29 August 2013

it's been a while

      My absence has not gone unnoticed. Were my blog me and anyone who reads it my Ethiopian counterparts, I would undoubtedly get the question, "Tefah?" Where have you been? Any significant lapse of time between encountering a person or people, especially those in your closer circles, might elicit such an inquiry. It's easy to misinterpret the intent. Generally, it's safe to assume a noticeable void existed because of your value to the person or people. For those of you have Tefah'd me over the last couple months, I thank you. I have, as those Ethiopians who Tefah me might say, disappeared. 

       I'm still processing the last two months and will share more later. In short, it was stellar: youth summer camp, a wedding, churches carved from solid rock (600 years before America was America), 17th century castles, wild baboons, a mysterious swelling in the neck, a couple sweet sunsets, and the best pizza in the world (just to name a few). For now I figured I'd take a page out of my previous post and quick share a journal entry from exactly one year ago today. I came across it today while writing for the first time since July 31. I've been reflecting quite a bit lately on the distance traveled over the last 14-15 months, and this entry really seemed to illuminate that sense. Without further adieu...

29 August 2012, Bekoji, 9:09 p.m.
        There's much I could say about the last couple days, but it might just be enough to say that they were flat out exhausting. The simple fact of the matter is that living here takes work. Ordering furniture takes exact measurements and visionary sketches. Then it may take up to a month for your dresser to be ready before you can stop living out of bags. And it may also take quite a bit of money, especially if you're a foreigner. A small load of hand-washing laundry takes me twice as long as it would for the prides of Bek'oji to run a marathon And then three-to-six days for the clothes to dry! Food and the items you need to cook it with must be gathered at the market, held only two days per week. To get to the food, you'll have to swim through a sea of stares and remarks - unwanted attention to the 10th degree. And there's lots of mud. Hopefully the rain won't come swiftly over the mountains while you're there. Once you make it to your vendor of choice, prepare to haggle. Every time. Thanks to the altitude, count on at least an hour to prepare even a simple meal. If you want to follow with a cup of coffee, you better have already roasted the beans or it's gonna be a while. 
        And yet, this is barely half of a mile walked in the worn-to-the-bone shoes of the people you will be serving for the next two years. Your ordinary hardships are beyond worth their weight in perspective gained for this resilient people who deserve every ounce of your respect. Suck it up. Izo.  

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