Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 6: Thursday

Overall, today was a fun day, but also sombering in a way that probably foreshadows the day that is to come tomorrow.

Our rec activity today was in two parts. Michael and Glen had been saving large water bottles all week (We go through a lot of water here. It is really dry.) They put rocks in the bottom of the bottles and set them up as bowling pins. The kids kicked balls into the pins to knock down as many as possible The kids loved this activity. There were water bottles flying everywhere! John, Michael, and Glen had quite the time picking up and setting up pins. One of the best at it was a girl who was wearing a long skirt and shoes with heels.

Patty, Aaron, and I played hot potato. We had two circles, each with a yellow bean bag. The kids would pass the ball until I yelled "Abook!" (Stop in Amharic.) Aaron had the great idea to involve the kids in yelling Abook. The kid holding the bean bag was out. As kids were eliminated, they joined us in calling Abook. We would count softly to three, "Aund, Houlet, Sost" and then yell "Abook!" I think some of the kids intentionally got out so they could yell with me since we were having so much fun. As the "out" group got bigger and bigger, the "Abook" got louder and louder.

Patty played along with the kids. Sometimes I think she was being targeted as she seemed to continually be amongst the first to be out.

After 90 minutes of kids cycling through, we all joined together, handed out bananas and bread, said goodbye to the kids, and left for lunch.

For the afternoon session, we did the same thing. However, most of the kids had attended in the morning, so they tended to float around to the activities of their choosing. It was a bit chaotic.

During the afternoon good-byes, two things happened that showed how hard tomorrow is going to be. First, as I was sitting on the stage getting a drink of water, the Tennant's sponsored child approached Rob to ask if he was returning next year. He assured her that he was coming back, but presumably because of the language barrier, it was a long conversation and I'm not quite sure she understood what he was telling her.

A few minutes later, Natnael came up to me and gave me a big hug. As his arms were wrapped around me, he whispered, "Prayer?" while pointing at himself. He was asking me to pray for him.

Now, I've always felt awkward when it comes to praying out loud. You wouldn't think it would be so hard. Whenever I'm asked to pray in a group, I'm extremely self-conscious. I listen to other people pray and they are so eloquent in their words and sound like they're having a genuine conversation with God. I, on the other hand, feel like I'm stumbling over my words, repeat myself, and tend to have much shorter prayers than anyone else.

Nonetheless, I'm not going to tell a young boy who has just asked me to pray for him "no" and besides, he is unlikely to judge me anyways since he can't understand most of what I'm saying. So, I took his hand, led him over to a quiet space in the room, sat down, and put my arm around him. And I prayed. And it was allI could do to get through the prayer because I felt I was going to cry. I felt as if I had been given a great responsibility with what I'd been asked to do and if I didn't do it right, I would be failing this young boy. I did the best I felt I could and hope I did him justice.

As I was praying with Natnael, with my arm wrapped around him with my hand resting on his shoulder, I felt something brush up against the hand on Natnael's shoulder. It was the Tennant's sponsored daughter. She was sobbing. I lengthened my reach to hold her as well as we prayed. I gave each of them big hugs after we were done. Natnael leaned over to me and whispered ever so quietly into my ear: "thank you."
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During the lunch break, Allison, Michael, Glen, and I went for a walk. We headed towards the edge of town, which unfortunately was all uphill. There are mountains bordering Kombolcha with some large hills nearby. Michael really wanted to hike to the top. It was my intention to walk thirty minutes out and thirty minutes back. Unfortunately for Michael, there was no place that served as a natural entry to the hills as the entire road was bordered by houses. We tend to stand out around here, so we got lots of "hellos," lots of "selams", and lots of stares. A couple of the three wheeled taxis (which are are everywhere) stopped to ask us if we wanted a ride. We politely declined. Fortunately, the return walk was all downhill, so it was much easier. Still, it was a hot, sweaty walk. We got rained on a couple of times. We were grateful that there was still time to put our feet up for a few minutes before we returned to the care point. Still, the walk did Allison in. She did not feel well at dinner. I told her to go to her room and lay down and I would go up to check on her when dinner was served. I told her that if she was sleep, I would leave her. Allison was asleep when I went to get her and has still not awoken.
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Besrate was there today! Allison and Michael helped him open his care package. He especially loved his red shirt, immediately changing into it. His big news is that he is no longer living with his sister. Instead he is living with his uncle. He would not elaborate on why there was this change, only saying he didn't want to live with her anymore.
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Tomorrow we enjoy our feast, distribute hygiene kits, water bottles, pens, turtles, and Bibles, and say our good-byes. Should be an interesting day.

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