Yes, it was a great day. I’ll get to that in a bit.
There are lots of factors that affect my sleep patterns when traveling here. For one, there’s a seven hour time difference that is really felt after nearly 24 hours of traveling. Then, there are the numerous coffee ceremonies (at least one a day). I don't drink coffee except for when I'm here, so it tends to give me a buzz.
When we arrived on Sunday, I ate lunch, took a two hour nap, went for a run with Glen, watched the rest of team play outside with the neighborhood kids, had dinner, and fought to stay awake until 9:00pm (2:00pm in Massachusetts). I slept until about 1:00am, tossed and turned for an hour, and then gave up, went downstairs and wrote and messaged Lori on Facebook for about an hour. I managed to go back to sleep, but it was off and on, thanks in part to the call to prayers about an hour after getting to sleep. (I will say that the guy doing the singing for the call had an incredible voice. I wasn’t too annoyed because I enjoyed listening to him.) Not much sleep was to be had.
I had no problems falling asleep Monday night. Goal: get a decent night’s sleep. Mission Accomplished!...?
Alas, I was over confident. Last night, after updating this blog, I tried to go to sleep but tossed and turned for what seemed like forever. Part of it was my fault…I checked my work email and received a message that got me going again on my work problems. While I was mulling that I looked up and saw what looked like a hole in my mosquito net (which already doesn’t cover my entire bed, so I’ve been putting the blanket over my legs and the net over my upper body). Slowly, I sat up with my right index finger ready to poke at the net. I swirled my finger around what was a rather large hole. Oh no…malaria!
What else kept me awake?
1. Our room faces a rather busy street. Last night seems to be the night that large trucks decided to drive up and down the street, changing gears and applying brakes.
2. Birds cooing outside the window.
3. Someone decided to saw something made of metal, which took about fifteen minutes to get through.
4. A group of kids singing and laughing as they walked down the street (why they were out that late at night, I have no idea).
5. A car alarm going off – multiple times.
Yes, I could have closed the window, but our rooms are already pretty stuffy.
I finally fell asleep and felt pretty rested when I woke. But it’s clear I’m still adjusting to the time difference.
Here’s the kicker…how much of this did Glen hear? Not a bit. (Good for him, as he wasn’t feeling well yesterday.)
Now, on to the day’s report.
Yes, it was a great day.
We spent today at Meserete, the group of kids whom we first met in 2009. I love seeing them when I enter the church. I love waving to them, shaking their hands, giving them hugs. I’ve played with them, eaten with them, visited some of their homes. I love seeing how much they’ve grown since the last time I saw them. I miss them when I’m away. I will miss them as they age out of the program and go on to lead their own lives. I loved my time at CHDA, but I really love returning to Meserte to see old friends.
Today was care package day. We changed things up a bit this year and did care packages inside. We wanted to give Glen and his group more room for rec and offer the space we usually use for that. It would also provide more options for shade as one of the two yards has shade depending on the time of day.
Before starting the care packages, Pastor Rob’s Bible lesson was about the prodigal son. As always, he did an excellent job explaining the story to the kids with interactive activities and a sense of humor.
Sarah and I are in charge of taking photos as the kids receive their packages. We want to make sure that all of the sponsors see their kids opening their packages, going through their gifts, looking at photos, and listening to the letters and cards being read. Each of the kids are asked to pass along a message to their sponsor. A few of the older kids will write the messages themselves, but most are dictated to the translator. The entire operation goes pretty smoothly, thanks to much advanced organization. Even after receiving care packages for many years, the kids are still appreciative. They love looking at the photos and showing them to their friends. A common message from them is “when are you coming to see me?” Fifty of the 165 packages were delivered in the morning session. Yes, it was going to be a busy afternoon!
Over the lunch hour, we did home visits. This year I am able to visit the homes of Awel and Karima, both sponsored by Lori’s Aunt Virginia and Uncle Jim. Today was the visit to Awel’s home. I will vist Karima's home tomorrow.
I wish my Internet was better, because I have lots of photos that I want to share, including ones of this visit. Awel lives with his mother, his father, and two younger siblings. His father is a day laborer and his siblings (both girls) attend school. As is typical in the homes we visited, their home is a room no more than 100 square feet. It has one window, under which was a twin bed and thin mats laying on the dirt floor along the other walls. The tin roof is supported by raw wooden posts. Awel’s mother offered me the only available chair while the rest of the group sat on the mats. She also offered popcorn, and wanted to make coffee but since we needed to keep moving, politely declined. She was incredibly gracious and wanted me to let Jim and Virginia know how thankful she is for sponsoring Awel and how much of a relief it is to her to know that he is getting care. I also told her that they would love to come visit, but their health prevents them from traveling. She told me that she would pray for their health. It was very touching.
After a quick stop at the hotel for a bite to eat, we returned to Meserte for the second round of care packages. Yes, it was pretty hectic (but smooth flowing). It was worth every second, knowing that these kids are getting such good support from so many at home. Eight kids were not there today, including the one who has been in the hospital. We’re told that he will be back tomorrow. Woohoo!
We returned to the hotel for dinner, which had it’s own excitement. The dining room was recently remodeled so that an entire wall is now glass so you can see the kitchen as the meals are being prepared. Suddenly, in the kitchen, people were running everywhere. Someone ran to the wall and shut off all of the kitchen lights except for over the oven. Others went running towards a room to the left of the kitchen. Others went running away from the room to the right of the kitchen. Someone came running in with a fire extinguisher. Yes, there was a fire. We could see the glow in a door reflection. Someone came running out with the fire extinguisher and placed it aside. Others came running in with buckets of water. Boom! A huge flash. People came running out of the room. Others went running in. Someone else came running in with a bucket of water. Boom! A huge flash. Yes, it was a grease fire. No, you don’t throw water on a grease fire. Fikre went running back to the kitchen to inform them how bad an idea this was. Instead, he suggested throwing teff or flour on the fire to smother it. Finally, after about five minutes, the fire was extinguished.
Two items of note during the fire. One, none of us, not a single one of us, left the hotel during this fire. I was keeping an eye on where the closest exit was in case we needed to leave quickly (it was very close). Instead, we watched, fascinated by the circus that seemed to be taking place before us. Second, we were impressed that the cooks kept all of the meals that were on the stove going. They would run over to see how the fire fight was progressing, and then scurry back to take care of the meal. Moments after the fire was out, the waitress delivered a huge plate of french fries to Glen. Not even a singe mark!
We briefly lost electricity tonight. There was a huge thunderstorm, with strong winds and driving rain. Some of were sitting in the hotel lobby during the storm. Theresa asked if there was a way to tell how far away the lighting was. Heather and I told her about the five seconds per mile rule. The lightning was about a mile and a half away. Later when I was up in the room the time between lightning and thunder was zero. Two strikes had me jumping. It was loud!
Tomorrow we head back to Meserete, with a Bible lesson, more crafts, singing, and recreation. I’m looking forward to another great day!