by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
written on Weds April 24
I arrived in Addis Ababa this morning at 7:30 and it is now 8 p.m. It has been a busy, long day. Surprisingly, after 20 hours in an airplane coupled with a 4 hour layover in D.C., I had loads of energy… until right now when I am finally off my feet recounting a few highlights of the day. The rule of travel is to keep moving the day of arrival and then sleep well the first night and you will be good to roll for the rest of your stay. Because I am pretty tired and because today was a work day that didn’t lend itself to super interesting stories, I will keep this short and sweet. [didn’t turn out to be so short!!]
Directly from the airport I went to CHI’s (Children’s House International) office to work on adoption paperwork. It is always good to see the staff there; they have become dear friends. I left with a clearer picture of what is needed to bring each file up to the standard required by the court and the embassy. I will be meeting with the orphanage director in two days and discussing all the necessary things with her.
Did you know that our Mission’s Director, Mark Wolbert, is leading seven teams to Ethiopia this summer? He leaves the middle of May and won’t return until the end of August. Whew! I guess you could say I am his reconnaissance person to lay some groundwork for the upcoming teams in our project areas. I met with two of our Adoption Ministry 1:27 case managers and it was fun brainstorming ideas and ways mission groups can be productive while they serve the Ethiopian church.
Is it okay if I complain a little bit? I am aware that God isn’t a bit in favor of grumbling… but I am going to use this little vignette as a way to explain how hard it can be to get anything done in Ethiopia. As those on our prayer team already know, we have been struggling with the government to give approval for Adoption Ministry 1:27 to offer micro loans for small business start-ups. The proposal has languished in this and that office for nigh on 14 months! Needless to say, we are fed up with the procrastination and delays while various bureaucrats hint at bribes, and have finally negotiated some movement by appealing to a man high in the government who nudged the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) to give their approval so the licensing agency can issue the license. We drove quite a distance to get to the federal MoWA office, secured the letter, and then drove back across town to the licensing agency. When we got there, the reference number was nowhere to be found on the document. To my way of thinking, a simple phone call to ask for the number would have been an easy solution; but no, we clambered back into the car and snaked our way through horrendous traffic to the federal MoWA office. Finally, with the revered number scrawled on a scrap of paper, we once again trekked across town to the licensing office and handed the official the reference number so he could proceed with his part of the paper trail. I was baffled. Couldn’t they have called or emailed? What should have taken one hour tops turned into 2½ hours, but we emerged with the documents that will (hopefully) take us to the last step in a very long process.
I had an interesting lunch in between meeting with case managers and the licensing saga. Our case managers, our driver and Abebe somehow got on the subject of how differently Ethiopians and Americans view weight (as in fat versus skinny people). In Ethiopia, it is a compliment to comment on how fat a person is and it is an insult to refer to someone as skinny or thin. You can imagine how much trouble this faux pas would land them in with American guests! They laughed at themselves for their blunders in thinking they were complimenting a person by commenting on their chubbiness. But, after some serious discussion, they concluded that in the case of weight and Americans they were committed to saying nothing. I thought this a very wise decision.
Tomorrow I head to Adama and I have three loaded suitcases with formula, diapers, clothes and many other supplies for the Widows and Orphans Home where we have 13 children and for another orphanage we partner with, Joseph Children’s Home, where we have 7 children. I will be gathering adoption paperwork for the children, interviewing birth mothers who have recently relinquished, and trying to unsnarl some particularly tangled scenarios. I need specific wisdom to navigate these next three days, and I sincerely thank all of you who pray for me!