Monday, April 30, 2012

Random Thoughts

April 25, 2012  I've had a bunch of unrelated thoughts running through my head today, so rather than a long essay I'll make a few notes. 

1. The lambs for Friday's feast arrived today. In true Ethiopian fashion, they are very much alive and kicking. They are grazing in the grassy area where we are playing with the kids. So far, they've stayed away from us, although I wonder if there will be a few "bombs" tomorrow morning. The lambs arrival created some excitement amongst our group. I had told everyone to expect them to arrive alive. One of our group refuses to look at them. Another of our group promptly took a video. I suggested that we name them, the response to which was a communal groan.  

2. We went to the pastor's house for lunch. He and his wife were very gracious and served an excellent traditional Ethiopian meal. I know now the difference between restaurant Ethiopian and home made Ethiopian and let me just say the difference is substantial. We were also served coffee and popcorn. Ethiopian popcorn is sweetened with sugar rather than salted. I love it. I only drink coffee when I'm in Ethiopia, so while it was delicious, it gave me quite the buzz for at least an hour. I considered drinking a second cup, so am glad that I refrained.

3. Tonight we were invited to a prayer service. This is my third church service in Ethiopia, and each has been an amazing experience. I love the singing. The songs are full of emotion and passion and love. Joy also sang (she was asked to sing while the service was in progress). She has a beautiful voice. Rob gave a talk about the connections between us and the congregation. The folks at Hill Song are fortunate to have such a gifted speaker as their pastor. Greg offered a closing prayer (the folks at his church are also fortunate to have him as their pastor).

4. Today, especially the afternoon, was a little more chaotic than yesterday. The afternoon group is much bigger than the morning group, so it is already harder to keep things going smoothly. Our vans were late picking us up from lunch so we got started late. Also, the prayer service scheduled for tonight meant that we had to finish early. 

The rec time was spent with frisbees and jump ropes. Luckily I wasn't decapitated with the dozens of flying frisbees. I was impressed that only two landed on the roof. Even then, the kids were upset that I couldn't get them down. Becka and Derek deserve gold stars for the rec time. It was hot outside today and the kids also seemed to be wound up. I would call rec time today "controlled chaos". Becka and Derek gave the kids enough space to have fun, without it turning into a free for all. (Greg spent the day with his daughter Abby, who has not been feeling well. She is better now and should be back with the flow tomorrow.)

The kids created journals for their crafts. I have some nice pictures of the kids decorating the front pages and writing inside. Let me also say that the three in our group (Sandy, Deanna, and Sarah P) who are working on the crafts are awesome. The crafts are creative, and they are all wonderfully patient. The kids are so proud of their creations and proudly display them to anyone who will look.

The other "station" is for the kids receiving their care packages. Each child received something, whether or  not they are sponsored. A friend of one of our group sewed dresses for each of the girls, which they received with their care package. I loved seeing the expression on their faces when they got to select their own dress. There was also underwear to select from, and the expressions were priceless as they were selecting their pair, ranging from being very thoughtful about the best ones available to them, to giggles at the idea of showing underwear in the open, to confusion as I don't believe many of the kids even wear underwear. The group working this station (Joy, April, Sara T, and Heidi) are so well organized that most of the care packages have been distributed to the point that we are not setting aside time Thursday for care package distribution.

Laura and Sarah D. provided entertainment for the kids not receiving care packages; it was fun seeing all the laughter and smiles as they played their games. 

 As much fun as the kids had, and as much as they received (including bananas, granola bars, and pens), above all else these kids loved being touched. While I was throwing frisbee, a girl came up next to me and quietly slid her hand into mine. Within seconds, another girl had taken my other hand (it made it kind of hard to throw frisbee after that). While I was sitting on the ground counting how many jumps the kids could do with the jump rope, I had up to four kids leaning against me, sitting on my lap, or tightly wrapping their arms around mine. As they were leaving at the end of the session, one after another took my hand in theirs or gave me tight (I mean really tight) hugs or kissed me on the cheek. They crave attention; something they're not getting at home. They want affirmation of their existence -- they all want their picture taken so they can see themselves, they want to tell me about themselves, they want me to learn their names, they want to be held and hugged and loved. And that's what we believe is the most important thing to do this week.

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