Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa. May 11-21st, 2015.
Four of us traveled to a place called The Learning Village in Ethiopia for a 10 day trip. It was my first time in Africa. Ethiopia is a special place. Since being back, and preparing this blog post, many people have asked how it was. All I could manage to get out was, "It was great!" There was just too much to take in.
And now that it has settled in completely, I absolutely loved it.
I had no idea what I was in for on this trip. My knowledge of Africa was only what I had seen in magazines, other friends photos, or on TV. Up until I was invited to go, I'm not sure that I ever wanted to go to Africa. That all changed in an instant. I felt a massive tug to simply just go. Go, and see, and do and learn and teach and experience. A few friends and I put on a fundraiser selling prints before I left to raise funds. That alone was a massive blessing. I couldn't have done this trip without the help of my friends, family, and Creator.
Fast forwarding beyond all of the wild feelings leading up to leaving: Our route there was Tulsa -> Houston -> Istanbul, Turkey -> Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We arrived in the middle of the night, lost a bag, grabbed our Visas, and climbed in the back of a Safari truck.
Addis Ababa is nearly 8 million, or more, people. In the late hours of the night, there were no cars in the city, only a few hyenas. The place we stayed is called The Learning Village. Jordan has been there one other time, and had the connections for us to visit. The Learning Village consists of a school, a dairy, a health clinic, and several other small industries. In the mornings, we hung out with the kids before school. In the afternoons, we would visit an orphanage in the city. And in the evenings, we would walk through the surrounding villages. In-between, we had amazing coffee multiple times a day, worked on projects for The Learning Village, and ate granola bars.
Some of my favorite moments were experiencing the culture, listening more than talking, and letting their way of life really sink in. Many people lived in mud huts, made their own tools and goods, and were very poor. And yet everyone was so, so, so kind. Big smiles, handshakes, and holding your hands were all common things. The language barrier was tough. So tough that it took me nearly the whole trip and then some to learn the basic of Amharic. "Silamno" = hi, "Silam" = peace, "Ahmasiganalo" = thank you. We played so many hand games with the kids. Thumbs wars, arm wrestling, double double ice cream, susie rope and foot races. Visiting the orphanage was raw and numbing at first. Unfortunately, I can't share this photos, but our time their was filled with joy, seeing how the ladies there love and cherish those kids.
In all, we met so many great people at The Learning Village, and in Ethiopia along the way. There were gut wrenching times, amazing laughter filled times, and times where you just didn't know what you were feeling. Many of the people we met, I could see confidence. I could see hope and joy. The Lord used the four of us, (and the many who helped us get there,) to help the ones we reached while we spent our time there. In turn, He used the ones there to reach us in a deeper way too.
We did so many things in 10 days. I have many stories, and feelings from this trip. Thinking about it all, only makes me want to go back. I don't have time to share every story, and experience in this post. Many things we saw and did can't be put into words or photos. And for me, that's what I love most about finding new places and new people.
However, I have these photos that I took along the way, on foot, and from the van, for you to see and to feel.