Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Many reasons for grattitude

I am leaving Uganda refreshed. I have been able to hug and laugh with dozens of friends. I have  slept in (on occasion). I have gotten to know my friends' babies that have grown into delightful toddlers while I've been away. I have caught up a bit on work I was behind on. I have spent hours and hours in gardens listening to birds and enjoying greenery. Not only that, I have two weeks of full time vacation to look forward to. The further I go in this journey, the more and more I realize how much I have to be grateful for. People's hospitality amazes me. I am very blessed, indeed. 

A quick shout out to my last two "homes" in Uganda. Lynda and her son Zeke opened their home to me for several days. I was sad that I missed her daughters, my former students who are now back in Australia, and her husband who is currently in West Africa. However, it was great to get a few days of quality time with my former co-worker and church friend. 

Lucy (left) and Lynda (right)

My 11th guest room of the trip was with my friends Mark and Lucy. It was so nice to reminisce, relax in their pool, and play with their daughter Isla (who was kind enough to share her room with me). Thanks for being such great hosts and friends!

Mark and pups

Monday, December 8, 2014

Familiar Spaces

Last week, I returned to Uganda for some friend time, catch up, and R&R. In some ways, it feels like things haven’t changed. As I sip Tuskers in friends’ yards, watch all my shoes and socks instantly turn the red hue of Ugandan dirt, listen to turacos and weaver birds incessantly chatter in the trees, acquire new mosquito bites by the hour, and laugh with old friends this place still feels familiar. At the same time, new buildings and faces and all my friends’ babies that have transformed from infants to personality brimming toddlers remind me that a lot can change in two and a half years. 

In the last week, I have finally slowed down my pace a little bit. I did not realize how exhausted I was until I arrived at the home of my dear friends Johnny and Amber.  Only as I finally allowed myself to sleep in, catch up on my work, take some time for myself did the realization that for 3 months I had been “on” sink in. It has been so nice to take leisurely mornings and sip my coffee in the garden before catching up on my work. Johnny and his daughter, Malia, have filled my last week with German chatter, laughter, and music. I am so excited for reunions with his wife, Amber, as she returns from the US with their newborn son. I am very grateful that bed# 9 was in such a familiar home with comfortable friendships. Thanks, Johnny for hosting me (and Amber, even if you weren’t in the country yet).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ciao, Ethiopia!

Alas, it is time already to write about the end of my time in Ethiopia! While I am really excited to get back to one of my “homes” (Uganda) and to have a month to let my brain catch up before collecting more data, I am really quite sad to leave this school community and country.  My favorite thing about my job is that I get to meet many people. In Addis, all of the folks I have met have been incredibly open and welcoming. They’ve included me on countless adventures (whether trying to catch a neighborhood stray to free it of oppressive matted dredlocks, dancing at staff parties, or driving around the city to feed homeless). I have been privileged to step into a range of community projects and am so grateful for the new perspectives that these experiences have offered me. Addis is a really interesting and vibrant city and the school community dynamic and welcoming.   

Continuing with the “where I’ve slept” motif, I have three more locations to catalog:
Bed#6: I’ve met many new friends here, and Kathy is one of them. Kathy is the sort of person who instantly makes you feel at home in a space. When Kathy had to chaperone a grade 5 overnight trip (bless her!) I stayed at her apartment with her thoughtful, kind son. We had a great time playing Wii and discussing literary analysis (a totally normal discussion with an elementary aged kid, right? Love this guy).

Bed #7: For the last two weeks I have been staying with a couple I worked with in Korea that are new to Addis this year. It has been so fun to laugh with Heidi and George and to watch them transition to a new continent and culture. I am so grateful for their hospitality. They have really gone above and beyond hosting expectations and have driven me all over town, kept me well fed, and have taken me on a range of Addis adventures. Heidi and George are such wonderful examples of what Christianity should look like, I am so grateful to have them as friends.

Bed #8: I spent part of my last weekend camping in Menagesha Suba Forest, supposedly the oldest reserve in Africa (mid-1400’s). I headed to the forest with another Korea connection: Ken and Charmaine and their son, Wes. Ken was the camping master and both my tent and air mattress were courtesy of them (bedding courtesy of Chris/Amanda/Heidi/George… it was cold, I needed a lot). I was so glad to step into wilderness for a few days and also reconnect with old friends. We shared a lot of laughter during our short stay and had plenty of adventures (thanks, in part, to the smoker that lured in wildlife with its lovely aroma…. those slow cooked ribs were amazing and worth every hyena howl).

Ameseginaleh, everyone for your incredible hospitality! Until our paths cross again.