Wednesday, November 4, 2009


One of my closest friends in Finote Selam is a prison guard named Tesfaye. He is one of my dependable ‘brothers,’ always up for my ridiculous ferenji (foreigner) requests: let’s take a four hour bus ride to eat shiro (my favorite food) in a town I’ve never been to; let’s make cheeseburgers; let’s play badminton in the middle of the road (as it turns out, a dangerous idea). Tesfaye has picked up a respectable amount of English from listening to the commentary during English Premier League Soccer games, but lacks the confidence to speak it very often. So when he does say something in English, you know he has given it a great deal of thought.

As we were walking the other day, Tesfaye turns to me and says, “Kris. Good behavior is best. Baka.” (Baka: I’m finished. Enough. I don’t need to say anymore.) Over the past few months, Tesfaye has met some of my closest friends from home who have come to visit the Finote and was referring to them. He went on to say that he could tell just by their behavior that they love people. He didn’t have to understand their language to know what was inside of them. This was a huge moment for me- to really understand how my two different worlds have come together, how they’ve impacted each other, and how my friends from home have made such a huge impression on my friends here. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but having that connection makes these past two years seem more real and gives me confidence that the relationships I’ve made here will continue even after I leave.

Speaking of two years, last month marked my second year in Ethiopia! I will say that the second year has gone much faster than the first-terrifyingly so. The past few months have been full of new experiences: visits from Samford friends Will and John, travels to Uganda to see Jen and then onto Rwanda, our Peace Corps final conference where Group One got together one last time, more visits to Ethiopia from Jamie and Jen (3rd time!!!), and travels down to Southern Ethiopia. It has been a great time of learning about this East African region I have been living in, a huge opportunity to really appreciate all the different cultures that occupy a relatively small corner of the world together. Whenever I return to the Finote after a trip, my friends will ask me to “compare and contrast” where I have been with the Finote. I always come back to the same observation: sure, it’s different and their culture seems incredibly strange to us, but they are more similar than they are foreign. The kids there ask for pens so they can go to school just like the kids here do. They encounter the same struggles with food, water, and electric supply as we do here… and they overcome with the same ingenuity and creativity. The hope for a better future is the same everywhere.

In preparing to say good-bye to the Finote, I’ve been analyzing what exactly it is about this place that makes me so hesitant to leave. What has made this past year so different and when did my mud house turn into a home? I think much of it has to do with the sense of community that is here. Though sometimes it drives me crazy that it takes me 30 minutes just to get out of my neighborhood, I also love it. I love that the little kids run up to me to demonstrate what they learned at school that day. I love sitting down at our local shoeshine stand with the high schoolers, comparing and contrasting whatever the day’s topic is. I love that when I go to my favorite café, they know just how I like my macchiato (more milk than coffee, tons of sugar). And I appreciate, though am still slightly uncomfortable, when the little old lady on my road comes up and kisses my shoulders three times. This is the first time that I’ve really participated in neighborhood life as an adult and it will be sad to leave these people that have become my home away from home. I’m scared to go home, to get in my car and drive out of my neighborhood everyday rather than walking. I’m sad to lose the familiarity that I struggled so long to establish here.

However, there are those instances in which I just can’t help but think about how much easier everything will be once I’m not here… An example: two weeks ago, a South African man ended up in the Finote Selam jail. George had been riding his motorcycle from Cape Town to Cairo and unfortunately had an accident outside of the Finote. He had to spend three nights in the Finote jail while the police tried to figure out what to do with him. Whenever another white person shows up in the Finote, I am promptly informed that my ‘relative’ has arrived. When I learned that my ‘relative’ was in jail, I thought I should go check it out. I felt awful for poor George and couldn’t imagine being in his situation so I tried to make his stay easier- loaning him sheets, a pillow, some peanut butter, and two books.

After George left, I went back to the jail to collect my belongings. The first day the police couldn’t find the key to the room, the next day it was raining which clearly meant they couldn’t be bothered to open the door, the third day the key had been found but the guard who had it had left for the rural area. Each time they took my phone number and assured me they would call me as soon as the key was available. Each time I tried not to be frustrated. There are bigger problems in life… but you get to the point where you really just want your sheets back.

Finally, I went back and- miracle of all miracles- it’s a sunny day and both the key and the guard are available!! We open the door and … all that is in the room is my pillow lying on the floor in a cloud of dust. That’s fine. A start. But where are my sheets? This caused a slight panic, which soon grew to involve seven guards and the police inspector. At the end they said, don’t worry- we’ll call you when we find them. To which I politely responded, “yes, you’ve said this before, but do you have even one of the three papers I that I wrote my phone number on?” Blank stares. I then proceeded to ask permission to search every room on the jail compound, which was met with hesitation. My logic was, “you are all police officers right?” Yes. “So none of you are thieves?” Correct. “So then my stuff has to be here somewhere?” Uhhh…. Maybe?

I went from room to room looking under desks, in filing cabinets, went into the prisoner’s room and checked the sheets on all the cots… I had quite the following, police officers all muttering that I was ‘clever’ and ‘very thorough.’ Finally, I went to the guard hut where the on-guard officer sleeps at night. I noticed a rather bulky bag hanging on the wall and asked to check it, which guard man seemed to have no problem with. When I opened it, I discovered my sheets, peanut butter, and books wrapped rather deliberately in his blanket. How my belongings got there, neither of us had any idea… though he had been following me on my search (leaving the prisoners unattended- don’t worry about it) and knew what I was looking for. I estimate that over the past two weeks I have spent 3.25 hours at the jail asking for my things… and I wonder why I’m still surprised when simple things take so much time here? You want to be frustrated, you want to make things change, but then everyone is just so happy for you. They all want to shake your hand, congratulate you on your success… you have to walk out with a smile on your face, at least pleased that you’ve accomplished something this week.

So that’s life in Finote these days- thanks for reading! Sorry I’ve been out of touch for so long, but know that I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon! Much love!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

West side for life

Let’s be honest- it’s been awhile. As a result, this may be a rather long update. Brace yourselves.

To fully grasp current events in Ethiopia, we must go back to April 18th, 9:45pm. It is at this time that my Ethio family demands that I go to sleep. Tomorrow is Easter (Fasika in Amharic; the equivalent of our Christmas to Orthodox Ethiopians) and I must be well rested. They will wake me at 2:00am to begin preparing the chicken feast. To be fair, I insisted on experiencing the holiday in its entirety. When they said 2:00am, what they really meant was 12:45… I really did enjoy my two-hour nap though. The whole family was up to watch the slaughtering of the chicken, though my landlord and the kids promptly went back to sleep. My landlady and I plucked, cleaned, and hacked our chicken into a tasty and delicious stew. When we finished, at 3:00am, we dressed in our finest clothing and headed to church. Naturally.

Nighttime is always eerie in Ethiopia. On normal days, everyone is indoors by 9:00pm at the latest. If you dare to venture out later than that, you will find yourself in a seemingly deserted town, haunted only by dogs and hyenas. The wee hours of Easter morning were equally eerie, except now the whole town was alive, swaddled in their white church clothes, walking the streets like ghosts. The church had the feeling of a place set apart- everyone chanting and bowing together, yet the darkness gave the worship a private, personal feel. Some of the more devout had been at church for 24 hours at this point; others hadn’t eaten for three days. When the service was over, people were jubilant. My friends and neighbors were enthusiastic in telling me that Christ has risen and we were forgiven. And now we must eat meat. Fifty-five days of fasting was over and everyone had a pot of chicken waiting at home.

Easter day was a lot like Christmas day, except with more blood. After eating our spicy chicken at 4:45 am (yummy!) and taking a short nap, we woke again to kill the goat! The whole day was spent at home with family- eating, napping, and then eating again. The day after was for socializing, going to friend’s homes and sharing more meat. Never in my life have I seen people so excited about eating. It was so fun to share this holiday with my Finote Selam community and feel like it really helped me understand so much more about the culture and traditions here.

Fast forward to May 5th, the day that the Jennifer Wilmore arrives in Ethiopia! You may recall that my college roommate came to Ethiopia last summer… I guess once you experience it, you find yourself drawn back! This time Jen was coming from Uganda, where she has been working since February. It was so fun to have her meet all the friends here, see where I’m living, and fulfill an item on my “do to before leaving Ethiopia” list: ride on a traditional papyrus canoe. They use these for fishing on Tana Lake in Bahir Dar and I’ve often watched them, wondering how they don’t sink. Papyrus is surprisingly buoyant. One of my good friends, Teshager, arranged this outing for us and came along- even though he can’t swim and is petrified of water. If you ask him about this experience he will only say, “I don’t want to do this ever again. But J. Lo, she is so nice.”

Having Jen here was so refreshing, a great reminder that communication can be a wonderful thing. It was so nice to share, to be understood fully, and to see how the challenges we are facing in East Africa are similar yet different. I find that the longer I am here, the more immune I get to the things happening around me. You can’t understand it all, take everything in, and so you push it out of your mind. So great to have my roommate come and force me to talk about what we are seeing everyday.

Recently, I ventured out with C. Smith and Jolene to East Gojam to celebrate another friend’s birthday. Christina lives in a pretty rural town, six hours down a dirt road. Once you get there, you never want to leave- partially because the road is so long and partially because the town is so cool. She has made great friends in her community and we spent the weekend hanging out with her students, distracting them when they were supposed to be studying for their exams. One of her students invited us out to his grandma’s house in the rural area and we spent a great afternoon hiking out along a gorge. One of the best things about getting together with other volunteers is that we know how to eat. We’re hours away from anything, yet we’re eating pasta with clam sauce and personal pizzas. It was incredible. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the East, it must be stated that I live in West Gojam and our sugar cane is 78% more sweet than theirs.

In news from Finote Selam, our projects are carrying on!Surprisingly smoothly despite my doubts and fears! The school we are working with to start the mill project recently had a fundraiser to cover costs that weren’t met by the grant. I was skeptical, however the city administration came forward and offered to cover the whole cost of installing electricity. This is huge- a massive weight off my shoulders! They have started building the actually mill house, have purchased most of the big equipment, and should have things going by mid-summer. I know- I’m amazed myself. The resource center is also coming together, thanks to donations by great friends and family. We’re beginning computer classes this summer and also plan to have a weekly film night, which should be a good way to attract people and let them know it’s available.

Sad news, for me, is that summer is upon us. As happy as all the students are to be done, it’s tragic for me to see my friends go back to the rural areas for the summer. As many of them are graduating and going onto university in the fall, I am already saying goodbye to good friends. We did have a congratulations! party today for some of the seniors who live on my street featuring a home-made chocolate cake, popcorn, pineapple, and Crystal Light juice mixes. Though they didn’t know what to make of cake with sugar in it- crazy concept, I know-much fun was had by all. And arrangements are being made to go visit their families in the rural areas this summer, which should be fun.

And that’s the update! Know that I would love to hear from you all! Much love!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Those lazy summer days…

I’ll be honest- the last few weeks have been a bit mundane, life in the Finote, work as usual. And while there is ample work to keep me busy during the day, I find the evenings and weekends to drag on a bit. Always tea/coffee to be had with friends, food to scrounge up, clothes to be washed, etc… but after a year and a half here, part of me is missing the thrill of new adventure. A girl can only read so much War and Peace before she’s ready to experience action for herself, you know?

All that waiting, studying, preparing invasion plans paid off today. Our days of endless sunshine and heat were interrupted this afternoon by a thunderstorm the likes of which I have never experienced… and I’ve seen some rain in my time. We’re talking hail, standing water up to the top of my stoop, leaks in my ceiling! No one could return to work or school after lunch and all were standing in our doorways gasping in astonishment. When Ethiopians are taken aback by rain, you know it’s a big deal.

Now my parents, in their vast wisdom, recently sent me three super soaker aquifier water guns that have been waiting impatiently to be used. What better time than now, when the heat makes us miserable by 9am? I had been holding off due to water shortages, but with gallons of water pouring off my roof by the second I knew this was the perfect opportunity.

The troops were gathered- two 8-year-old girls who live on my compound. Equipment was issued, trainings were given, surprise attack plans on the neighbors mapped out. The use of technology heretofore never seen in Finote Selam coupled with the element of surprise swung the beginning stages of the battle largely in our favor. They didn’t see us coming, never knew what hit them. However, I learned some valuable warfare lessons today. It should be stated that our neighbors are five boys ranging from age 16 to 25. While momentarily shocked at this unconventional aggression from usually peaceful neighbors, they were quick to regain equilibrium. And though we were using obviously superior artillery, we learned the hard way that sometimes brute force and simple weaponry overpowers even the best-laid plans. It is simple fact that having a bucket of water dumped over your head will get you more significantly wet than being shot by a super soaker aquifier. I wouldn’t call it a defeat- all forces were completely soaked at the time truce was declared… it’s just hard to say whether their soaking was more of a result of the rain or our attacks.

In work related news, we recently received grant money and are on our way to building a mill at the primary school here in town. It’s now in the logistical stages- building the mill house, getting electricity connected, purchasing the equipment. I’ve never been involved with something from start to finish like this before- implementing is an interesting process and takes so much more time and energy than one would anticipate. But it’s great working with the kids who will run the mill- all orphans struggling to pay for school fees, uniforms, workbooks, food, etc. We are having business training for them tomorrow in which hopefully they’ll learn things about saving, reinvesting in their business, etc.

Also, I’ve been trying to work on getting supplies into the libraries of the schools I’ve been working in. The situation is dismal to be honest. Every time you go in, 7 to 10 kids are sharing one resource book from the 1970s. Not sure, but I think some things have changed since then- country borders, recent history, all of science… The surgical team my aunt was here with was so generous to contribute money to any project I was working on- a very daunting experience to be handed money and told “use this however you think will most help people.” So I’ve begun buying books! The good ones are sold in Addis so I’m staging the purchasing process, buying as many books as I can haul back to the Finote on the bus. I started with the elementary school and they were so excited! Atlases, children’s books with pictures, those cool science books that explain why fish live in the sea and why Pluto isn’t a planet anymore (gosh how quickly science changes things). I was also able to purchase books written in Amharic, which I think is cool- there are so few and most resources are in English so it’s hard for the younger kids to get a whole lot out of them. It’s neat to be able to explain that these books came from friends and family in the states, people who have never met them but want to serve Ethiopia however they can- whether it be performing surgeries or giving books. I’ll stick my plug in now- if you have any books you want to get rid of, we will take them! Any subject, any grade, any language (well, English really). Just let me know

Know that I covet your prayers. It is often difficult to track what is being done, being learned, no easy way to measure if projects are going well or what needs to be improved. This tends to get me down, wondering if I’m wasting time or could be doing better. I’ve been praying that God will do what He will despite my getting in the way or fumbling things up. Pray for these kids, that this mill project will become theirs and that they will be excited for the opportunity to work together and improve their current situations. Pray for their families/ caretakers that they will appreciate the work that these kids are doing and not take advantage of the (anticipated) profits. Miss you all! Much love.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Excuse me? Doctor?

These past two weeks have been such a blur of activity that I hardly know where to start! My Aunt Deloris came to Addis Ababa with World Surgical Foundation, an organization that comes to developing nations to perform operations and train local doctors and nurses. They also bring new medical equipment and donate it to the hospitals they work with. In Addis they were working at the Black Lion Hospital, which had the reputation of being one of the nicest hospitals in Ethiopia when it was opened (in the ‘70s maybe?), but has since fallen into disrepair. I’ll be honest, when I first walked into the hospital I was thinking, "my, this is much nicer than the Finote Selam Hospital." However, after hearing the comments of people who knew what they were talking about, I realized that perhaps my frame of reference was a bit off.

My Aunt asked if I would be interested in coming in, helping the team while they were here, and translating. I don’t think that I really grasped what this meant initially. What it turned out to be was getting up every morning at 6:30am, going to the hospital, donning the ever attractive scrubs, shoe covers, face mask, and hair cover, actually being in the OR, going on rounds with doctors, learning a ton, and not leaving until 6:30pm most days. Without a doubt the longest working days I’ve had since… ever? My first day on the job, I was sent into an operating room where a surgery was taking place and had my first crash course in anatomy. It would have been nice if someone had said, "hey we need you in here, but be prepared for blood and guts,"; but it was fascinating. One of those experiences that could occur only here.

Most of my time was spent in the recovery room, being there when the patients woke up and asking questions such as: Can you stick out your tongue? Do you have pain? Can you cough? Again? I was also sent to talk to patient’s families. Due to my very official appearance and my assumed fluency in Amharic, many people approached me with questions of the medical nature and addressed me as ‘Doctor’. I would listen, thinking that perhaps I could help. Then I would remember that the highest level science course I took in college was Scientific Methods and that medical vocabulary in Amharic is way over my head. I became very good at directing people however.

I had the opportunity to get to know many of the patients and their families because I was with them before and after the surgeries and would go with the doctors to check up on them. Their stories were intense. The teenager from Jimma who had a tumor for four years before his family could save enough money to get into Addis only to find out it had spread too much to do anything. The father who brought his daughter on a two-day bus ride, nearly crippled with fear because his wife had died and his daughter was all he had left. The seven-year old boy from the northern-most part of Ethiopia who was accidentally shot two years ago and was so accustomed to pain that he took almost anything without crying. The teenage girl who had a tumor the size of a watermelon removed from her stomach, then was good to go three days later. The 40-year old law professor with pancreatic cancer who woke up after a 6-hour surgery praising Jesus, in English. The stories go on. It was so exciting to translate for the doctors when they would tell a family that the operation went great, that the patient would live a healthy, normal life after so many years of waiting. Terrible to find something to say when there just weren’t resources available to do anything else for a person, or that maybe if they had seen help sooner… It was a great opportunity to see a side of Ethiopia I hadn’t seen, to realize the desperate needs they have in terms of medical care, hospital technicians, nursing practices, surgical training. Things I don’t necessarily understand, but I could see the positive impact the team had in just the two weeks they were here. Imagine if the people of Ethiopia had that year round?

It was really great having my Aunt Deloris here. Her family have gone on medical missions for years and have talked about what a life-changing experience it is. It was neat to share that experience with her, to see how much work and energy she puts into serving others. I had no idea how much work went into nursing, how much preparation and forethought was needed. It’s all just really intense. Aunt Deloris and I also spent some time in Finote Selam and they always love visitors. She got to meet the people I live and work with, see my house, and just get out of the big city a bit. I’ve come to really appreciate the opportunity to share experiences with people. It means so much to have a picture of what my family does and to also have them understand what I’m doing. I’ve come away from the last two weeks really encouraged. And exhausted. Why do you work so much? (Actual question asked to Aunt Deloris by an Ethiopian nurse.)

Since leaving Addis, scriptures commanding us to serve the sick and the needy have taken on a whole new meaning. I have a lot of questions about my role, as a person without medical skills, in caring for those who cannot care for themselves. I don’t have many answers but I’ve found, at least for me, that taking time to form a relationship with them and listening to their needs is a first step to compassion. Also, James 5:14-16 has been a great encouragement-"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." Please join me in prayer for Dawit, Tigist, Haptamu, Yibeltal, Tadeku, Muhmamed, and Selam as they continue to face discomfort and pain. For strength for them and for their families. Also, please pray that I would learn to better serve those in my community who are facing illness or other challenges.

Much love for you all!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Exciting Moment Moving to White House

Here in Ethiopia, we don't just make arrangements to watch the Inauguration. Nope. We have The Exciting Moment Moving to White House parties. Attendees receive large thousand dollar bills with Obama's face on them and have the opportunity to take their picture with the winner of the Miss Obama Beauty Contest and Cultural Quiz Show. Never a dull moment at the Obama Café.

The last two months have been a blur of movement, activity, and much time spent with family and friends. When I look back on it, I'm amazed at how normal most parts of being home felt. Playing games with the family at the kitchen table, driving my car, eating grapes and krisdip with the posse, soccer and music with the Birmingham family, squeezing into Jamie's bed only to be pushed off by Jen in the middle of the night, going to the lookout. It was just like I remembered it, liked I hoped it would be. Though the average was about 5 hours of sleep a night, I came away from these things more energized, more refreshed, more encouraged than I've been in quite a while.

These things make it ok to come back to Ethiopia- they ensure that you have the support you know you'll need to finish what was started. They remind you that, though things change, family and friends are always family and friends. It's the unexpected things that happen at home that make coming back more difficult. When the joy of seeing family is clouded by a sadness and confusion that doesn't make sense. How are you supposed to walk away from that and go on? How about when friends are incredible and throw New Years Newsies parties? When they are intentional about taking time to share their lives and hearts… can you live without that community? It seems that the last year was about learning what it means to be in Christ alone but three weeks at home emphasized the importance of being in community with family and the Body of Christ. All that to say- I've come back with a lot of questions about what this next year is supposed to look like and not many answers.

There have been some definite blessings in the whole process of returning, the main one being Kathryn coming back with me! Imagine Finote Selam's surprise when they realized I had another sister! For some reason, they all thought she was here to stay for the next year so they're devastated when I say she has returned to school. They are also quick to point out that my parents have made "a great mistake" by not providing us with any brothers. I can't help but agree. Kat and I traveled around, hitting all the historical sites in the area, which was fun and exhausting. Kat's best quote came when expressing her thoughts of the Finote by saying, "it's very local." I still don't know what that means, but it seems accurate.

After Kat left, it was time for Ethiopia to celebrate Timkat, or Epiphany. On January 18th Christen Smith and I went up to Gondar, a town that is known for its Epiphany festivities. It wasn't something either of us particularly wanted to do due to the extraordinary amount of people who flock there, but it felt like we should experience it while we're here, so we went. We got into town just in time to watch the day-before-Epiphany parade. The sheer number of Ethiopian boys parading in the streets, waving sticks, and pounding drums was incredible. Then the priests came out with their umbrellas, carrying the Arc of the Covenant, which seemed to simultaneously bring order and more chaos to the parade, if that's possible.

The next morning we woke at 4:00am (the sun is not up at this time) to walk down to the baths where the big ceremony takes place. We made our way to sit on some poorly constructed wooden bleachers that later cracked under the weight of more than a thousand people. That was fun. The early morning hours were surreal, with Ethiopians swaddled from head to toe in their traditional white holiday clothes, chanting and praying. They surrounded the pool of water holding candles, which made the whole place feel set apart somehow. As the sun came up, the priestly processional made its way to line one side of the pool and the chanting intensified.

At about 9:30am (we've been awake for five and a half hours at this point) the head priest said a blessing and lowered a wooden contraption that was lit on fire into the pool. This was the cue for people to jump into the water to receive the blessing. Might I add that it was freezing? One kid caused a splash that doused the holy wooden contraption, which one might have anticipated. However, the priest was not pleased and proceeded to smack the kid upside the head with his prayer stick. It's been my experience that head trauma is best when combined with water sports. At this point everything paused while the fire was relit and the water re-blessed. Madness ensued with people jumping from trees into holy water, trying to fill bottles of holy water, trying to get splashed with holy water, others trying to escape the cold splashes of holy water. At one point I was lifted off my feet entirely and swept in the direction opposite of where I was intending to go. Three minutes later I found myself being smashed against a rock wall. It would have been terrifying if I hadn't been so tired that I had ceased caring what happened anymore.

One of most amazing aspects of this whole experience were the ridiculous tourists- and there were tons of them. One guy planted himself in the midst of the line of priests while they were saying the blessing with his massive camera. A preist, a policeman, and a soldier came asking him to move and you could just see this kid shaking his head no. At some point you would think that he would look around and think "I'm not Ethiopian, I'm not a priest, and I'm not even Orthodox so maybe I should go sit where all the other tourists are sitting a respectful distance away." The military guy had to drag him away instead, causing a scene. The beautiful thing is that with the zoom lens this guy had, he could have been sitting a mile away and have gotten the same shots. We used our zoom lenses to get some mug shots of him so if we saw him on the streets later we could tackle him. No such luck. If people are going to be that disrespectful, then no one should be allowed to travel. Sorry. Soapbox ended.

So now I'm back in Finote Selam and, as I'm sure you've heard, we won the opening game of the West Gojam Football (soccer) Tournament today. Nine teams from all over the region are in town this week to compete so as you can see, we're kind of a big deal. Winning a game is quite an accomplishment seeing as how Ethiopians are,admittedly, not the best soccer players. In addition, our field is made of rocks so it takes skill to anticipate which direction the ball will bounce. It also requires skill to not hit your head and get knocked unconscious when you fall to the ground. This happened to three players at the game I watched today but only one of those kids was from the Finote. It's shaping up to be a good season. Did you know that in Ethiopia after you score a goal it's cultural for the team to charge the coach and kiss his knees?

So I'm readjusting to being back though there have been some significant changes that are making it difficult, which I shall list: a girl who had become a great friend has moved to Addis Ababa, my internet guys (who are my favorite) moved to Debre Markos, my awesome post office guy has moved to Bure, my juice family's son who gives me free juice is moving to Addis, and the Women's Affairs lady that I love working with has been moved to Dembecha. I feel that Peace Corps has resulted in me developing a fear of abandonment. But seriously, it's a bit disheartening to find that many of the people that you've tried to be intentional about forming relationships over the past year are gone. Again, still trying to figure out what this next year is supposed to look like in regards to relationships, work, and personal growth so if you'd like to join me in prayer for these things, know that I would appreciate it. Also know that I'd love to hear from you all! Much love!