Busy, busy, busy
7:25am and the sun was streaming through the window of the stairwell from our apartment as I staggered down the stairs carrying nearly all I would need later for Y’tesfa Birhan, and with my computer and school bag over my shoulder.
I was determined to manage to deliver my load in one trip, as two would leave me too short of breath to speak at staff devotions - my responsibility this week. Living at 8,000 feet and climbing the steep hill to the top car park first thing in the morning leaves even the fittest breathing slightly faster.
We have been encouraged in devotions this week by extracts from a book that provides an insight into missionary life here back in the early 1900s. It is amazing to see how some problems faced then are not that dissimilar from life here today; also, how relationships are always key in this culture.
At 8:00am I unlocked the outside door to my classroom and was greeted as always by the excitement and enthusiasm for life that only 4-year-olds can express at such an early hour. Later during the morning I was teaching the class about solid shapes. I held up a pyramid and asked “What makes this shape special?” (to encourage the children in describing its properties). One little boy was struggling to recall the word ‘triangle’ but remembered it after few moments of screwed-up-face-concentration. One of his peers then piped up: “actually Mrs. Griffin it’s an isosceles triangle”. I have quite the ability range in my classroom.
At the end of the morning I received a text from Haile the taxi driver to ask if I could leave half an hour early to get to my dental appointment. That gave me fifteen minutes to pick up some lunch from home and deliver bananas and popcorn prepared by our house worker to a neighbour who could ensure they were ready for the Y’tesfa Birhan girls later. When I reached the taxi I found another member of staff (who had been feeling unwell) already inside, so we took her home via a pharmacy to collect the prescription that Phil would have written during his Bingham clinic earlier that morning.
We continued the journey for another forty minutes or so to reach the Korean Hospital. Once in the waiting area I opened my Amharic homework - anxious not to miss the opportunity to begin wrestling with the Fidel before my next lesson - when a smart young Ethiopian man sat down on the sofa beside me and asked if I was American. I assured him I wasn’t but this information didn’t deter him from seeking my opinion on the American election result and sharing his. Half an hour later after putting the world to rights I was called into the dentist.
Mr Lee was busy as always and unlike the UK where I’ve come to expect a dentist’s undivided attention, here he flits between patients. I had an open hole in my tooth and was left with the instruction to “keep tongue away” whilst he disappeared across the other side of the room to continue treating another patient.
I was back at Bingham by 4:30pm just in time to deliver the Y’tesfa Birhan lesson from the Bible through an interpreter, explain the craft (we were making pin cushions as Christmas gifts), and teach some English to a group of only the youngest girls. Some of my small group have difficulty writing their names in English so I had made prompts similar to those we use in kindergarten. The girls are always so delighted with anything that is personalised. They love ‘chowata’ (games) too and their pleasure at participating is evident.
I returned to our apartment then to cook and eat a quick meal (no ready meals here), before friends arrived for a bible study. Phil leads it and about nine people attend regularly.
Finally, we gave a lift to one member of the group who needed to catch a night flight at the airport across the other side of the city. We arrived home at about 10:40pm; the last event in an exceptionally busy day. I’m glad that every day is not quite like this!