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St. Lucy Flute School

St. Lucy  Flute School
Class of 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

12-10-09














(From top left to right)

Orphan girls of St. Lucy's all prepared to greet the Mother General. November 25, 2009

Sr. Bindu, MPF (Principal at school in Sassie, Tigrai), Sr. Reggie, MPF (St. Lucy Primary School Principal), Sr. Negesti, MPF (instructor of religious studies and ethics at St. LucyPrimarySchool) Sr. Accunta, MPF (Mother Superior of Gola House and School), Sr. Antonia, MPF(head mother of the orphan girls at St. Lucy's)

I can’t believe its December already! My time has flown by so fast. I have such mixed feelings right now. Yes, I want desperately to see my family but I also love my new family too. Truly this is so hard to prepare myself to say good-bye to my Ethiopian family but also I get to say hello to my American family too.

Thank you to all my sweet family and friends for sending me Happy Thanksgiving wishes. I really loved them. It felt truly great to hear from everyone. I will respond to all of you when I can have the internet again. Which of course you will be receiving this blog too.

This last Friday the Mother General of the Religious Sisters of Filippini arrived from Rome. She came with Sr. Mary Elizabeth Lloyd, Sr. Virginia, Sr. Casa, and a media person (Caroline from Amsterdam) who is doing documentation for a documentary film of what the sisters do and the flute school. They arrived around 1pm on Friday. The orphan girls created a V formation, they sang songs, danced in Tigrinya, and wore their traditional clothes. After our greeting we all sat down to have lunch. Sr. Mary Beth was surprised at how at home I was with the sisters. She commented that I looked right at home with them. We all laughed because I have become a sister in a sense. After lunch we all went to our rooms. Sr. Mary Beth came to me and brought me a beautiful holy card of Padre Pio and a multi colored mission rosary. She gave them to me as gifts of thanks for the work I am doing at St. Lucy’s. She said the rosary is to be prayed specifically for the orphaned children who are lost throughout the world. I was so honored to receive such gifts. I especially treasured the Padre Pio card. On the card there is a piece of his clothing, so it’s a relic as well. Sr. MB told me that she always prays to him for impossible cases and she suggested I use it too for my impossible cases too. I will do that.

Later that evening I was taken out by the teachers as a gift for all my hard work I have done for them. They took me to dinner and then a night out dancing. I had a blast. I danced from 8pm – 11pm straight. I haven’t done that for years and years. It felt great. We all sang songs, drank beer, and danced traditional Tigrai dances.

On Saturday Sr. MB, Caroline, Sr. Antonia, and myself visited the Honey center. It is a restaurant park owned by the Religious Sisters of Filippini. The place is set in a beautiful park. There is a swimming pool in the middle of the park. The place is quite nice and the sisters are working very hard to refurbish it with new playground equipment for the children and replant the gardens. As we walked through the park Sr. Mary Beth saw all sorts of things to repair and improve the situation of the park. Especially the swimming pool, she will make it her own project to get repaired so the kids could go swimming. As we walked around the grounds some of St. Lucy students saw me walking. They called my name from the street and I waved at them. Sr. MB shouted back at them, “Hey boys, come back in three months we will have a swimming pool for you to go swimming in.” Of course they didn’t understand a word she said and as she made this statement all I could think of is how scarce water is in Adigrat. I figured the kids would come but not to swim, they would come with buckets and load their buckets and haul that water home with them. I figured within one day the pool would be drained, even if the water had chlorine in it. Oh, how life is different here in Ethiopia. I have been here a while and my thinking is entirely different from what it was like when I was in America. I used to think like that too but the reality of life here has changed my thinking. Her comments were so funny I laughed and laughed on so many of them because of practicality of the situation just can’t be due to money, culture, or lack of skill. It is probably even hard for my readers to understand what I am saying. Because around here it is completely different from life in Amercia.

On Sunday I had Caroline join me for a coffee ceremony at Froweyni’s house. I told Caroline if you really want to experience a true Tigrai coffee ceremony you must come to Froweyni’s house. We were joined at the ceremony with Gebremedhin and Gebrejohannes. Caroline enjoyed the coffee, said it tasted like toffee and said it was delicious. After a while we had her up dancing. It was another fantastic day.

The rain came down in sheets. As we danced inside the rain poured. After a few hours I had to go to an appointment with Seyoum to discuss the program for the flute school. I waited for a moment to have the clouds clear and I darted across Adigrat. When I got to his home it began to pour again. He and I discussed our program and I we watched some TV. It rained and rained, all afternoon and into the evening. Finally after about 4 hours I heard the rain stop. I told Seyoum I needed to go. It was around 8pm. Normally Seyoum walks me home but tonight he was feeling a little sick and decided to stay home. I walked across the wet Adigrat. The rain began to come down again. I picked up my pace. It rained harder, so I began to run home. As I turned around the corner to go down my street it looked like I was in a flash flood. Water was everywhere. The streets were covered in water. I became frightened as I ran through the water and the electrical poles were sparking. I was afraid one of the wires was going to drop into the water. I booked it home as fast as I could. I arrived at the front gate and knocked on the door to have the guard let me in. He wasn’t around. It’s raining very hard now. I am soaking wet. I pounded on the door and finally Casai came to the door. I quickly run through the gate and landed right into a deep mud puddle. Shit!!!!! I said I don’t need that. I ran up to the house and got into my room. I was freezing. I stripped off the wet clothes and put on some dry ones. I got every blanket I could find in both of my rooms and crawled under the covers, shivering; thinking, “God I hope I don’t get sick again.”

Since the arrival of the Mother General, after supper is over, Sr. Lette asks me every evening to share a new story for the Mother General. I have shared the story about my fantastic landslide into the Cathedral, Nick’s first confession, and tonight I shared the story about when I was a little girl how I accidently urinated in the confessional. I thought Sr. Mary Beth, Sr. Lette, Sr. Virginia, and the Mother General were going to pee their pants. By the time I got to the part of the story where a boy came out of the confessional with his knees soaked in pee Mother General was crying with laughter. Tears ran down their faces, I was sort of embarrassed by sharing the story but happy to make them laugh. Mother General shared that I am her source of entertainment during our dining hours. She said that when she looks at me it makes her laugh. I asked her how she would feel if I became a nun. She laughed and laughed and said “This order would never be the same again!!!!!” Not sure how to take that one but I think it’s a compliment.
This week I have been very busy getting the children ready to sing songs for the Mother General. I have a specific song for each classroom. Yesterday I was working with Grade 1B on a song called a “My Dog Rags”. In the song I have the children do a 180 jump turn so they all can wag their tales using their butts. Right when I am teaching this song I don’t realize that Sr. MB and Caroline were filming me wiggles my ass in front of the camera. When I jumped around I jumped right into the camera. Sr. MB and Caroline were both laughing very hard at me. I guess I get to bless the documentary with my butt!

In class 6A I had them sing the song “You Gotta Sing.” They love this song. They really get into it. They sing their hearts out and the decibels in this class room are extremely high. Then we followed it with “Skip To My Lou” and “This Little Light Of Mine.” As each song was sung the students got more and more into it. The volume went up and up. We were dancing and clapping and having a blast. By the time we got to “This Little Light of Mine” the students were singing at the top of their lungs. We finished the song with great big Hooray!!! I turned around to get them started on “Rockin Robin” and saw the director of the 5th-8th Grade standing in window. I went over to the window and he said “Celine, really, the students are too loud. Your singing is causing all the other students in the entire compound to sing with you. They are all laughing and dancing in class and the teachers can’t get their subjects taught.” I promised Johannes that I quiet down. I turned to the students and put my finger to my mouth and said, “sssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”. The students responded, all of them repeating exactly what I did laughing. Then we sang “Rockin Robin” we started quiet but got loud real fast. I looked outside and knew I was in trouble as Johannes shook his head at me.

I have 26 beginning flute students. I’m so overwhelmed by this class. No flutes, no music stands, and the teachers are beginners themselves. It’s really too much. Sr. MB agreed how badly I need flutes and teachers. I decided to divide the class into groups of 4s and gave each group a flute. Teachers Gebremedhin and Gebrejohannes are beginners themselves but they helped me. It was so hard to teach. The students who are not playing on the flutes space out and look around. I can’t get them to understand that it would benefit them if they would pay attention and help the student who is playing. I spend the hour moving from group to group helping them. So many things are unnoticed by my dear teachers because they are beginners. Things like wrong hand position, the flute is assembled incorrectly, and they don’t know what to do when the student can’t produce tone and several things like that. My work for this class is really taxing and I am so exhausted when I finished. I’m not sure what to do as I return home in a few weeks. I am very concerned to leave this class in the hands of beginning teachers themselves. As hard as I work with everyone its simply not enough time to help them the way I want to.

Flute classes A and B are doing really well. They are working hard and I think I have finally got the students who want to be part of the class to be there on time, do their homework, and not miss any classes if possible. I have begun teaching Johannes Welday, a 7th grade boy who is doing extremely well to be the teacher of the class B. I also had Froweyni return to her classes too so she can also help me. It is going to be very interesting when I return in June to see how everyone is doing. I pray Seyoum can keep all of this going.
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On the Sunday following the American Thanksgiving, I made our Thanksgiving dinner. It was made more for the thanks for the arrival of the mother general and that we were all together. On Saturday I prepared the pies, made the giblet broth, baked the sweet potatoes, and made the basting sauce for the chickens. First I had to cook the pumpkin. After doing that I had to put the cooked pumpkin through the food mill and hand crank the pumpkin into a puree. This took about two hours to do. Then I had to drain out the excess water so that I had the main pulp of the pumpkin. I added the spices, sugar, eggs, and poured the custard into my prepared crusts. We didn’t have pie pans so I used one large cake pan and one fluted pan. As I baked the pies I got busy with the giblet broth and potatoes. I left for a while to go out with friends and get an avocado juice. (This might sound bad but it’s actually delicious. Avocado is a fruit and here it is put into a smoothie type of drink.) After I returned the sweet potatoes were done and the broth was ready. The potatoes were cooled and I peeled them and prepared my candy yam sauce my mother had taught me. As I peeled the potatoes more than half of them were bad on the inside and they had to be tossed out. The sweet potato casserole didn’t look that appetizing after I prepared it. But what the heck can’t have everything perfect. The pies were finished and I set them on the window sill to cool. They looked beautiful and Sr. Lette really complimented me on my master cooking. I felt proud from her compliments and went to bed feeling very happy with my work.

The next day after mass I got busy with preparing the rest of the meal. Sr. Mary was worried that we wouldn’t have enough pies and asked me to make two more pies. “In what???” I thought. Ok I said. Sr. Casa helped me make the pies. I made the crust and lined two loaf pans and helped Sr. Casa make the pies. As we worked I noticed from the previous day that I didn’t add enough sugar to my other pies. “Oh shit” I thought, I hope they taste ok. I then prepared the stuffing and had the cooks peel the potatoes and snap the green beans. I stuffed the very skinny chickens and poof off went the power. I had just put the pies in the oven. OMG I only had enough time for the pies to cook and to roast the chickens. OMG what am I going to do? Sr. Lette helped me. She brought in one of the coffee making BBQ type things that is light by coals but this one was the size of four of the regular coffee burners. She pulled out a large kettle pot and asked if I could cook the chickens in that. I figured well sure, give me a lid and I can make this work. I put the chickens in the pot, rubbed them down with my basting sauce, topped them with fresh herbs and poured the remainder of the giblet broth in the bottom of the pan. I then turned to check on other things. One of the postulates “nuns in training” inflamed the fire on the BBQ. I turned around the pot was covered in fire. I practically leaped across the kitchen to get to the pot. The chickens had already begun to burn. The pot stunk from the burning chicken. “F#########&&&&&&&&*************!!!!!!!!!!” I quietly said to myself. I couldn’t scream it out loud but I really wanted to. “What the hell am I going to do?” I added more water but the chickens stunk. I got very mad. It was obvious to the poor nun in training as I flurried through the kitchen trying to save the damn chickens. Three chickens lost their lives for this meal and I was damn if I couldn’t make it work. I told everyone to leave the pot of chickens alone and only I touch. The nuns in training and the cooks all stood there with “dears in headlights” expressions as they watched me fly through the kitchen to make it work. For the next two and half hours I prayed over this stupid pot of chickens. Oh how I carefully basted them, praying Hail Mary after Hail Mary, hoping to God they will turn out ok. Sr. Lette returned from the store walked into the kitchen, “something’s burning, I can smell it” she shouted out. “It’s the chickens Sr. Lette, they are burned!” Oh man was I mad. I stood over that stupid pot of chickens begging God to help me.

Let me explain a little bit about Ethiopian chickens. First of all they are very small and skinny. Our regular size chicken really is the size of about two of these chickens. Secondly, the chickens are older so the meat is tougher. The best way to cook these chickens is really in a stew. But I figured if roasted the birds and basted the chickens ever 20 minutes I could make them nice and somewhat tender. But I didn’t roast the chickens now did I? No, I burned them so I was going to serve burned leather meat. Truly it is really difficult to make chicken taste good around here.
12 o’clock came around. Sr. Lette was in the kitchen wanting to know how things were going. I was frantically and sweating like crazy trying to pull off the thanksgiving dinner. I announced, “The chickens aren’t done sister.” I had 30 minutes to get the chickens done, process the largest pot of potatoes I have ever made through the food mill, turn them into mashed potatoes, make the gravy, and heat through the sweet potatoes (which of course I didn’t have any oven to heat them in). I had no idea how I was going to make this work. I went to pull out the sweet potatoes from the magazine and OMG they had turned black from the pan I put them in. OMG did they look bad. Fuck it I heated them anyway on the gas burner. My dinner so far was not a creation from a master cook but more of a master disaster. I cooked the sweet potatoes on the gas burners and parts of them were scalding hot and others were still cold. At this time, my crazy face was on, the kitchen was buzzing, it’s almost dinner time and our guests were hungry. Sr. Nigesti took over the chicken pot and said, “These chickens are done.” They weren’t done. I couldn’t pull the meat away from the bone at all. I knew they weren’t done. Sr. Lette said they were done too. OMG I thought, on top of the food tasting like burnt shit I’m going to kill everyone with food poisoning. I pulled the chickens out of the pot. Thank God!! Only a very small amount on the bottom of the chickens were burned-really it didn’t look that bad or taste that bad either. Thank God I mumbled to myself.

Forget the gravy it’s not happening. I removed the stuffing out of the chickens and poured the basting sauce through a strainer onto the chickens. I have to say the chickens looked fantastic in appearance. Everyone was really delighted when I brought them in. After the presentation I went back into the kitchen to cut them into pieces. It was like trying to cut through a rubber tire. I tried to cut through the meat with my knife but the chicken slipped right off the platter and flew onto the table. This is something out of a horror movie, nothing was going right. The cooks and I were desperately trying to get these chickens cut. Everyone was waiting to start their lunch. It got to the point where I took the chicken with my own two hands and pulled it apart like an animal. We accomplished it though and I returned to the dining room with the chickens in pieces.

Breaking them apart was a real aerobic exercise and my head was dripping in sweat. I looked quite the sight when I sat down for lunch. The Mother General looked at me with a concerned glare. I was truly annoyed. I had black sweet potatoes, sugarless pies, and uncooked chicken. WTF!!!!

Everyone served up their plates full, except me, I was afraid to eat the food. I watched as everyone tried with all their might to cut the chicken. They chewed and chewed and chewed through the chicken. Many were gulping it down with large amounts of water. Master cook my ass, I barely can pass as an apprentice. This dinner sucked. Boy was I mad.

In spite of it all many compliments came my way. I thanked them kindly but begged God to not let anyone get food poisoning. The mashed potatoes and the stuffing did turn out fantastic. I also loved the green beans but then again, I didn’t make the green beans. I barely ate my plate of food. I was tired as well as disappointed but it seemed that everyone liked it ok. Also the pie didn’t taste that bad. In retrospect it wasn’t that bad but I really wanted to make it especially nice for the Mother General. I guess this was another moment in my life where I get to practice humility.

The electricity didn’t come back on for most of the day; it was late afternoon (after 4pm) when it finally returned. Oh well, what the heck we managed to have our Thanksgiving dinner after all. Sr. Mary baked the additional pies (which we didn’t need, my God we ate pumpkin pie for the entire week.) and they did turn out nice. Thanks to Sr. Casa, she really paid attention to the recipe….I think I will stick to my musical arts and leave the art of cuisine to someone who is better.
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12-6-09

This weekend we had a huge celebration. On Saturday we had Sister Nigesti Tesfay (from Sassie) and Sister Teresa Abraham (from Zalambaasa) celebrates their 25 years of being sisters. We started the day with a high mass. The Bishop came with 5 other priests and we had a gorgeous mass. We followed it with breakfast outside in the courtyard of the sister’s house. Everyone came, the priests, all the sisters, and the celebrated sister’s families. It was really nice. Then I had to get the orphan girls who are also my flute students to run a rehearsal to prepare to play for the Bishop that afternoon. The girls had not practiced and they sounded so bad. I thought I was going to shoot myself in the head with how hard I worked with them. I left the rehearsal super upset. I had to make a cake for the luncheon and I came into the kitchen with a very pissed off face. Everyone looked at me and already they know when they see that face on Celine don’t bother her. I didn’t talk to anyone and got to work on my cake. After a short time I chilled out and decided it will be what it’s going to be. The priests and the bishop returned. We celebrated the sister’s 25th jubilee with a great lunch. We all laughed and had a great time. Then I got up to help the girls perform. I got them prepared and Sr. Lette shared a very nice opening about my work and what I have done for the flute school. I was deeply touched with her kind words. I prayed several Hail Mary’s and then went out with the girls to perform. They did a beautiful job. I think I scared these little darlings into submission because they really played well. I followed their pwerformance with a piece too. Oh they loved it. The Bishop and the Mother General were very pleased. As I performed I thanked Blessed Mother for being there for me once again.

Today was the community day for the sisters. This weekend has been fabulous as all the sisters from the region were together for the weekend. Sr. Lette asked me to make pancakes for breakfast. They all loved the pancakes. (I guess I didn’t retire my apron just yet.) Then later in the morning we had mass and I played a special song to St. Lucy of Filippini. It went really well as the sisters sang the song in Italian to their beloved saint. I was pleased to make them happy. We had lunch after mass and I finally got my first break at 2pm from the weekend with the sisters.

At that time I went to the school for a rehearsal with the flute students. Again I worked these students hard but they are in better condition to play and I feel better about them.
Today I finished with going to Seyoum’s to watch a movie. As I watched with him I fell asleep. Nothing changes with me, it doesn’t matter where I am on this planet, when I watch TV I fall asleep. Later Froweyni came over and we all talked for a while.

When I returned back to the sisters dinner had already begun. I sat down and had my dinner. As I ate, Sr. Reggie announced we don’t have school on Tuesday so my program of flute performance and individual classes has been cancelled. Oh no, after all that work. I didn’t even mean to say it out loud but I did, “You mean after all that work and the students giving up their Sunday afternoon to rehearse, you’re gonna cancel it?” Sr. Reggie felt really bad. So we made the program for this morning (12-7-09).

I only could have grades 4A and 6A perform for the program. There wasn’t enough time to get everyone in. I felt very bad for all the teachers and students who worked so hard for me to get ready but oh well, the Mother General is so busy and she leaves in 2 days so she can’t attend to all of it. I was grateful I could get that in. The children sang well, the flute students played fantastic, Seyoum performed beautifully and then I played a portion of the “Carnival of Venice” for MG. Everyone really loved it and it went so well. When I finished my piece the MG gave me a standing ovation as well as everyone else followed after her. Several of my dear priest friends were there and were very pleased too. I was so grateful to God to have everything come together and it was so impromptu for everyone as well. No one knew their program was going to happen until they arrived at school.

When I came to lunch Sr. Lette said she was incredibly impressed with the children’s capability to speak English. She said it wasn’t like attending a concert in Ethiopia but for the time we were in America. All the children speak their English with an American accent and pronunciation. I laughed as of course they are imitating exactly what I taught them. I was happy to be able to make her happy. When I make the sisters proud of me, I am very happy.

I think that’s enough for now. I hope everyone is well at home. I’m down to 2 weeks now. I will see everyone at Christmas. I love you all so much. Thank you so much for reading. Sorry it takes me so long to get these too you. Safia, I really miss your help.

Love and God Bless You,
Celine-Marie

Thursday, November 26, 2009

11-24-09

The beginning of my week was pretty interesting. My girlfriend Froweyni Yacob and I decided to meet and attend Mass together at the cathedral. It was more like I begged her to join me at the 6:30am Mass so that I could have company while attending church. She and her cousin both agreed they would meet me there and we would sit together.
It was Sunday morning. I decided since I was going to Froweyni’s aunt’s house for lunch that afternoon I would wear my traditional Ethiopian dress for the day. I had purchased some sandals here in Ethiopia but both pairs are now broken. (Everything here is made in China and is cheaply made.) Also, I am at least 20 pounds lighter and nothing fits. Because I no longer had my Ethiopian sandals and I wasn’t going to wear tennis shoes with my dress I put on a pair of sandals that I had brought from America. They’re pretty big and my feet were swimming in them. I was running late and I had promised Froweyni I would meet her at the entrance area. I quickly grabbed my Gez/English Mass book and ran off to the cathedral. Several times as I ran across the alley to the cathedral grounds I tripped over small rocks and my feet slipped out of my sandals. My feet were swimming in the shoes and it was hard for me to keep my balance. I quickly ran across the cathedral grounds, the drums were going so I new Mass was about to begin. I ran up the stairs of the cathedral and at the top of the steps right before the foyer of the cathedral is a very small lip that separates the steps from the foyer. I didn’t see it. My big sandals caught onto the lip and I became airborne. I tried with all my might to get my feet to grab onto the foyer entrance but no matter how much I tried I couldn’t get my balance. I flew right into one of my flute students as I took her down. My dress flew over my butt and everyone got to see my nice textured ass. I continued flying into the main entrance of the cathedral where I had every priest who was playing a drum turn in shock as I made my grand entrance. “Good morning God,” I thought as I slid into the cathedral. Some elderly ladies ran to me to see if I was ok. As I lay there I see my flute student staring at me, my dress over my waist and I had disrupted the complete back row of the church. One older woman was deeply concerned but the other burst into laughter. I did too. I jumped to my feet and said, “I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m ok, don’t worry.” My laughter took over and I couldn’t stop. As I regained my composure I quietly found where the sisters were and I sat down.
I then realized that I had forgotten about Froweyni. I never did find here in the church and so I figured she didn’t come. But when she came to get me for lunch she told me she saw my glorious stunt and she said she laughed and laughed and her cousin laughed too. I guess everyone said I was pretty hilarious. It was my turn to be laughed it.
This last Saturday the sisters had their annual vow renewal for their mission work. I was invited to join in the celebration. It was beautiful. I have some pictures I will post when I get back to America. As I watched the sisters dedicate themselves to Christ and to their mission work I felt honored to be part of this celebration.
The celebration began with a high Mass. After the homily the sisters processed to the front of the chapel and vowed their renewal to Christ and to the children of their mission work. I started to cry as I stood behind some of the most dedicated sisters I have ever been around. Their principle of their order fits so closely to my heart and who I am as a person. It is to teach others about Christ’s love and to educate children who are in need. It is such a wonderful order that at times I wish I would have known about it when I was younger. Also, their unconditional love and kindness that penetrates me so deeply too. As I stay here longer I learn more and more from them the true act of the Gospel Word to love thy neighbor as thyself. They themselves from their conduct have been my best teachers. I myself have learned much patience, love, charity, faith, fortitude, honor, kindness, and most of all humility (something I have been always afraid to practice in my life). I am so very grateful to God to be amongst these wonderful ladies.
After the Mass I went to each one of the sisters filled with such love for them and congratulated them personally of their success for another year of their work. God willing I will be able to be part of these sister’s lives for many years to come. We all joined together for a fantastic lunch and we danced together and sang songs too. I really had a very good time.
The sisters gave me a rosary as a gift. What is special about this rosary is it is blessed by the Pope!!! Sr. Antonia bought it in Rome while she was there this summer. I could not believe I was given such a gift. But Sr. Lette said because I had left such a beautiful rosary the first time for them to have they wanted to get me something special. The Sisters also learned it was my daughter’s birthday on Saturday and we all sang Happy Birthday to her. I tried to have America call me but couldn’t get through. I wanted my daughter to know that all the sisters prayed for you on your special day, the priest too prayed for you. We all wished you the Happiest 20th Birthday a girl could ever have. I hope my beautiful Jacqueline reads this so she knows how much she was on my mind through the entire weekend. I love you Jackie.
This week is midterm exams for St. Lucy’s school. I have had a rather free week and a nice rest from my busy teaching schedule. On Tuesday after the teachers finished their exams my three dear friends called me. I was busy washing my clothes and hanging them on the line. They called me down to the school and told me to put on some good walking shoes. “Oh my gosh”, I thought, “what are they up to now?” I met up with Froweyni, Gebrejohannes, and Gebremedhin. Gebrejohannes asked me, “Celine would you like to come to my village and have lunch at my parent’s home?” “Where is your village, Gebre?” I asked. He said, “It is far, at least one hour on foot and the mountain is high. I’m worried you will get tired but Froweyni and Gebremedhin say you can handle this.” I said, “I think I will be fine, let’s go.”
We first caught a taxi to take us up to the entrance road to his village. We drove close to the road entrance to Sassie. (I know if Safia is reading this she will know how far outside of Adigrat I am talking about.) For all you who do not know its about 20 kilometers outside of Adigrat. We then started to walk. As we walked many children from the village became delighted that a foreigner was coming to their village. They giggled as they followed us shouting out “you!” and “forenji, forenji!!” I always laugh when they do this because they are so amused to see a white person walking amongst their land. At one point I turned around quickly and said “hello with a big smile.” They all spread out in different directions laughing and running away from me. They are so shy but so curious. As we walked away from the paved road we went down the mountain. As I got further my breath was taken away at the beauty of what I saw. Never can a person see this area from the road. Safia and I saw a lot when we came but if one really wants to see Ethiopia this is the way to do it. We approached a point of the plateau before we began our deep decent of the mountain. We were as high as the mountain I could not climb from the field trip last year. Before me was a valley, green, green, green with tall grass blowing in the wind. The stone houses were large on the hillsides of the valley and gardens surrounded the homes. Each home had to have had at least 3 acres of property. We continued down. I prayed that I would be able to make it back up. Gebremedhin wants me to go to his house in Sassie but he says the travel down the mountain is difficult and he is worried I cannot handle it. He said, if you can handle this I will consider taking you to meet my family. I courageously worked to be fine. At some points I had some trouble but it wasn’t because I couldn’t handle it, it was because the mountainside was all stone and very slippery. It was even difficult for my friends who have crossed this type of terrain all their lives.
When we reached the bottom we were in a field of green grass. The wind blew softly and cooled us as we walked. The land had a small river running through it and at one point we came across two boys who were swimming in a pool of water. They saw me and one screamed to the other, “forenji” and I saw them both dart for cover and put their clothes back on. We all laughed.
The land was like being in a dream it was so beautiful. When we got to the river we stopped and rested. It had been over an hour since we left the paved road. I couldn’t believe I was in such a place. How lucky I am to have this opportunity. Froweyni and I took several pictures of us and the landscape. I agreed with her that village life is a lot better than city life. I will also post these pictures when I come back to America.
We finally reached Gebrejohannes’ home about another 15 minutes worth of a walk back up the mountain side. His family’s home is large. We entered the home. The entrance way was built around part of the mountain and no one seemed to be using this room. To my right was the kitchen area and the left was the living area. We entered where I met with some of Gebre’s siblings and mother, father, uncle, grandmother, and their family priest. The room was large filled with holy pictures all over the walls. The inside walls were covered with mud and then painted white. The house was supported by large trees that made the area seem a bit like being in a log cabin. In the main area of the living space was a built in bench (made of mud) where everyone could sit. Above that was a higher area where we all went to sit and visit. The higher area was covered with fresh cut grass that made it soft for us to sit on. The room was very cool and relaxing to sit in. We all enjoyed coffee ceremony and a large piece of hambasha (homemade Ethiopian, Tigrai bread). I really love the country hambasha more than the bread from Adigrat. It is richer in flavor and very satisfying. Off to the right of the room was a wood made ladder that led up to the bedrooms. Truly it was something out of a fairly tale to be in.
Gebrejohannes got up and left us. Then later he came in with a pitcher filled with homemade honey water. The water was refreshing to drink and very delicious. He had made it from their fresh honey they got that morning from their hives. Off to my right was a hen laying an egg in the corner of the room. I laughed and thought of my relatives Ted and Francine and how much they would love this place as it reminded me very much of the feel of their home. Gebre really wanted to be hospitable and insisted I needed to drink more and more of his honey water. But I was afraid as my foreign body and I wanted to be careful about what I consumed. I told Gebre I needed to be careful and not drink so fast as it might not settle with me. My body may not accept the water. He didn’t understand and so I accommodated him and drank more of the water. Within 15 minutes I felt a headache coming on. After we visited and Gebremedhin drank some souwa he started to become funny as he became a little intoxicated. Froweyni and I laughed at his jokes and funny character. He is very funny when he has a little bit of alcohol in him. It doesn’t take much to get him going.
Next we were invited to eat tholo for lunch. I could tell that I wasn’t feeling very good from drinking the water and I was afraid to eat the tholo. We sat down on the lower level to have the lunch. We were handed sticks to use as pokers for the soft barley balls to dip into the meat mixture and berebere (red hot peppers and other spices ground together into a powder that becomes the sauce. The sauce looks similar to marinara). This spice is used in all their cooking as it is their main source for flavor in these parts. Gebremedhin took my stick and broke it apart making it into a fork. I was amazed to see him do this and pleased because it would make it easier for me to eat the food. He said this is how we do it in our village in Sassie. (But I am annoyed with myself - I forgot it. I wanted to bring it home to show everyone. Perhaps I can get him to make another one for me.)
They brought in a very large plate of injerra. They put the pot of tholo on the injerra and Gebre’s sister came in with one of the largest mounds of tholo I have ever seen. They lifted the lid of the sizzling meat in the berebere mixture and I knew oh boy, I am not going to be able to eat this today. It started to make me feel sick looking at it. Gebre came in and opened a bowl of milk mixture that looks very much like yogurt. In Adigrat the milk mixture is white but in Sasson (the village we were in) the mixture was orange because they mix it with the berebere. I didn’t want to offend anyone, especially the kindness of Gebre’s parents so I took some bites. It actually was delicious but my stomach was already upset and I knew I better not eat more than just a taste. His family noticed I wasn’t eating and insisted I eat. Gebrejohannes looked at me confused and said, “Celine, please eat.” Oh how I tried. It got to the point I started to gag. So I told them I cannot eat any more. This disturbed Gebrejohannes’ mother and she and Gebre got up and prepared for me a large and I mean large place of injerra and honey. They wanted me to eat because according to their custom if one doesn’t eat then there must be something wrong. I ate a little bit of it but could not eat any more. I could tell this offended Gebrejohannes very much. I felt so bad. After we finished eating we all went up to the upper level and I sat there quietly. Froweyni and Gebremedhin didn’t notice that I was upset. Gebrejohannes came up and had a sad expression on his face and said, “I’m very sad Celine that you did not eat.” This I couldn’t handle and I began to cry. I apologized very much to him if I offended his mother and father or him. I explained my body cannot handle this food at times and I don’t want to have to get sick. Then Gebrejohannes felt very bad for me crying and said, “No matter Celine, truly it is ok if you don’t eat, I was only joking.” But I really don’t think he was joking. From that point I didn’t feel well.
This dining experience reminded me of that movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” there is a scene where the girl is offered by some food from the village people and she knew if she ate it she would get sick. Indiana Jones responds “This is more food than they get in a week. Don’t offend them and eat it!!” This is exactly what my situation was like. They saw that I had come to their village so they prepared as much as they could for me. I have never felt as bad about anything as I did that time. But I also knew if I had anymore I would have been vomiting and I surely did not want to have his family see me do that. This was a better choice even if I did offend someone a little bit.
We visited a short while longer and then Gebrejohannes took us to see his family’s garden. It was the size of an acre. My mother would have loved to see such a garden. It was beautiful. They also had several fruit trees: apples, mango, papayas, oranges, and bananas too. It was cool to see a banana tree as well. Flowers also surrounded the home. Truly inspite of the sick stomach the place was a bit of heaven. I shared with Gebrejohannes how jealous I was that he could grow up in such a rich environment and he said that he loved his childhood and has many fond memories of living in this place.
We went back to thank his family for the time we had. His father wanted us to spend the night (I guess it is custom to do so). But Froweyni and I knew we had to get back. It was late in the afternoon as we began our trek back up the mountain.
I did fine as I climbed back up the mountainside. The only time I had a little trouble was at the steep part. I did begin to sweat a bit and it made me breathe hard as it was hard to climb up vertically. Gebremedhim helped me as I climbed up but when we got to the top he said, “Celine, you can’t come to Sassie. The mountain is much harder and you will surely get tired.” “Damn it Gebremedhin, I am so proud that I just climbed up this mountain don’t burst my bubble,” I thought. This got me upset again. I was also starting to feel rather sick from the food and my head began to really hurt. He tried to help me again but now I was annoyed with him for saying such a thing to me and as he tried to give me his hand to help me I pushed it away. He asked, “What’s wrong?” “Nothing!!!!!” I responded. Of course when an American girl gets upset with an African man the only thing he can do is try to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. But I refused to talk, I am stubborn, and I finished my climb without him. As I got to the top he said, “Celine, you are like a lion.” Oh I thought that is a nice thing to say. Then he said, “You are like a lion, but an untamed lion.” “Arghhhhh,” I thought, “What a thing to say.” But it made me laugh. It is funny, these people only speak the absolute truth. What they think they speak. So then we walked hand in hand to the paved road which made Gebremedhin feel better that I was no longer upset with him. He is a funny person. I enjoy him very much.
Gebremedhin and Gebrejohannes are very good friends. Like brothers to each other. When we got to the road Gebremedhin told Froweyni and I that he is going back to spend the night with Geberjohannes’ family. From what I understood, this last weekend was the feast day for St. Michael the Arch Angel and Gebrejohannes spent the weekend with Gebremedhin’s family in Sassie and now Gebrejohannes’ family wanted Gebremedhin to spend the night with his family. So we all kissed each other goodbye and Froweyni and I got on the bus to head back to Adigrat.
As we drove away and waved goodbye the stupid bus driver took off like a bat out of hell. We drove down the hillside of the winding roads at least 70 miles per hour. Froweyni and I yelled at the bus driver to slow down but he yelled back that he must hurry to Adigrat to he can get at least one more run in before the evening is done. I felt sick, I prayed to St. Raphael and begged to God to not let us die on the hillside due to a stupid reckless driver.
Froweyni and I arrived back at the sister’s house around 5pm. I kissed her goodbye and went to my room. I was covered in dirt and sweat from the hike back. My legs were sore, my head hurt, and my stomach was very upset. I did end up getting sick. Now, I don’t think I can look at a bowl of tholo for a while. After getting sick I went to bed. I was woken by Sr. Lette as she found me in bed sick around 9pm that evening. I told her what happened and both her and Sr. Reggie went to Gebrejohannes, Gebremedhin, and Froweyni the next morning and yelled at them for giving me Ethiopian food when my body couldn’t handle it. I felt so bad; here I was given a fantastic opportunity to see some of the most beautiful country side I have seen since I have come to Ethiopia. I was given the kindest hospitality and warmth from Gebrejohannes’ family. I offended them because I couldn’t eat and my dear friends got chewed out by the sisters from only giving me a wonderful afternoon. Later that morning I went to them and apologized deeply for that. I told them how much I love them and how fantastic of a day I had. They appreciated that very much and we all went out later and had tea and a biscuit. Really, they didn’t worry that they upset Sr. Lette and Sr. Reggie.
Today is Thanksgiving. I woke this morning feeling terrific and had breakfast with the sisters. Sr. Mary Elizabeth Lloyd and their mother general are now in Addis Ababa. They were suppose to come today but have decided to wait until tomorrow or Saturday. I am helping Sr. Mary make Thanksgiving dinner for them and we will celebrate it on Sunday when all the sisters can come to join us. Here is my menu:
Roasted Chickens in Orange Garlic Glaze
Apple Stuffing
Sweet Potatoes with sugar and cinnamon
Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy
String Beans
Salad
Hambasha Bread
Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Coffee Ceremony
Armarula!! (Cordial from South Africa)
I’m so excited to make this dinner. It is so cool to cook here. My milk comes from the cows, my herbs, fruits, and vegetables come from the gardens, my chickens come from their stock, and everything I make will be completely homemade. Sr. Mary and I have planned the food and lists of everything we need to do.
As well the sisters, the postulates (sisters in training) and I have also prepared a program to sing songs, play my flute, and celebrate the thanksgiving that we are all together. Here is what we will sing:
Salve Regina (Sung in Latin)
Oh With What Joy
We Thank You, Father
Our God Reigns
They Will Know We Are Christians (Accompanied with Ethiopian drum)
Psalm 89
A Song to St. Lucy (Sung in Italian) accompanied with Ethiopian drum
Celebrate to St. Lucy (Music and Lyrics written, played, and sung by Seyoum-Michael)

It is really beautiful to sing with the sisters and to accompany the music with my flute. I am really looking forward to this.
Anyway, my Thanksgiving is so different this year. My celebration will be enriched with their culture and love. I am lucky and very, very thankful to be here. I hope everyone in America has a blessed Thanksgiving and is truly thankful for everything they have. I know I am.
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I can’t believe it is already this time of year. God Bless everyone and I send all of you my love.
Love,
Celine

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 12, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
Life can be frustrating sometimes in Adigrat. I spent all last week attending a workshop with Abba W/Selassie Tesfay regarding his OMCA (Orthodox-Muslim-Catholic-Association) and their “Unity of Life” program in prevention of HIV and the program they developed to help those who are dying from AIDS. After attending the workshop, I sat down for several hours with Father and interviewed him regarding his program and the work that has been done since last year. I came back to the convent and typed up 6 pages worth of documentation. Then I lost power!!!! When the power came back I rebooted my computer to find that I had lost the entire document. Wow, wow!!!! Was I mad!!!!! Now I have to go back again and redo the entire process. So frustrating, now I make sure everything is saved and that I will not loose my work ever again.
I went to see the doctor because I was not recovering from my virus. I had pneumonia and was put on a heavy antibiotic. The medicine helped me but the sister’s house lost their water (I think parts of Adigrat were without water too.) I had to live out of a bucket of water everyday. Every morning I wake, I am sick, I don’t want to get out of bed but I have to. I proceed to the washroom, kneel on the cold stone floor, take a big deep breath and pour the icy cold water over my head. I can’t tell you much fun this was. Not!!!! I would say to myself “wake up, wake up.” The cold water and with my sickness was unbearable to pour over my head. I hated it so much. Then I had to wash my body with the water and use this water to flush the toilet. It was not fun. One day I’m sitting with Sr. Lette and she is very worried about me because I am sick and I am bathing in this cold water. I said, “Don’t worry; this is when we tell God how much we appreciate things when we have them. When we get water again, I will be so thankful. “That is exactly what I did. We got water on Sunday morning. I stood underneath my warm shower and thanked God over and over again as I enjoyed the hot water and could wash my hair, flush my toilet, and finally get laundry done. It felt good to have a clean body and put on clean clothing again. Not to mention to flush the toilet more than once a day.
It’s these little things in life that we don’t experience in America. In Ethiopia it is so common to live several days without power, or our case several weeks without water. It is common to see the women hauling water from the rivers; they spend all day doing this. In the village of Zalambaasa these women walk 7 miles to get to the well for their daily water. That’s 14 miles a day. We truly don’t know what it is like to live without. Often the water we do have in Adigrat is contaminated and people get very sick from it. The people of this village say, a good day is when we don’t get sick from the water.
This last weekend the sisters invited me to a wedding. I missed the ceremony in the church but I attended the wedding celebration on Saturday afternoon. Weddings here in Tigrai go on for about a week. First they celebrate the marriage with a high mass ceremony at the cathedral. Then the bride goes back to her parent’s house and waits for her husband to come for her. There are two parties that go on all afternoon for this: one at the groom’s family and the bride’s family’s homes.
We first attended the groom’s family. Outside of the home was a very large tent. As you entered the tent there were benches placed in squares and in each square seats about 20 people. The tent was filled with people. They were all drinking mez (homemade honey wine) and souwa (homemade beer). As soon as we found a square area to sit we were immediately given glasses and they poured us at least 20 oz. of souwa right away. I turned it down because souwa goes right to my head and I didn’t want to get drunk around the sisters and the priests (which we joined when we sat down.) The kettles of souwa were being poured into cups as if there was an endless bound of beer for the party. I was then given a bottle of mez (this is considered an honor) from one of the family members of the wedding party. I drank some of it out of respect but did it carefully because it was very strong. We all visited with the happy family and enjoyed having conversation with everyone. Next we were brought in a large injerra basket that was filled with injerra and a large bowl of tholo. First they placed a circle dining table in the middle of the square where we could place our glasses of souwa and bottles of mez underneath. On top of the table they placed the platter of injerra and tholo. A girl accompanied the dish holding a large ball of soft barley. She sat down she rolled the soft barley into small balls. The tholo was topped with a creamy cheese, looks like sour cream but it isn’t. Then it is topped spices that look similar to ground pepper. As the girl places the balls of barley onto the injerra we use small sticks to poke the balls and dip them into the tholo mix.
Tholo is a mixture of red pepper, onion, garlic, and other spices with sheep meat. It looks a lot like a stew. It is very delicious to enjoy. As we poke the balls and dip them into the cream and tholo type stew we then feed each other. I really enjoy this part of their culture. It is such a loving way to attend to each other. After a while the bowl of tholo is dumped out onto the injerra, more cream is topped to it and then we all take pieces of the injerra bread and use it to scoop up the stew and eat it. The dish goes incredibly well with the mez and souwa drink.
After we finished our meal, the music began. I looked up and saw two of St. Lucy’s 7th and 8th grade student boys indicating that they wanted to dance with me. I laughed and responded back with dance movements that shared with them a thank you but not now. This did not stop these boys; they followed me all over the tent. It was pretty funny.
The 5th – 8th grade boys are very funny at St. Lucy’s. I teach their classes and I often see them giving me the eye. I ignore them but sometimes they really want me to know that they like me. I get pictures and holy cards from them all the time. I laugh and graciously accept them. One day I was teaching the 6th grade class and I became very warm. I removed my netsala (shawl like wrap) and I had a sleeveless shirt on. I didn’t think that this was a problem until all the boys gave me cat calls. I looked at the teacher and laughed and I immediately put my netsala back on. I thought to myself “These boys, they start so young.” One day some of the 5th and 6th grade boys found it ok to slap my bottom. I turned around and glared at them with an angry face and told them no. But this didn’t stop them until teacher Solomon saw them do it and he took his teaching stick and slapped each one on the hand. I looked at him and thanked him and told him they weren’t listening to me. He really scolded them and now I don’t have anyone touching me. So when I’m at this wedding and I saw these boys following me I have to become aggressive and let them know that they needed to leave me alone. Young hormones!!!!!! It does make me laugh inside myself though. It is both funny and cute.
After we visited the groom’s family for a while we walked across Adigrat to the bride’s family. Again we were given the beer and wine to drink and tholo to eat. I accepted my second glass but didn’t drink it and only nibbled a little bit on the tholo. It was too much. I went with the sisters to meet the bride. What a beauty she was. She wasn’t in a traditional Ethiopian wedding dress, she wore what we would wear but still she was so beautiful. I congratulated her and wished her all the happiness in the world for her and her husband.
I stepped outside to call some of my friends for the evening program we had arranged. As I tried to talk to some of them but I was blasted out with honking horns, cars filled with members of the groom’s family. I went back in and sat down to watch the entrance. It was a procession, first with the family members dressed in cloaks that are in the colors of the Ethiopian flag and a large regal lions on the back symbolizing the strength of Ethiopia from the lion. They danced in while beating the drums. First they danced in a circle dancing, singing, and beating the drums. Then the wedding party joins them and they dance around. The happiness and joy of this procession was wonderful to watch, I loved it.
Next they proceeded forward and the last person of the procession was the groom. They all proceeded forward to the front of the bride’s tent. At the front of the tent was a raised floor with a sofa and chairs for the wedding party to sit and enjoy the feast and celebration. As the groom walked forward I noticed two large suitcases that were being carried with him. When they got to the raised floor the groom sits down and has the suitcases opened for him. The suitcases are filled with gifts for the bride. It was filled with clothing, jewelry, and other things he had bought for her to bring her into a beautiful life with him. It was precious to see his love and I looked with admiration to see such a loving way to treat his bride. The groom had a dowry set aside for him and in his preparation for the marriage he spends this money these gifts to prepare for their new life and home.
Then the bride enters. She is gorgeous, decked out in her beautiful wedding dress, gorgeous jewelry, and her face made up so beautiful. She was brought in and seated by the groom. The groom presented gifts to her as he offered her his love and she accepted them so sweetly. In Ethiopian weddings, the bride and groom do not receive gifts like we do; instead the family and friends give money to help them start their lives. I liked this culture and tradition much more than how we do our weddings. Not to include the party goes on for days. That is so cool.
We spent most of Saturday afternoon dancing, singing, and enjoying the celebration of this marriage. Many family members sang songs in honor of the mother-in-law for her preparations of the wedding and other songs of love for the bride and groom. As I sat and visited so many wonderful people I was then asked to dance. So I did. I got up and started to dance with the groom’s mother. Oh how did I attract everyone? First they all were stunned to see me dance traditional Tigrai dancing so well. Then they loved the fact that I was in traditional clothing. Soon I had the video camera on me and a spot light so everyone could see. People were standing on the benches clapping and singing to me. The bride was smiling ear to ear as she watched me dance with her mother in law. I was then adorned with the lion cloaks from the wedding party and several of the guests joined me. Everyone was happy, clapping their hands, and the drums were pounding. I danced and danced with them. I smiled so big they all could see how much I loved this. I had such a good time. After we finished we all clapped and clapped. The bride and groom stood up and clapped for me. I turned to them and gave them a bow of thank you. They both were smiling so big. I was honored by so many people after that. It really makes the Ethiopians very happy to see a white person engage in their culture. I evidently am extremely different from other foreigners. I guess the other foreigners don’t do what I do. For me, I love these people. How could I not join them? They are the most wonderful people I have ever met. I am so lucky to know them.
After several hours we returned to the groom’s tent. Several of the family members were still there. Now several were drunk. It was funny. The two boys were still there. They again tried to get me to dance with them but I was starting to feel tired and I had been out in the hot sun all day long. When it got to be after 8pm I asked Sr. Desta if I could go home. I called my friends, canceled our program and I went home. I changed, cleaned myself from all the dirt, smoke from the fires, and cleaned my hands from eating the tholo.
I did not see the return of the bride and groom but I understood that they came back to the groom’s family’s home around 9pm on Saturday. They spent their first night together as husband and wife and the celebration of the two families will continued into the early hours of the morning. From what I understood this celebration continued until Tuesday of this week.
After I cleaned up and changed I called one of my friends. He was supposed to come and join me but he was helping his brother to catch a bus to Axum. His brother was going to Axum to attend the university. The bus was supposed to come at 2pm. Gebremedhin and his brother got to the bus station at 1:30 that afternoon. I called him around 8:30 that evening. He said the bus had not come yet. I asked when it was supposed to come. Gebremedhin answered at 10:00pm tonight. I asked why you went to the bus station at 1:30 then. He responded “because I was told that the bus was suppose to come at 2pm.” I felt so bad for him. I asked, “How are you?” He responded, “I am very cold, but I will not leave my brother alone. I will wait with him and make sure he gets on the bus safely.” Later on Monday when I saw him at school I asked him if his brother got safely to Axum. He said that he did. He said the bus finally came at 11:30pm that night. He said when he got home he was so cold that it took him all day on Sunday to warm back up. I felt so bad for him. I love people like this. It is people like this that demonstrate such kindness and love toward their family. In Ethiopia family is most important next to God. The next day the poor guy was very sick. He could barely teach his class. So I went to the pharmacy and bought him medicine to help him feel better.
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The flute school is doing very well. I have several classes I teach everyday. My first class is at 1pm. It is the advanced flute class B. At 1:15pm I work with the teachers while Seyoum teaches class B. At 3pm I have the students from the child-headed households caring project. I am currently teaching this class but when I return to the USA I will have Gebremedhin help me with these classes. At 4:30pm I have the beginners flute class where Medhanie, Seyoum, and I rotate in taking turns teaching it. At the same time Seyoum and I also rotate teaching the advanced flute class A. After these classes I then give private lessons. My day begins at 7am and ends at 7pm. It is a long day. My voice is exhausted from teaching and singing to the children.
I have mentioned that I have over 50 students and at least 50 students on a wait list. It’s insane. Everyday I am approached with the request from many students that they want to start flute classes. I don’t have enough flutes or teachers to accommodate this need. I need flutes and teachers so badly. My three teachers: Seyoum, Medhanie, and Gebremedhin all work so hard to help me. They all are very dedicated to the school, very serious about their study of the flute, and they assist me as much as they can. But these are teachers who already spend their day teaching their classes from 8am – 4:30pm everyday. They are tired but still they give their time to me and the students. This helps me but isn’t enough to help the demand of want for flute classes. I really hope I can get more teachers to come and help me. I hate that I will have to leave all these wonderful teachers and students in about 5 weeks. It makes me very sad that no one else can come and take over the classes.
Seyoum and I will go to the University of Mekele music school to work with the flute program at the college. I am going to give a masterclass and discuss with the flute teacher and their Dean the need for more teachers and see if I can get the help from there. I will keep all of you posted on that.
It’s another retreat for the sisters this weekend. I am going to make myself scarce so I don’t disturb them like I did the last time. Today is Friday 11-13-09. It is the feastday of St. Lucy so I will attend adoration with the sisters and the teachers after I’m done with my flute classes. After that I have an appointment with the teachers to have dinner and watch the program of my documentary of my flute school. It is aired tonight at 7pm Ethiopian time out of Addis Ababa with ETV. If you have satellite you probably can catch it within this next week. If not, I plan to post it on my blog and Utube when I return. Of course I will send all of you the link when I have done so. After dinner we plan to go out dancing. This should be lots of fun.

That’s it for now. I will write more very soon. Things have been crazy busy for me and my time slips away so quickly. Often times I don’t have power or I can’t get onto the internet either and that’s another reason why you don’t hear from me. So please be patient with me when you do not hear from me in over a week. It is not because I’m not sending anything it is because I usually can’t send something. I love everyone and hope everyone is doing well. Please drop me a line through email or give me a call. I would love more than anything to hear from all of you.
God Bless You and with all my love,
Celine
Cferland00@gmail.com011251914180071-mobile

November 12, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
Life can be frustrating sometimes in Adigrat. I spent all last week attending a workshop with Abba W/Selassie Tesfay regarding his OMCA (Orthodox-Muslim-Catholic-Association) and their “Unity of Life” program in prevention of HIV and the program they developed to help those who are dying from AIDS. After attending the workshop, I sat down for several hours with Father and interviewed him regarding his program and the work that has been done since last year. I came back to the convent and typed up 6 pages worth of documentation. Then I lost power!!!! When the power came back I rebooted my computer to find that I had lost the entire document. Wow, wow!!!! Was I mad!!!!! Now I have to go back again and redo the entire process. So frustrating, now I make sure everything is saved and that I will not loose my work ever again.
I went to see the doctor because I was not recovering from my virus. I had pneumonia and was put on a heavy antibiotic. The medicine helped me but the sister’s house lost their water (I think parts of Adigrat were without water too.) I had to live out of a bucket of water everyday. Every morning I wake, I am sick, I don’t want to get out of bed but I have to. I proceed to the washroom, kneel on the cold stone floor, take a big deep breath and pour the icy cold water over my head. I can’t tell you much fun this was. Not!!!! I would say to myself “wake up, wake up.” The cold water and with my sickness was unbearable to pour over my head. I hated it so much. Then I had to wash my body with the water and use this water to flush the toilet. It was not fun. One day I’m sitting with Sr. Lette and she is very worried about me because I am sick and I am bathing in this cold water. I said, “Don’t worry; this is when we tell God how much we appreciate things when we have them. When we get water again, I will be so thankful. “That is exactly what I did. We got water on Sunday morning. I stood underneath my warm shower and thanked God over and over again as I enjoyed the hot water and could wash my hair, flush my toilet, and finally get laundry done. It felt good to have a clean body and put on clean clothing again. Not to mention to flush the toilet more than once a day.
It’s these little things in life that we don’t experience in America. In Ethiopia it is so common to live several days without power, or our case several weeks without water. It is common to see the women hauling water from the rivers; they spend all day doing this. In the village of Zalambaasa these women walk 7 miles to get to the well for their daily water. That’s 14 miles a day. We truly don’t know what it is like to live without. Often the water we do have in Adigrat is contaminated and people get very sick from it. The people of this village say, a good day is when we don’t get sick from the water.
This last weekend the sisters invited me to a wedding. I missed the ceremony in the church but I attended the wedding celebration on Saturday afternoon. Weddings here in Tigrai go on for about a week. First they celebrate the marriage with a high mass ceremony at the cathedral. Then the bride goes back to her parent’s house and waits for her husband to come for her. There are two parties that go on all afternoon for this: one at the groom’s family and the bride’s family’s homes.
We first attended the groom’s family. Outside of the home was a very large tent. As you entered the tent there were benches placed in squares and in each square seats about 20 people. The tent was filled with people. They were all drinking mez (homemade honey wine) and souwa (homemade beer). As soon as we found a square area to sit we were immediately given glasses and they poured us at least 20 oz. of souwa right away. I turned it down because souwa goes right to my head and I didn’t want to get drunk around the sisters and the priests (which we joined when we sat down.) The kettles of souwa were being poured into cups as if there was an endless bound of beer for the party. I was then given a bottle of mez (this is considered an honor) from one of the family members of the wedding party. I drank some of it out of respect but did it carefully because it was very strong. We all visited with the happy family and enjoyed having conversation with everyone. Next we were brought in a large injerra basket that was filled with injerra and a large bowl of tholo. First they placed a circle dining table in the middle of the square where we could place our glasses of souwa and bottles of mez underneath. On top of the table they placed the platter of injerra and tholo. A girl accompanied the dish holding a large ball of soft barley. She sat down she rolled the soft barley into small balls. The tholo was topped with a creamy cheese, looks like sour cream but it isn’t. Then it is topped spices that look similar to ground pepper. As the girl places the balls of barley onto the injerra we use small sticks to poke the balls and dip them into the tholo mix.
Tholo is a mixture of red pepper, onion, garlic, and other spices with sheep meat. It looks a lot like a stew. It is very delicious to enjoy. As we poke the balls and dip them into the cream and tholo type stew we then feed each other. I really enjoy this part of their culture. It is such a loving way to attend to each other. After a while the bowl of tholo is dumped out onto the injerra, more cream is topped to it and then we all take pieces of the injerra bread and use it to scoop up the stew and eat it. The dish goes incredibly well with the mez and souwa drink.
After we finished our meal, the music began. I looked up and saw two of St. Lucy’s 7th and 8th grade student boys indicating that they wanted to dance with me. I laughed and responded back with dance movements that shared with them a thank you but not now. This did not stop these boys; they followed me all over the tent. It was pretty funny.
The 5th – 8th grade boys are very funny at St. Lucy’s. I teach their classes and I often see them giving me the eye. I ignore them but sometimes they really want me to know that they like me. I get pictures and holy cards from them all the time. I laugh and graciously accept them. One day I was teaching the 6th grade class and I became very warm. I removed my netsala (shawl like wrap) and I had a sleeveless shirt on. I didn’t think that this was a problem until all the boys gave me cat calls. I looked at the teacher and laughed and I immediately put my netsala back on. I thought to myself “These boys, they start so young.” One day some of the 5th and 6th grade boys found it ok to slap my bottom. I turned around and glared at them with an angry face and told them no. But this didn’t stop them until teacher Solomon saw them do it and he took his teaching stick and slapped each one on the hand. I looked at him and thanked him and told him they weren’t listening to me. He really scolded them and now I don’t have anyone touching me. So when I’m at this wedding and I saw these boys following me I have to become aggressive and let them know that they needed to leave me alone. Young hormones!!!!!! It does make me laugh inside myself though. It is both funny and cute.
After we visited the groom’s family for a while we walked across Adigrat to the bride’s family. Again we were given the beer and wine to drink and tholo to eat. I accepted my second glass but didn’t drink it and only nibbled a little bit on the tholo. It was too much. I went with the sisters to meet the bride. What a beauty she was. She wasn’t in a traditional Ethiopian wedding dress, she wore what we would wear but still she was so beautiful. I congratulated her and wished her all the happiness in the world for her and her husband.
I stepped outside to call some of my friends for the evening program we had arranged. As I tried to talk to some of them but I was blasted out with honking horns, cars filled with members of the groom’s family. I went back in and sat down to watch the entrance. It was a procession, first with the family members dressed in cloaks that are in the colors of the Ethiopian flag and a large regal lions on the back symbolizing the strength of Ethiopia from the lion. They danced in while beating the drums. First they danced in a circle dancing, singing, and beating the drums. Then the wedding party joins them and they dance around. The happiness and joy of this procession was wonderful to watch, I loved it.
Next they proceeded forward and the last person of the procession was the groom. They all proceeded forward to the front of the bride’s tent. At the front of the tent was a raised floor with a sofa and chairs for the wedding party to sit and enjoy the feast and celebration. As the groom walked forward I noticed two large suitcases that were being carried with him. When they got to the raised floor the groom sits down and has the suitcases opened for him. The suitcases are filled with gifts for the bride. It was filled with clothing, jewelry, and other things he had bought for her to bring her into a beautiful life with him. It was precious to see his love and I looked with admiration to see such a loving way to treat his bride. The groom had a dowry set aside for him and in his preparation for the marriage he spends this money these gifts to prepare for their new life and home.
Then the bride enters. She is gorgeous, decked out in her beautiful wedding dress, gorgeous jewelry, and her face made up so beautiful. She was brought in and seated by the groom. The groom presented gifts to her as he offered her his love and she accepted them so sweetly. In Ethiopian weddings, the bride and groom do not receive gifts like we do; instead the family and friends give money to help them start their lives. I liked this culture and tradition much more than how we do our weddings. Not to include the party goes on for days. That is so cool.
We spent most of Saturday afternoon dancing, singing, and enjoying the celebration of this marriage. Many family members sang songs in honor of the mother-in-law for her preparations of the wedding and other songs of love for the bride and groom. As I sat and visited so many wonderful people I was then asked to dance. So I did. I got up and started to dance with the groom’s mother. Oh how did I attract everyone? First they all were stunned to see me dance traditional Tigrai dancing so well. Then they loved the fact that I was in traditional clothing. Soon I had the video camera on me and a spot light so everyone could see. People were standing on the benches clapping and singing to me. The bride was smiling ear to ear as she watched me dance with her mother in law. I was then adorned with the lion cloaks from the wedding party and several of the guests joined me. Everyone was happy, clapping their hands, and the drums were pounding. I danced and danced with them. I smiled so big they all could see how much I loved this. I had such a good time. After we finished we all clapped and clapped. The bride and groom stood up and clapped for me. I turned to them and gave them a bow of thank you. They both were smiling so big. I was honored by so many people after that. It really makes the Ethiopians very happy to see a white person engage in their culture. I evidently am extremely different from other foreigners. I guess the other foreigners don’t do what I do. For me, I love these people. How could I not join them? They are the most wonderful people I have ever met. I am so lucky to know them.
After several hours we returned to the groom’s tent. Several of the family members were still there. Now several were drunk. It was funny. The two boys were still there. They again tried to get me to dance with them but I was starting to feel tired and I had been out in the hot sun all day long. When it got to be after 8pm I asked Sr. Desta if I could go home. I called my friends, canceled our program and I went home. I changed, cleaned myself from all the dirt, smoke from the fires, and cleaned my hands from eating the tholo.
I did not see the return of the bride and groom but I understood that they came back to the groom’s family’s home around 9pm on Saturday. They spent their first night together as husband and wife and the celebration of the two families will continued into the early hours of the morning. From what I understood this celebration continued until Tuesday of this week.
After I cleaned up and changed I called one of my friends. He was supposed to come and join me but he was helping his brother to catch a bus to Axum. His brother was going to Axum to attend the university. The bus was supposed to come at 2pm. Gebremedhin and his brother got to the bus station at 1:30 that afternoon. I called him around 8:30 that evening. He said the bus had not come yet. I asked when it was supposed to come. Gebremedhin answered at 10:00pm tonight. I asked why you went to the bus station at 1:30 then. He responded “because I was told that the bus was suppose to come at 2pm.” I felt so bad for him. I asked, “How are you?” He responded, “I am very cold, but I will not leave my brother alone. I will wait with him and make sure he gets on the bus safely.” Later on Monday when I saw him at school I asked him if his brother got safely to Axum. He said that he did. He said the bus finally came at 11:30pm that night. He said when he got home he was so cold that it took him all day on Sunday to warm back up. I felt so bad for him. I love people like this. It is people like this that demonstrate such kindness and love toward their family. In Ethiopia family is most important next to God. The next day the poor guy was very sick. He could barely teach his class. So I went to the pharmacy and bought him medicine to help him feel better.
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The flute school is doing very well. I have several classes I teach everyday. My first class is at 1pm. It is the advanced flute class B. At 1:15pm I work with the teachers while Seyoum teaches class B. At 3pm I have the students from the child-headed households caring project. I am currently teaching this class but when I return to the USA I will have Gebremedhin help me with these classes. At 4:30pm I have the beginners flute class where Medhanie, Seyoum, and I rotate in taking turns teaching it. At the same time Seyoum and I also rotate teaching the advanced flute class A. After these classes I then give private lessons. My day begins at 7am and ends at 7pm. It is a long day. My voice is exhausted from teaching and singing to the children.
I have mentioned that I have over 50 students and at least 50 students on a wait list. It’s insane. Everyday I am approached with the request from many students that they want to start flute classes. I don’t have enough flutes or teachers to accommodate this need. I need flutes and teachers so badly. My three teachers: Seyoum, Medhanie, and Gebremedhin all work so hard to help me. They all are very dedicated to the school, very serious about their study of the flute, and they assist me as much as they can. But these are teachers who already spend their day teaching their classes from 8am – 4:30pm everyday. They are tired but still they give their time to me and the students. This helps me but isn’t enough to help the demand of want for flute classes. I really hope I can get more teachers to come and help me. I hate that I will have to leave all these wonderful teachers and students in about 5 weeks. It makes me very sad that no one else can come and take over the classes.
Seyoum and I will go to the University of Mekele music school to work with the flute program at the college. I am going to give a masterclass and discuss with the flute teacher and their Dean the need for more teachers and see if I can get the help from there. I will keep all of you posted on that.
It’s another retreat for the sisters this weekend. I am going to make myself scarce so I don’t disturb them like I did the last time. Today is Friday 11-13-09. It is the feastday of St. Lucy so I will attend adoration with the sisters and the teachers after I’m done with my flute classes. After that I have an appointment with the teachers to have dinner and watch the program of my documentary of my flute school. It is aired tonight at 7pm Ethiopian time out of Addis Ababa with ETV. If you have satellite you probably can catch it within this next week. If not, I plan to post it on my blog and Utube when I return. Of course I will send all of you the link when I have done so. After dinner we plan to go out dancing. This should be lots of fun.

That’s it for now. I will write more very soon. Things have been crazy busy for me and my time slips away so quickly. Often times I don’t have power or I can’t get onto the internet either and that’s another reason why you don’t hear from me. So please be patient with me when you do not hear from me in over a week. It is not because I’m not sending anything it is because I usually can’t send something. I love everyone and hope everyone is doing well. Please drop me a line through email or give me a call. I would love more than anything to hear from all of you.
God Bless You and with all my love,
Celine
Cferland00@gmail.com011251914180071-mobile

Monday, November 2, 2009

10-28-09

For the last 3 days I have been extremely sick. On Sunday, I went to Seyoum’s party to celebrate St. Aragrawi (sp?). The celebration was very nice but I could tell that I was coming down with something and so my energy level was not the same. I couldn’t eat and I refused to drink any mez (homemade Ethiopian honey wine) or souwa (homemade Ethiopian beer). After several hours I told Seyoum that I had to go home. I was running a fever and feeling very achy.
Seyoum’s family home is on the outside edge of Adigrat. It is 4 miles by the paved road and a little more than a mile on foot up the hillside. Sr. Mary drove us to the point where she could no longer drive us and then we walked to his home. On our way back Sr. Reggie and I tried to call Sr. Mary but the network was busy. I was feeling very bad and very weak. I tripped and ripped the right sole off of my shoe which made walking even harder down the mountain side. Seyoum tried very hard to get a hold of a taxi but couldn’t get a line through. Everyone was worried about me. I felt bad that I made everyone worry and I said “I’m fine, just a little tired.” I was more than that to say the least. I didn’t want to complain or have anyone fuss over me.
As we walked I groaned to myself and worried, can I make this 4 mile trek back to the sister’s house. I have a fever and I felt very dizzy and exhausted. Soloman Twabe ran ahead and got a taxi for me. I thanked God when I saw the taxi in the distance. When Seyoum saw it, he ran to it and told the driver to hurry up and get me. Sr. Reggie said my face expressed everything I was feeling so it didn’t matter if I said I was fine they all new I wasn’t. I was very grateful to get into the cab and be driven back to the sister’s house.
When we arrived I kissed everyone good-bye and proceeded to bed. I couldn’t change into my pjs fast enough. My body ached, my head throbbed, and my throat hurt so badly. I started to cry I was in so much pain. I took some medicine and climbed into bed. The medicine took effect and I fell to sleep. For the next 48 hours I had to take cough medicine, pain reliever, and Tylenol every 4 hours. Otherwise the pain was so intense that I would begin to cry. Sometimes the medicine would wear off before the 4 hour mark and I would have to wait until it was time for me to take the medicine again. I would cry because I would hurt so badly. My fever climbed to 104˚!! The only time I awoke was to take the medicine otherwise I slept the entire time. I have never slept that amount in my life. The sisters said I must have caught the virus from kissing the children. Although the virus may not affect the African children like this, I am an American and my body may not be able to handle the virus and it is going to take a bad effect on me. It has, I was flat on my back sick, very sick. The sisters then said, “STOP KISSING THE CHILDREN CELINE!!!” I think they are right.
The sisters have been wonderful to me. I also have never been assisted as much as I have from them. Being a mother and a wife I’m always in the position of caring for everyone else and not me. So to get this kind of attention was a little foreign for me but I really appreciated it because of how sick I was. They have been very kind and have nursed me back into health. It is Wednesday today, I’m still very weak, physically soar, and continue to run fevers. But the fevers are breaking and I find myself feeling a little better. I have not been able to teach any classes as of yet.
Seyoum has been very concerned with me and how sick I have become. He wanted to cancel the television program we had scheduled for Tuesday. I told him that it might be difficult for Ethiopian Television Network postpone since they have their crew ready for us on Tuesday. I told him that if I am not better and cannot handle the interview then I will ask to postpone but I wanted that to be the last resort.

Tuesday was yesterday. The TV crew came and did a short documentary on the St. Lucy flute school. They recorded several scenes of me conducting the flute class, shots of the students performing, and shots of where the camera was behind the students looking at me from the students’ perspective. The crew interviewed several of my students and had each play. Then they interviewed me and had me perform a little bit. Of all times, guess when my fever decided to break? Right at the time of the interview. I began to sweat like no other time. I was dripping in sweat. It was ridiculous, one might say they turned on the faucet and couldn’t get it to stop. The only benefit from that was that I felt so much better than I have in days. I played well and my interview went extremely well. I wore my traditional Ethiopian dress which made the crew very happy to see me in it. After they asked about me and my background information they went into questions of how I like Ethiopia and the people and food. I talked and talked about how much I love Ethiopia, the clothing, the food and especially the people. The camera crew was in smiles as I spoke I could tell I made them very happy.
When I finished they interviewed Seyoum and Medhanie. It was a very successful event and I am hopeful we can reach to people to get the assistance needed to help not only the St. Lucy’s flute school but also St. Lucy’s school. I have written on several occasions about their needs and I hope I can reach someone out there to help. My mission has grown so strongly for these people and I truly hope to help the school too.
As I walked down the sidewalk of St. Lucy’s the camera crew asked me to back up again and walk down the sidewalk again. They took shots of me as the anchor man talked about me. Then they had me pose in my Ethiopian dress as they took more shots of me. Boy did I feel silly. It was hard to stand there and pose while I had close up shots taken of me. I didn’t know how to react so I simply stood there and smiled.
They finished the program with an interview with director Desta of St. Lucy’s School about the flute program and the classes I run at the school. The film crew was very pleased with the results and said we should be aired in about 2 weeks. I will get a confirmed date and those of you who have satellite can view the documentary-they said it should reach the USA just fine. I hope you can see it. If not, I will ask to get a copy of the tape so I can bring it home and then post it to my blog.
It was an exciting day for all of us. We all felt very happy for what we had accomplished. Now for us to move forward in developing this school even more. I love all of you out there who have helped me. It is because of you too that has made this happen. This is not just me. I made sure I mentioned that too when they interviewed me. I mentioned about all the lovely Americans who have supported me in this mission and have donated either funding or instruments to help make this school a success. As I have said before, these donations go so much farther than you would even fathom. These students are so appreciative of your donations. Thank you, thank you, thank you, but please, read my blogs, they are filled with needs for the school and the children. Please consider helping. I love everyone.
God Bless Everyone.
Love,
Celine-Marie Ferland

10-24-09

Dear Family and Friends,
I cannot believe I have been here for a month already. Time just zips on by. I have so much to share with you in this blog.
Last Sunday our flute class performed for the fundraiser concert at the high school. I have to say almost the entire town showed up to hear the flutes. The class met at St. Lucy’s for call at 1:30pm in the afternoon. We tuned and rehearsed. Then we walked over the high school to prepare to play. It was close to 3pm by the time we arrived. Thinking that the fundraiser had already began I was a little anxious to get the flute students in and set up to play. We arrived, the stage wasn’t prepared, the room is still being set up, and the hall is empty. Ahhhhh, Ethiopia, I think to myself. Why in the world would I think that anything starts on time around here?
After we arrived, we set up and were prepared to play. Seyoum told me that the concert will begin at 3:30pm (9:30pm, Ethiopian time). The event didn’t start till after 4:30pm. I had no idea of when we were suppose to play. There were several performers that day that were asked to play, not just us. One of them was Soloman Twabe. He got up to sing. If some of you don’t remember, Soloman Twabe taught at St. Lucy’s last year, he now teaches at a private school in Mekele. As Soloman sang, the flute students got up to dance. He sang a contemporary Tigrai song as the students danced away. They grabbed my hand and got me up to dance with them. We all had a blast. We danced in a circle doing the traditional Tigrinya shoulder dance. We really got into it and danced very hard. The children laughed as we danced together. It was a lot of fun. Most Tigrai songs last for over 5 minutes. So dancing goes on for a while. After Soloman finished his song, Seyoum came up to me as I’m sweating and panting, “Ok Celine, it’s time for you to perform.” “What?!?!” I yelled back. “I’m not ready to perform. I’m out of breath and dripping in sweat. My students aren’t ready to perform.” Seyoum looked at me, laughed and said, “Well you’re next on the program.” I had to go on stage, dripping in sweat, out of breath, and perform. As I walked to the entrance of the stage I prayed, “Please God, be with us today.” Needless to say, the flute ensemble did a stellar job. The audience really enjoyed the performance. When I got off stage, someone had gone to the store and bought me a large bottle of water. They gave it to me and said, “You are very tired (which means you are very hot). You drink now so that you can rest.” I laughed when I saw the pictures Seyoum took of me. My head was a sweat bomb, I looked terrible!!!
The next day I was having breakfast with the sisters and Sr. Mary said, “I was at a workshop yesterday at the Archdiocese office and we have guests from South Africa. They told me that they want to meet the famous flutist who is here in Adigrat teaching music at St. Lucy’s.” “What??” I said. Sr. Mary says, “Yes, they know all about you. They heard of your performance yesterday with the children and they are anxious to meet you.” I went to the archdiocese and met the S. African’s. Actually they were Canadian who live in S. Africa. I was very happy to meet them. They said to me, “You are the famous flutist we have heard about. We are very sorry we missed your program yesterday.” I responded, “I don’t think I’m famous but thank you so much for the compliment.”
On Tuesday, Seyoum approached me in the afternoon. “Celine, Mekele (Tigrai capital) has heard about our famous flute teacher and they have sent a journalist here to interview you. He will be here in one hour.” Seyoum told me that the news of our flute performance on Sunday traveled all the way to Mekele and they are very interested in meeting me and seeing what I am doing for the children at St. Lucy’s.
The journalist (Efram) arrived at 3:45pm. He interviewed me while I taught music songs to the kindergarten class. We sang the “Hello Song” and the “Peek-A-Boo” song. If I can get my camera to download the pictures you will see these adorable children singing these songs. It is the most precious thing to watch. Especially on the “Peek-A-Boo” song, several children get in front of the desks and hide underneath them. Then they jump up shouting “Peek-A-Boo” as they uncover their eyes and face. It makes the kindergarten teacher and I laugh and laugh. When the journalist saw it, he turned his head and starting laughing very hard too.
At 4:30 he came to the flute class. He recorded the class performing three of our songs, followed by a short performance of me. He interviewed me. Asked me why I came here, what brought me to Adigrat, Ethiopia, and what do I plan to do with this flute school. I answered all his questions in length, (which I won’t write in the blog simply because all of you at home know why I’m here.) I told him I came for the purpose to teach the flute as a skill so children can develop it into a source of income if they so choose to. I told him that through my research in S. Africa it brought me to Ethiopia and that it is with music that one can develop a richer way of life. I told him that studying music helps with the discipline of their other studies and makes them into better students. I told him how wonderful it is to have the opportunity to teach such talented and intelligent students and teachers. How lucky I am to have this chance and how fortunate I am to be in such a rich and welcoming environment.
Next he interviewed several of my students and Seyoum. They were all very kind and shared how much they love me and what a difference learning the flute has made to their lives. All of them love it and said I was a very good teacher. It was very sweet. Really, though, they are excellent students and they sound fantastic.
I will mention again, the desperate need for more flutes, cleaning clothes, tuning rods, and music. I hope soon some of this will come. I have over 50 flute students now and I really could use more help. Also, we need money to help buy clothing for the orphaned children. As well, they are orphaned children who are not in the care of the sisters or priests and they need money to buy uniforms. I have already purchased some for the children. But I am trying to keep to my budget and not have my family have to wire me any additional money. Please send help, it is needed. St. Lucy’s School needs a music room, gymnasium, and laboratory to assist in a better education. They need writing supplies and penmanship books for the primary grades (1-4). So much is needed, I can’t request it enough. Please send help. I can’t ask this enough. I hope someone out there will send help soon.
The journalist broadcasted our interview and now all of Tigrai knows of me and what I am doing at St. Lucy’s. This upcoming Tuesday the Ethiopian Television Network is coming to St. Lucy’s to make a documentary to broadcast throughout all of Ethiopia and the world. I hope with this type of media will bring forward some kind benefactor to help us. I will let everyone know of the broadcast and you can check with your networks to see if you can get ETV. The network told me that with satellite TV it is possible to tune into ETV. I will keep you updated.
Other than that, things are going along really well. I spend a lot of my free time with the teachers. It’s my social outlet. I have been able to go out dancing with several of them- so I’m getting to know the social side of the Tigrai people. I eat dinner in their homes and I have been spending the night with my dear friend Froweyni. She is a 2nd grade teacher and has become a very dear friend. We stay up for hours visiting, like a couple of school girls. It’s a lot fun. Everyday I am swarmed with hundreds of children. All of them eager to practice their English with me and give me lots of hugs and kisses. The director and Sr. Reggie (principal) get concerned that the children are bothering me, but they aren’t. I never tire of their sweet faces, filled with big smiles and big eyes, laughing as they approach me and wrap their arms around me. I love watching the teachers on the playground with the children, they play with them and sing songs with them, everyone is so happy in this place. I love the morning flag ceremony. I won’t miss one day of it. It starts with prayer, followed by singing songs to Mary, the raising of the Ethiopian flag, and it finishes with the children grades K-8 doing some kind of show and tell. I stand with the teachers as all the grades line up and we pray and sing together. This is bliss for me. I am very happy to be part of this. I cannot help but tell God thank you for bringing me to such a wonderful place.
I love Ethiopia very much. My heart and the heart of the Ethiopian are the same. They believe in genuine kindness like me. They give from their hearts more than they take. They are honest through and through and what they have they give. It doesn’t have to be a material thing; it’s often themselves that they give. I find this very precious. I enjoy the deep laughter that comes from within me as I visit with these beautiful people. I finish many days with my cheeks soar and my abdomen aching, but I go to bed very happy. I encourage everyone out there to come and experience the simple life of Adigrat, Ethiopia; it is a place of serenity, joy, and love. There isn’t anything else in this world that can compare.
Tomorrow I go to meet Seyoum’s family. We will take the taxi (horse drawn buggy) to his house. It is a feast day and he has prepared a large party for all the teachers and Sr. Reggie. I will write to all of you about it. I’m very anxious to meet my dear friend Seyoum’s family. I cannot wait to meet his parents and other 6 siblings. I hear about them often as we visit.
Until the next blog, chaw (Tigrinya for good-bye) to all of my wonderful family and friends. I wish more than anything you were here with me to enjoy this culture of the most beautiful people I believe to be on this earth.
I love all of you and miss you very much. Please write to me.
Love you,
Celine