Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Team Ethiopia: June 2010

Right before stepping into class this evening, I thought I'd post our team video that our team leader, Joe put together for us. It's hard not for me and Mr. McGoo to get teary eyed when watching it. I'm sure many have seen it already - if not, here you go. And if so... can't hurt to see it again. Less than 5 minutes pulling some of our journey all together. Thanks Joe!

Mr. McGoo and I may put another video together with extended pictures of our journey... the keyword there is MAY, as life is pretty hectic right now as we continue to work to catch up on what we've missed. I'll keep you posted, though, and should we make the video - I'll surely post it on here also! Off to class I go.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Things I Love & Truly Miss About Ethiopia

Mr. McGoo has already posted his own list about Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after following suite with the Bridges' blog post a month or so ago. If you haven't checked out both of those blog posts, stop and enjoy... the Bridges' post comes after they spent over a full year living in Addis Ababa and Mr. McGoo's was posted soon after our arrival home Sunday evening (6/20).

I'll do my own little reflection today regarding THE THINGS I LOVE AND TRULY MISS ABOUT ETHIOPIA. These are in NO certain order, simply a stream of consciousness really. Also please forgive me for any generalities I've made that might not work for everything, as we only spent a week in Addis Ababa... this is in reference to what I learned, saw, and understood along the way.


- Unhindered Affection: If you care for someone, appreciate someone, and/or love someone - you show it in Ethiopia. Men holding hands/women holding hands as they walk down the street together means nothing more than, "I appreciate you and love you, dear friend". I think we call could use a little more of that in our lives - a friend giving an encouraging hug, a quick grab/massage of the shoulders, a touch here or there on the arm... males not worrying about being macho enough, rather showing they truly care and not being afraid of that. I loved it. I truly felt a difference on Saturday, our last day in Ethiopia when we didn't visit the children but rather prepared for our departure home - I felt something missing a bit - my affection meter had been raised and gotten used to so much more affection, and on Saturday it was going back to the "American, here's my bubble, stay out of it way". I physically felt a difference that day and wished for the unhindered affection to continue. It's contagious and I think healthy!

- Tight Hugs, Wet Kisses, Cuddles, and Beautiful Smiles - ugh, how I miss them. The children! They gave such wonderful tight hugs, wet kisses, cuddles, and the most beautiful smiles. Daily I had multiple children sitting on top of me - I loved it! I prayed that they could feel the love of Jesus pouring out of me! That any love and affection I could give was only because of Him! I wanted them to feel they mattered and were cared for, even if it meant from a white women thousands of miles and many many hours away. And that even more than I could ever love and care for them, we have a Creator and Savior that loves them beyond measure! I have been aching for those tight hugs, wet kisses, cuddles, and beautiful smiles this week. I want to look into their faces, each one, and remind them again that they have a Hope and a Future! I'm so thankful for the work of The Forsaken Children and all the staff in Ethiopia working hard to proclaim that fact to the children daily. I ache for eight hands to be all within my hair, pulling and tugging, touching and braiding, for the smiles on their faces as they leaned down to make sure I was okay. Contagious. I want more!

- Food (berbere spice/seasoning) - Most everything cooked in Ethiopia is made with a spice or seasoning called berbere. It has a kick to it but I sure like it. I almost brought some home, but I so rarely use spices I knew it would sit in our "pantry" for the most part. However, I might have to borrow some from a few Team Ethiopia members in the near future. I really enjoyed the food in Addis Ababa... especially the process of eating with your hands. You see, most everything is served on a bed of injara - think a pancake like substance. You pull pieces of the injara off an use that to pick up the food, bit by bit, piece by piece, using that almost as your utensil. I loved it. I think there's something more personal and intimate about eating with your hands. I miss it.

- Perspective - it's hard not to have perspective when you're not surrounded/attacked by the "American Dream" in direction. When you see a child or person in general curled up in the median of a large street sleeping - hard not to have perspective about what matters. When you see children wearing shoes three sizes too small because that's all they have - it puts things in perspective. When you see "home" after "home" and shelter after shelter made of the scraps we'd throw away in America - it puts things in perspective. What's important in life? What matters? Addis Ababa, Ethiopia helped me obtain and gain perspective.

- The Laughter - Whether it was the children's or Nega's - I miss the laughter in Ethiopia. I told Nega, Onesimus formerly known as CHE, Director on more than one occasion that I wish I had recorded his laughter to take it back home. If I was having a bad day, all I would need is to replay the recording of Nega's laugh and it would be impossible to go without a smile. In the same way that Nega's laughter is something I miss from Ethiopia, all the childrens' laughter is too! I love the fact that this project, this Drop-In Center allows for a safe place for the children to come and be CHILDREN... to laugh and play. To be fed, loved, attended to!

- Coca-Cola Ethiopian Style and Shai - glass Coca-Cola bottles with Amharic writing on the other side...Mmm Mmmm Good! Different than Coke here at home... the sweetness is different and delicious. I surely enjoyed my fair share of Coca-Cola's while in Addis Ababa. Yum! Oh and the Shai - hot, delicious tea.

- "Nega Says" - So take the game, Simon Says, and throw the director's name in there instead... bam! You've got a brand new game that the kids were CRAZY about... NEGA SAYS! It was hilarious and so much fun. The smiles on the childrens' faces as they played! The laughs and yells as people messed up and were pulled out of play. The laughter of the staff members as they got tickled by the entire event also. Oh, and the joy of watching the LEADER of Nega Says, whether that was me one time, Mr. McGoo most of the time, or Joe trying a time or two! Hilariously fun!

- Feeding One Another - I've already hinted that I'm missing the food in Ethiopia... however an even greater or another part of that is the cultural process of "feeding one another". We were told this was a sign of respect, admiration, and caring. Nega told Mr. McGoo that feeding someone once, wouldn't do - but feeding them twice, the bond would never be broken. I had the pleasure of watching Nega feed Mr. McGoo twice during our dinner with the staff and it practically brought tears to my eyes. Those two husky football lovers quickly learned to care for one another. The most intimate time I remember in this "feeding each other" process for me happened at the boys halfway home. During a coffee ceremony one of the boys sat next to me in a chair, practically in my lap. For some reason during coffee ceremonies, we were always served popcorn (will have to figure out the cultural reason, if there is one, for this later)... I saw my little friend beside me eyeing the popcorn, so I grabbed a handful and fed him - he reciprocated. There, for the next 45min to hour, we fed one another popcorn. Ahhh, my heart melts thinking of it again and seeing his gorgeous face. I miss that.

- Through the Eye of the Camera Lens - As team photographer/blogger for the week, I rarely was without the camera around my neck. There is something about watching the children, staff, and people in general on the streets through the lens of my camera... catching small moments I never want to forget... holding a watchful eye to that moment you know the team would want to share. I'm not sure I accomplished my photography task very well - I go with the "take enough photos and surely you'll get a few good keeper shots" approach, however I truly enjoyed the process of viewing it all through the eye of the camera lens.

- Weather - Uhhh, coming back to Memphis was a HOT surprise! Addis Ababa's temps were impeccable during our Ethiopia adventure. Most days pants were the dressing of choice and need, as well as once the rain came a light jacket would do. I would gladly take the mountainous weather of Addis Ababa right now!

- Feeling Right In the Middle - And lastly, but certainly not least... I miss feeling right in the middle of where God wants me to be like I did while in Addis Ababa. God so surely orchestrated and called Mr. McGoo and me to this trip and it felt so good to be right in the middle of it all. Beyond that, the work that The Forsaken Children is doing with Onesimus and its other projects such as Kota Ganate and such is surely doing the work of the Lord. So cool to be a part of that! I know there are ways to be right in the middle of it while at home, and Mr. McGoo and I are looking forward to continuing to figure out how to live that out daily!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Something About Running

You see, there is something about running... (not the physically running, I haven't gotten back into that, even though I should and want to, I mean the life running, going 90-to-nothing thing)...

There's something about running... if you stay busy enough, it takes away the ability and time to be still and know! You lack time of reflection... spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. Ironically, in Psalm 46:10 God says "Be still and know that I am God" - there is power in being still and acknowledging God for His grandeur and glory! It puts us in place, removing us from the place of authority we often attempt to assume, and instead putting God back where He belongs, on the throne of our daily lives!

As I've already mentioned, I've hit the ground running since our return from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The routine and responsibilities begging for my attention (full time work, school, etc) have caused me to be unable to "Be Still and Know". Imagine it like a zip lock bag... the bag is holding all the emotions, processing, and thoughts regarding my time in Ethiopia... from the moment I've stepped off the plane in Memphis, I've had to lock that zip-lock bag - seal it all up, keeping all the things inside within the hold of the bag. This seal has allowed me to do my work, catch up on my studies, take an exam Tuesday, go to class tonight, and handle all the must do to do's... but today, that zip-lock bag was opened a bit and some of the stuff leaked out...

I found while at work this afternoon some of the emotions, thoughts, feelings, struggles, etc came flowing out of that zip-lock bag for a moment. I think it was a combination of a few things... 1. I saw our team leader, Joe for a few seconds at the office when he came to pick up the cd/dvd of pictures we made copies of for the team; 2. listening to Brooke Fraser's song, Albertine; and 3. the zip-lock was full and wanting to spill out. Tears filled my eyes, overwhelming... intense emotion ensured and I knew if I didn't let it freely flow for a few moments, I wouldn't stop it for the rest of the day. No real words came to mind with the emotions/tears, except the following short prayer:
What would you have me do now, Lord? Where do I go from here? Take this, all this, it's yours! Giving You the glory. All about You, Lord... Not about me. Amen.

With that small moment, the zip-lock bag was resealed for the remainder of the day and I "got back to work". I am now home, just arriving from class. I'm physically exhausted, emotionally too. Heading to bed.

Oh, and take the time to listen to the song on the link above, Albertine. I had Mr. McGoo run out and get me the cd today after I heard it, thanks to someone special encouraging me and the rest of the team with it today. It's worth a listen to!

Leaving you a few photos below from Addis Ababa too - both of these are from Tuesday of the journey. One of Mr. McGoo and one of me too (this was midway through a hair braiding/playing session for me... one of MANY!) 

Home & Running

Well... we're back in the States... have been for a few days now. We stepped off the plane in Memphis around 6pm Sunday evening. Below is a photo of Team Ethiopia right after we got off the plane in Memphis - - - not too shabby in my book after the ridiculous number of hours we traveled together.

From Left to Right: Liz, Mr. McGoo, Kelly D, Joe, Bonnie, K.C., Mrs. McGoo, Kara, and Tom

From there, after 30+ hours of travel, Mr. McGoo and I were picked up by my rents and youngest sister from the airport and were blessed to come home to an amazingly clean house (littlest sister rocks for that!), a house full of food/snacks (thank you mom, dad, and sis), and two anxious to see us furbabies. We ate dinner with mom, dad, and sis - thanks to them providing take-out and were in bed, exhausted by 915pm. We couldn't be more appreciative for those three things, as it provided the perfect set up for Mr. McGoo and I to really rest once we arrived home!

Monday was thankfully an additional day of rest. We were able to sleep soundly through the night (yay!) and woke Monday morning around 9am. Because he had gotten sick on Friday afternoon of our trip and continued to get worse the last day (Saturday), we decided it best to take Mr. McGoo to the doctor. Once we got him some much needed meds (bronchitis was the diagnosis) and some lunch, we both slept most of the day.

Since that time, I have hit the ground RUNNING and Mr. McGoo is working hard on recovering (proud of him for taking care of himself and doing so!). Although I'm currently moving 90 to nothing with work full time, catching up from school (Tues/Thursday night classes + missed assignments since I've been gone), and other responsibilities of typical life - I find myself missing Ethiopia.... missing the new friends I have made, the culture, the people in general, and especially the children I quickly learned to love. I really think a piece of my heart was left there.

Because I've had so many things to tend to already (and the list is continuing), I have yet to really sit still and begin to fully process all things regarding our trip to Ethiopia. I know that's going to take some extended time for me... especially with the busyness of life. Life didn't stop here at home, while Mr. McGoo and I were in Africa.

In the meantime, however, I am certain of this and want to be sure to share with you... God moved in Ethiopia. He moved in the hearts, souls, and minds of our team members. He moved in me. He was there and continues to be there with the amazing staff and children. And He is a part of The Forsaken Children and that organization's vision, mission, and work in Ethiopia!

I look forward to hashing things out here and there as time allows in the future. Thank you again for your prayer and support all along the way! God is good!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane

The journey begins this morning, as we make our way onto the first leg of the trip from Memphis to Washington DC. Four out of our nine team members (including me and Mr. McGoo) will have an overnight layover in DC - and make our way to Ethiopia starting Friday morning. The remaining five members will depart from Memphis on Saturday morning. Here is how YOU can stay in touch with our journey - check out the link below daily.


Here is a photo from the airport before our departure this morning.

From Left to Right: Joe Bridges (team leader), K.C. Winters, Mrs. McGoo, Mr. McGoo, and another teammate that will depart on Saturday morning, Liz Roberts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eyes Are Burning

My eyes are burning. Honestly, they have been for the past couple of days. Sleeping hasn't been coming easy over the last few days. Although my body is beyond exhausted each night, my mind is unable to settle down.

From "To Do Lists" I've created on my own, to other things that really need to be done, to the preoccupation and expectation of what's to come - my mind is running and my body is paying the price of little sleep.

The excitement of our departure Thursday morning is beginning to grow as the days pass... but at the same time, I find myself simply desiring a long, restful night's sleep. Funny huh?

I'm becoming more and more thankful for the fact that we'll have an overnight layover in Washtington, DC Thursday night. I really think it will give Mr. McGoo and I, and our two other teammates we are traveling with the time we need away from the distractions of daily life. A time to be still. A time to breath and prepare for our journey ahead. Granted the 15+ hour flight from DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia should also help in that process.

Tomorrow is my last day of work before our departure Thursday. The packing has begun, but will not be completed until tomorrow evening. Lots to be done yet, but the reality is, as long as we have a few clothes packed in our carry-on and we make it there safely... everything will be alright from there. Ethiopia Bound!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

T-Minus 4 Days

It has been one of those weeks where you wonder, where did the time go? How is it already Sunday night? Wow we've been busy. 

We are T-minus 4 days away from our trip to Ethiopia. I cannot believe the time is here - it really has gone by so quickly. We have had our last pre-trip team get together this evening, a packing party before our departure on Thursday for four of our teammates (including me and Mr. McGoo) and the remaining five teammates will head out on Saturday. We packed up all the tangible donations and supplies - - - thanks to so many folks' generosity - there is much for us to share with the people and children we're going to serve.

The clock states that it's already too late this evening and way past my bedtime - however, I really wanted to at least stop by on the blog since it's been over a full week. I hope to check back in before we departure Thursday morning.

In the meantime, below are some photos from last Monday evening (Memorial Day). We went to dinner with Mr. McGoo's dad, brother, sister in law, and niece. It was a great visit with them all - and we celebrated my FIL's (Father In Law) new job that has relocated him to Rhode Island. We will definitely miss having him around, but know he's going to do great and look forward to visiting soon.