I don't have any great stories for today as today was filled with a lot of not doing anything other than waiting to do something. We spent the morning at the house while the church guys had a meeting. Since we had nothing really to do as we are at the mercy of the drivers showing up, we went and played with the monkey again (who I think peed on me, ew) and sat on the sidewalk drinking macchiatos that some street vendor kid brought us - a rough life here, I know. Although, just for the record, it is not like a French-style sidewalk cafe or anything, it was sitting on the dirt wall outside the dive bar across the crazy people and animal-filled road with clouds of diesel smoke trailing behind the cars and blue and white taxis whizzing by. Bisrat and Maste showed up and said they were here to go shopping with us so we weren't doing nothing while the meeting was going on so we thought we were in fact going to go. Apparently, I forgot I was in Ethiopia b/c we then sat around another hour just talking about leaving, then Biz and Maste went out of the room, we thought to call the driver. However, after awhile we realized they were totally gone and were nowhere to be found which is completely typical here. We looked around and asked some of the guys out front and they told us the guys were up at the cafe nearby eating lunch. Ack! Sometimes this place makes me crazy, how it is normal for people to just show up and disappear for hours.
Eventually, my American-ness finally took over and I felt restless to do something so I went in search of an internet cafe to try to figure out some blog posting/internet issues. Internet cafes here are basically small rooms like a hole in the wall in the middle of a row of shops. They have a couple computers and for me to use it for 30 minutes cost me about 25 cents. I wrestled with the internet for a bit and eventually got things figured out, only to turn around to Maste showing up in the internet cafe (apparently Bizi had gone back to the guest house - sure, why not...) Later we asked Maste how he found us and he said he just asked and the guys outside in the street (there are ALWAYS people out in the street) told him - he said "everyone knows who you are, you are obvious, firenge" hahaha. I guess we are. Finally, it seemed it was time to go and we hopped in the van, and decided to pick up Bisrat on the way. Another friend of mine from this summer, Tekabe, showed up and was very excited to see me - how fun! He hopped in the van as well and off Danielle and I went with our van full of ET guys, blaring hip hop music all the way down the road. We had a good laugh over our present circumstances vs. your typical image of missionaries. Well, our van pulled into a restaurant and we realized I guess we were stopping for lunch. We actually had a great time at lunch, we laughed and laughed together until our stomachs ached and I realized that these friends across the world are truly an amazing blessing in my life. They all love the Lord, too, and we just get along as if we are not living on completely different continents. We finished our lunch (I had something they call mixed juice - it has "juices" in layers, parfait-style, but they are really more like a pudding consistency-it was avocado, strawberry and mango and it is SO GOOD) and stopped at the bank to exchange some money and FINALLY headed out to shop. Or so we thought. A few guys had left the group and the rest of us went off in the van, only to pull over to the side and sit and wait because the other van with Cherrie and some of the church guys was "right behind us", which is Ethiopian for "sit there for 20 minutes...." Eventually was all met up and did some van switching and then we did actually go to shop, only 5 hours, yes 5 literal hours, after we thought we were going to go. We realized then that doing anything in Korah today for us wasn't going to happen so we figured we'd make the best of the day.
We asked if we could go to the Merkato, an experience neither of us have ever had here. It is a wild marketplace of shops here where you do NOT go by yourself if you are a white woman as there are a lot of thieves and it can get crazy and dangerous. Fortunately, our crew of body guards (the church guys are big and all muscle) got out of the van with us and we each got one who walked by our side and I held my bag slung across me with one hand on it the whole time. It looked like there were individual shops as there were doorways all along the busy street and we went up to one to get some scarves. This place was a festival of colors and textures! Jewel-toned cloths hanging form above, oriental carpets in large heaps, and people everywhere literally throwing brightly colored fabrics at us and calling out to us to buy. The room we were in was at least 15 feet high and the scarves and wraps were stacked to the ceiling! People sitting way up high (on what and how I do not know) clad in head and partial face coverings were calling down to us and unfurling their technicolored wares. The guys with us explained ALL of them were different sellers, in this very crowded room, and we needed to figure out which things we wanted and pay that seller. How in the world they keep track of inventory here is beyond my ability to understand-I have never seen anything like that in my life! It was fascinating and overwhelming and beautiful and a little scary all at the same time. We finished there and headed to an area of silver shops. Silver is very inexpensive here-they sell it by weight, a little less than $2US per gram. I was able to replace my Africa pendant that had gotten ruined for far less than I could at home so I was happy.
We spotted big, huge-muscled Berhanu walking down the sidewalk, hand in hand with a little girl from the street. It was so sweet, he walked and they chatted and he took her into a bakery and bought her something to eat. She came and hung out with us for a bit in one of the shops, not at all shy and aked me in English "what is your name?" She wanted to look at all the pictures of my family that I had in my bag and did not believe that I was the mother of a Habesha (Ethiopian) girl. She walked back with us to the van, holding onto her new love Berhanu, and there she got a special gift. Cherrie had bought her a tiny, delicate silver cross on a chain to wear under her clothes. When they gave it to her, Berhanu told her about Jesus and how He had died on the cross for her and that He loves her very much. Oh my gosh, it was such a sweet thing to watch, she was so beautiful with her radiant smile and new necklace shining against her dark skin. We helped her carefully tuck it under her clothes so she would not have it stolen and she hugged and kissed all of us goodbye. It broke my heart to think of her trust in us-we are not mean people and really enjoyed having her with us, but so easily she could have gone with someone who was not that way and it just brought tears to my eyes. These precious children are in such danger here of child trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, being sold to work, etc. It disgusts me to think of how common it is, too-she has a mother but her mother must work to keep them alive and so this little Hannah spends her days unsupervised on the streets. Oh Lord, protect that beautiful child....
We were absolutely wiped out by then because just simple shopping is such an ordeal so we just headed home. Some of us kicked a soccer ball around a bit and then introduced some of the guys to the movie Indiana Jones-Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was hilarious to watch them get into it, and also to watch them cringe and cover their eyes at the snakes. Some things are just the same across all cultures. What a strange day of doing a lot and nothing all at the same day. Tomorrow we have plans to be back in Korah either making beads (durn clay lady not showing up again!!!!Oh Ethiopia, you are killing me....) or going on more home visits. I hope we get to go see the babies again! That will be my last day to serve here in Korah and then I get on the plane late tomorrow night (Thursday) so I will probably not post for a bit. Sorry this post was full of mostly uninteresting details-I hope to have a great report of my last day in Korah to make up for it!