If you have followed our blog for a while then you have heard of us speak of the feasts and famines of living and working in Ethiopia. I know that it probably isn’t like this for everyone, but a lot of our friends have shared similar cycles. There are times, the feasts, when we stay busy and see progress quickly and all seems to be moving at a good pace and in the right direction. Then, in the famines you experience a lull in progress and honestly during those times you can feel rather bored and like there is nothing to do. Jon and I have been in a bit of a famine over the last several months. We are seeing some progress on the farm with the chicks and also with new apple and pear tree plantings but from a personal stand point we seem stuck in a stall pattern. Jon was slowed significantly by his knee issue and is just now getting to be relatively active again. I taught English tutoring sessions for two weeks to our beneficiaries and was super excited but then between the rainy season and other logistical issues we haven’t met again. Also, I got sick just as Jon’s knee was doing better and was in bed for almost a full week with a fever. Needless to say I’ve been a bit bummed and feeling like we aren’t doing anything productive. I do have to remember we are still settling into Chencha life after bouncing around for many months and the transition can take time. I also know that culturally things don’t tend to move quickly here. All these things swimming in my head got me thinking to focus on my blessings. So, I decided to make a list. I decided to list out 3 things I love about Ethiopia.
- The People. I will admit that there are days that in the same breath I can be totally in love with and totally annoyed with the people of Ethiopia (the later mainly because of cultural differences). In dealing with Jon’s knee problem and my sickness I have been reminded of the compassion and community we are surrounded by in Chencha. Daily, people would come to check
on Jon’s knee and ask how he was doing and offer the traditional, “Iso” (eye-zo), which means be strong. People would also remind us that God will heal Jon’s knee. During my recent sickness I was awoken one morning to our house worker turning on my bedroom light and walking in with a man. As the fog cleared from my head I realized that her husband had walked the hour and a half with her to our house to offer a bit of encouragement and share an “Isosh” (which is the equivalent of Iso but for a girl). In a small rural community like Chencha there may be a touch of busy-body with the close tabs they keep on their neighbors but there is also a cup of compassion that overflows and knits the community together. Even with the luxuries we lack, I’m glad to be a part of that community.
- The Beauty. There is so much beauty all around us that that at times it is overwhelming. The people, the land and the sky all greet us each day with new beauty that reminds us what an incredible Creator we serve. We live in the rural highlands which means there are green mountains all around us. We see incredible skyscapes and on a clear night we can see every star in the sky. The land rolls and is blanketed by grasses, trees and flowers that offer a wide range of colors and textures. The people here both inside and out are beautiful and add to the colors and livelihood of the area.
- The Pace. I complain about the famine times but if I really stop and think on it I love the pace of life here. My western up bringing tells me to be busy all the time, push for progress. And when I don’t see it I use words like famine. However, it is okay to sit in the grass and talk to a friend. It is okay to take some extra time to visit a neighbor, even if that means that work will be waiting for you when you return. I love that it isn’t unusual for someone to not be at work in the afternoon because they have something to do at church. Everyday lunch is 12-2. You can see more of the beauty around you and spend more time with the people who matter if you aren’t sprinting through each day. Life here is definitely paced more at a walk or amble as opposed to a sprint.
So maybe feast and famine isn’t the best way to describe what it is we are experiencing. We have to remember we are here for whatever purpose the Lord has for us. There may be times we see rapid change and there may be times when all is quiet. Psalm 27:14 offers great wisdom for the times we feel things aren’t moving…
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!