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Saturday, January 22, 2011


I find I have a loss of words here. I thought I would be able to share every part of this, but I am finding that so many times there are no words. My words could never be enough to describe what I have seen here - what I have experienced. I pray, though I cannot get the words to come, my heart will never forget. I pray I never go back to who I was before stepping onto African soil.

Everything here has changed me. There is nothing like this place. Beauty entangled with pain so tightly that the two melt into each other. Country mingled with city in the animals walking beside vehicles. Groups of dirty children scamper all around wearing mismatched clothes, some of the older ones carrying the younger ones. Even though it is warm here, many are wearing clothes that seem far too warm - long sleeves, and even some winter coats. A haze of dust swirls around the streets of Addis. There are so many people walking the streets, I cannot decide if it is somewhere that is their destination or nowhere. Small old ladies double over under the weight of the load of firewood they bear on their backs. There are women dressed in Islamic head coverings walking beside women dressed in business suits and heals walking beside women dressed in rags. I have seen men and boys walking with fingers interlaced in platonic friendship. The corners and allys are guarded by policemen in blue camo with guns strapped to their backs. At times I think I am at an inner-city in America, and at others I feel as though I have stepped directly into Bible times and the Old Testament. The traditional and the modern are quilted together.

The traffic is other-worldy. It weaves and dashes with no intersections, no traffic lights- it seems as if anything goes. If the driver does not like the side of the road he is traveling he will just drive to the other, cutting off any traffic in his way. It is organized chaos like I have never seen before. There is no loud honking, or cussing, it's like a strange dance that I cannot quite decipher. Children roam the streets staring into our van wondering if we have any chocolate' or carmella to give them. Vans and taxis drive by packed with more people that one would think possible. Men and women lay on the sidewalk, disfigured and crippled. Adult beggars roam the streets wearing dirty, ragged items that were once clothes. Mothers carry infants on their backs. Men urinate wherever and whenever the urge hits them. Dogs bark, roosters crow, children giggle. The beautiful lilt of the Amharic language blankets the city, warm and sweet.

It's a collision of worlds as I have never before seen. It's poverty that I could never describe. It's coffee ceremonies and fluffy popcorn sprinkled with sugar. It's beauty and ugly. It's the smoky sweet smell of frankincense inscense that swirls around the whole city and even clings to my son's hair, his clothes - a scent that I now equate with Ethiopia.Every morning we awake to morning prayers and chants outside our window. It seems normal now, after only waking here for 4 mornings.

Each day my eyes are opened a bit more, to the truth, the need, and the beauty that is my son's heritage, his country. Ethiopia has changed me. It is in me.
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