(Please be sure to check out our updated prayer requests after you read!)
We figure we’ve had a Willie Nelson reference so why not The Rolling Stones!
We headed to Chencha on June 29th with a very specific goal. We had to meet with the local government and convince them to give us land to use for the CHE agriculture project. After our initial meeting our goal changed slightly. The local government was more than welcoming to the idea of project that involved foringies and foringie money, but they had been burned by folks obtaining land and then doing nothing with it. So, we were assured that we would be given priority, but we needed to submit our project proposal. This meant that Jonathan had to work a little faster than originally planned and create the rough draft of the proposal. After a week’s worth of work, Jonathan completed the proposal and Nega returned to Chencha, from Addis, to be along when we submitted the proposal. This part of the process turned out to be rather anticlimactic, the “mayor” informed us that he would look over the proposal, meet with management committee (town council), and get back with us the following week. He told Nega that we should look at possible sites and if there was one site in particular that we liked we should let him know by the end of the week, it was Tuesday. Nega, Jonathan and Ephrem spent the remainder of the day Tuesday driving all over Chencha and looking at sites that they had been told, by various individuals, were available. By the end of the day Tuesday they had a site in mind. Just before sunset on Tuesday we all drove to the site to pray for God’s will and to express our desire for the site. Wednesday morning we were in the “mayor’s” office. He explained that the site was actually in a different township, but that he would talk with that town leader and have a meeting with him. We remained hopeful, but went back to exploring different options and potential sites. We found several other sites and returned to the mayor’s office again to suggest other sites. He informed us that there was a “land expert” coming on Friday and that he would meet with him and they along with the management team would make a decision. We had nothing to do but wait. Nega’s father informed us Sunday afternoon that the “land expert” had been spotted in town and that he with the mayor and management team were looking at different sites. Our anticipation grew and we waited for Tuesday morning, the set time for our meeting.
On Tuesday morning, we were informed that the government of Chencha was granting CHE the use of 10 hectares of land in an area of Chencha known as KahKah. KahKah is a beautiful area that is known for its fertile land. We had only expected them to grant us 5 hectares and we hadn’t suggested or asked for KahKah. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need!” Now our biggest challenge may be that of maintaining good relations with the people who lost the use of the fields in KahKah that the government had been letting them use. Nega’s father even lost one of his fields to Kote Ganate, Hidden Garden.
It was hard to leave Chencha on Thursday, July 24th. Wednesday evening we had sat with Nega’s family and exchanged our gratitude and familial feelings. There were tears from more than one person; actually most of us were crying at least a little. We managed to pack all our luggage and seven individuals into CHE’s Land Cruiser and headed north through darkness and fog early Thursday morning. About three hours into our trip we heard the noise no one wants to hear driving on the rough roads in the middle of nowhere between Arba Minch and Sodo. We had a flat tire. Fortunately we were prepared and had a spare and the tools needed to switch it with the rapidly deflating tire. Unfortunately during one of the routine vehicle cleanings the jack had gotten wet and the gears had rusted. Another Land Cruiser, packed to the gills, stopped and offered assistance and within a half hour or so we were back on the road, riding over bumps and holes. Jess loves to ask stupid questions and get Nega to respond, “Jessica, you are in Africa.” She asked if we had another problem could we call a 24 hour roadside assistance service. We stopped in Sodo and had the flat tire repaired, just in case.
As we drove into the outskirts of Addis we realized how much we didn’t want to be in the city. We are not city people and Addis Ababa is particularly crowded and coshasha (dirty). Chencha had made a place for itself in our hearts. We arrived around dinner time and were met with hugs and a wonderful meal for weary travelers. We ate and readied ourselves for bed. Jonathan had driven for just over 12 hours over surfaces that could barely be described as roads, waiting for meandering livestock and unaware pedestrians to clear the way for us to continue.
We have two more weeks in Ethiopia before we return back to the states. We both are ready to be home for a while, but we are going to miss Ethiopia and our friends and family here.