Sunday morning we met our driver and our new Ethiopian friend, Alezar so that we could go to church together and go sightseeing. Our intentions were to go to a Evangelical service that was mostly attended by Ethiopians, but spoken in English. We were so disappointed when we learned that the church had moved across town. Alezar reacted quickly and got us to another service that was spoken in English, but very contemporary, diverse in the people in attendance, and similar to what you might find in the states. The pastor had a very good heart and did a great job of preaching the gospel literally to the nations. We then went to lunch at an Italian restaurant that had an art gallery in the restaurant. It is funny to think about eating Italian in Ethiopia, but for 12 years, Ethiopia was occupied by Italians, and it's influence can still be detected today. We then went to two museums and finished the sightseeing day with a round of shopping at the post office area. The shops are lined up and down the street and their owners are anxious for you to come in. The stores are quite peculiar as some are no bigger than a small closet. Others are larger, but would be considered a very small store in the states. This was a great area to shop if you were looking for a variety items. They had bowls, clothing, scarves, carvings, artwork, jewelry, purses, and such. Today, more than yesterday, we had a lot of children asking for food or anything we could give them. I was apprehensive as I have warned not to give especially money. Alezar explained that a lot of the times that the children could be coerced into working for drug dealers or other scams in order to get money. An elderly lady came up to me who appeared to be blind. I gave her some money, and she took my hand into her very frail and soft hand and lead it to her lips as she proceeded to kiss my hand and whisper what I can only imagine were words of thanks. This really penetrated right to my heart. Who am I to be given such a blessing? The children kept following and I asked Alezar if it would be okay to give them chocolate and he agreed that it would be okay. That's when all pandemonium broke loose. Once those kids saw that I had candy, you would have thought I was handing out one hundred dollar bills. It was a little chaotic, but I don't regret doing it one bit.
When we got home, we ate at the hotel. The kebabs and the beef tibes are delicious!!! After dinner we relaxed a while in our room and waited for the other AW families to arrive. I was so excited to meet with these two families, that when the receptionist called to say that the Whitakers had arrived, I raced downstairs and probably scared Michelle with my eagerness as she was trying to get checked into her room. She was very gracious and let me be giddy about seeing them even though they had just been traveling for over 15 hours!!! We decided we would meet later on the outside patio bar area. The Whitakers left to get settled and Kevin and went to the Joners room and introduced ourselves to them. We all eventually congregated on the patio. With the night Ethiopian breeze (which is just about perfect by the way) in our faces, we enjoyed getting to know one another. You know when you meet someone and you know you are going to connect with them easily? That is the way Kevin and I felt about these two precious families. They are all incredible people and felt very privileged and blessed to be in their company. Later I was talking to Michelle and Jessica and told them that we all came here as strangers, but we leave knowing that we will never forget each other for the rest of our lives, and that we share such an amazing and unique bond. We all parted that evening with an intense excitement as we knew that in the morning we would be meeting our children... how in the world did we expect to go to sleep?!!!
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