Thursday, January 18, 2007

Day 3 With Ma'aza Continued

Here I continue the story of the day we spent with Ma'aza, my new hand-holding Ethiopian friend!

So, after Mercado, we went back to the hotel for a bite to eat before it was time for Avery and me to go visit Yosef and Mihret at the orphanage. We had injera (of course!), doro wot (spicy chicken stew), 2 types of gomen (cabbage), mesir wot (spicy lentil stew), and aiyb (Ethiopian cheese similar in appearance to ricotta cheese). Our meal together was delicious! And so much fun. Here's the thing about girsha (Ethiopian method of eating where the people feed each other bites of food to show love, intimacy, respect, etc.) that I don't care for. Whenever people feed me bites of food wrapped up in injera, they give me such big bites that I can barely chew them! Everybody does it to me. So I am assuming that I must take smaller than normal bites. But when I have a huge bite of food in my mouth, I just keep chewing and chewing and chewing, then I feel sick! If it weren't for that little problem, I wouldn't mind girsha one bit.

However, that's not really my point. Because overall, the day was incredibly wonderful! As we ate, we discussed America and Ethiopia, and our lives, our families, God, etc. Ma'aza's perceptions of America were so funny to me. She couldn't understand why I don't have a job. I tried to explain that because Avery makes enough money, I am able to stay with our kids because it's what I want to do. She said with disbelief and utter lack of comprehension of the situation, "But why doesn't your servant take care of them?!" Servant? I don't have a servant! I AM the servant at our house! We tried to explain what Walmart is, but I don't think we really got through to her. I'm going to take a picture for her when we go back next time.

The funniest part was that she was enjoying the food very much, as did we. Once Avery and I were full, we stopped eating, but Ma'aza continued to eat. Now, she's a tiny little thing! She's about the same height as me (5 feet), but skinnier. And I'm only 105 pounds. So, I was amazed that she could pack away the food like that. As she continued to eat, she kept telling us, "eat, eat!" and we kept saying that we were full. She finally explained to us that if we didn't eat it all that it would be very rude. Now, I really didn't want to waste the one hour I was going to have with Yosef and Mihret on being sick from eating too much food! So, we told her we'd ask for a bag so that she could take it home to her family. She thought that idea was hilarious. She said she couldn't possibly do that. She wanted to do that, but she thought it was so funny to even consider it. She said with laughter and her heavy Ethiopian accent, "My father will say, 'What are you now? A beggar?!?!' " But, she did like the idea of giving so much good food to her mother. So, we called the waitress over to ask for a bag, but her English was non-existent and I don't know the Amharic word for "doggy bag." So, Ma'aza asked for one. The waitress seemed very confused and Ma'aza started laughing. Ma'aza tried to explain what she wanted and the two of them talked back and forth for a few minutes while Ma'aza just kept laughing and the waitress continued to look confused. Without understanding a word, just watching them was quite amusing. When the waitress walked away, Ma'aza explained that the waitress had asked her, "Why do you want a bag? Do you want the food for a beggar?!" The only bag the waitress could find was small and used. So I went up to our hotel room to get a Ziploc bag (I travel prepared for any circumstance!) for the food. Ma'aza said that in Ethiopian restaurants, people don't take the food home with them unless they're going to give it to a beggar. We had been taking the food all week for beggars! No wonder the waiters always looked at us kind of funny!

I explained to Ma'aza that in America, all restaurants have special little boxes so that you can take your food home with you. She wanted to know why we would do such a thing. I explained that the next day, when you're hungry, you can heat it up in the microwave. "Micro....Micro....Micro-wave?" was Ma'aza's response. How do you explain what a microwave is?! We explained that it was a tiny little oven that was electric and you put the food in, push the button, and 1 minute later, it's all hot. I'm not sure that she believed us! I saw her later in the week though, and her family was so very happy with the food, especially her mother. So, it was worth it!

After lunch, we walked back up to our room until it was time to go see the kids. She saw all of the Yesus On The Streets bags everywhere and asked about them. I explained to her what they were all about. She started looking at them and was amazed at all of the medicines. I told her that she could have one and pointed her to the pile of bags made by women. As she started picking them up, she kept asking about the various medicines and it was obvious that even to this girl with two professors for parents that medicine was a luxury. She just couldn't believe that she could really have one of the bags. After she chose one, I told her to pick one for her parents too, and she was so happy. She really just couldn't comprehend that she was allowed to have even one bag, much less three. She carefully chose for her parents and we sent her home with a bunch of chocolate for her brothers. I also gave her all of the cough drops I had in my backpack, something she had never heard of. She was amazed that eating just one would help her to stop coughing. My goodness! How many times have I been unable to sleep at night due to a nagging cough and one little cough drop afforded me a good night of peaceful sleep? And have I ever once stopped to be grateful for a cough drop? Have I ever once stopped long enough to be truly grateful for a chocolate bar, or Advil, or hair conditioner, or an ink pen? If I stopped long enough to be grateful for each of the luxuries that God has blessed my life with, I wouldn't get a single thing done in a day because I'd never be finished with thanking God! And I just kept realizing that these things were "luxuries" to this girl from a professional family!

Now, we'd distributed 3 of the bags, what about the rest of them that were flooding our hotel room?! We had given up on reaching our contact in Ethiopia. You see, we'd actually ridden over on the plane with him, and he gave us his phone number, but when we arrived, we discovered that the phone systems had been revamped since his last visit and his phone number no longer worked the same way. We tried everything! We got in touch with friends in America who had his number, but their number was the same as ours and didn't work anymore! We began to really pray to find out what God wanted us to do with all of the bags. But that's another story for another day!

As fun as this day was, it was finally almost 5:00PM, the very best hour of the entire day, as this was the hour when I would see my sweet Yosef and Mihret. We exchanged our customary Ethiopian kisses with Ma'aza and said goodbye. What a sweet young woman she was. Whenever we find ourselves in Addis, her family will be our family. God is so good to have put her in our path. It was really one of the most fun days I have ever had.


KelseyChristine said...

This is all so fun to read!

Stacy said...

Reading about how Ma'aza reacted to the bags brought tears to my eyes. Is there a way I can share your story and maybe have my students in NY make bags for your next trip?