Thursday, October 28, 2010

you never realize how much you love something until it is gone

These girls captured my heart.

Sfelg (second from the right) could honestly be my long-lost Ethiopian sister. Even though she speaks very little English, you would never realize it since she seems to communicate all too easily through laughter and silliness. We each talked in our Julia Child voice all the way back home that day with the scents of Kosche (trash) in the air and sights of donkeys and tracks trash passing by.

This is Menna. Another great friend I made. She's only 20 but puts all of her time and energy into these girls. Everyday she is at the house teaching the girls or serving them injera. Oh, injera. How I miss the.

Germany is cold. I'm missing my Africa sun :(

Monday, October 25, 2010

The sun is setting over Addis. Tonight the birds are chirping at full force. It’s chilly here. The days are full of sunshine and the nights are cool at best. The breeze sends chills down your spine as it cools down your hot tea you've been sipping the past 30 minutes. It is one of my last evenings here and all will surely be missed. I've made so many new friends in this time - and the time I had went by all too quickly. There were so many photos I didn't take, so many coffee ceremonies I had to forego, and way too many conversations that never too place.

I feel sorry for this place in a way. I feel like I could teach the people so much. For the most part even the educated only know what lies in the realm of Addis Ababa. Their geography books fail even to mention other cities in their own country. Their idea of current events is what futbal team is playing this evening or what Orthodox Minister is preaching this week. They have no context for other countries, other centuries, even their own history seems skewed.

Soon I will be back in the West. Something I am not too excited about, but words cannot describe the joy I get when thinking about seeing my family and friends in Nashville again. It’s a place so far from here, yet all too close to my heart. I love every single one of you in Tennessee and I cannot wait to share all my experiences with you in the short time we'll have together.

Tomorrow will be my last day to see the girls for possibly a year or more. Who knows when I will return again? Kosche and all those indwelling will be missed but thought of greatly. To one last day of banana bread, silly dances, and LOUD VOICES... cheers!

This is the loudest and toughest of them all – Kumel. Quite frankly, the girl scares me. She’s a tough cookie, but in the past few days I’ve really been able to get to her softer side. She has a great heart, but sometimes hides under a tough exterior from all the problems in her life. The only portrait I've taken and really liked.

I found this guy near Kosche wearing one of the shirts the girls’ made. Come to find out, he is Kumel’s brother, Abtamo. I had a chance to sit down with him to hear what he thinks of his situation and the girls’ program. He really appreciates all the support we provide for the girls. He said the best part is that they don’t have to return to the dangers of the trash place, but it has also become a struggle for their family. The girls don’t bring in as much income as before and the families are seeing this hardship first hand. Sometimes food is short or rent cannot be paid. Abtamo just passed his driving test and obtained his license. He is searching for a job to help provide for his family, but it’s hard to find work if “you don’t know people”.

We are hoping to find sponsors for all 14 of the girls (yes, we just took in a new one!) which will help to fund all of their school needs, rent (for our house which plays host to the afterschool program), snacks, a small amount to take home, and possible job training for the parents. We really want the girls to be able to focus on their studies during such a pivotal time as this – their early and late teens. Bancheyew has already started a college-prep program and we’d love to see her advance into University. Bancheyew is very interested in graphic design. But to do this, we need sponsors for all the girls to ensure they don’t return to working in Kosche and can survive off of what we can give them until their family’s income is sufficient.

Please let me know if you are interested in become a monthly sponsor for a girl and I can send you more information!
Goodbye Africa. Goodbye Ethiopia.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Sometimes it’s hard to notice when God is moving right in front of you. We crave the miraculous. The moments that leave us in awe-struck wonder. Sometimes we are living right smack in the middle of those moments, yet somehow miss them.

I look back on my life and can name tens maybe even hundreds of instances where God has aligned things so perfectly, but in the moment I tend to miss that alignment. Those miracles.

I was pick pocketed last week as Anna and I were trying to meet with some friends. Even though I lost most of my spending money, I didn't want to worry about it too much, I mean God provided a way for me to come all the way to Africa so why fret about pocket change?

I did not think much about that provision this weekend, rather, I was sort of reluctant to go out with my friends at all since I had no cash. But I didn't want to be rude, so I offered to show some new visitors from Germany around town. We ended up having smoothies for lunch and then went out for dinner later that evening. The following day, another girl from the guest house I am staying at wanted to go out to see more of the town. I joined and we had ice coffee and ice cream at the super snazzy Sheraton hotel and resort. All three times the girls offered to pay - even my taxi was paid for without asking.

My spiritual gifts include mainly giving, service, and care taking. I so often don't realize - or find it hard to accept - when someone is taking care of me. Each time it took a few moments for me to realize what they had offered - but eventually I did. Even though it was maybe the equivalent of 5 dollars, it still felt like so much. It felt like a miracle.

Since the second I left Germany, I knew God was going to move. I expected the miraculous.

Today I was writing and trying to figure out what I want to do after Africa. This idea of gardening, renewable resources, and recycling keeps coming up whenever I think about my future. I can't explain it, but where ever I'm headed, I think it's in that direction.

I've already met three people already who are involved in organic gardening or environmental engineering.

This morning as I was swinging in the bright African sun, I got a great idea for new jewelry I want to make made totally out of recycled or found objects. It's one of the first concrete ideas I've been excited about.

I didn’t have too much time to dwell on the idea, so I quickly sketched what was in my mind before Anna and Menna come and brought me lunch (the 5th random free meal I've gotten since losing my money) before heading to the girls house.


An older Ethiopian man sat next to me on the bus. Our conversation started when his phone rang. It was the tone of a super galactic ray gun. Seriously. It was great. I certainly was not expecting this to come from an Ethiopian. He was even excited to share the tone with me via blue-tooth. Too bad I'm not that far up the technology chain. I made him play the tone over and over again as I acted out shooting everyone in the first 3 rows. Everyone was cracking up. I loooove making Ethiopians laugh. They are much easier critics than Germans and Americans.

We continued in conversation about how well his English was. Curious, I asked what he studied in university. He told me art - mainly ceramics. He still creates and his main art is made purely out of recycled plastic.


Yes, recycled plastic. I could not believe what I was hearing. Well, I could believe it. God has been speaking to me so loudly about these things. How much more specific could it be? What are the odds that this morning I was dreaming of recycled art and this guy, in the middle of Africa is telling me about his career in melted found plastic.

He showed me some of his work on his snazzy galactica phone. It's not something I would look to buy in Africa, but it sure was amazing that he was showing me there in that moment and that I met him, on that day.

These past few days have been surreal. Non-stop answers to prayers, as small as they may be, but answers nontheless. I think it's been pretty miraculous.

I’m hoping to get the chance to head to the countryside to take a short course on organic gardening thought by the organization Organic 4 Orphans. Things are moving slow at the girls’ house, but I have no doubt found my place here (I don't want to leave!!!). Every single one of the girls is a work of art. They are all so different and I can’t wait to share their stories, photos, and videos soon :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


This morning I'm lying here in my private East African room listening the traffic stroll by and watching the drape on my door flow in and out of the room with the wind. The sunlight reminds me of Sunday mornings as a kid lying in my parents’ bed. The sun was always hiding and appearing from behind the clouds and would brighten and dim the room for hours. I could hear the birds and that one pesky woodpecker pecking at the house trying to get through the plastic siding. You'd think after years of pecking at the same place he would get the hint and leave. But he was persistent.

After all my favorite shows like Gummy Bears and Adventures in Wonderland ended I would either rollerblade or bike up the street to my friend Audra's house. If she were home we'd bike for hours in our neighborhood. Or we'd hike behind my friend Michael’s house and break into his fort where he had posted "No Girls Allowed".

Sometimes we would meet up with my best friend Mandy and spray paint on her back lawn "East Side" because we thought stuff like that was cool.

Or we'd climb trees or get lost in the woods. Audra would always fall off a branch and get scrapped up pretty bad. But I only saw her cry once. It was the time she fell off a log passing over the creek behind my house.

I'm pretty sure she's married now. I wonder if she still hikes through woods and falls out of trees on the weekends?

I haven't seen Mandy in years, but I can almost guarantee she is vandalizing something.

Friday, October 8, 2010

We can't do this on our own

Who will rescue me from this body, not the arms, the fingers still?
Yes, they feel what they touch as well,
cut the cords.
Let the ancient Adam go.
I've been dancing with this corpse for nineteen years.

And when I said,
"Who will shave my head, and on the might, reveal me in my skin?"
All the secrets of fitness:
all the fitness He requires is to feel your need for Him.

In my room, in my room,
in this gospel I have made, salvation is a broken cistern in a handmade frame.
I cut the sheets into a flag, paint it red,
self-pity hangs over the doorway in.
From seven times seventy scraping knees,
blood lets, deficiencies,
these are the layers of bandages, protection from the sting.
In this great lacking,
I've found a way.

- anathallo