Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sick with Support

One of the events I fear most is getting sick while in Ethiopia. Illness just hits me hard - fever, chills, aches - I rarely get the sniffles, usually it is more like a mudslide. So here I am with a week to go and I have been flat on my back with, you guessed it, fever, chills, etc. To top it off, my wife is also quite ill. Usually just one of us gets ill, but this time it is both of us, so I called in the reserves - my dad.

My mom will be taking care of her 80 year old father while he undergoes surgery, and my dad is taking care of his 38 year old son and daughter in law. He bought us Advil, Nyquil, and throat spray. Right now, he and my eldest daughter are finishing up the large pile of dishes which have accumulated over the weekend. Dad, will be sacrificing the opportunity to make sales commissions.

Carol Skinner, of the E4E team, brought pizza by and made sure the kids got fed.

I am already cheered by this support and am hoping that one more day of rest finds me fit again. After all, I've got to buy those boots.

Friday, June 27, 2008

One more

I am nearly done with my oral typhoid vaccine. But between the pills and the smoke which encapsulates the city I am not feeling well. I have a sore throat, which may be the result of the vaccination, but is more likely a cold I have picked up from both my daughters. My wife is complaining about a sore throat as well.

So June has seen too many days on the couch or in bed. For me, illness is a blow to my self-esteem, my sense of confidence in myself. But, I know that I often have an inflated sense of self, and so I also see illness as God's way of keeping me humble.

I am again "youtubing" Ethiopia and cam across this. I think this film demonstrates the type of students I will be dealing with in Masha. I'm getting excited about working with these intelligent young people.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

These Boots Were Made for Walking in Ethiopia?

A friend and supporter sent an email today asking how the short-term planning was going. A good question, which can be answered a multitude of ways.

I have been reading a lot and just finished The Garbage King and am working on The Hospital by the River. My brother also arranged a gift from Lonely Planet.

Materially, I'm doing just fine. There is very little that I have to bring with me. Most of which I have already purchased or had, and some of which I need to buy. I still need to pickup my malaria and anti-biotic pills, some kind of digital camera, (My wife won't let hers go as the kids have way too many plays,etc. this summer which are photoworthy)a few wool socks from REI, and a pair of boots (more on those later).

I plan on carrying all personal gear either on my person or in a carry-on bag and thought I had packing figured out, till my dad, after viewing my bag contents said that my deoderant was too big. This prompted an all too long web browse and phone call to the TSA. Turns out that the TSA is very concerned about what you pack and how you pack it.

Their rules state that one must carry, and is only allowed, a quart size bag for gels and liquids. Each container can be no more than three ounces. I also ran into a bit of a quandry when I realized that, although my sleeping tent is lightweight and small enough for my carry-on, I could not carry on the poles. As I did not want to pack my tent in the checked luggage for fear it would be taken, I came up with the solution of packing the poles in the checked luggage and the netting with me. This way I can sleep with netting draped if the poles are lost.

Boots - my wife could not stand my obsession with them the other day. I spent too many hours browsing the various kinds, stores, and prices on the internet. But, my feet being what they have become and the terrain of Ethiopia being what it is I think it worth the investment. I have taken enough short trips in the Sierra to realize that good boots are required, and this trip is really glorified camping and hiking (think zero sidewalks and the only flat surface exists in the guest house where I will be staying). I did manage to boil it down to two choices which are obtainable locally and fit my budget (put it this way - I'll be wearing these boots in the states). I have to choose between Georgia's and Wolverine's:

The Georgia's are made of a soft, supple leather, and are unlined. I tried them on and they feel like their broken in already. I read that leather molds itself to your foot, which for my feet is a good thing as my heels tear through the lining of most shoes. The Wolverines are decked out with gortex and a serious traction sole, which would be good for the muddy hillsides of Masha.

Other than the boots, I won't have to buy any new clothing as it will come from my wardrobe here at home. Cotton/Poly button up shirts, khakis, and wool are standard fare for men across the globe. I love the fact that I will be in a country where clothing is more utilitarian and less a fashion statement.

Travel arrangements are nearly complete. Our team coordinator has done an outstanding job arranging the trip; tickets are in hand for the flight (these were the greatest expense). Copies of the curriculum are being made and suitcases will be filled with it next week (these will be checked in). I have all my vaccinations nearly completed (I'm taking two more pills for Typhoid Fever). Ground transport has been arranged, and so has lodging. Passports and visas have yet to arrive from the consulate.

The area of planning that concerns me the most is, oddly enough, teaching. We have some idea of what too expect and want to plan stateside, but find that we can't get too specific. We have been told that we will likely overplan and will have to cut back dramatically. I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea of students who are interested and eager to learn and will respect your authority. This motivates me to develop really good lessons, but again, I can only plan in general (isn't that how it always is?). So the other teacher, and I, will meet next week to craft a simple school day and talk strategies. I have also been planning for my next year's
three preps which has taken quality time from the kids.

Despite my inclusion of my kids in the Ethiopia planning, they are starting to show signs of anxiety about daddy being gone for so long. They are used to my teacher's schedule which affords them a lot of time with dad, especially over summer. Knowing that I'm going to be gone for a month, I have been spending a lot of family time, and am easily distracted when they want to play or talk. The girls have outright told me that they don't want me to go, and my boy has been clinging to his mom as if she is going to leave. This only exacerbated my mixed feelings about going. Not that I was going to cancel the trip, but traveling to Africa was becoming less exciting with every whimper.

My wife, God bless her, came to the rescue, articulating my feelings to the girls and encouraging them that this is not easy for dad either. You can pray for my little guy; he just knows that daddy is going to "upeopia". I just hope that after it is all said and done, they come to appreciate the example of service (and adventure) I've set for them.

So things are going well, the summer is moving along too quickly, and I am still in disbelief that I am going on this trip.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clipped for a Cause

Come support MaryJane Hernandez to go to Ethiopia and get your hair cut all at once!

When: Sunday, June 22nd 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: 715 Merchant Drive

What: Haircuts for $20 and all proceeds go to MaryJane's trip to Ethiopia this summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Feeling Funky

I posted some time about all the shots I was going to have to take in order to travel. Yesterday I had two more: meningitis and yellow fever. For my second time in the last few weeks, I've basically lost a day. Today was not as bad as last week. I am a bit warm, but don't have aches and pains. However, my stomach has been upset and I'm not that interested in eating (a very uncommon experience).

Of course this is a small price to pay, and pales in comparison to the suffering that many Ethiopians experience daily.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My community for a month

[moy] 54,894 (1998 census). 36,449 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 53,897 (1998 census). North Kafa Region, in and around Maasha. Alternate names: Mocha, Shakacho, Shekka. Dialects: Close to Kafa. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Omotic, North, Gonga-Gimojan, Gonga, South

I'm back!

Not really sure how but I'm back.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pancakes are Kinda like Injera

Fremont Presbyterian Church

8:00 - 11:30 AM
Cost: $5 adult
$3 kids
$15 for a family of 2 adults with children

Tickets were sold pre-event, but I'm sure if you waved money at the door no one would turn you way.


Made a bit of a mistake with my blog. The new look is unintentional. I'll have it fixed by next week. Guess I should not have been posting on Friday the 13th.


If you read/saw my previous post, "Hard Times", hopefully you were moved. Indeed Ethiopians are suffering again, as they have so in the past. Perhaps this film will shed some light on the issue, as well as give you a visual reference for the country:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hard Times

With inflation hitting 35% in Ethiopia and the BBC reporting on adult starvation, this song came to mind (Ignore the first part about the American Civil War). I really think of it as a prayer.

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.
There's a song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.

There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.

Thank You Lissan!

I just received word from Lissan Online (see my links) that I am linked on their page. Talk about globalization!!!! I am grateful for their consent to be linked on their site.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I started this blog and now have 450 hits!!! Pretty good.

A friend of mine tells me that I am the lead blog about Ethiopia. I have found others but they relate mostly to adoption or subversive politics.

Visa, Shots, Lessons, and Camcorder?

So the Visa has been ordered.

Only two more shots to go.

Lessons to plan.

Camcorder to buy? (Thanks Doug, I'll take you up on your offer) Any recommendations dear readers? Would like video and still image capacity.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Saddle Bags

I just recieved word that airplane tickets have been ordered, ground transportation is being arranged, and hotel reservations are being made for our stay in Jimma - Okay so now I am nervous. This trip is not just a dream, it will actually become reality.

On one level I think I am really crazy for going. I am leaving behind my wife and children for a whole month, my own bed, a full medicine cabinet, television, tap water, convenience stores, my books, and a summer vacation filled with whatever I want to do. I won't be moving up the salary scale as much as I could or should, because I won't be able to attend the many professional development opportunities which crop up in July. I won't be able to mow the lawn (YES!!!) I won't be taking a long sought after two day camping trip, where I camp by myself and drink coffee, and hike, and read, and write ( I did not tell my wife about these plans yet). I won't hug, kiss, or nag my children for a whole month. The wife and I won't . . . well you know. So am I crazy?

Of course not! My grandfather put it best when he said, "Mike if you don't go on this trip you'll regret it five years from now and maybe the rest of your life. Opportunities like this don't come up often". He's right. I have no idea what is in store for me. As much as I might read, or talk with others about going, I will have to experience Ethiopia myself.

I am hoping that what I am experiencing now, and will experience in a few months will shape me into a more decent, happier, easygoing, God-fearing/loving person. Perhaps a part of the anxiety I feel now is because I am anticipating too much? I know some will advise me to go into the experience open, without expectations. I can appreciate that, but I think it better to, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

So I do cast all my cares on Him; as Pastor Baird once said, "saddle Him up". Good thing He's got big saddle bags!