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.