we go to the guest house and if we have water, Jon will shower and then we go to sleep. We get up and repeat the same process. We really like the guest house where we are staying, especially the hot showers, but the long taxi ride is very draining. Plus, if we are spending time with Nega and his family we have to leave early enough to get a taxi. We are starting to find out the later we leave the more crazies are out and getting onto the taxis. One night as our taxi stopped to gather passengers a man walked up to the driver and started yelling. The yelling escalated and the man opened the drivers door and then began to tug at him and argue with him loudly. Then the man took his shoe off and beat the driver with it a few times. As quickly as the incident started it was over. Last night as we were heading back to the guest house a drunk guy got on the taxi and started to cause some trouble. We were having a nice conversation with a young man who attends Addis Ababa University but as soon as the drunk man got on the taxi our conversation was interrupted and turned to whether or not we have drunks in America. As the caller, the man who yells the next stop for possible riders, went to collect money the drunk man acted as though he would be unable to pay. When the caller told the driver to stop and started to pull the man off the taxi he decided to pay. Then the intoxicated individual decided he liked the foringe lady sitting near him (Jess). It was rather uncomfortable for the last few minutes before our stop, but the young man we were talking with was very respectful and wouldn’t let the drunk man talk to Jess.
Over all we have had very little unwanted excitement on our trip. The most excitement we cause is stares and giggles as we walk down the street of Addis.