There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a
life that is less than the one you are capable of living

~ Nelson Mandela

Saturday, July 16, 2011

There and Back Again

I would dare to say that a young person of your age who does not, in one form or another, devout quite some time to the service of others, cannot call himself or herself a Christian, such are the many hidden needs of our brothers and sisters around us. ~ Bl. John Paul II.

Day 299, June 5th, Sun, N/A,

After mass this morning, which was in honor of the Virgin Mary, we held a procession the started in the church entryway, and continued until the sister’s compound, at which point I ran out of batteries in my camera, so I had to book it back to our compound and my room to grab the charger. After acquiring my charger, I ran/jogged/walked (in that order, lol) back to the church as quickly as I could, but I ended up arriving a little late and some of the doctors and their assistance had already arrived. After plugging in my power cord & charger into the nearest wall socket I could find (which had no effect at all later, as I found out that the power had been out yet again, which meant I wasn’t able to take any pictures, grrrrr!), I introduced myself to our guests.

There were five of them altogether at the moment, and all but one of them was from Washington State (One of the women was from California), so I received a pretty surreal feeling while talking to them. Unfortunately, and it behooves me to admit this, several of their names have slipped from my mind (I am writing this a couple weeks after it had happened, and I had neglected to write down their names). I remember that the two young gents, who were about my age, were James and Joe {Easy enough to remember when one knows my family) and I want to say that the young ladies name started with an “E” (Erica? Elaine? Elisabeth?), as for the elder man and woman, my mind is drawing a blank…Argh! Anyways, Abba Thomas and myself invited them into the Vicariates dining room (which had been prepared earlier, by the kitchen staff, and double checked, by me) for a bit of a snack while we waited for the rest of them to arrive (they had come in two cars, but the other car had had to stop and change a tire, so they were running behind a bit). The rest arrived eventually (which was being led by the leader of the group, Dr. Jim, who, along with most of the other riders with him, is from Washington… just what are the odds of that?), and after serving out some juice, I was able to sit and chat for a bit with them, though, to be honest, it was mostly just listening on my behalf. Although I have never thought of myself as particularly conversationally gifted, I was greatly surprised at just how awkward I felt in the midst of the banter (which made me think about how awkward I was going to feel when I get back stateside… not really looking forward to that particular process). That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the conversation (as I think am a particularly patient listener), I really loved being able to listen to my fellow Washingtonians, I just felt very much like an outsider most of the time as I couldn’t relate to their experience, which had been very different from my own… although, technically, I guess they were the outsiders, seeing how they have only been here for 3 months, lol.

In particular, I enjoyed talking to Dr. Jim, who has been doing this project of his (visiting Ethiopia for 3 months out of the year to provide eye care for those who can’t afford it) for several years, as well as Henry (or was it Robert, Gargh!) who had been a parishioner at our nearby church in Wilkinson for a couple years, and had visited my parish in Buckley on several occasions (that particular conversation was incredibly unreal, and was made even more so when I found out he is friends with a family friend of my Fathers, Mr. Wytko… that just about blew my mind, lol [Henry {or Robert} said that he would say hello to him for me when he got back].

Despite how much I enjoyed listening to their banter, it had to eventually end, and they had to be on their way to the airport, so I said my goodbye’s as we ushered them on their way (I am going to make sure that when I get back to Washington, that I contact them each personally {Which might take some effort as I only know a few of their full names} and thank them for visiting… that way I can also remember to write down their names, lol).

When Abba Thomas and I arrived back at the compound for a proper lunch, we met Ms. Inga (from Germany) and her companions, who were part of the H.E.K.S. program. After talking to Abba Larcher for a bit, the H.E.K.S. people agreed to come back later at 5:00pm, to see the end of oratory (and the huge crowd of children it would entail).

In the afternoon, the final of the ladies volleyball tournament commenced (which, on my part, required some picture taking for Abba Larcher), and once the game had finished, the prize table was set up and the award ceremony proceeded, with Ms. Inga and her comrades arriving just in time to assist with the giving out the shoes, sports uniforms, and jerseys that comprised the rewards. After the formal procedure had been finished, Abba gave his oratory prayer and then had all the children line up for biscuits, which Ms. Inga and her companions helped in administrating (I think there were more than 1000 children present this afternoon, and the biscuit giving ended up taking nearly 20+ minutes to complete… and that’s with three different lines handing out biscuits, lol). The H.E.K.S. representatives were greatly astonished with how many kids had shown up, and left with an equally impressed feeling about how efficiently the snack was overseen by Abba and the oratory volunteers (hopefully, in the future, the H.E.K.S. organization may contribute towards maintaining a steady supply of biscuits, as it takes a great deal of money to feed so many, so consistently).

Day 300, June 6th, Mon, 86.7°F @ 5:17pm,

I finished “Walden Two” this afternoon, and I can honestly say that it was a very beneficial read. Now, I don’t agree with everything it argued for, in fact, most of it I have some doubts about, however, it has stimulated my thought processes concerning what a perfect government and society would be like (which is fun to think about, as I consider the existing governments of the world far from perfect). I then started on my next reading project, entitled “Reach for the Sky”, which is about the real story of Douglas Bader, a pilot, who lost his legs in a horrible accident, recovered and acquired prosthetics, and then continued on to fly planes again in world war II, eventually becoming a squadron leader and ace, before he was shot down. It’s definitely promising to be a very entertaining read.

In the evening, Br. Legesse and I assisted Abba Thomas with fixing up a poster for this coming Sunday (Pentecost). The first thing we had to do was take out all the old decorations, which were from the month of Gembot (Rosaries), and entailed prying up a bunch of annoying staples that didn’t want to come out of the poster board. After the board had been cleared of all unseemly obstructions, we helped Abba cut tongues of flame and doves out of red, yellow, blue, and green paper. After we had completed that task, we stapled the large words which Abba had prepared earlier to the poster, then adorned it with the cut-outs we had made. All in all, I think it took us just under 20 minutes or so, quite an enjoyable little exercise, lol.

Day 301, June 7th, Tue, N/A,

This morning I went with Abba Thomas to the Baro-Mado district to see how the progress of the new church constructing was preceding. They had just about finished a concrete wall in the front of the small compound, and they had just finished digging the trenches for the foundation of the church itself. They had also trucked in several huge piles of stones (what looked like an odd, thick, form of slate mixed with basalt, quite odd looking) and rubble, which they were going to be using to line the edges of the building. It is going to be interesting to see how quickly the progress during the next couple weeks.

After our excursion, I accompanied Abba back to the church and attempted to have a go at fixing the computer that had freaked out on me last week. I say attempted because I wasn’t really able to do anything other than confirm that the monitor was still working, and thus, not the problem. All efforts to remedy the problem with the actual hardware itself was moot, but we did find out that the hard drive isn’t making any noise, so it could be a problem with the motherboard, God forbid. Surafle’s brother, Daniel, who works in the church office, mentioned that he might know someone who is competent in regards to fixing computer hardware’s, so I quite happily passed over the daunting task, for which I had no knowledge or skill, over to him, lol.

In the afternoon, I undertook a project that was I have become much more proficient at. I had mentioned to Abba Filipo, while I was at the church office with the funky computer, that if he could give me the photographs for the postcard he had wanted made, I could remake it for him (Last time I made, for some reason, the pictures ended up really blurry), which I was able to do in no time at all this time. After returning it to Abba, I asked him to let me know how it turned out when he printed it, hopefully this time it will look better.

Day 302, June 8th, Wed, N/A,

I spent the majority of the day writing up mah blog… Man, it seemed like I was writing FOREVER! But I got an insane amount of work done (I had been two weeks behind, due to power outages and lack of writing fervor, lol). I did, however, still have time to finish grading the final test that Feyisa (one of my students) had taken last earlier last week (He did fairly good, in case thou wert wondering).

Day 303, June 9th, Thu, N/A,

This morning’s class with the elementary students will be the second to the last time that I have class with them, as next week the finals will commence. That being said, I’m glad to say that I really have noticed a different in the attitude of the students, when compared with how they were when I started, especially the older grades. Today we only did the simple sketching exercises that we have been doing, but I have come up with some interesting projects for tomorrow and next week. I was thinking that, since I haven’t had them draw a human figure or face, that either tomorrow or next week I’ll have them draw a picture showing what I look like to them. I read about it in a teaching book, the results are usually, or so I read, quite hilarious, and should help break up some of the tension surrounding the finals, lol. The other project that I have thought of is a practice regarding scale, which is one art topic that they are particularly bad at, lol. I haven’t figured out exactly when to hold the exercises in regards to this or next Friday, but I’ll know by tomorrow.



The mountain calls me,

Bidding me to climb its heights,

Promising such sights.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 304, June 10th, Fri, N/A,

I decided to have the heavier subject of scale for the object of today’s exercise (my odd looking face should make for a funny and easy task in the finals week). The specific object that I decided to use to emphasis scale was the oratory building, so, after requesting Br. Legesse’s help in translating, I marched the kids (literally) to the field in front of the oratory building and informed them of the specifics that I wanted them to draw… which were the specifics of the building themselves. I pointed out to them that the building had ten large columns, fourteen windows, seven doors, seven foosball tables, five ping pong tables, eleven waterspouts, two speakerphones, Etc. I told them that I didn’t particularly care about how well they drew it, just as long as everything was in the picture, and that they were relatively properly spaced out (Scaled). The first attempt by most of the first group of students (3rd grade) was understandably not so good, but after singling out one of the students drawings, which happened to be particularly bad, I showed them that, since the building was so long, that they would have to shrink it down so that it would fit on their paper (most of them had drawn a building with five columns, eight windows, etc), and then showed them how to use dot references to make spacing things apart easier. The second attempt that they did was a bit better, not by much, but at least they were getting the idea.

For the second group of students, I decided that I would give them the method talk BEFORE they went out to sketch it; unfortunately, Br. Legesse was nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, Okello happened to be passing through the school and I managed to run him down and convince him to give me a hand. After giving my spiel and sketching out an example on the blackboard, I ushered them out as quickly as I could and got them to work. This group did much better, and I think they understood the concept quite well by the end.

The last group was after lunch, which proceeded in much the same way as the others, save one, I wasn’t able to start the class until about 20+ minutes past the time that I should have started it due to the previous teacher taking extra long on her class. As a result of this, I ended up just discussing the method (via example on chalkboard) and having them draw up a quick copy in the classroom. Thankfully it was the older group (5th grade) so I think they managed to understand and grasp the concept without a direct practical application… hopefully.

After classes were over, I bumped into Okello again, who happened to be reading a book of poetry. After asking if he was interested in poetry (to which he answered an affirmative), I ushered him to the residents building and showed him the book I had borrowed from the library containing the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Our discussion of poetry eventually led to me admitting that I had actually been writing some of my own, which he said he would like to see, so we spent the next forty minutes or so poring over my Haiku’s and Verses, we he ended up liking so much that he asked for a printed copy… lol.

After our little poetry discussion I headed to the library and turned in the books I had finished, as well as pick up a couple of others that looked interesting, one was:” Communism and Man by F. J. Sheed”, which is a look at communism, and capitalism, from a Catholic perspective (Which should prove utterly fascinating, as I don’t really know many specifics about communism itself), and the other was “Transit of Earth”, which is a collection of short sci-fi stories.

Day 305, June 11th, Sat, N/A,

I spent the majority of the day reading (limited power options, argh!) “Reach for the Sky” and the deeper I get into the book, the more fascinating it gets! Hrmm… what else happened today… not really anything out of the ordinary, it was kind of a lull day, same ol’ same ol’, although tomorrow the Provincial will be coming for another visit, so that will be nice.

Though, I guess I should mention the absence of Temperature readings lately. It’s just that I’ve been so tired/lethargic (for reasons that elude me, though I very much wish for their presence to be made known to me, lol. It could literally be a plethora of things causing it, from not enough water {which I thought I was drinking enough of} to the onset of malaria. I don’t think it is the later of the tow I mentioned, because it is usually accompanied by aches, of the joints as well as the head, as well chills and sweating, which I don’t have) that I have been falling asleep at around 2:00pm-6:00pm, for the most part unintentionally, which means I forget to read the day’s temperature. For the most part the temperature is in the mid 80’s, unless it rains, then it’s in the mid 70’s, so I guess you’re not missing much, lol.

Day 306, June 12th, Sun, N/A,

Abba Gennaro (Provincial) arrived today after mass, just in time to join us for lunch. He is doing well, brimming with health and good cheer, and he brought much news with him from Addis, for instance, Abba Sandro, the priest that was currently in charge of us Lay Missioners has gone to Italy for treatment for stomach cancer (keep him in your prayers, aye?), so at the moment, there is no one in charge of us here… though I suspect that the job will be transferred to Abba Emanualle, who had been previously in charge of it. That was the most relevant news that I heard from him, the rest was mostly just hear say concerning the Salesians.

I managed to finish “Reach for the Sky” this evening before retiring to bed, *Whistle* wow, what an amazing life Douglas Bader led. I think that one of the things that I will be definitely be doing when I get to where there are sufficient facilities is some more research on this fascinating individual, I would especially like to find out if he is still living somewhere (If he is, he must be very old by now). What’s the next book on the menu? “Communism and Man”!

And now for the prayer of the week, which has been a long time in coming I think, as I have neglected it for several weeks now.

Prayer against rashness

O my God! When shall I be so free from all attachment to creatures, and from all self seeking, as to keep my mind and my heart solely upon Thee, attentive to my duties and to securing my salvation. Grant, O Jesus, that I may forget, or be fully ignorant of everything that I ought neither to know nor observe; and thus live only for Thee, with Thee, and in Thee. Vanities, pleasures, news, amusements, and curiosities, how little, or how really nothing are you, to a soul for whom its God is its all! Suffer me not, O my Savior, to seek, to know, to love, or to posses anything but Thee, Who art more to me than all things else. Inflame my heart with an ardent desire of pleasing Thee, and a humble acquiescence in all things to Thy Good pleasure.


Day 307, June 13th, Mon, N/A,

My assignment of the day was to help Surafle to fix up a document for the graduating students (sort of like a diploma, but more like a certificate of completion… which I guess are sort of the same thing, lol). The project required Photoshop, and my computer was the only one in the vicinity that had it installed, so it was kind of compulsory, lol. Thankfully it was a relatively easy project, all that was required was for me to move around the text a bit, snip some words there, and add some words there, that kind of thing. The hardest thing was trying to get the size and color of the lines and text that I was adding to match the rest of the document, but after that was solved, it was a piece of cake (chocolate cake with custard filling and whipped cream icing to be exact… cursed imagination of mine).

Not much else occurred (that does not normally occur, such as oratory, prayers, meals, Etc.) except that I did overhear some news about the Millennium Dam that the Ethiopians will be building (I can’t remember if I had ever mentioned it before, I am pretty sure that I haven’t). The project to dam part of the blue (or is it the white?) Nile which flows from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and divert some of it for irrigation has been planned for some time now, but until recently, it has been intensely opposed by the Egyptian government, who were basically guaranteed a monopoly on the Nile since the British occupation. However, now funding is in full swing now that the Egyptians have given their consent and everyone is quite excited about it. That actually happened several months ago, but I had forgotten about it till I heard someone mention it today.

Day 308, June 14th, Tue, N/A,

I helped Surafle yet again today, on the same project even. Apparently he had forgotten to mention several details yesterday, so it was back to work on it, lol. I actually didn’t mind too much, Surafle’s a pretty fun guy to work with at times because he’s got an incredibly satirical mouth on him… that, and he speaks really good English, lol. This time I managed to finish the task completely and to the utmost of awesomeness… indeed.

So, in the evening I found out that today was Abba Angelo’s (The Bishop) 59th birthday today, and so I accompanied the rest of the Salesians to evening prayers and dinner (in honor of his birthday, as well as the provincials departure tomorrow) at the vicariate (Halleluiah for food!). There were many peoples who made it to dinner, and I ended up sandwiched between Daniel (Surafle’s brother) and Br. Legesse off to one side on a couch (I’m actually surprised that they managed to find space for so many people inside, usually when there is this many people they set up the tables outside). As usually, I stayed away from most of the common and dessert things and focused my gastronomic powers on the essentials… like meat (fish)… and fresh vegetables (Ah glory be!). I actually ended up mixing the veggies and fish (which was braised with onions in a kind of white/butter/somethin’ sauce) and pouring it on top of pasta, which resulted in tasting a little like a seafood linguini or something, lol. After most of the eating had been finished, several of the Abbas broke out into song (Of course Abba Larcher was one of them, lol, he really does like to sing), meals with the Salesians are always so joyous.

Day 309, June 15th, Wed, N/A,

This morning I received a call from David bock inviting me out for a late lunch at the Green Hotel, so after I completed my usual morning routines, I started walking to the restaurant, after calling Surafle and Legesse to see if they wanted to come of course, but they both declined, so I walked the whole way by myself, which was definitely a new experience, I’m kinda used to the to the stares that I get… sort of, lol. On the way, I guess Okello saw me walkin’ down the street, because he called me and asked me where I was going, so after explaining, I invited him along, and he replied that he would join us in a little bit. After making it to the hotel, I managed to locate David, who was sitting with another African chap, who introduced himself as Cornelius, from Uganda (who spoke very good English by the way, I think it has to do with Uganda having been an English colony, as all Ugandans I have met speak English very well). Okello joined us a little later and were ordered some food (hamburger for me!) and had a bit of a chat about this n’ that, mostly about the qualities of education and its impact on society, very fulfilling topic, and in which Cornelius is well versed I might add. We also talked about about when I’ll be leaving, and it turns out that David might be in Addis at the same time that I will be, so maybe we will be able to go do something in the city. When the meal was finished, David and Cornelius were kind enough to drive me back to the compound, which I definitely appreciated a lot; it’s quite the distance to walk.

I made it back to the compound just in time to accompany Abba Thomas to the prayer meeting in Baro-Mado, both to partake in the meeting like I usually do, and take photographs of how the church construction is progressing. They have finished pouring the foundation, and were now starting on preparing to build up the walls. That also meant that they had brought in even more supplies, such as rebar and bricks. In fact, as we arrived, a group of workers were busy transporting the bricks from one part of the compound to another, when one of the workers, a young lady, cried out and grabbed at her arm and abdomen. There was a bit of confusion as people tried to sort out what happened, until finally a group of people amassed near the remains of a scorpion. Apparently the thing had been hiding in the bricks, and when the girl picked up the brick it was resting in, it rushed out and stung her twice, before falling to the ground, where it was smashed by one of the other workers. After tying a tourniquet around her arm (there wasn’t really anything they could do for her stomach), one of the workers accompanied her to the nearest hospital to get the poison siphoned out (she returned later during the prayer meeting, no worse for wear, thanks be to God)… and that is why I always shake out my shoes and clothes before putting them on! And there was one more thing that happened at the prayer meeting that was out of the ordinary, a dump truck had come to deliver a load of rubble, which was going to be dumped behind the current chapel, to level it out, but the driver drove the thing into a part of the compound where he wasn’t able to turn it around enough to get out. He kept at it though, going back and forth, back and forth, again and again… let me tell you, a very large diesel engine, roaring away and putting out clouds of acrid smoke, is definitely at least mildly annoying when you are trying to recite a rosary, lol.

One other event of note happened this evening. As I was walking to the kitchen, to grab a bottle of water before I went to bed, I happened to look up (As is my habit) and was utterly astonished to see that the moon was an incredibly dark shade of red, and I mean really, really dark red! An unnaturally dark red, the kind of dark red that one might associate with the end of day! An apocalypse red, if you will. I had to sit and star at it for awhile before I realized that the moon must have been in the earth’s shadow, and that the light was filtering around the earth, however, I was still perplexed as to why the moon never turns red during a normal new moon (I’ll try and look up the exact reason that it turns red, tomorrow,). And that wasn’t the only thing I saw. As I was looking around the night sky, I noticed that there was a non-twinkling star (which meant planet, so I lugged out my telescope and discovered, to my delight, that it was Saturn. The planet showed up crystal clear, with the brilliant rings arcing around the orb. I spent an hour looking at the red moon and Saturn through my telescope (thought the former only showed up as a red blob {that’s how dark it was}) so all in all, a very beneficial astral experience.

Day 310, June 16th, Thu, N/A,

I am so sick n’ tired of these bugs that seem to accompany me during every stage of living here! I go to sleep with bugs, I wake up with bugs, I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with bugs, I take showers with bugs, and I relax with bugs… ARGHHHH!!!!

*ahem* I’m glad that I finally got that out of my system, anyways, when I reported for primary classes today, I discovered that there were no more… that last week had been the finals… Hmm, I believe I have mentioned before that the folks ‘round here don’t exactly communicate well, and this just reiterates my opinion. I was rather disappointed, as I was somewhat eager to see what caricatures they would have sketched when attempting to capture my fearsome mug, alas, it shant be but a dream. On the plus side of things, I was able to finish the book “Communism and Man” and I must state that it was one of the best books I have read this year (right up there in my top 5 I think!) and I highly suggest it to anybody who thinks the current forms of governments in the world are up to snuff, lol.

Also, in the afternoon I was able to look up what happens during a Lunar Eclipse (What happened yesterday with the moon) and it was as I guessed, the light from the sun refracts through the earth’s atmosphere onto the moon, filtering out everything but the red light in the process (the same reason sunsets/sunrises are red). As for why it docent happen every month, I had forgotten that the moon is on a 5% tilt, so the moon only passes through the umbra (pure dark part of the earth’s shadow, I highly suggest looking up the facts about it, it’s truly fascinating) only about twice a year. Also, apparently the atmosphere was extra thick yesterday (supposedly from a volcano eruption, but I have yet to confirm this proclamation) which meant more of the non-red colors were filtered out (explaining why it was such a deep red). Truly spectacular phenomena, I only wish it had been bright enough to photograph.

Today’s Haiku is another of my favorites:

Second chances

As we strive we fall,

Which is part of the journey,

Now we must stand up.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 311, June 17th, Fri, N/A,

With no classes today, I have to admit, I was somewhat board (limited electricity as well I might add), and so I reading for most of the day. I finished “Transit of Earth”, which I thought was somewhat unremarkable (although I did enjoy the short story entitled “the machinations of joy”), and spent the rest of the afternoon browsing and reading in the library. I finally settled on two books, the first was “Childhoods End”, by Arthur C. Clarke, and the other was “The Human Comedy”, by William Saroyan. I decided to start with “Childhoods End”, *takes a deep breath* which is your average Sci-fi, aliens come to earth and teach us the ways of peace will remaining suspiciously hidden until revealing themselves to be the thing that humans as a species fear the most even though they are quite benevolent *Exhales and takes another deep breath* who continue to nurture society until the human psyche evolves into such a state that one would not even recognize it anymore… despite the somewhat odd sounding premise, it is actually proving to rather enjoyable reading.

Day 312, June 18th, Sat, N/A,

Just a plain, ordinary, run of the mill Saturday, I said yo to some kids, read some more book, yada yada, although I did find out that for some reason Abba Filipe’s project that I made for him is still not working, this time, instead of being too big, it was far too small, so when the dude at the photo shop enlarged it, it became blurry… the heck? I’m going to have to take a proper measurement of the postcards that he wants and make sure that next time I fix it to the right size… and speaking of next time, I think that I shall have Abba Filipe come over and watch how I do it, that way when I am gone, someone will still be able to make them.

Let see, what else I can add… Oh yeah, I have been making toast for dinner recently, which involves putting a wire grate over the leftover coals that the kitchen staff leave behind. It’s actually somewhat therapeutic (although occasionally painful when my fingers get too close to the coals), not to mention palatably pleasing to the taste buds (Ahh! Crunchables!), as well as a friendly service that I can provide for the rest of the Salesians, whom I think get just as tired of eating the same thing as I do, lol.

Day 313, June, 19th, Sun, N/A,

I just completed “Childhoods end”, and in summary, though I thought it a bit odd at times, it was an entirely pleasurable read (it even helped form some ideas concerning the afterlife, lol).

After I had finished the book, I set about trying to figure out a last magic trick to perform for the kids. I ended up settling on a kind of magic card trick were I levitate a playing card (via a special technique known only to us special magic type chaps, lol), and I spent most of the evening perfecting it…in the end however, I’m wasn’t entirely satisfied with it, the illusion only works under the perfect conditions, which are difficult to achieve with the right tools, and I’m using jimmy-rigged contraptions…I’ll try showing it to Legesse tomorrow and see how it fares, and if it passes the test, then I will do it for the kids.

Prayer for support

Support me O Lord, under all the troubles and contradictions which Thou permittist to befall me and willest I should suffer; that they may not weaken my charity for my neighbor, nor my fidelity towards Thee. Grant that temptations, far from separating me from Thee, may unite me more closely to Thee, by obliging me to experience a continual and pressing need of Thy powerful assistance.


Day 314, June, 20th, Mon, N/A,

In the morning I accosted Br. Legesse and showed him the trip, and unfortunately he was able to see through the illusion…which meant I spent all that time for naught last night, argh. I’ll have to either find appropriate material to properly conduct the trick, or to figure out a different one.

After I had shown the failed magic experiment to Legesse, I walked with him into town to see Okello house, which (I can’t remember if I have mentioned this before) had been burnt to ashes when it had caught fire from an electrical short circuit (thankfully no one was seriously injured, although one of Okello sisters did get some slight burns from melting plastic from the roof). His story about it was reiterated when we arrived at his family’s compound, the only thing that was left of his room (which was a small separate hut from the other buildings) was the mud walls the end of the sticks from the roof which had been attached into the walls. After leaving a plastic sheet with his family (which he had gotten from Abba Thomas to temporarily repair the roof) we continued to accompany him into town to the police station, where he was going to file a complaint about the electrical company who had wired it incorrectly. While we were waiting for Okello to finish his errand, Legesse and I continued on down the street to the prison market (where they make all the neat beaded stuffs) and had a gander at what I should buy for my associates back home. There were beaded vases, bracelets, necklaces, belts, ties, earrings, baskets, you name it. I spent a good 45 minutes looking around before we headed back to meet Okello, and by that time I had gotten a somewhat good Idea as to what I would be buying when I go again in the coming weeks.

After arriving back at the compound after our little excursion, I started the other book I had gotten from the Library, “The Human Comedy”, and although written in a somewhat simplistic manner, I am finding it quite engrossing.

Day 315, June 21st, Tue, N/A,

We had a really special event today, for lunch the Salesians decided we would take the primary school teachers and students to Mt. Okär for a picnic of sorts. After waiting around what seemed like forever at the office, I finally set of with Surafle and Ibrahim for the mountain (we were walking there). The distance from our compound to the place where the path to the mountain branches from the main road was about 2 ½ kilometers and we managed to cover it in about 30ish or so minutes, so all that was left was to thread our way through the thick grass to the base of the mountain…which was made somewhat harrowing by my overactive mind imagining what might be lurking amidst the foliage, lol. We made it to the shadow of the mountain were everyone had set up lunch and had promptly started crawling amongst the rocks, and so as soon as I had caught my breath, I located Mark-John and started climbing up the mountain with the intent to reach the peak (which looked some 400+ Ft tall with a rather steep incline). Surafle and one of the other teachers followed in our wake, but dropped back when the 20% incline turned into a 45%+ incline (with the excuse that they had not had breakfast and so they would stay behind and have lunch instead). It took me around 15-20 minutes, and encompassing three breaks, to attain the peak, the view from which was absolutely stunning (I think Mark-John could have scaled the mountain in less than 5 minutes if he didn’t stay with me during my breaks, he’s a freaking mountain goat, lol, amazing). After spending about an hour on the top of the mountain taking pictures, videos, and praying (Nothing like saying a rosary where you can see forever in any direction!) we headed back down from the mountain, which I managed to film on my camera (I reviewed the video later, it’s pretty awesome, and I am going to be eager to show folks back home…especially the part where I started sliding, weeeeee!). We made it down to the base in one piece, where everyone had just finished packing up and were heading homewards (no lunch for me today, lol, though I was able to grab a banana and a piece of bread a little later). The walk back was a bi tedious, as my legs were slightly jelly like in consistency, but I got my second (or was it third?) wind and made it back almost as quickly as we did earlier.

Needless to say I was rather tired and dusty, so after a quick snack and a shower, I took a short nap…which, in Gambella, seems never to be a short one, lol.

Day 316, June 22nd, Wed, N/A,

Today I worked on the report for the Salesians, I seem to be making good progress now (whenever there is power that is) and I think I might be able to get it done by the 5th of July, although if the electricity continues to be a spaz, then perhaps I won’t be able to finish it till I get to Addis.

While I was working away in the office, one of my students (the one who had cheated on the test) became quite upset about his test score, and he wanted the chance to redo the part he had cheated on. I replied that I just didn’t have enough time to overlook his retest, but if Br. Endalkachew was willing to oversee it, I would be willing to grade it. I then got another student, who had not been present for the majority of the classes (not to mention the final itself) who wanted to take the test… Say what?! Seeing as how she hadn’t attended more than half a dozen of the thirty or so classes, I thought it rather pointless for her to take it, so I told her not to worry about it… maybe I would have let her take it if she had come the day after like the other student had, but she was several weeks late. Afterwards I felt kind of bad about denying it to her, but after talking to the principle (Br. Endalkachew) about it, I felt better, lol.

Day 317, June 23rd, Thu, N/A,

This morning I was harangued (not really, lol) into watching over the DVD player while the primary school students practiced a dance that they were to perform for the graduation ceremony of the third year technical school students. There wasn’t any power, so I didn’t really mind, and I past the time reading my Bible, which, if I hadn’t already mentioned, I have almost finished reading!

In the afternoon, I held a kind of workshop with Abba Filipe concerning the Photoshop postcards that he and Abba Thomas had me make for them. I should him the whole process that I used, so now, hopefully, he will be able to continue constructing them after I leave.

So, I had to think for a bit on what I should name this particular one, but in the end I think I chose an appropriate title.

Life’s Regrets

Treacherous passage,

Is “the way of all remorse”,

Slowing all momentum.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 318, June 24th, Fri, N/A,

Lol, there is a bit of a snafu concerning today’s posting because I have forgotten to write down a summary of the day in my notes, and since I am writing this a couple weeks later I have absolutely no Idea what I did this day, and that folks is why good note taking is important, lol.

I guess I could leave this one blank, but I really feel as though I should add something worthwhile, even if it is only a small something. Ummm… I guess I could talk about how I spent the month in New York, because now that I think about it, I have realized that I haven’t really mentioned anything concerning the actual things I did, lol.

So, the day I got into NYC I was able to find a place to stay (thanks to me Mum!) at a hostel, and after dropping off my bags in the room (and making sure they were properly locked) I headed off into the Time Square and just walked up and down it, looking at all the sights. I did stop in at one of the shops to buy a new bag that would better fit my telescope, but I ended up returning it because it wouldn’t fit it, lol. After dinner (which was some fish n’ chips at an Irish pub, tasty) I headed back for the night, and met my roommates, who were a triad from Europe (Belgium I think, but I can’t remember exactly) who were bound for the southern states, and eventually Mexico via bus & train (quite the journey, aye?)

The next day, the 4th, was spent mostly walking around by myself (Hehe, I went to see the King Tut exhibit, twas fascinating though expensive), until John and Marie (Fellow Washingtonian volunteers) met up with me, after which we went to central park and later in the evening the riverside to watch the fireworks…which ended up being somewhat disasters because the streets were literally clogged with people, which in turn brought out the police who stared closing down the streets. Lol, I ended up becoming separated from John n’ Marie and carried along by the crowd like so much flotsam. When the mass of pedestrians finally stopped, I was actually somewhat lucky (when compared to John & Marie at least) because I had a slightly unobstructed view of some of the fireworks (whereas they had almost no view, if I remember correctly). Unfortunately, my position wasn’t exactly fortuitous after the show had ended, and I swear I almost got trampled to death (exaggeration) on the way back! That evening I was able to share another room with my fellow Washingtonians, as well as a Japanese chap, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, but who was probably a student of some kind as I remember he had his nose in a text book for a good deal of the night.

The next morning we started for our first stop of Salesian training, but I’ll leave that for another day (though suffice to say that lugging around three packs, one of which included a telescope, was no simple feat, and if it weren’t for my fellow volunteers assistance, I surely would have perished!)

Day 319, June 25th, Sat, 86.4°F @ 3:47pm,

I finished the “Human Comedy” this morning (still no power, argh!), and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for some easy reading that will delight the proverbial pallet. It’s a very simple tale about ordinary people from a small town who are just trying to cope through difficult time during the Second World War, and is written in an almost childlike manner that really accentuates the feelings of the characters.

After I had finished with the book, I decided to get a jump start on final week cleaning by clearing out all the spiders on my ceiling as well as sweep out the dust and insect corpses that had accumulated on my floor. It was actually somewhat psychologically terrifying seeing as how I had a bit of a phobia for arachnids, and to make matters worse, there was no electricity, which means no light bulb, which means no light…which meant I was in the dark (literally speaking) as I accosted the little (and not so little) terrors that were hanging about (no pun intended) on my ceiling and walls. I managed it though, and apparently news of my epic battle had even reached the office via the cleaning ladies, who had most likely observed my laughable madness with much enjoyment.

In the evening, Abba Larcher and Abba Thomas invited all the primary and technical school teachers (which included me) to dinner at the “Ethiopia Hotel”, were he gave a speech thanking the teachers for the work they had done, while encouraging them to keep with the spirit of Don Bosco by always striving to better themselves. Then came the eating, I had ordered a kind of lamb curry but was somewhat disappointed, as it didn’t really taste much like curry at all, but other than that it was good. We left full of cheer and decent food, ready for a much needed rest

Day 318, June 26th, Sun, 89.6°F @ 3:42pm,

This morning we celebrated the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ with much fanfare and jubilation (on the part of the Annuaks and Nuer that is). After mass it was just a run of the mill Sunday unfortunately, which was filled with the usual conversations with Surafle (which always seem to get stranger and stranger sometimes, lol) as well as writing in my blog.

In the evening though, a massive storm front moved in and inundated the compound with lightning, thunder, and rain galore. In fact, it rained so hard (with typhoon winds) that several of the trees in the compound were felled by the ferocious wind. The squall didn’t last very long though, and ordered was restored for the rest of the night, just in time, actually, because Marie in Addis gave me a call.

We mostly talked about Addis and how were doing, as well as the upcoming 4th of July, which I will probably doing nothing during, lol. The folks in Addis are doing just fine, and I can’t wait to visit them when I get up there.

Veni, Domine Jesu

O Jesus, hidden in God, I cry to Thee;

O Jesus, hidden light, I turn to Thee;

O Jesus, hidden love, I run to Thee;

With all the strength I have I worship Thee;

With all the love I have I cling to Thee;

With all my soul I long to be with Thee;

And fear no more to fail, or fall from Thee.

O Jesus, deathless love, who sleekest me,

Thou who didst die for longing love of me,

Thou King in all Thy beauty, come to me,

White-robed, blood-sprinkled, Jesus, come to me,

And go no more, dear Lord, away from me.

O sweetest Jesus, bring me home to Thee;

Free me, dearest God, from all but Thee;

And all the chains that keep me back from Thee;

Call me, O thrilling Love, I follow Thee;

Thou art my All, and I love naught but Thee.

O hidden Love, who now art loving me;

O wounded Love, who once wast dead for me;

O patient Love, who weariest not of me-

O bear with me till I am lost in Thee;

O bear with me till I am found in Thee.

~ Fr. Rawes

Day 319, June 27th, Mon, 81.7°F @ 3:28pm,

Bayu approached me this afternoon and informed me that them folks at the office had somehow misplaced the documents that I had worked with Surafle to make, so it was back to the office for me, in order to remedy the situation. Thankfully I had saved a copy of the files on my jump drive, and I was able to transfer them, after performing a couple of newly specified alterations, to Bayu and Surafle… Hopefully they don’t end up losing them this time, lol.

Day 320, June 28th, Tue,

It was revealed to me today, thanks to the sleuthing of Abba Filipe, that the reason my Photoshop project are not working might be because of subterfuge on the part of the shop owner who was printing out the postcards that I have been making for Abba Thomas/Filipe. Apparently printing the postcard would only normally cost around 2 birr, but if you didn’t have one made already you could submit 4 pictures and he would put them together for a nominal fee of 9 birr… and Abba Filipe, who had observed me when I corrected the postcard last time (and thus was of the disposition that it should have worked as everything seemed copasetic), stated that it was possible that he was purposefully sabotaging the projects in order to get them to let him make them… Bah!

Day 321, June 29th, Wed,

We had some visitors today from Addis, a delegation from the NGO’s that are supporting the technical institute (through an organization called VIS International) who are here again (though a different group came last time) to check up on the Technical school to make sure everything is going okay, as well as to see some of the other projects we were doing. There were three of them who came, Riza (an Italian lady), and Michael & (Argh! I have forgotten this bloke’s name, but in my defense, he only stayed a day while the others stayed the rest of the week. Anyways, they are both Ethiopian gents).

Day 322, June 30th, Thu,

This morning, after I used up the electricity in my computer, I stumbled across a jewel of a book in the library while I was returning all the previous books that I had barrowed (Unfortunately I never finished the “Works of Poe”, or “A fundamental introduction to Chemistry”, but I did make good progress on them, so I’ll have to locate them when I get back home and finish them). It was entitle “Astronomy: The Cosmic frontier” and I think I spent a good 2+ hours poring over the hefty tome. In the end, I decided to barrow it briefly in order to explore its contents more fully at a later time, as the electricity had returned.

The previous incidents was not the only literary event to take place today, this afternoon the package containing the books that I had asked my family to send arrived, and with much gusto I released the voluminous volumes from their cardboard confines. The first to emerge from the parcel was the “How to” book concerning the installation of electric wiring in a residence, hopefully this will be a big help for the technical institute. The next book was “The freedom writer’s diary”, which I had requested for the Spanish volunteer in Abobo. The last one was a bit of a surprise; it was entitled “The seven story mountain”, which I was able to guess almost immediately as a reference to Dante’s work: Purgatorio. My mother had informed me that she had enclosed an extra book, but I had had no inkling that it would be such a sumptuous piece of writing. I had to resist my urge to start reading it immediately, as I still had a couple books that I wanted to finish reading so that I could give them to people (“Forget not love”, a book about St. Maxamillian Kolbe and “The Imitation of Christ”), so I have decided to save it for when I take the train from NYC, as I shall have plenty of time during the ride.

This week’s Haiku is actually an offshoot of a regular poem that I wrote a while back, concerning the Greek lake that separates the afterlife from the mortal world, maybe someday I’ll post it, in the meantime enjoy this:


As we swim across,

Unknown chains drag us down deep,

Caused by sins burden

~ じょしゅわ

Day 323, July 1st, Fri,

Br. Isadoro arrived this evening from Adigrat, or Dilla… or both, I forget, but previous to those to sites he was in Ziway, were he taught in the primary school (actually, Br. Endalkachew, once upon a time, was one of his students). He will be here to help fill the gap of missing Salesians while they go on the Salesian retreat this next week. I also learned upon his arrival that this year would be Abba Larcher’s last, that he would be leaving in about two months from Gambella to be transferred somewhere undetermined as of yet. Many of the youths were distraught at this news (understandably, as Abba has been an exemplary father figure for the past 10+ years!), and I think the transition will be a difficult one for them, although I think change is always a difficult thing to face for anyone.

I discovered something rather unfortunate today concerning the “House Wiring” manual when I gave it to the principal of the technical school (Br. Endalkachew). Since the book is compiled according to Code, US Code that is, it might be of somewhat limited use here… Oh well, it’s the thought (and action) that counts, right? And I think they should be able to make use of some of the actual installation procedures.

Day 324, July 2nd, Sat,

Carpe Diem! The long awaited moment of our level three students has arrived, and after all their hard work, and many hours of studying, they have graduated from the technical institute, and stand ready to enter into society and make for themselves the life they have chosen!

The ceremony started at around 9am (which meant 10:30am AT {African time, lol}) and was attended by a cornucopia of guests, which included members from the educational bureau, VIS, the government office’s, the archbishop and his priests, as well as several others, not to mention all the family members and fellow students of the lucky graduates.

The ceremony started with the students taking their places. The graduates were grouped into two entities during the service, the first were the formal students, who had entered the institute in the usual manner. The second group, however, were made up of non-formal students who had dropped out of school when they were younger, and were now graduating, many of them with full marks, I tell ya, it was a terrific site to see!

After everyone was situated, Abba Larcher gave one of his famous speeches, the last he would give graduating students from Gambella, so it was extra special. After Abba’s speech, several dignitaries came forth and also gave speeches, which included the Vice President of Gambella (representing the President), Abba Angelo, the Director of the Educational Bureau, Etc. After the dignitaries had finished, the graduating students presented a speech as well, which led into the song “We will overcome”, which was orchestrated by Abba Larcher. After the graduates come to an end, some of the primary school students put on some entertainment in honor of their elder graduating brothers & sisters, which involved dancing and acrobatics (it was the first time I had seen their acrobatic routine and it impressed me a great deal, and I was even able to get it on tape).

Once the festivities were finished all the graduates were given their certificates and congratulated on work well done, after which there were a few more speeches until the ceremony was finally concluded with photographs.

As an after ceremony activity, all the visiting dignitaries were invited by the graduates and Abba Larcher to tour the Technical departments and see what kind of work they did. The students and teachers had been preparing the exhibits for the past week, and everything they presented was quite impressive (for most of the tour, Abba did his best to exhort to the officials the importance of supporting the dropouts, whom had completed so much when people had expected nothing from them).

Once we had finished our circuit of the department presentations, we all were invited back to the compound for lunch, which was comprised of various traditional foods (it was the first time that I have seen actual homemade cheese in Gambella) as well as a few westerny type foodstuffs (meatballs, anyone? Lol, they actually weren’t that bad). Everyone was piling mountains of food onto their plates (a local custom), but I decided to have a modest fare and go back for seconds if I was still hungry…which I did…because I was, which apparently labeled me as a glutton, lol, and I received many jibs from my companions concerning my accumulated portions, which was actually about as much as they ate, lol.

There wasn’t any other activities after lunch, so I decided on a quick nap (which for once was actually just that), which greatly rejuvenated me and so I pursued continuing my report/blog/chronicle projects for a bit, before joining Okello, Surafle, and one of the Zabania (guards) for a card game (Hearts, and an Ethiopian card game where you had to collect one pair and two sets of three of a kind {the first one to do so being declared the winner}). Indeed, quite the day today.

­Because ten billion year's time is so fragile, so ephemeral...it arouses such bittersweet almost heartbreaking fondness.

~ Now and then, Here and there.

Day 325, July 3rd, Sun

Abba Thomas flew to Addis Ababa for the Salesian retreat in debrezeit, so we said our goodbyes before he left, although we are hoping to meet again in Addis in two weeks when the retreat ends. I really appreciate all that Abba Thomas has done for me; he has been for me a spiritual director, role model, and friend. And really, when I think about it, this is only the first farewell of many to come, which I’m not really looking forward to as I have never been good at saying goodbye.

The last week…wow, I can’t believe it! When I look back on it; it both seems to have been such a long period and yet an unbelievably short time. There are just so many emotions that I am going through t the moment; joy at the thought of being home soon, sadness at leaving a place that I have come to consider my second home, thankfulness for the friends I have made, despondency at the thought that I may very well never see them again (although it is my firm believe that it is a small world, and that someday I will see them again, if not in this life, the next). I have been trying hard not to become emotionally distant these last couple weeks, which tends to be my reaction when faced with loss of any sort, because I always regret it afterwards, so hopefully that won’t happen so much.

As part of my preparation to leave, I began packing my back (a surreal experience in itself) while I cleaned up the rest of my room. While I was packing, I made sure to set aside all the things that I would be leaving behind as gifts for friends or the next volunteer, such as my astronomy kit (kinda no brainer with that one as I brought it for them anyway), my medical supplies, various religious paraphernalia and books. I spent most of the day wrapped up in consolidating everything, and in the end I was only able to finish about half of it.

Come, Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, Creator, come,

From Thy bright, heavenly throne;

Come; take possession of our souls,

And make them all Thy own.

O! Guide our minds with Thy blest light,

With love our hearts inflame;

And with Thy strength, which ne’er decays,

Confirm our mortal frame.

Far from us drive our hellish foe,

True peace unto us bring;

And through all perils lead us safe,

Beneath Thy sacred wing.

Day 326, July 4th, Mon,

I made sure to get a good night’s sleep last night so that I could wake up early and get to the Sisters compound for the kindergarten graduation ceremony. When I arrived, all the little graduating urchins were gathered together in one of the class rooms putting on the gowns and ribbons that the Sisters and teachers had prepared, while the rest of the children and the parents (I was astonished that so many of the kid’s parents actually came) were situated on benches that a few volunteers had helped set up in the grounds near the “Stage” (a large concrete block large enough for a couple of people to stand on).

Once everything had been prepared (and that took awhile, a good 50+ minutes, because the seminarian {Stephen} who had promised to help with the sound device was really late and also when he did arrive, it took forever for them to set it up, lol), the little kiddos marched out in there make-do blue gowns and received their cap (a paper one that the sisters had prepared) as well as some school supplies to get them started on the next part of their education at Don Bosco. After they had been awarded, several of them put on a play about good students learning properly at class, it was quit hilarious (they acted out a small class, with half of them behaving badly, and the other half admirably, and then they showed what would happen in the future, with the bad students going around carrying sticks while the good ones were wearing suits {I assume office job}. I thought they did a very good job with it). The last part of the ceremony was the awards to exemplary student who showed extra good initiative during their studies (they were awarded coloring books, etc), after which there was some songs and dances by the students (and observers) after which it was finished. I made sure to get some very good pics so that I can remember the little tykes, especially the ones who were in my classes.

After lunch I was able to go to the prison with Okello and purchase some of the things that I wanted to get. I wasn’t able to decide on everything yet (anyone who knows me, knows I can be unbelievably indecisive when it comes to purchasing things, lol) and before I had entirely made up my mind, it started raining, really hard, and so I had to take cover under one of the verandas, were I ended up talking with some of the prisoners/merchants. During our conversation, one of them asked if I would email his family and friends (one of whom lived in Spokane, which is how we got on the topic) and let them know where he was and to send money, he had given me the address of both parties, so I agreed and said I would do my best (I had put the paper in my pocket so it wouldn’t get wet, but when I went to get it later in the next few days, I discovered that it had disappeared! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go back to get the information again, so I guess I’ll have to send a messenger to inform him about it). The rain never quit, so I had to leave early, hopefully I’ll be able to get the rest later.

When I arrived back at the compound, I found that the last package I was expecting was waiting for me, which contained candy that I would be dispersing to the folks I knew, as a kind of last parting gift. So, after splitting it up into allotted portions, I handed out a few to some of the office workers (most of them had gone, only Surafle and Bayu were there) and the rest I’ll give during the coming week (and there was even some leftover for myself, although I have discovered that my sweet tooth has basically disappeared, due the food I have been eating I think, lol).

Day 327, July 5th, Tue,

I managed to go to the prison early in the morning and finish the what I had started, and had been able to get almost all of what I had wanted (although I paid extravagant prices for some of the things because I am a “Foreigner”, for instance, an item that I paid 500 birr for, I could have gotten for 200, if I were Ethiopian, lol, oh well).

After packing up all the things I had just purchased, along with the rest of the things that I wouldn’t need, I sent my suitcase with Br. Endalkachew, who was driving to Addis for the retreat, and would drop of my bags at the provincial’s compound. I also moved all the things I was leaving behind into Br’s office to wait the next volunteer or need of the community (whichever comes first). It was during this move that I discovered that Abba Larcher hadn’t known that I was leaving the telescope behind, and was a bit flabbergasted by it (which is somewhat of a rarity with Abba, lol), so hopefully now that he does know, it will definitely see some use.

I spent the remainder of the day just trying to get caught up with my projects (I have decided to try and finish the chronicle first then finish the report in Addis if I have time) and handing out the cadies.

Day 328, July 6th, Wed, 102.2°F @ 4:17pm,

The lack of internet has been a real trouble in trying to obtain my ticket; Surafle has been trying for several days to get it, but so far has been unsuccessful in his attempts, so I went with him and Teshome to the ticket office in person, to see if we could obtain one. The office was closed however, and so we shall have to try again tomorrow.

Someone did arrive via plane today though, Br. Dagm (who had been here when I had first come to Gambella) had come back to help out. It’s really nice to have his presence around, as it had been somewhat lonely with Legesse these past weeks.

And, as if to taunt me during my last few days, in order to remind me of my past experience, today was a scorcher, with not a cloud in sight, lol. The heat is definitely something I will never forget (as the lack of sleep it has caused has ingrained itself upon me, lol).

Day 329, July 7th, Thu,

We went to the ticket office this morning to try another attempt at purchasing my flight, and luck it seems was finally with us. We arrived just in time to catch the office worker before he left the office (why he was leaving the office so early, I have no idea…but this IS Ethiopia, lol), and we were finally able to book the flight, which has put to rest a good deal of anxiety I had concerning it.

The rest of the afternoon I worked on the chronicle, which I should be able to finish by tomorrow if I really work at it.

In the evening Abba Larcher, Abba Filipe, Br. Isadoro, and Br. Giancarlo took me out to dinner one last time in honor of my stay here, and while we were at the restaurant/hotel, Fr. Larcher gave me the third degree concerning how I had come about my volunteer idea, for what reasons had I brought the telescope, what I was doing when I got back home, Etc. Apparently he is going to mention me at mass this coming Sunday (the day I leave), which I am somewhat nervous about, as I have never been one to enjoy the spotlight…at all, lol. However, it is a very gracious gesture on their part, so I’ll try to make the most of it. As for the actual dinner, I had thought I was ordering spaghetti with vegetables, but it turned out to be noodles with vegetables, no sauce, lol, it was tasty though, thank goodness.

And this is how I feel at the moment, via はいく:

Busy, busy!

Hustle and Bustle,

The chaos of life goes on,

Never wavering.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 330, July 8th, Fri,

I was able to finish the chronicle bright and early this morning, well, the entries that I could make anyway. I left a couple of them blank so that Br. Endalkachew {who was much more familiar with the particular events that transpired on those days} could fill them in. Also, they have yet to be printed and inserted into the binder with the appropriate photographs that go along with them, for the simple reason that we have run out of room in the binder, and so Br. had to get a new one while he is in Addis.

For lunch I went with Okello, Surafle and David out to a hotel/restaurant, where we ordered some fried meat (Surafle and Okello), pancakes (which were more like crepes, which David had ordered), and pasta (with egg, for me). There had been a bit of a mistake on the part of the waiter taking our order, who had apparently not heard me when I ordered mine, and it was only until all the rest came that I found it out, lol, so I had to wait a bit for mine to arrive. A friend of David also joined us during the lunch, who knew a lot about the local flora, which greatly enhanced the conversation (which at one point turned to the medicinal qualities of various plants). After lunch I said my goodbyes to David (whom I hope to meet in Addis) and continued on back to the compound, were I spent the rest of the afternoon workin’ on the blog.

In the evening the clouds had cleared up, so I was able to teach Br. Dagm and Br. Isadoro how to use the telescope, so now I can say that I have no worries about whether or not the telescope will be used after I leave (we were even able to see a decent view of Saturn {Not as good as last time because there was a bright moon tonight} as well as a pretty neat view of the moon).

Day 331, July 9th, Sat,

At 12:45pm (after a quick lunch), Surafle and myself headed to Okello’s residence for his graduation ceremony. The first thing we did was introduce ourselves to his family members (his father, mother, and his brother, as well as a couple of his sisters), after which we were invited to partake in some food. Since I had already taken, but because I didn’t want to offend anyone, I took a small portion of corn porridge (an Annuak culinary specialty) with some chili oil for flavor. After we had finished our portions, we were ushered into the hut/room that he had been occupying with his brother since the fire destroyed his room/hut, were we basically spent the rest of the party. There isn’t a whole lot to say concerning this particular activity, because it honestly almost entirely consisted of sitting on the floor and doing absolutely nothing, lol. Okello was really busy meeting and greeting the guests outside (occasionally stopping in to introduce us to a family member {he has a LOT of sisters!} or a friend, and David visited us for a short time before having to abscond for work, which left just myself and Surafle, who seemed compelled to ask nothing but strange/odd questions, lol.

At 5:00pm, I mentioned to Okello that I should probably be going as it was going to be a busy day tomorrow, and so after congratulating him once more on his accomplishment, I bid him adieu and headed back. Once back at the compound, I went through the things that were left of my possessions, to make sure I had given all that I was going to give (I have been giving out various things that would have taken up to much room in my pack, such as various books, supplies and knick-knacks…, hmm, I am getting a sense of déjà-vu, so I think I may have already mentioned this before).

After finishing packing my backpack with the remaining things that would be taking with me, I took my camcorder and filmed a 20min tour of the Salesian compound (which I had meant to do at an earlier date, but had always put it off till now). After completing a circuit of the grounds, I bumped into Abba Filipe, who had come to say a final farewell, and to give me a souvenir (shirt). Before taking my leave of him, I made sure to let him know just how much I appreciated being able to work with him these past months, and that I would, if ever I came back, be sure to pay him a visit.

Evening prayers and dinner (which would be my last here) were a somber yet joyous occasion, somber in thinking this is the last time that I will be sitting here, joyful because I was very happy with all the memories I had accumulated. Getting to sleep tonight was somewhat difficult, as thousands of thoughts were reeling in my mind, but when I did manage to fall asleep, it was deep and fulfilling.

Day 332, July 10th, Sun, 73°F @ 5:16pm,

I woke up bright and early and headed to the church for my last mass here in Gambella (making sure once more that everything was packed in my backpack before I left for mass). At the end of the mass, Abba Larcher gave a farewell speech, during which he mentioned the things that I had done there with them. He also mentioned that since he had learned of my telescope donation, he had been trying to come up with something to give me in return, and this morning he had settled on an edition of the African Bible. When he had gotten to the church, he learned that Abba Angelo had come to the same conclusion and had already brought the same exact thing to give as his farewell gift, lol. After Abba presented the Bible to me, he asked me to say a few words to the congregation, so, I gave them a short spiel about how you can never out give God, that whatever you give to him, He will return to you tenfold, a hundred fold! I then thanked the Abbas and the brothers, the sisters and the seminarians, and the entire congregation, for making my stay such a memorable one, after which I received a blessing from the bishop I then returned to my seat as the final blessing of Mass was said. After the mass had ended, I said farewell (and took a few pictures with) several of my friend and associates from the parish (Okoth, Fikru {Isaac}, Stephen, Mary, Teshome) and then headed back to the compound with Okello and Br. Dagm (with Br. Isadoro driving) to grab my things. After I had grabbed my pack, I ran into Abba Larcher, and after I bid him one last farewell (which was very emotional) I jumped into the waiting vehicle and sped off towards the airport.

To say that the trip to the airport was surreal would be an understatement, so I tried to record (via camcorder) this last trip; unfortunately it ran out of batteries halfway through! I saw several of my amigos as were driving (Surafle, Bayu, Mulu), but Br. Isadoro was driving like a bat outta hell, so I was only able to wave a final farewell to them.

We arrived at the airport in one piece, and after saying a very difficult goodbye to Okello and Br. Dagm at the gate; Isadoro and I proceeded into the airport grounds, where he dropped me off at the entrance. After bidding Br. good bye, I got in line and started the slow checking in process, which only differed from other checking procedures in that they didn’t have any metal detectors working, which meant all the searches were by hand. After I had made it through and claimed my seat ticket, I settled down for the two hour wait that it would be for the plane to arrive, reading “Forget not love” (the biography of St. Maxamillian Kolbe) to pass the time.

At 1:38pm, the plane arrived and we all proceeded to board it, once on the plane I managed to locate a somewhat cramped seat (my bag wouldn’t fit into the overhead thanks to the hefty new addition of Abba’s gift) in front of two French foreigners, with an Ethiopian for company beside me. After everyone settled in, we took off, heading east, eventually coming to a cruising altitude of around 20,000 Ft. The scenery during the flight was amazing, the forests were deep green from all the rain, and the clouds were large and bulbous, almost seeming to contain vast cities in them, with bridges towers and ravines (I wish I hadn’t used up all the batteries in my camera!).

As we approached Addis Ababa, the scenery changed considerably, with forest’s giving way to large plains, inundated with countless small villages, which eventually gave way to the large factories and skyscrapers of the city itself. The weather also changed, from sunny, cloud spotted blue skies, to a cloudy overbearing shade of gray mist that seemed to blanket the land (not unlike the perpetual gloom of western Washington, lol). The plane landed right on time at 3:34pm, and as we disembarked, we were greeted with a flash of lightning and a peal of thunder, after which buckets of water were poured upon our heads from the heavens (yes indeed, very much like Washington). After hurrying to cover inside the terminal, I realized that I had no clue whether or not someone was going to meet me, as I had not been informed of this by anyone, so as I was getting my passport check, I dialed up Marie (my fellow volunteer) and asked if she knew if anyone was picking me up, which she did not. I then asked if it was possible if she could ask someone to come and pick me up, which she agreed to and stated that she would call me back when she found out. I continued walking out of the terminal as I waited for the call, which came about a minute after my initial call, with Marie informing me that she had found someone who would be willing to come and taxi me to the provincials (which was my destination for today). Just as I was about to hang up, I noticed someone beckoning to me and asking if I was josh. His name was Abba Stephano, and he had been sent by Abba Samala (at the provincials) to give me a ride, so I informed Marie (which I was still on the phone with) that I had found a ride, so no need to send a driver. Abba led me to his van, were I deposited my baggage as well as my person, and sat tight as he drove me through the city to Gotera (the provincial building). I had forgotten just how big the city was, and it took us a good 10+ minutes to arrive at the building (traffic was also a bit heavy, so that could account for the time as well I guess).

When I arrived at the provincial building, where I greeted by Abba Samala and shown to my room, where my suitcase that I had given Br. Endalkachew to take was waiting for me. After getting situated, I took a nice hot shower (in a shower that had curtain!) and settled down with my book to pass the time until evening prayers, which were at 7:00pm. Evening prayers were followed by a diner of chicken soup, stewed vegetables (eggplant, onions, green beans) and a salad (iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes), with watermelon for dessert…I could get used to eating like this, lol.

After dinner I continued to read for awhile (snug under the covers of the bed because compared to Gambella, its freaking freezing, at least a 20°F difference!) before finally calling it a night. And thus ends my volunteer service in Ethiopia. It had been a long (and sometimes hard) run, but it has been deeply satisfying, and has definitely left it’s mark upon me. It’s not completely over though, as I have a big 15 days ahead of me, hopefully with many an interesting experiences to come.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

pic of domicile 4 u

My Room!

My Bed!

My Loo!

Truly wonderful the mind of a child is. ~Yoda

Day 275, May 12th, Thu, N/A, 93.2°F @ 4:30pm,

I arrived for the art classes this morning to discover that the schedule for all the primary school classes had been changed; however, the new schedule wasn’t being implemented properly and there was a lot of chaos. I ended up waiting around most of the morning, whenever I would go to the room where my class was supposed to be held, I would discover that some other teacher was in the middle of their lessons, it was very annoying, and I ended up only being able to teach two of my four classes.

In the afternoon, after all the classes had finished, I watched the continuation of the St. Dominic football tournament. I am always amazed at how well these kids can play; there is always a lot of fancy footwork at every game I’ve seen.

In the evening I received a very pleasant surprise. Surafle had somehow managed to gets his hands on a copy of “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and he let me barrow it!, and with much eagerness, I invited Br. Legesse to watch it with me in the rec-room tonight. To say that he was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the film would be an understatement, he was in awe at the cinematic; the plot was another thing though. Although I tried my best to explain as much of the back-story surrounding this particular episode to make it watchable (you havn’t done nothing until you’ve tried to describe to an Ethiopian what Jedi and the Force are, lol), I think the plot eluded him almost entirely. Overall he really like the film though, and I was very happy to be able to share with him something that I particularly enjoy.

So, now for the Haiku of the week, and I am particularly fond of this one, so much so that I added another verse/stanza/part (not sure what to call it, lol)

Separate paths

The parting of friends,

Rends the heart, pierces the soul,

Such a deep sorrow

But life, it goes on,

The pain of parting will end,

And again we’ll meet.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 276, May 13th, Fri, 85.7°F @ 4:00pm,

The schedule at the primary school was still mucked up this morning, so I decided that I would go a wandering about, throughout the Salesian compound this morning and afternoon and look at all the forms o’ life. Lol, to tell you the truth, I felt a bit like a naturalist as I sat and observed ants building their bunkers, birds chirping away in the trees, and my personal favorite, Praying Mantis’s (hmm, is that the correct form of pluralizing the word?) lying perfectly still, lying in wait for their next meal. I managed to find a right beautiful specimen that was hanging out in the alcove between the dining room and the domiciles, it was bright green, and quite large, about the size of my palm. For some reason Praying mantises seem incredibly intelligent to me, when compared to other insects. I am not sure what exactly gives me that impression, although I think it might be how calm they act, as well as how they frequently preen themselves (A sense of cleanliness usually indicates a level of mental insight I would think, lol). I think it also has to do with how their heads swivel to follow things; all in all, these traits lend the bug, in my opinion, a rather feline-like demeanor.

I also discovered something else today, Surafle really, really, REALLY, hates bugs… of any kind (docent matter if they aren’t dangerous to people). I found this out when I brought my newly acquired insectoid companion to the office. While I worked on my computer I let the little bugger crawl on my arm and shoulder, and at one point he (or she, for that matter) ended up on my head. Surafle was incredibly grossed out by the whole ordeal, lol, so I made several faux attempts of placing the mantis upon his person, which caused him even more grief (lol, I’m so bad). Towards the end of the work period, I think Surafle had somewhat gotten used to the insect, and at one point he even let the little guy/gal/thing crawl across his hand (Bravo!).

Day 277, May 14th, Sat, 89.6°F @ 3:30pm,

Today’s big activity was the inauguration of the new church in the nearby town of Jaweh (pronounced Jah-weh). We left early in the morning, with the car literally packed with travelers; it was very much like riding in one of those little cans of pickled herring or sardines, lol. Among my fellow travelers who were making the journey were Surafle, Elaine (the office secretary), Br. Endalkachew, Omod (Not quite sure exactly what his position title is, but I frequently see him around the office) and Bayu. After driving for about 20+ minutes, we arrived at our destination of Jaweh.

The site where they chose to build the church was well thought out. It was situated just of the main road, in between a forest and a large field. The ground was nice and level, with no garbage (man-made or otherwise), and the layout was nicely planned. The church itself sat in the center of the clearing, it was a somewhat small building (more on that later) but it was sturdily built and looked like it would last a long time. Surrounding the church was a stick-picket fence, in which was a gate (situated on the left side of the church), directly besides which was a bell stand and bell. In front and off to the right side of the church, connecting with the fence, were several poles stuck into the ground, on top of which was attached several tarps that made a long L shaped under hang which provided a dry space for a multitude of benches, some of which spilled out directly in front of the church (more about that later). Besides the church, there were three other structures; the first was what looked like a small general purpose building (not sure as I never went into it), and the second was a stick chapel (the usual kind that act as a temporary chapel until a proper church is set up, like the one in Baro-Mado for instance. They usually simply consist of criss-crossing poles holding up a metal or tarp & grass roof). The last one, which I think was set up specifically for today, was another tarp and pole affair, under which a table upon which lunch was spread out, and enough benches to sit about 30 people.

The description of the grounds being thus completed, I shall thus proceed to the event itself. After we arrived we were ushered to the benches were lined up outside the front and to the side of the church. About a hundred or so people had already arrived, most of which had taken shelter under the tarped section of seats. When everyone arrived (which included Abba Angelo, Abba Thomas, several other members of the Vicariate, and several of the sisters of Charity), which took another 20 minutes or so, the total number of guests had increased at least two or even three-fold, needless to say the church itself was jam-packed (the building itself seating maybe only about fifty, most of which were the staff and choir). By the start of the service, Surafle, Elaine, Bayu, the Sisters and I, were able to find seating out in the tarped pavilion that provided somewhat of a view through the door of the church, while Br. Endalkachew roamed about with a digital camera taking snapshots.

The first part of the service was the procession and blessing of the church, which comprised of the Bishop, priests and choir (and later, a good part of the congregation) walking around the church singing hymns while the bishop blessed the building with Holy water. After the Bishop made the closing prayer of blessing over the church, the proper of the Mass started, which, other than the fact that I was sitting outside beneath a covered pergola the whole time, was not out of the ordinary; thankfully it didn’t rain, although it did start to lightly sprinkle several times.

After the service of the Mass had finished, everyone gathered around the front of the church and were treated to some entertainment by several of the Jaweh residents/parishioners, which consisted of several dances (which included a very fascinating Annuak dance, whose machinations were very tribal and almost bird like in execution), songs, and a drama. I have absolutely know idea what the drama was about, as it was entirely in Annuak and Amharic, other than the fact that it was apparently somewhat funny, as everyone would suddenly laugh during several parts of it, but I really enjoyed watching the dancing.

After the entertainment had run its course, I was invited to the previously mentioned gazebo under which was situated the lunch fixings (along with many of the priests, sisters, and faraway visitors), where I was given a plate, a fork (thankfully, lol), at which point I helped myself to some beans, potatoes, rice, and some interesting looking fried meat stuff (at least, I think it was fried meat…). The meal was actually pretty good, and the fried meat/thing seemed to agree fairly well with my system, so all was copacetic.

After the meal, I caught a ride back to Gambella with the Sisters (as Br. Endalkachew had gone back with Surafle and Elaine before the entertainment because they had tasks to do), where I basically spent the rest of the afternoon writing.

Day 278, May 15th, Sun, 92.2°F @ 3:30pm,

It was a bit of a chaotic day today. For starters, Abba Emanuale arrived from Addis this morning, which meant that before he arrived I was tasked with writing up a kind of welcome poster to put in the dining room. Unfortunately, we no longer have a computer & printer in the rec-room, so I was forced to write it by hand, which, actually, didn’t turn out that bad.

In the afternoon, I was asked, by Abba Larcher, to take photographs of the beginning of the days football game, as well as to print out several welcome posters to tack up around the compound to welcome Abba Emanuale. The photos were the easy part, but the posters were a bit more complicated, first I had to write out the poster on my own computer, then I transferred it to a jump-drive and, after borrowing a bike from Br. Legesse, hightailed it to Surafle’s and obtained the keys to the office. I then proceeded back to the office, where, after gaining access to his office transferred the document to the office computer and printed out a test copy, which I then took and showed to Abba Larcher to make sure it was up to his specifications. After it passed inspection, I printed out several copies, after the completion of which, I locked up the office and located Makona (Whom Abba had told me to give the copies to) and handed off the posters. With that complete, I walked back to surafle’s and relinquished his keys.

After I had finished those projects, I was compelled to walk to Tsion’s and drop off one of my USB’s, which contained my abnormally peculiar music collection (ye have just to ask anyone who has heard my music, and surely they will state that my choice in melodies is most atypical), as I had made a promise to do so during our last get together. It was only a quick stop by though; just long enough to drop of the Mp3’s, and then it was back to the compound. All in all, I was walking/biking around like a maniac, and so by the time evening arrived, I was bushed, done-in, exhausted, and sleep came easily for once (after a quick episode of MacGyver with Legesse, of course, lol).

Day 279, May 16th, Mon, N/A,

For class with the English students this morning, I implemented a reading exercise; I ushered them into the library and assigned them encyclopedias and set them to it. They behaved in a much more subdued manner this time (the librarian didn’t have to shush anyone this time), and we passed the allotted time in peaceful harmony.

In the afternoon-evening, I was able to get caught up with the majority of my blog writing, and after dinner (at which Abba Emanuale and Abba Filipe attended) I was even able to access the internet and send it, as well as read/respond to emails (during the past 1 ½ weeks, the network has been down). I was even (Thanks indeed to the Providence that be) to get into a little chatting with my folks back home! I stayed up a bit later than I should have, but it was worth it to hear from them, and from the sound of it, it seems like everyone is doing really great back home, and I am really looking forward to seeing everyone again (I also found out that I need to take my measurements for a tux for my bro’s wedding, argh, monkey suits! Actually, it shouldn’t be so bad, as I have basically been wearing the same thing for a year, wearing something else for a change will be delightful… even a suffocating and restricting suit and tie, lol)

Day 280, May 17th, Tue, 92.2°F @ 3:50pm,

I woke up a bit late this morning, due to my prolonged discourse with my family, thus missing my class with the kindergarten urchins. However, I was able to work on, and finish, Abba Thomas’s Photoshop project that he asked me to do (to combine several photos onto a postcard setting with the words: St. Josephs, Gambella, Ethiopia). It was a bit confusing at first, but I think I have started to get the feel for the program, so hopefully I will be able to complete them in a more timely manner in the future (it’s mostly trying to resize the photos appropriately).

Br. Legesse had been mentioning lately how he has not been feeling too well, and I have been trying to get him to go to Abobo for a checkup (He is showing some of the precursors of malaria), but he was being very stubborn, so this evening, Abba Thomas and myself accompanied him to the local clinic to get him checked out. It turned out to be Typhoid, as well as some gastric problems (from stress they ascertained), and so he was given some medication (as well as a somewhat painful injection. According to Abba Thomas, they medical staff at this particular clinic aren’t the best trained), and now, hopefully, Legesse will start to feel better in the next couple of days.

Day 281, May 18th, Wed, 96.3°F @ 4:00pm,

We had gotten back from Br. Legesse’s check-up last night somewhat late, and I wasn’t able to show Abba Thomas my finished project (he had wanted to retire to bed straight away, so this morning, before class, I managed to catch him before he left the compound and was able to ask him what he thought of the finished postcard. He thought it was pretty decent, and informed me that he would locate some more pictures to give me in order to make some more.

Also, before I began the class, I said ciao to Abba Emanuale, who was heading back to Addis Ababa this morning. I guess I should take a second and mention the things that he did while he was here. For starters, this was the first time he had been to Gambella, so the Salesians made sure to give him the usual tour of the region, with them taking him on a trip to Abobo on Monday, and to Nyiningyang on Tuesday. I really didn’t see too much of him while he was here, as he was usually off somewhere, but I was able to talk with him a little bit and inquire how all the other volunteers are doing (Everyone is doing quite well).

After Abba headed off to the airport, I started our last English normal English session, which I decided would be the definition exercise, as well as a little brushing up on basic words and paragraphs. Next week, on Monday, I will hold a practice test for the students, and then the following Wednesday, I will have the actual final, I hope they all make an effort and pass it with flying colors.

Before lunch, I solicited Surafle’s assistance and started a little pet project. Back in new York, the Salesian mission office had asked each of us volunteers to take video/photos of as much stuff as possible. One of the first things I had thought of, when I first arrived here, was to capture a kind of video tour through the departments, but I hadn’t really acted upon that until today. So, with surafle’s help, I started on the first department, which was building construction. It went somewhat okay; the camera that I had been provided with takes some really nice pictures and video, if there is plenty of natural light about, which, unfortunately, there isn’t an abundances of in the buildings, also, the sound harnessing capabilities of the camera aren’t exactly top-notch, and it was made worse by the level of noise created by the students caring out their projects: however, it’s the best that I will be able to do, under the circumstance, so it will have to suffice.

This evening, I had class with the seminarians, and managed to just about finish Abba Thomas’s power point. The only thing that is left for me to do, is to find a couple more suitable pictures, and then record someone reading the text and translating it into Amharic, and over lay that with the background music, it’s coming along right proper.

Day 282, May 19th, Thu, 89.6° @ 5:00pm,

It rained today something fierce, like, on a marvelously massive magnitude. There still wasn’t any teaching yet for me because of the mixed up schedule, so I just kinda wandered around in the precipitation with my rubber mucks and my rain slick (after I ran out of batteries due to a lack of power that is). Everyone I bumped into while I was wearing my get-up got a kick out of it (I’m not exactly sure why), and wherever I went, laughter seemed to follow… I guess they have never seen many white people wearing rubber boots? Anyways, the day progressed in a somewhat sluggish manner, but I did have some fun muckin about in the puddles, and to tell the truth, at times I felt as if I was a little child again, lol.

Today’s Haiku is another one that was inspired by the LotR series,

Eastern shores

The sea calls us home,

Beckoning us to board on

One last adventure.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 283, May 20th, Fri, 92°F @ 4:30pm,


So, like Mr. Announcer guy so clearly stated, today, our Salesian football team played a game against a fellow school, it was quite the event, and several hundred of the students came to cheer them on (one thing I should mention real quick, the name of the Salesian team wasn’t the “teacher”, they, quite literally, were the teachers of the school who practice together during their free time). At the start of the game, I was actually quite confused as to which team was who, until I realized that the entirety of our school kids were cheering every time one of the teams scored, almost scored, made a dash for the goal, or whenever they had possession of the ball for that matter (Cheering is like a sport in itself here, lol, they worked themselves up into a flurry of madness, chanting encouraging songs to the team {or, on several cases, judging by the response of the opposing fans, slamming the other team}, and storming the field en mass whenever a goal was successfully scored, lol), and upon closer inspection of that team I realized that I recognized many of the players as my fellow instructors (I hadn’t been told before the game that it was between us and another school, I had thought that both teams were Salesian, and as a consequence I ended up spending about half the game rooting for the wrong team, lol).

The game lasted the usual 90 minutes, which was really just the right length, as I was standing in the sun the whole time and was just starting to get crispy, with our team coming out as the victor of the match. I really enjoyed watching the game, and I will be looking forward to watching the remaining matches of the Dominic Savio tournament tomorrow and Sunday (Another little funny fact, some of the school kids kept coming up to me and trying to talk to me in Amharic, to which I would reply that I don’t speak Amharic (in Amharic, mind you), but they kept talking and talking, despite the fact that they knew didn’t understand a single word they were say, as if they thought the more words they spouted, the more likely I would understand it, lol. I eventually garnered the help of an older student to help translate and find out what the heck they wanted from me, and it turned out that they were trying to ask me to do a magic trick, lol. Now that I think about it, it has been a long time since I’ve done a morning magic talk with them, so I going to have to plan at least one more before I leave)

Day 284, May 21st, Sat, N/A,

The weather was quite soggy today, but thankfully it cleared up enough in the afternoon for the semifinals of the Dominic Savio football match. I watched a bit of the beginning, but then absconded to the residence to type up some of my blog when I found out the power had returned. The electricity has been fluctuating a good deal lately, seemingly to correspond with the weather, because when it rains, there’s no power, when it’s cloudy, there’s no power, heck, half the time that it’s sunny, there’s no power. In fact, the momentary resurgence of electricity didn’t last very long, it I ended up watching the ending of the football game as well. The climate only became soggier as the afternoon progressed, and by the time evening arrived, the drizzle had turned into a downpour, which at least meant that it would be fairly cool when it was time to sleep, although the heightened level of humidity can sometimes be just as uncomfortable as heat to me.

Tomorrow is promising to be a very interesting day. Legesse and myself will be heading, hopefully (if Abba Filipe docent forget), to Nyenyinyang, Matar, and Ileah.

Day 285, May 22nd, Sun, 91.2°F @ 12:20pm,

At 6:00am, I was up and packing for the day’s journey. Being as I am a somewhat fastidious cautious person, whenever I go on these trips that require traveling an ample distance, I always pack my backpack with things that could possibly come in handy. This often means that I am somewhat over encumbered with items, and this morning, I made sure, was no exception. I had bottles of water, a large first aid kit, Omni-tool, toilette paper, biscuits, my last three energy bars (which my folks had sent), a book, my IPod, an extra rain slick, and of course my every present swiss army knife and bible, not to mention the mucks, slick and hat I was already wearing. I was even wearing a belt, not really for holding up my pants, though that is also a perfectly viable use now that they are a size or two to small, but also so that, in the case of a bone fracture, I will be able to make a splint… lol (have I mentioned that before, hmm, I feel I have, in a kinda déjà vu way). This particular trip, I ended up using several of the things I had brought (not the bone splint or first aid kit, so have no, fear, lol) so I was thankful that I had brought them.

At around 6:20am, Abba arrived and Legesse and myself piled into the vehicle. After we had gone around the town of Gambella for a bit, stopping now and then to let people into the car, we set off to the out-skirts of town and turned onto the road that led to our destination.

The going was a lot rougher than what I had remembered it to be like on my last excursion this way, which probably had something to do with the fact that it had just started to rain after we left Gambella, and by the time we had gone maybe 10km, it had turned into formidable shower that converted the road to mud. Yet, despite this, I swear it seemed as though Abba was driving as though there was no rain at all. The vehicle whizzed across the road at a sometimes alarming rate of speed, and, in order to ensure the continuation of this little thing I like to call my life, I ended up saying three rosaries before I became comfortable enough to “enjoy” the rest of the drive (when I questioned Legesse as to his feelings regarding the ride, they were nearly indistinguishable from mine, lol). We made it to Nyiningyang in one piece at around 10:00am, and I think I should mention that the countryside that we passed through wasn’t much different from the last time I described the trip, other than the fact that all the shrubbery was green now, and there were no more fires, though the large black scars where they had once raged could still be seen through the freshly budding vegetation.

Once we did arrive, it was a bit of a wait for all the parishioners to gather for mass (the purpose of Abba Filipe’s visits), so Legesse and myself went for a bit of a walk around the town in the rain while we waited, talking about the call to the priesthood, as well as the virtues of enduring hardships (very enlightening). We were privy to an interesting spectacle when we returned to the church from our tour of the town; the air was full of termites, swirling about in large droves. They seemed almost to materialize out of thin air, and it was not until I examined the mud walls of the church that I discovered their origin; they were literally coming out of the walls! Lol. Mass service then went underway, and I was really struck by the humbleness of the situation; here we were, in a mud hut, celebrating mass… it was a very deep moment for me. After the service was over, Abba invited Legesse and myself to talk to the parishioners a bit, via translators. I mentioned to them how thankful I was that I was able to share this experience with them, and that I was amazed at how generous they were with each other (during collections, many of them offered a few birr or a handful of grains/corn, which docent sound like much, but is quite monumental when you think of it proportionally), and I reminded them that they aren’t alone, that they were but one part of the Catholic Family, and to never think that they were alone, all of us are with them, spiritually. After our little spiel, we had a quick lunch of dabo (bread), biscuits, and I shared my last few energy bars with Abba and Br.

After lunch, Abba informed us that we wouldn’t be going to Matar or Ileah, due to how much rain had come down (for fear of not being able to make it back) so after a quick tour to see how the church & residence buildings were progressing, we started back towards Gambella. The return trip was actually a bit different from this morning’s; there were vast flocks of ducks/geese, herons, egrets, cranes, and other fantastic bird species, I made sure to get some good videos of us rushing through several of them.

We arrived back to Gambella just in time to witness the final showdown in the Dominic Savio football tournament. The match was between “Big Show” and “New Village” (interesting names for a football team, no?), and after a close and blistering battle, “Big Show” emerged as the victor, by one point. Naturally, during the course of the game, I had been tasked by Abba Larcher with the duty of taking some pics of the action, and I think that I got some pretty good ones. After the game, the award celebration took place, and the top three teams were given a pick of the prizes, which consisted of Jersey’s, shoes, and shorts. After the winning teams had been rewarded, the entirety of the fans, which was comprised of just over a thousand of our oratory kids, rushed to form a line for biscuits, the chaos and dust never settled until the last child left the compound, lol.

Day 286, May 23rd, Mon, N/A,

For English composition class today, I had put together a kind of pre-final practice test for the students to engage in. It covered the basics, such as: defining what nouns, adverbs, etc. are, listing a few of each, and then writing a sentence (coherent) containing said words. There was a lot of clarifying of terms during the session, and I hope that they have finally absorbed enough to be competent.

After the class, I started working on preparing the Final, which is going to be structured in the same manner as the practice I had, only, a good deal bigger, and I will be expecting more specific answers.

Day 287, May 24th, Tue, 74.6°F @ 7:17pm,

I finished arranging the finals test this afternoon, hopefully it will be adequate to gauging the student’s aptitude in the field. It, like yesterday’s practice, consists of three stages; the first is definitions of common word types, the second is to list 10 words of each word type, and the last is to write a paragraph, using all the word types, altogether, it should just take them the time of the class to complete it (1 ½ Hours).

This evening we invited Abba Angelo and Abba Filipe to the compound for dinner, as today was the feast of “Mary Help of Christians”. The menu was about the same as always, except that today there was the inclusion of a red bean dish, wish was very tasty. In a side note, I had accidently made a reservation with David Bock (Have I already mentioned that he has just gotten back in town?) to go and have dinner tonight, but I had forgotten about the dinner with the Salesians, so we had to reschedule it for tomorrow, and hopefully Okello, Br. Legesse and Tsion will be able to join us.

Day 288, May 25th, Wed, N/A,

Ah hah, the day has arrived when mans metal will be tested in the academic fires of education! In other words, the day of English finals has arrived. After making sure all the students had become situated (and it looked like just about all my learners had decided to join us, even ones who had stopped showing up several weeks ago, lol), I passed out the test, told them to write their name and today’s date on the lines allotted, and then informed them that they would have a time limit of one and a half hours, starting now! Once the test had started, I made sure to help as little as possible, I would clarify the questions if they needed, but more than that I would not do (it was actually kinda boring, I just walked here and there to see how they were doing, not saying much unless they needed clarification, it was rather anti-climatic). They started finishing up about an hour and fifteen minutes into it, with the last one finishing practically right on the “bell”, so at least I had planned the length of the test appropriately.

After everyone had finished and turned in their papers (which required a signature from them on the bottom of the page, after which I would scan through the page to make sure they hadn’t missed any questions, and, if they didn’t missed any, I would sign my name as well, signifying the official completion of the test), I retreated to my office and spent the next couple hours grading them. The average score (out of 100) seemed to be around 77, which wasn’t too bad, considering my teaching skills (a lack thereof). Only one really bombed (his score was a 60, he didn’t get his definitions right, tsk tsk, should have been here yesterday {He was one of the blokes who had been missing for weeks}), but there might be a problem with two of them. The majority of the paragraphs that the students wrote were VERY basic, however, these two seemed to display an incredibly professional writing style… a suspiciously professional writing style when compared with the near gibberish they had been writing a month or so ago (during the last writing assignment). My suspicion was that they had somehow snuck a technical pamphlet into the class and had copied off of it, although I’ll be darned if I can figured how I missed spotting them, as I had thought that I had eagled eyed all the perps quite well. It could be that they had simply memorized the words, and if that turns out to be the case, then there’s nothing wrong, although I doubt that will be the case, as even the spelling was pristine, which never happens… ever, lol. In order to get a professional opinion on the matter, I will have to show the work to Br. Endalkachew, but he is nowhere to be seen at the moment, so it will have to late for latter.

In the afternoon Abba Larcher asked me to take pictures of the start of the girls volleyball tournament, will be lasting about a week and a half. Although the volleyball games aren’t met with quite as much enthusiasm, at least from the male students anyway, the girls really get into it, which is nice to see as most of them tend to aspire to a certain level of inactivity which can be somewhat depressing during normal oratory activities.

In the evening, at around 6:10pm, I started walked to the “Green” hotel, were I had agreed to meet with David and Tsion for dinner. On the way to the meeting place, I stopped by the church, where I had agreed to meet up with Br. Legesse and Okello, and then continued onwards. We arrived at the restaurant at just past 6:30pm, and after a short wait, we were joined by David Bock. It’s been awhile since I had seen him last, hmm, I think it was back in December sometime actually, so just over 6 months (he is looking quite well, I think he looked a bit skinny last time we met, but he just came back from his trip to Canada and the food there must have done him a good turn, which makes me anticipate my return all the more lol). After introductions were made to thus among our small party who had not yet met (excluding Tsion, who had not yet shown up), we settled down into some pleasant dialogue concerning various topics, ranging from what he is currently doing (Previously he had been working with IOM, but now he is Working with PACT), to past experiences & future expectations (We talked at length about his experience in planting trees in the Canadian wilds {Like the work that Weyerhaeuser does after it’s cleared a plot), which seemed incredibly fascinating {and perhaps would be a fun experience to do one summer?}, as well as my desire to get my pilots license).

We went on in this manner for a good forty-five minutes, with still now sign of Tsion, despite our many attempts to hail her on her cell (which all failed to connect, I might add, due to network problems), so we decided to go ahead and order our food. When we managed to flag the waiter down, David asked, much to my surprise, whether or not they had hamburgers on the menu tonight, to which the waiter replied, even more to my astonishment, that they did! After placing an order for four of them, we sat back and resumed our discourse, which rambled on much the same way (covering topics like VSat, Motorcycle licenses, a coming concert taking place in Gambella, and of course, food), until 30-45 minutes later (I kid you not, lol. ‘taint no fast food, that’s fo’ sho’!) our Hamburgers arrived. After a quick grace, we dug in, and I have to say, they weren’t too bad, although the title of Hamburger is a little misleading, as it was much more like, say, a meatloaf sandwich, with paddy (the “paddy” was a composite of egg, onions, bread crumbs/flour, peppers, and an unidentifiable substance that I presume was meat, although what kind I can only guess as possibly either mutton or beef), a egg and mayo, between two “buns” (bread lol). Like I mentioned though, it wasn’t half bad.

After we finished our meal, we decided to call it a night, as it was getting somewhat late (I believe it was somewhere between 9:00pm or 9:30pm), and after paying (to which David somehow sneakily escaped with paying for all of us. I vowed however to cover the next one, so we’ll be even then) we went our separate ways, which left Legesse, Okello and myself until we arrived to were Okello called home. After saying adieu to our Annuak amigo, Legesse and myself continued home/compound-wards, talking about this and that (mostly spiritual things, as well as the coming of the end of my stay) while I myself took a personal interest in the stars, which were incredibly clear tonight. After making it back and reading for a bit, I decided to retire for the night so that I could wake up early for class (I’ve heard that they finally fixed the primary school schedule). Today was a very fulfilling day; especially the dinner out as eating out with friends is definitely something that I really miss not being able to do, so tonight’s venture really brought with it a sense nostalgia, and, hopefully, we’ll be able to do it again.

Day 289, May 26th, Thu, N/A

Finally, Art class again! Although, I was somewhat less than thrilled when I discovered that all my classes have been moved to the afternoon on Thursdays (which have been reduced from four classes to two), and even less thrilled to learn that my classes on Fridays have been reduced from four to three, and are staggered in such a way that there is a good deal of space between each class! Yargh! I much prefer classes’ right next to each other so that either the morning or evening is free for me to help various peoples with project… but what can ya do? Oh well, there is only about a month left of school anyway, which is why I have decided not to mention anything to Br. Endalkachew (who is in charge of the structuring of classes), better just to deal with what is dealt I think.

So, after waiting around for most of the morning (there was no power, so I was somewhat limited in what I could do, so I ended up continuing to read my book, which, if I have not mentioned before {I kinda lost track of the things I was reading for a while there}, I Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. I don’t believe I have ever actually read the original book from cover to cover, so I am quite enjoying this one), and after the lunch and afternoon break, I finally was able to teach the class. And to help with the class, I managed to solicit Br. Legesse’s assistance in translating, which was a big boon for me (Legesse has been somewhat perplexed as to what to do during the day, as most of his responsibilities have been replaced by other teachers, so I figure I will have him help me with my classes, as well as helping out with the sisters maybe). Unfortunately the inclination for copying has only increased in the students during my absence, and almost a third of them were sent out of grade 3, and about a fifth of them in grade four. In particular, there were three serial copiers in the 4th grade group, so after telling them to wait outside for the rest of the class, I informed them that I would like to speak to them after the class was over as well (which I had always wanted to do before, but had never been able to till now, now that I had the translating power of Legesse. So, after the class had finished, I sat the usurpers down and had a bit of a chat with them. I asked them why they copied, I asked them what they wanted to be when they got older (Teacher, School Coordinator, Doctor) I told them why I didn’t want them to copy (to build hand eye coordination as well as good distance/scale/detail recognition skills, which would be useful in each of the jobs that they wanted to go into), and then asked them for their cooperation in learning (well, it was a bit more in depth than that, but that was what the gist of the whole conversation was about). They seemed to respond well, so I released them into the wild, lol.

After class, I accompanied Legesse to the Oratory (which is the one job that he still has everyday), where, for the first time, I was invited to play some foosball/table-football with some of the students and Legesse. Needless to say, they wiped the floor with my… and then rung me out and hung me up to dry, but I enjoyed the experience, and I was even able to get a couple good shots in myself.

In the evening, I became aware that my throat was a bit itchy, which usually meant the advent of some near-future illness, hopefully that is not the case, but I am pretty sure it is… phooey!

And speaking of illness, in an almost prophesy like fashion, today’s Haiku was written while I was sick, some time ago… crazy.


My feet are heavy,

Fog seems to cloud all my thoughts,

My breath escapes me.

~ じょしゅわ

Day 290, May 27th, Fri, N/A

For art class today I decided to do something a little different, I had the kids line up (with a great deal of assistance of Legesses’s Amharic) and had the kids march to the designated spot where we were going to do our sketching assignment. The kids really got a kick out of it, although order kept breaking up periodically during the marching due to lagers and malcontents, lol, we’ll have to work on that, but I did find that they seemed more focused on their drawing projects.

The object for the 3rd grade classes sketch assignment was Br. Endalkachew’s car, but he moved it as soon as I was about to escort the 4th grade class, so I inquired to Mark-John whether or not it would be possible to catch one of the goats and tie ‘im to a post for the next assignment. Mark-John granted his assent and after gathering up a few fellows would be capturers, we stalked the group of goats that wander around the school grounds, which required a good deal of hearding and chasing on our part. After baiting one of the animals with some biscuits a few times, Mark-John managed to grab it by the head, after which I located some rope which Mark-John then used to tie-up the struggling beast up with. After the animal was properly restrained via rope about the neck, and lashed to a post so that he would stay put, I gathered the next group and marched them (in a much nicer military-like fashion then the last group) down to where the goat was eating biscuits and informed them that this would be their next sketch project for the day. Once the time limit had expired, I marched them back up to the class room and left for lunch, leaving the goat contentedly chewing where it was till the last group of students could have a go at sketching it at 3:40pm. Unfortunately, after lunch I became rather sleepy, and accidently fell asleep while I was reading, and didn’t wake up till 5:00pm, thus missing my class… I guess goat chasing will do that to a man, lol (Thankfully, someone remembered to untie the goat, as I saw it wandering around later today with the rest of its posse).

In the late afternoon, just after I had arisen from my prolonged siesta, Abba Filipe stopped by with a project for me to do, he needed a group of pictures but together into a postcard like setting with Photoshop (like I did with Abba Thomas’s project). I went right to it and managed to finish it in about 30 minutes (I kind of blundered around for a bit until I had found the right image resize rate to use). After turning it back to him (after dinner) I went with Abba Thomas to his office to try and assist him with some computer trouble he had been having. The cankerous computer in question was the assistant’s computer, which Abba stated had been acting weird lately. He asked me to defrag and clean the hard drive and to make a copy of all the documents on a disk. After doing said tasks and reporting my completion to Abba, I discovered that he had meant to say that he wanted the computer reformatted, to which I replied I would need the OS disk in order to do it, and since he didn’t have one with him, we decided to postpone it till another time. While we were there though, he did ask me to set up the scanner so that it would work, which I did, after which I took a postcard that he had handed me asked to put as the wallpaper, so after I scanned it into the computer, I fixed the coloring and saved it in a workable format (which required a bit of searching until I realized I could do it with the “Paint” program) and assigned it as the wallpaper. Everything was going hunky-dory until the computer, with no warning whatsoever turned black. The monitor was on, and so was the machine, but nothing was happening on the screen except an inky blackness devoid of everything (Argh! I’m so sick of these computers man!). I have absolutely no idea what happened, and though I tried resetting the thing, the same screen would come up, there was no start-up or anything… so we decided to try it again when we can find the system disk.

(*To blog readers* though, if anyone knows what happened, they are more than free to send an email. The problem seemed to happen as soon as I assigned a new wallpaper, I don’t know if that is significant or not)

Day 291, May 28th, Sat, N/A

Yesterday night (before the whole computer fiasco) Abba Thomas had mentioned that he was getting very tired of having to drive over the huge pot-holes that start at the beginning of the dirt road that leads to and past our compound, so, this morning I requested the assistance of some workers (I’m pretty sure that I have mentioned this, but in case I haven’t, every Saturday potential workers gather in the compound and Abba Larcher gives them jobs to do, most of them are usually students) from Br. Legesse, who in turn asked Abba Larcher which ones were free to assist, who in turn talked to the person in charge of the technical student workers, who assigned two fellows to the job, and after locating a shovel and a wheelbarrow (which, here, means two poles, across which is nailed a metal sheet, more of a strait “Barrow”, inefficient, but the only tool available) we headed out to the road and started shoveling gravel into the holes. It started with one of us shoveling into the “Barrow” which the remaining two would then carry to the spot where it was to be dumped. This was repeated several times until a sizable pile developed, at which point I abandoned the “Barrow” and started packing down the gravel into the holes as tightly as possible by stamping and jumping on the stuff (after making sure it was properly spread of course). My antics attracted the attention of some kids who were dawdling in the area, and after I gestured that they were free to join me if they liked, I had five pairs of feet assisting me with the task. After we had finished with the gravel, I convinced the others that we should also put a thin layer of dirt across the top as well (which, according to my logic, would help keep the gravel from moving around when cars went over it, and, when the rain came and washed it into the rocks, would form into an almost cement like product), to which I eagerly became the shovel man while they heaped the dirt with the “Barrow”. It was not without a certain amount of amazement that my fellow road workers observed me shoveling away (I guess they don’t white dudes digging holes very often here? Lol, this was exemplify by how many people were honking as they drove past, although I think many of them were just thanking us for the job we were doing), to which I, explained, that I had endured many a year of indentured servitude to my family (Thanks Pa, lol). Jokes aside, we finished transporting the dirt quickly, after which point it was more stamping and jumping the get as much of the dirt flattened into the gravel. We finished our project just as the rain started coming down in sheets, so, after picking up our tools, we rushed for the relative cover of the compound, and, after seeing that the tools were returned, I headed to the office (After changing my shoes for mucks and adding my slick). I arrived somewhat soaked, despite my precautions, so after shaking off a bit, I proceeded inside and managed to locate Br. Endalkachew and give him the suspicious finals test to get an opinion from him. He stated that he would look into the matter, and then asked for my help in arranging the wording of a document he was preparing. He was concerned that he had used to many repetitions of the same sentences to describe the different workshops, but after a bit of head scratching and rearranging, I managed to set it right for him.

After lunch I received a bunch of photos from Abba Thomas which he wanted to be turned into postcards via Photoshop. After working for a bit on them I started getting sleepy and ended up taking a nap for a couple hours, I awoke feeling much refreshed and continued on the assigned project, which for most of today consisted of searching through my 5389+ pictures to find other ones he might like.

Day 292, May 29th, Sun, N/A

Finished up all but two of the Postcard projects for Abba Thomas after mass this morning/afternoon, the others I will be saving for the (last?) seminarian class this week.

At 3:15pm Abba Thomas invited me to go with him on one of his prayer service trips, this time we would be going to a kind of “housewarming” prayer session for a young lady who had just moved into her new house, and so an extra large number of people would probably be there. After stopping by the Sisters compound (to pick up the sisters) and the church compound (to pick up some parishioners) we drove to the outskirts of the town and parked the car out of the way to the side of the road and continued on foot (which at times was hazardous going due to copious amounts of manure, droppings and various other forms of excreta, whose shades seemed to encompass a plethora of colorful shades *Gurgle*. Anyhoo, we all made it to Yeshies house unscathed, and after a quick look-see to discover if my shoes had escaped similarly, we preceded inside.

Yeshies house was actually one of the nicest ones that I have seen so far. The house consisted of thick mud walls painted white on the top half and blue on the bottom. There were 3 rooms in the house itself, which, although they were small, the floor looked level and comfortable (well, as comfortable as a bare earth ground can look). The house even had a front “patio”, were the roof extended forwards a good bit and held up by bamboo, which was surrounded by a split bamboo fence (the Patio area was where we were all situated for prayers, it was large enough to fit at least twenty-somethin’ of us, although we were rather crammed together at some points). The prayer consisted of the rosary as well as intentions and a few hymns, after which the hosts, Yeshie and her family, served a kind of round flat-bread as well as an orange drink to all those gathered (I partook in the bread, but I obtained from the liquid, I have learned my lesson thank you). After everyone had finished the snack, Abba asked me to take several pictures of various groups, and then it was back to the compound (with our Annuak and Nuer parishioners clapping and singing the whole way back, lol).

Once we had arrived back, I happened to check my cell and noticed that Marie (Lay missioner in Addis) had called me while I was gone, so I decided to see if I could return her call (The connection between Addis and Gambella is often sketchy). I managed to get through and talk for a bit (With no network drops during the first 15 minutes, a new record!), she seems to be doing good still, though I guess it’s gotten somewhat cold in Addis (Dropping down to sixty-something). We exchanged stories and experiences concerning recent times (she had recently visited a nearby town, who’s name, it behooves me to say, have forgotten), as well as make possible plans for the future. Since I will be up in Addis sometime in July (the exact date still eludes me), we were thinking about visiting some of the nearby towns, but that kinda depends on how early I can get to Addis (as she starts summer school with the kids during the second week of July). I would really like to be there in time for the 4th, that way I have another American to celebrate with, but at the latest, I might not get there till the 11th, or so, we’ll have to play it by ear. Towards the end, the network started dropping our calls, so we decided to end our conversation with the promise that I would try and contact her at least once more before I left for Addis.

One other incident that occurred this evening deserves a little note, though it is not much more than an observation. As I was walking back to my domicile from the rec-room, I noticed the silhouette of a very large arachnid hanging on the wall in the hallway between the dining room and dormitories (which I have nicknames the bug hall due to how many different kinds I have seen hangin’ out there). I steeled myself and willingly approached it to discovered, to a kind of abstract sense of horror, that it was a spider that was easily the size of my palm. But it wasn’t like the cool tarantula type spiders, oh no, it was the smooth kind *Shudder*, creepy thing! Rather wisely, I decided not to mess with it, though when I had to pass the hall again to get some water I kept a wary eye in it’s direction.

Day 293, May 30th, Mon, N/A,

Last night I had just started to get an early onset of what felt like the African Flu/Cold illness that I had gotten once before, and by this morning, it had blossomed beautifully into a wet cough and a runny nose. But since I didn’t have any classes today, I figured I would sleep as long as I could and try to get the thing over with.

However, I was startled awake by the sound of my mobile ringing, and with an *oomph* I managed to grab a hold of it and answer before it stopped, and, much to my delight, it was my mother (Hmm, is it just me, or is she always calling when I am either sick, or not particularly disposed to conversation due to some other ailment… cursed fates!)! We talked a bit about how things were going and about my return home (which is beginning to seem so close!). She also mentioned that she had sent both the packages I had asked for (Last week I had sent a quick email asking them to send to me a School text book concerning the installation of electricity in a house {Which will be a present to the technical school} as well as the “Freedom Writers Diary” {As a gift for Carlos in Abobo}. I had also asked them to send some candy (specifying them to pick a very “American” candy that would not melt and is individually wrapped), which I will be dispersing to all my associates before I leave. She also informed me that tomorrow afternoon she would send me a money order, which means I will finally be able to pay people back for things and not feel like such a freeloader, lol. We ended the conversation with her promising to call me back sometime tomorrow to let me know about the money transfer, hopefully everything will go alright.

As for the rest of the day, I mostly just rested (slept) and made an attempt (a pitiful one, lol) at writing up some of da blog, but didn’t really make much process.

Day 294, May 31st, Tue, N/A,

I talked to my mother again this morning (waking me from my sleep again, lol) and I wrote down all the information that I would need to claim it at the bank tomorrow (I figured that I would at least give it a day to make sure it transferred properly), and then promptly fell back asleep. Technically I was supposed to be at the sisters compound this morning, but I was just not feeling it, the cough had worsened and the runny nose was still that (more like a leaky faucet) that was at the same time congealing into a crusty substance (fun!), and my throat was swollen and scratchy. I had taken some medicine late yesterday night to ease the symptoms (and hopefully pass them quicker), but it had the side effect of making me really drowsy, which lasted into this morning (medicines tend to do that to me, lol, shoulda seen me when I took an inhaler when I was younger, I was practically bouncing off the walls). Basically most of today was a repeat of yesterday, lots of sleeping.

Day 295, June 1st, Wed, 76.6°F @ 1:20pm,

I was feeling a bit better this morning, so I went to the office and posted the scores from the finals so that all my student could see how they did (I had to explain to the two who were under suspicion that there’s were not quite done yet, and that I, or Br. Endalkachew, would give it to them later. As I was about to leave, I was intercepted by one of my students who informed me that he had not been able to attend the final, to which I replied that he should have at least sent a note explaining thus, to which he answered that he had been with his mother (who was sick at the time). That was as good an excuse as any I guess, so I went about trying to find the spare finals that I thought I had lying around my office somewhere; however, they weren’t to be found, and since there was no electricity, I informed the student that I would wait around the office until the power came back and print him up a copy, and then asked him to stay in the near vicinity so that I could find him when it was done.

About an hour and a half elapsed (which I passed by reading Frankenstein) before the electricity returned, at which point I was able to print the test. After locating the youth and explaining the final, I gave him the same amount of time that the others had had, and then sat back and continued my reading. When the time limit had elapsed, he was just finishing up the paragraph on the last page, and after checking to make sure that had filled in all the blanks, had him sign it off, after which I did the same. I then deposited the document in the office for later grading (as it was lunchtime) and as I proceeded to the residential building, I stopped by Surafle’s office and asked if it would be possible for him to accompany my when I went to the bank this afternoon, which he agreed to do. So, after the lunch & break (during which a torrential typhoon ravished the area, it was pretty wild and I was able to get some decent video clips of it), we set of for the Ethiopian National Bank (where they had a Western Union station). When we arrived there, we were patted down before we were let in, were we took a number and waited while I filled out the proper forms. I finished up the form just as my number was called, so after handing the forms and my identification (passport), we waited… and waited… and waited. Apparently there was some problem with the network and they were having a heck of a time trying to get the information, but after some more waiting (which we passed by watching a TV that was airing something about African animals {which included some stupid white guy putting his head into a crocodiles jaws, and getting subsequently bitten…stupid}) I finally received 3,368birr and 15cents. It was a good feeling to be in the possession of some money again, and hopefully I will be able to get my folks some good souvenirs with it (as well as one or two things for myself, lol)!

In the evening, I had what would be my last official seminarian class, and so I made sure that the subject was a relevant one. I taught them how to make Abba Thomas’s postcards, using Photoshop, and we made very good progress, though whether or not they will remember how to do in the future is yet to be seen. I am hoping that I will at least be able to have a couple supplementary classes as well, and have them actually take part in it instead of just showing them (there wasn’t time to do both unfortunetly).

Day 296, June 2nd, Thu, N/A,

I finished Frankenstein this morning (which I truly relished), and so while I was waiting for my art classes to start in the afternoon, I perused the library, reading a bit of this, and scanning over a bit of that. I finally settled on three books, the first was “Mattimeo”, a “Redwall” book by Brian Jaques (whose writing has definitely left an indelible print upon my youth). The second was a book entitled “Reach for the sky”, by Paul Brickhal, which was a story about a British chap named Douglas Bader, and Ace, who had lost his legs in an accident. The last book was called: “Warden two”, by B.F. Skinner, and it was about a (proposed) utopian society. All three of the books promised a good time, but I had to wait until after the afternoon classes to really make progress on them (the first one I would start would be “Mattimeo”).

The Art classes went somewhat less than ideal, Legesse had been unable to join me (He was off in the town, getting his shoes repaired) and so I was left on my lonesome, which the students took advantage of. It wasn’t unbearable though, and after marching some of the diminutive usurpers out of the classroom and having them stand outside, most of the order was restored.

Aaaand here’s the haiku of the week:

Dawn song

Morning sun rises,

Bringing hopes of a new day,


~ じょしゅわ

Day 297, June 3rd, Fri, N/A,

Today’s art classes were a close repeat to yesterdays, with Legesse being absent and the urchins being rampant, in the younger classes anyways. But the 4th and 5th grades seem to be shaping up as there seem to be less and less scalawags (instead of more). After the classes were over, I was able to insert myself into a game of volley ball with some of the students (my cough is getting much better now, and my runny nose had been stopped), though I was off in one of the corners and didn’t see much action. I didn’t mind, as they got a kick out of me just being there.

In the evening, Abba Larcher brought a DVD about Ugandan Martyrs, which I watched with avid fascination accompanied by Abba Larcher and Br. Legesse. Many of the early Catholic and Anglican Christian among the natives were brutally murdered by their fellow villagers (with most of them being slowly burnt alive). Watching the film filled me with a great sense of awe at their courage (as most of them willingly submitted to death) as well as a hope that I would behave in a like manner in a similar situation (Thinking about being put in the same situation, one often thinks that it would be an easy task, and it is not until they are actually faced with the situation that their true colors are shown)

Day 298, June 4th, Sat, N/A,

Most of the day was spent savoring the weather (which was quite pleasant today, not rainy, but not to hot and sunny either) and reading Mattimeo. I actually ended up finishing the book (which, in case none of you readers have ever read a “Redwall” book, is about woodland critters armed to the teeth and fighting in epic battles, as well as partaking in equally epic feasts {which is always my favorite part, and I have often vowed that I would someday have a feast of “Redwallian” proportions!}), and I started on my next one, which was Walden two.

So far (I finished about a third of it today) it has been a rather interesting read. It is set up similarly to a work of Aristotle/Socrates, with the conversation taking place between three main characters (one who raises arguments FOR the idea, one who instigates arguments AGAINST the idea, and one, through who’s eyes the reader sees the story unfolding, is neutral to the argument, until the end, when he is won over to a particular side), as well as a few side characters to keep the pace interesting (as well as adding little relevancy’s to the plot). Actually, that’s one of the things that struck me the most when I started reading it, the pace is excellently set, it hasn’t bogged itself down yet and is promising to stay that way. I think I will have to wait until I have finished it until I mention anything about what I think of the “Utopian” society that the author wishes to us to start, but so far most of the arguments have seemed somewhat sound, I’ll just have to wait and see what the rest is like (as bombshells of any relevant size are usually dropped about 2/3’s of the way through a book, lol)

Oh, also, this evening I was informed by Abba Thomas (actually, it was a few days ago, but I had forgotten when exactly, and today seemed and adequate time to print the information, lol) that we would be having some guests tomorrow after the mass. A party of eye doctors and their assistants (who had been in Ethiopian for the past 3 months performing low cost eye surgery to those who needed it) will be stopping by the parish on their way to the airport, and what’s more, several of them are from the state of Washington!