Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday, 14 March 2009

We met Getachew right at 6:30AM at the appointed corner near his home and started the 4-5 hour trip driving south.  Without rain this time of year (there have been only 2 short overnight rains early in our stay here), the dust and smog are pretty thick.  We got to watch the sun rise over a mountain in the haze.  Starting early was necessary to avoid some of the large truck traffic.  Dan drove until we stopped in a small town for breakfast and coffee.  We ate at an outside table on the side and got to watch dozens of butterflies hover and light on the flowering trees nearby! When we were finished, Getachew took the wheel and we continued down the 2-lane road with wide shoulders accommodating LOTS of foot traffic, with donkey carts, cattle crossings, and 3-wheeled motorcycle taxis. 

As we neared Awassa, there were also more bicycles and horse-drawn rickshaw-like carts.  We’ve gotten so used to city housing; it was so interesting to see rural Ethiopia with round, mud-and-straw homes with straw roofs.  We checked into a hotel in the town of Awassa. Apparently, there’s a convention in town (!) and there are few rooms left, but we got 2 rooms for 115 Birr per night - that will include water, as soon as more is pumped up to the roof-top storage container (no electricity the previous night to do that!)!  No matter!  We had about an hour to  get our clothes changed, then have a little lunch, meet the District Superintendent and follow him (he was on a motorbike) to the nearest church to get the other folks going with us.  Two more pastors and a translator joined us, so the 6 of us traveled nearly an hour on highway, gravel road, then dirt road to the tiny community of Bonoya Mirideh, with rectangular mud houses (most with brightly painted doors and window shutters), where we were greeted by a flock of children!  The adults already filled the benches in the church, a small lean-to building with a heavy, black plastic roof.  We got the seats of honor, heavy wooden chairs in the front, and the singing started!  I get misty just thinking about the way these sincere and dedicated Christians worship God with praise music.  It’s beautiful!  Dan has videotaped some music at each service; we’ll treasure it for a long time!  Dan’s message about the church members’ responsibility to serve God and their church seemed to be well received; we’re sure the translator did a great job!  I tried to count during the service - in this small area, there were at least 60 adults and young people.  (If this congregation had understood Amharic, Getachew could have also translated, but these people spoke Oromo.) Following the service and quite a number of handshakes, the D.S. and the pastors ushered us into a room where special food had been prepared for us!  We’ll have to get the name of this dish - it was a huge bowl of a fine substance (maybe flour and butter and spice) in which hard-boiled eggs were hidden!  It was a community dish, seasoned as well with lots of conversation, especially when another egg was found!  There was also a large plate of scrambled eggs and some beautiful coiled rolls, along with Coke or Mirinda Orange.  Getachew chuckled as we entered this room.  He then shared with us what he had read on the wall.  The room evidently is a food fellowship area and high on the wall were the Words “Sit down, eat and drink, no complaints!” in Amharic.  As he explained, it we all chuckled.

Lots of waves and handshakes later, we headed back to drop off the pastors and go back into Awassa.  This town is known for being on a large lake.  Many people were already at the lakeside when we got there to walk and view the sunset.  It’s shallow for quite a ways out with marshy grasses growing tall.  It’s a simple, relaxing way to spend an evening, watching the fishing boats and passenger boats out on the water.  Memorable, HUGE storks waited in the trees for the remains of fish dinners.  Later in our room, we snacked on granola bars, not needing dinner, before sleeping within a mosquito net over our bed. Sometime in the night, Dan heard a hyena howl, which started the dogs howling all over town...

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