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.

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