January 27, 2011
Have I mentioned that the weather here in Addis Ababa is AMAZING?! I mean seriously, it is like 70 and sunny every single day. If there were some beaches, clear blue waters, and hula skirts, I’d think we were in Hawaii. Okay, so I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I hear the weather is pretty amazing there too.
Actually, today was crazy windy. And with the dry climate right now, we had to use our camel instincts, and use our eyelashes to protect our eyes from the blowing dust. This brings me to a traveler’s tip for those of you coming to Ethiopia during this time of year (pretty much any time but rainy season which is in July & August). Our Ethiopia program director suggested it to us, and I’m going to pass on this jewel of advice: Bring some Saline Nasal Spray (we brought Simply Saline). I woke up with a bloody nose one night because of the dry weather. Yuck.
Wes and I decided to do some more exploring today also. We visited the Friendship Mall and a bunch of grocery stores. Can somebody tell me why there is NO sugar in any of these stores? Anyways, as we walked down Bole Rd., we had about 50 people ask us for money. This is the norm here, and it is very difficult at times. I have experienced the same thing in India & Nepal. In Nepal, I would see the same people every day ( I lived there for 4 months), and they would still either ask me for money or offer to sell me hash. I said no to the hash every single time (duh), but no matter how many times they saw me, they never really saw me. This is what’s difficult for me. I know I am a white face, which usually indicates I come from a wealthier country, which makes them hope I will give them some of my wealth. Granted, I am not here to say that we are not wealthy compared to many Ethiopians. We are. There’s no denying that. What’s difficult is knowing that I can’t give to every person who asks. Over the years I have learned you really have to use discernment when giving money to people. And sometimes, you give even though you have no idea whether or not you’re being scammed. Many people say you shouldn’t give at all, because it only encourages more poverty and cycilical begging. But I don’t necessarily agree with this. Not EVERY person who asks for money is a scam artist. Not EVERY person that says they are hungry is being hired by some slave driver who gets all that money. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter because it is not your responsibility to figure out the motives behind every request for help. You never know when you might be entertaining angels in disguise. Also, God doesn’t ask us to give to the poor only once we know what their level of poverty is, or how sincere their request for help is….He just asks us to care for the poor.
This doesn’t mean I think you should always give. Believe me…I’m not saint. Sometimes I can get fired up. Like today for instance….as Wes and I were out exploring the city, a guy started walking next to us and talking to us. I knew from the very beginning of the conversation where it was going, but it was hard to brush him off before he got to the end of his spiel. He started out by telling us where he was from, and how he makes little money, and that he thinks Americans are the most friendly and giving people, and that he is glad we are Christians because he is too, and finally…..after about 15 minutes of talking our ears off as we are walking toward the Friendship Mall….”Can you give me 100 birr?” Ugh. I knew it was coming. This was not one of those instances I felt led to give. Instead I was ticked off. I stopped walking, looked him in the eyes and said, “Let me tell you something. If you want to be friends with Americans, you don’t start out by asking them for money. It will only tick them off.” Ooh I was angry. I know….I’m not always Nice Nina. ☺ Please don’t judge me too harshly. You really do get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of Nina here. Hope you’ll still keep reading the blog. ☺
Today was the first day that I have felt at ease in Ethiopia. Just being at the orphanage was so comfortable. Alex ate for me...well kind of…I still had to shove most of the food in to his mouth while he is wiggling everywhere (he was in a Bumbo seat but he just can’t sit still). Ha.
Nina and I walked down Bole all the way to Friendship Mall, which was about a 20 min walk. It was refreshing…ahh all that thin air and pollution…. It really was a good walk. Nina and I always walk to get around in every country we have been to, and it is just how we roll.
The longer we are here the more I realize that this is a chance for me to revisit spiritual highs and intimacy in Christ. Most of us climb spiritual mountains and get the edge of cliffs and we have this desire to jump. There is a call to dive recklessly into complete surrender to Christ for our lives and trust him for everything; Deep calls to deep. We do this many times in our lives, because our flesh and desire draw us to the rocks below, but after we hit the bottom we can dust ourselves off and start the climb again.
Here is a poem I wrote today to express this desire and dream in all of us.
I’ve been to this precipice before
I’ve closed my eyes and pondered the leap
The memories of weightlessness flood my mind
As the reminiscent flutterings fill my chest
I salivate slightly,
Remembering the taste of sweet air rushing over my face
I inch nearer to the edge
Pushing pebbles and rocks, unwillingly, into the depths below
Again I move closer till my toes hang over
Raising my arms outward
Stretching my fingers as far as the will go
The gusting wind blows my hair and clothes like an obedient flag
Whipping around the pole
For a moment everything stops
My breathing slows
My Heart is barely beating
I take one last deep breath
Bend my knees
A deafening silence rings in my ears
Then like an Olympic diver, I spring forward
Soaring Hundreds of feet above the impending ground
It is not until now that I remember the pain of smashing into the rocks
Maybe this time I will make it past them
Maybe this time I will Fly
It is every Jumper’s Dream