We have arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
It is too soon to say much. We arrived at 2 a.m. their time, found our AirBnB, slept a bit and are just now emerging.
The morning started with asking “Momma Gennett” to make us coffee. Levi and I wanted to cut out of this small apartment and find some wi-fi so I can connect with my people here by email (phones not working yet), and wanted some caffeine first. But in Ethiopia, coffee means a ceremony, a ritual, and “let’s kick back and take forever and roast and brew coffee for a long time and then drink it” mentality.
So we did. Her son Yared, who looks to be about 17, then awoke to join us. He speaks decent broken English. Momma Gennett almost none. They have turned their two bedroom apartment into a hotel to make extra money. And they don’t use the other bedroom. An English couple were in there, and they left early this morning for Gonder, an historic city where the big upcoming festival Timkat is famously celebrated. We celebrated Timkat here tomorrow and Friday, Ethiopia’s biggest event.
It’s third world, where we are staying. We shared their bathroom, which isn’t stellar.
Yared walked us five minutes to a hotel, which is where we are now. It’s first world. Those two worlds live constantly side-by-side in this emerging country.
I sat next to an Italian woman on the flight. She also lives in Switzerland with her partner, but has worked for years in Ethiopia as an “economist” for the U.N. After a year with the Swiss, she wants to come back to Ethiopia “because of the energy of the people.” I asked for details, and it is related to their historic faith and their simplicity and direct connectedness to life, love, and earth. She is very worried about the lightning-speed development of the country and what the effects will be.
Levi and I met Salaam on the layover in Turkey. She is a very devout Ethiopian Christian woman who married a Dutch man and moved to the Netherlands. She is coming back for two weeks to celebrate Timkat and then spend a week at a woman’s monastery. She is stunned by Levi and my story of becoming Orthodox and visiting Ethiopia to embrace the historic Christians here and learn.
“I am only used to people coming to Ethiopia to get things,” she said.
She is very concerned about the godless education her children are getting in the Netherlands and says she would not have moved there had she known. She feels trapped in terms of being able to move back, because now her kids—who used to be crammed into a small apartment like Momma Gennett and Yared—are happily enjoying the European countryside and playing by the creek. Yet they are dying spiritually.
She wants her husband to read my articles about the Orthodox Christian faith.