Packing for College?

September 15, 2009

We are packing this week for a trip to America!  Jonah waffles between being really excited and saying he wants to stay in Gimbie with his toys. We assure him, Lord willing, we will return to Gimbie and his toys.  The other day he packed up a small wheeled suitcase with his favorite toys and headed out the door. Noticing the sudden silence I dashed out doors to catch him, suitcase bumping along behind, over in our neighbor’s yard. He seemed surprised and had no explanation- not running away, not upset- no agenda he could articulate, just traveling….

Today I was rummaging through our small document folder sorting out what needs to come to America or stay. Passports need to go…. driver’s license renewal (license expired in August)…… tax documents which need to be filed….. new Visas needed….. I was busy writing to do lists and organizing and didn’t have much time to play.  Jonah and Maron (Bogalech’s four year old daughter) had just finished playing “kitchen” with playdough.  Maron had left, and Jonah was hyper and wanted to gab. When he failed to keep my attention, he opened his 1969 edition of Childcraft’s  “How Things Change”  and began his usual commentary and questioning. The book includes predictions that “you” (those reading it in 1969, I presume) may live to eat seaweed flavored like steak or mashed potatoes or candy because, scientists predicted, so many people would be living longer there would not be enough regular food to eat. As a solution it predicted fishboys and frogmen farmers would be growing and harvesting tons and tons of food under the sea and thus no one would have to go hungry…. The book also features futuristic houses with robots doing chores, flying cars, and kids commuting to school with “rocket belts.”  Jonah turned to the page entitled “Trains in the Sky” for what seemed the tenth time over the last couple days to contemplate the sadness of it all once again. The page features the dilapidated, rusty remains of a coal burning train, face forlorn, tears in the eyes, and with a futuristic monorail zipping along above it. After much thought, Jonah had devised a plan to rescue the train, restore it, become an engineer, and then take his parents for a ride around the world in the passenger car…… I had lost track of time and Jonah, when I noticed him patiently trying to stuff more items into a plastic sack and asked him what he was doing.  He had collected his stash of “college money” (he has been saving for college for several months now) comprised of various birr, a Russian coin, some American change and a few Euros,  along with a couple official looking ”documents” gleaned from the trash pile, some discarded wallet cards, his ABC flashcards,  and Bible memory verse booklets. He placed them in a basket, threw in a travel towel and told me “these things are going to be for my college Mommy, when we get to America.” He added, to clarify, that he wanted to go to “Daddy’s college” so that Daddy could live with him. The poor little guy seems to pick up on everything, yet sometimes it isn’t until days later that we find out what he has been trying to process in his three year old mind. He could have picked up on our recent discussions of potential Master’s degree programs for Mark. Or, he could think that America IS college, since most of his best friends here have been student missionaries, medical students, and graduates between college and grad school who eventually leave to return to their studies. Later, concerned that Jonah might be afraid Mark would have to leave to get his Master’s degree, we tried to find out what he was thinking and reassure him.  Jonah said “no Daddy, we just need to get on the same plane to go to college… and I’ll share my money with you, Dad…we just need two glass jars to put the money in.”

P.S btw, where are those tons and tons of edible sea plants? We could use some over here.


Curious George

September 15, 2009

One morning as I was combing out my wet hair in front of the sink Jonah walked in asking if there were anymore Curious George books. He had been looking at “Curious George Rides a Bike” one of his favorite books. I mumbled something about how I thought there were several more Curious George stories and Jonah replied “yes!”…. “I think there is Mom, I think there is:

Curious George and the Fire and

Curious George Goes to Heaven and

Curious George Flies with the Angels and

Curious George Drinks Tea and

Curious George and the Boat and

Curious George Sleeping and

Curious George Gets Cooked in the Oven and

Curious George Goes on a Hike and

Curious George Comes Back from Home”

At least those are the ones I can remember. I think there were more. It made me laugh. Jonah makes me smile often lately. He loves to talk and talk and talk. The other morning he crawled into bed with me to have his quiet time. Mark was gone to Addis, so I let him have quiet time in bed with me while I read the Bible. Usually, he has quiet time in his own tent. He prays and looks at Bible Story Books and sometimes I hear him making his stuffed cat pray, too. “Dear Jesus, Meow, Meow, Meow”.  This morning he had pulled his stuffed animals, pillow and blanket up onto the bed with me, spent considerable time getting settled and then quietly said “Mommy I think I am getting old and am going to die” I said “yes, most people get old and die sometime Jonah, and likely so will you, but that will be a very, very long time away… you see Mommy isn’t even old yet, you have a long way to go”. But Jonah said “No mommy, I’m getting old and am going to die now, see this spot on my arm?” He held out an arm and very seriously showed me what looked like two insect bites.

Good Impressions

September 15, 2009

Last Friday a distinguished and honorable member of the AHI board arrived from Addis just in time for a bit to eat and vespers. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him Dr X. We were about to begin singing hymns when Dr X and two other important gentlemen walked in. After introductions, Jonah hopped up on Dr X’s lap and began his usual get acquainted banter. But soon something went terribly wrong and he began to deviate from the normal small talk. My heart froze as I heard these words come out of his mouth: “How come you have not very much hair up here Dr X?” (pointing to the top of Dr X’s head) “but a lot of hair on your chin?” he continued. Overcoming my initial pallor, and blushing shades of red as I looked around to see several people had noticed Jonah’s comments and were trying to fight back giggles, I tried to coax Jonah off Dr X’s lap. “It’s ok Mom” Jonah said and Dr X kindly said “it’s ok,” too. Dear patient man, likely exhausted from his travels. Jonah continued “I bet you look different than you used to Dr X…. in fact I’ve never seen you like this before” (fact being Jonah had never seen him before). Later after vespers, stories, and a treat of Alban’s lemon sorbet I thought maybe we could escape and put Jonah to bed without further incident, but it was not to be. Jonah was chatting up Dr X again and between giggles (as this time Jonah was being tickled) I heard this: a pause… then Jonah- poke poking Dr X’s belly with his finger “Dr X, I think you ate too much!” Oh dear me, so much for good impressions.


September 2, 2009

We have been told that our house was built during the Italian occupation (1936-1941). It is constructed of unbaked mud brick and plaster. The back wall has a cracks through the width of the wall across the base, all the way up the right side, across the top and two coming down under the window. The mud bank “holding up” said cracking wall is eroding and there are ant nests undermining the foundation throughout. Mark feared that soon our wall would fall off and I agreed- though he says I am imagining it, I think the cracks have gotten bigger during this last month of rains. Mark began to build a retaining wall to prop up the house. Since our house cannot be accessed by vehicle,  laborers hauled rocks across campus to our yard on pieces of sheet metal suspended with two poles and gripped over their shoulders. The laborers dumped the load of rocks on the bank and a stray rock tumbled down the hill a bit and disappeared into the ground!  The earth had given way to reveal a hidden sewage pit, which had been covered with dirt, leaves and a fragile concrete covering underneath.  I was glad as I looked at the open pit, flies buzzing about it and a stench coming from the depths that Jonah or Bony had not walked across it and ended up where the rock did.

Work began the next morning on a new sewage pit farther down the hill. By afternoon, the diggers had uncovered a sizeable munitions dump. There were various anti personnel bombs and a very large mortar shell with a brass tip. We were standing around inspecting the shambles of our yard that evening when Bobby spotted a long thin black snake wriggling across the fresh dirt pilled to the side of the new sewage pit. Mark ran down to look at it and several workers trailed after, hoes and shovels in hand. Immediately the workers chopped the snake in four places. The workers explained that  the snake must be chopped up, because if only the head was chopped off the body, the snake would grow a new head, come alive again and wriggle out of the ground where it was buried. The workers all agreed the snake was very dangerous, and very poisonous.  Petra (the chaplain) and Kelsey (an RN volunteer) hearing the commotion came running over from the yard next door. Petra, quick to defend one of God’s creatures took the head of the snake and placed it in her refrigerator to be dissected later. She wanted to determine if it was truly venomous (and thus I suspect whether death was warranted).  The next day word was out that Gimbie Adventist Hospital had ammunition.  Mark called in the local police to inspect the stash found in our yard.  The police took an  antipersonnel bomb and the large mortal shell for further inspection. Petra reported finding four fangs and venom sacs in the snake’s head. She does not think it was a Black Mamba, though it was black and venomous. Last week, someone reported killing a green Mamba. I do not have a clue about what is what in snakes around here, but I can always expect with each new day will come a new adventure.