Monday, November 21, 2011

Ethiopia: Day 11

**Sorry for not updating this earlier today!! I got plenty of texts from people who followed along on the trip asking if I made it home or not! I did. **

Back to last night:

When I got back to my guest house in Addis (after walking up to other one for wifi), all of the Hope Chest staff was there to say good bye to us. Karen collected money from all of us earlier in the day to give them. They really are all just great people. Such amazing staff they have there - I just love them all! They printed out appreciation certificates with all of our names on them and went on and on about how we are the backbone of that organization and how much they love and appreciate us. Read some bible verses - one from Hebrews about how God will not forget the work we have done here - and prayed with us. Said they really hoped to see us again in ethiopia, but if not, they knew we would all meet again one day in heaven. There weren't many dry eyes in the room when it was all said and done!

Misikre, ? (can't remember his name!), Fikre, Alex, Yifruit


We got to the airport about 7:15 - 3 hours early!! I dont think I've ever been to an airport that early for a flight, but everything takes forever with 25 people. We said our final goodbyes to the HopeChest staff and headed for the airport.

I was the first one in and breezed through the first security check just to get in to the airport. The line to check in and get our boarding pass wasn't too long. I was a little worried they were going to try and make me check my giant backpack since it weighs way over the 15 pound limit, PLUS I have TWO other small bags I'm carrying too - and two is all your allowed. So when I got up to the ticket counter, I just started talkif away to the guy working to try and distracts him, and it worked! He didn't even ask me if I had any bags, and the ticket counter was so high there, I'm not even sure he saw how much I had! So I thought I was in the clear and was all excited...until I turned the corner and there was a guy at he entrance to immigration weighing bags and making sure they fit in the ridiculously small baggage limits. I quickly decided I would just play the dumb American and walk right past him (and the line) while he wasn't looking. Well, that didn't work! I made it past him, and kept going when I heard him hollering at me, but he grabbed me and said I needed to come back. Dang it! I just knew I was screwed. There was absolutely no way my backpack was fitting in that lite square, and I knew it weighed at least 25 pounds! So when I got up there, he said it had to fit... So I started shoving. It didn't fit. He was irritated and the line behind me was growing. He said he had to weigh it so to put it in underneath on the scale... So with him on the opposite side, I shoved it in as far as it would go, but didn't take my hand off of it. While talking to him (it's my distraction tool!) I lifted up on the bag so all the weight wasn't on the scale, and somehow he didn't notice, ha! He checked the weight, and said, "Alright, go." I was SO pumped to get it through, even though I could have easily just checked it in for free. I just hate checking bags - especially on international flights. So I'm happy to have all my stuff right here with me!

Made it through immigration with no problem - one more entry/exit stamp in my passport. I'm catching up to Matt now in country count! ;)

With over two hours before our flight, I didn't want to go sit at the gate yet, so I walked around and looked at all the little shops. I found a really cool bright purple bracelet I wanted to get, but the guy decided it cost $10. Yea right. I know I'm American, but I'm still tight! I wouldn't have paid more than $3 for that little thing...and that's probably more than he normally charges for it. I was completely out of money anyways, and I didn't need it, so it's just as well.

I finally went through the next security check to get to my gate around 9:00. I asked the guy working it if I could take my water through, and when he said sure, I knew I didn't have to worry about getting my liquids out (I have double the allowed amount), or my razor blade / finger nail clippers (neither of which are allowed). I'm not even sure the guy behind the screen was watching it. Doesn't really make you feel to safe I guess, but I'm not worried about it. Just glad I was able to get all my stuff on without any issue!

I sat my stuff down by one of the other girls and started walking and stretching. If I'm going to be on an airplane for 17 hours, I have to get a little bit of exercise in! Felt great, but I'm sure I looked ridiculous!

A St. Christopher pendant a friend gave me for safe travels on this trip

Holding the St. Christopher pendant - it made it all the way to Ethiopia and back!

We boarded the big plane and I got an aisle seat in the middle section of seats next to Lindsay and Ryan. Julie was directly behind me. Took off a little late at 10:35. My goal was to stay awake until Rome (6 hours) to try and get back closer to Kansas time, so I watched Bride Wars and then started another movie, but didn't make it through that one. I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, so I put my earplugs in and curled up. Didn't wake until they said we were landing in Rome.

(Oh, and I made it the whole trip feeling fine, but literally about an hour before I got on the plane, I felt a cold coming on. Itchy eyes, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose...ugh! Better now than during last week I guess, but either way, it sucks. And I knew there was no way I could be around that many germs all week and not get something!)

Landed in Rome at 2:45am local time. The cabin crew changed and we sat on the runway for an hour - refueling and taking trash off, etc. The captain finally came on and said there was a sick passenger on board, so we were waiting on medicine for him before we could take off. Pretty sure the whole plane was not happy with him! Everyone was ready to go!! Finally took off at 4:45am (their time).

I had a really hard time falling asleep on that 10 hour flight! I was SO anxious to get home! I tried to watch a couple movies, but none of them really interested me. I think I fell asleep for a couple hours, but the rest of it was just pretty uncomfortable. They served us three meals on he flight, but I just picked around and ate the bread and cheese from all of them.

Finally landed in DC, had some layovers and a couple connecting flights (no problems getting my backpack on!), but made it home safe and sound! No work today (Monday) - but I'll be back to the grind tomorrow! Pictures (lots and lots of pictures) coming soon!

Happy to be back in KC!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ethiopia: Day 10 (continued)

I got back to the guest house just as the coffee ceremony was ending. And there were a couple waffles left on the table, so I slapped some peanut butter and jelly on them - so good! It was a great morning - I got a shower, wifi, AND peanut butter for breakfast!

The power went out again, but I didn't really care. I charged my phone last night and didn't really need electricity for anything else. I packed up most of my stuff, and went outside to wait for the bus. Helena was playing with some of the kids outside, and lost an earring in the open gutter on the side of the road. While we were all looking around down there for it, we spotted three little puppies huddled together by some rocks! I don't know bow they got down there, and i really don't know how they're going to get out!! It's a couple feet deep I bet!


We left at 10:18 for 10:30 church. (A couple more girls are sick and stayed behind. I'm lucky I guess! I've really felt fine the whole time - and I think I've wiped more snotty noses than anyone. I just can't take the green snot down to the kids' lips!)

On the way to church, we drove right by the huge trash dump... Korah was just on the other side. That is the place I've read so much about - the place I really want to go and work. It is the poorest of the poor. A community where they used to send lepers. Now, the people there literally live of of what they can pull from the trash. Some people - children - even live IN the trash dump. It kills me to even think about. Project 61 and Ordinary Hero both do amazing work there. If (or when) I come back to Ethiopia, I will make it to the people of Korah.

We pulled up to a little community and the church at 10:40. Late!! In typical American fashion, ha! It was just a little tin building with tarps for walls on the inside. I felt so rude interrupting the service when we walked in. And we definitely interrupted because everyone turned around and stared at the white people walking in. And of course the little kids clapped and giggled when they saw us...


One of the translators wrote out what the message was (since it was in Amharic)

So it was a very small church, but they had a very large spirit! They sang songs for us and welcomed us so openly. It was a pretty cool experience, even though 95% of it was in Amharic. They really get in to their songs, too! I recorded one of them. And man was it HOT in there! It was pretty packed, and no open windows...just tarps, remember. I was sweating after about 5 minutes. It lasted just over an hour, and then we all wen out in to the grassy area out front and greeted everyone. Lots of little kids there, and a very poor area - its called Gemo and is really close to Korah. Hope Chest is about to launch a care point there, but they don't even have profiles on the almost 200 kids who will be attending. I'm definitely going to have to get one of those kids to sponsor, too!

YouTube Links:

While we were out in the courtyard, I found a little baby boy to give my other hand-made blanket to! A little girl was carrying him around, and he had a big cut on his face with flies all over it! I wrapped him up in the blanket and took some pictures, and he screamed when I picked him up, so that didn't last long. Maybe all of the white people scared him!


Of course I had to pee before we left. I swear my bladder is the size of a pea! The bathroom was awful! It was just a little hole built on the side of a mud hut - no ventilation - and the smell was enough to knock you out! Whew!

The kids all stood around and smiled and waved as we left.  A few ran along side the bus.  Too cute.

We left the church area at 12:30 and went to Island Breeze for lunch. On the way, we saw a wedding taking place! They were all dressed up and dancing and singing. It was quite the event! Also heard the same Adele song on the radio for the fourth time. So weird...


Island Breeze is a brick oven pizza place, and the translators said it is the best pizza in Addis. I bet you can guess what kind I ordered: it was called cheese and more cheese! I was so hungry and it takes a loooong time to do anything with 20 people! Of course mine was he second to last one to come, and that wasn't until 2:20! Aaaaand it was a giant block of soupy cheese! It was by far the cheesiest pizza I've ever had - even the crust was stuffed with cheese! The middle was way too much for even me to stomach, but I did manage to eat three pieces of the crust! Even the Ethiopians were coming over to look at it and they all cracked up! You know it's bad when even they won't eat it! Needless to say, we had lots of leftovers in boxes to give away!

We didn't get out of Island Breeze until almost 3, and went right to a shopping area by the post office. It was kind of a touristy place, and I joked that the prices tripled as soon as they saw a bus full of white people pull up! We were supposed to try and stick together in groups with the translators, but as soon as we got off the bus, Julie and I took off. We ended up doing okay on our own, and we bartered for some scarves, necklaces, and paintings. Also got a black baby doll for my niece and a pencil (and some Ethiopian money) for my nephew. I think I've got everyone covered! And that's good, because I'm officially broke! I spent every dollar and birr I had!

The painting I bought

Where I bought several scarves

We had an hour and a half to shop, but I finished way early. Sooooo I just started playing soccer / keep-away in the street with 9 boys and little blue plastic ball. I didn't do too bad! They even made me be in the middle a couple times and it never took me long to steal the ball! It was actually really fun and they thought it was so cool that a white GIRL would play with them. (All the other girls just watch.) I'm apparently out of shape and needed a break, so I moved on to tickling the babies that the beggars carry around. Oooooh my goodness - they're cute regardless, but when they get to giggling and grinning, it was just too much to take! I played a little more keep-away, and then passed out all the left-over pizza from lunch we had on the bus. I about got mobbed once they figured out what I was doing, but it was worth it! They were so excited for some food! Playing with those boys and giving away the food was definitely the highlight of the day! And I didn't even get any pictures because I put all my stuff on the bus for safe keeping! (I guess I did snap one once I got on the bus to leave...)

The one picture I got.  This boy could seriously move on those crutches!  (And he has a bag of pizza in his other hand!)
We left around 4:45 to head back to the guest house. I am going to smell so bad by the time I get home tomorrow! We packed all of our stuff up and got ready to head to the airport ... for a very long flight home! My backpack is about as full and heavy as its ever been! If I get stopped and they weigh it, I'm screwed! It's waaay over 15 pounds!

I ran back up to the other guest house real quick for wifi (it's still no working at our guest house) - and as soon as I get back we should be heading to the airport, so you won't hear from me again until I'm back home tomorrow!

Pic for today (from my phone) is me eating my super cheesy pizza at Island Breeze!

Sent from my iPhone