Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Don't worry! Life continues on in the Finote! It's seemed extraordinarily busy lately, which is good I think. The biggest news to relate is that the Finote had visitors! My mom and Kary came to visit for springbreak and it was incredible. We were only in the Finote for a day, but it's still kind of a big deal. Apparently the town had big plans to throw a party but fortunately we snuck away at dawn before they could catch them. I think this was wise- as much as mom and kary loved the local food (ha), I don't know that they could have handled what was coming their way. When we weren't in the Finote we were doing all sorts of touristy things: big waterfalls, taking speedboats (ha) to islands with monasteries, touring castles that once housed the kings of Ethiopia but were then bombed by the Brits in fits of colonial rage. That was really unfortunate. I've never really done the tourist thing, so it was a nice change. Particularly nice was staying in hotels with showers. Showers with hot water. It was great to have mom and squeaky here, but hard to see them go. It's also been difficult to deal with the repercussions of allowing them to leave the Finote without experiencing 18,000 coffee ceremonies. I have been told on numerous occasions that I 'made mistake' in allowing that to occur. Whoops.

In other news, I recently became aware of the fact that next week will mark my sixth month living in Ethiopia. This has resulted in a time of reflection on lessons learned, accomplishments, failures, and setting goals for the future… some of which I will share:

Lessons learned:
^ Enunciation is key. For example- say your counterpart has gone to Mota to visit his family. When people ask where he is and you tell them "Mota," their responses of shock and sadness should tell you that something is not being conveyed properly. Don't just assume that everyone else is as bummed as you are that he will be absent for two weeks. As it turns out, 'Mota' sounds remarkably similar to 'murta' (he died) when you don't pronounce it correctly. The question now is- do I go back and explain my mistake to people or allow them to be overwhelmed with joy when Beza miraculously reappears next week?
^ Going six months without driving a car is hard. Real hard. Every time you get in one you have visions of hijacking it just to have that feeling of freedom, that feeling that you can go anywhere you so desire.
^ It really is best to properly wash fruits and vegetables. I say I've learned this lesson, but I haven't really. I'll get lazy again and not wash them right and then have the same unpleasant problems that hit at inconvenient times throughout the day. Such is life.

^ In the past 6 months I have read 20 books. Five were read during the first 10 weeks of training. The remaining 15 books have been read in the 14 weeks I've been in the Finote. I don't know that I've ever consistently averaged a book a week. I like it.
^ When people say things such as 'how do you find it?' 'are you voluntary?' 'I think you would like examine the content matter?' 'I go to the defecation of the toilet.' 'are you fine?' 'you are beauty everywhere I see. Would you like a boyfriend?' or 'that bag is excess birr (money)'- I can a) respond appropriately and b) do so without laughing.
^ I've made some pretty good friends. Definition: I can call them when I'm bored, hanging out feels more like fun than work, and we are able to converse on a broad range of topics.
^ I have successfully introduced April Fool's Day to the Finote. We decided that today was just a practice run and kept it light… sending people to the wrong office, setting up false meetings that no one knew who arranged, wild goose chases to the bus station… In 10 days when it's April first again, it has been agreed that there will be no holding back. Sweet fancy Moses someone needs to give me a real job.

^ None of my accomplishments are related to HIV/AIDS education, which is what the taxpayers back home are paying me to be here for. This is negatively affecting my sense of purpose and occasionally causes me to question why the heck I am here.
^ I have yet to gain the courage to convey my dislike of coffee and still end up drinking an average of two cups a day. Today I drank four. I'm going to be up all night.

^ To learn the language well enough to understand life stories. I have a lot to learn from the people I am surrounded by, but I have currently hit a wall in language comprehension. This is frustrating because I want to know more about people like Ato Asmamo, the leader of Finote's People Living With HIV/AIDS Association (PLWHA). The man is incredible. It's obvious that his concern for others is genuine and everyone loves him because of it. He is tireless in making sure that people get the care they need and is a huge advocate of increasing understanding about HIV/AIDS. I've managed to grasp that there was a point when he wasn't sure he was going to live and as a result he had to give his daughter, who is now 8 years old and lives in France, up for adoption. How did he get from there to where he is now- a healthy, well-educated, leader in his community? I think he would tell me if I asked, but I wouldn't understand. I need to get motivated about learning this language.
^ To make some pretty good friends who are girls. Language acquisition would go a long way in aiding this goal as well. Girls here are smart and know more English than they think they do, but they're too shy to speak it.

Umm… that's enough for now. So, most exciting upcoming event is I'm leaving for IST (In-Service Training) on Friday. Oh! Another accomplishment! I'm really good at acronyms now! PST, MST, PMTCT, ET, OVC, IGA, COS, HIV, AIDS, HAPCO, VCT, ART, HBC, PEPFAR, ROSCA, M&E, CC… I could go on… that's sad. Sorry. I've had a lot of coffee today. Anyway… IST! Everyone is getting together at a resort (this term should be used loosely) for two weeks! They say there is a swimming pool. Most of the day will be full of meetings that may or not bear some relevance to daily life, but at least it will be in the company of cool people most of whom I haven't seen in three months. There is talk of the Bible study meeting up again, which should be awesome!

Been missing you all lately. Much love.