Today is the actual feast day of Meskel. But the celebrations begin on the Saturday before. I didn’t find this out until this morning.
I began my day with Mass at the Cathedral. Abba Selassie Tesfay was saying mass. I wished I understood Tigrinya more so I could have understood his sermon. The sisters shared it with me over breakfast. Seeing Abba Selassie Tesfay is so wonderful. For those of you who have not heard of him, he is the organizer of the OMCA that I wrote in my blog. Take a look at what he is doing. Consider sending him donations.
Today the feast day was celebrated in the town stadium. The festivities began at 9am and are still going at 9pm as I write this blog entry. I hear the beating of the drums and the traditional Tigrinya music in background.
I went the festival wearing a new white traditional Ethiopian dress. It is very beautiful and I wanted to honor the feast day with wearing something nice. Sr. Deste and I went together and met up with the house girls who were already there. In the center of the stadium was a tall, something that looks like a Christmas tree with a cross on top. The tree was encircled with several Ethiopian Orthodox Clergy and others wearing traditional clothing. After several prayers and chants the priests ignited the tree and burned it down. It is tradition, as the tree burns the cross will fall. Whichever direction it falls shares with the village the upcoming year’s fortune. The cross fell to the west, which from what Sr. Deste says is ok, it is best though when it falls north. As the flames engulfed the tree, the entire stadium screamed loudly as they anticipated the upcoming year’s good fortune.
After that Sr. Deste, a minor seminarian, and I walked around. I danced again and was delightfully greeted by many towns’ people. I was standing there watching the dancing, meat BBQ, and other traditional displays when one of Seyoum’s friends called out my name. It was Seyoum’s good friend Tahari. I shouted with delight and we hugged and kissed for a long time. I asked if Seyoum’s was around and he said that he was. Moments later, my dearest friend in Ethiopia appeared before me. We ran to each other, embraced in a strong hug and cried with happiness to see each other again. I was so happy to see him.
I told Seyoum that I would arrive in October. I came early to surprise him, the other teachers, and the children. Seyoum was very surprised. I then ran into Ghirmai and Abraham, two teachers at St. Lucy’s, followed by another friend of Seyoum’s who is also called Ghirmai. We all hugged and kissed too. Moments later Atakelti approached me. He has been such a good friend to me, helping me stay in touch with all my friends in Adigrat by letting them use his computer at the archdiocese. He helped the teachers with their English and how to use the computer so they could write. We embraced strongly; it was so nice to see him too.
Safia, if you are reading this, everyone sends their love. Everyone wishes you could be here with me. Everyone wants to know when you will come back. It is so hard Safia to not have you here with me. It is so hard to have you not get the hugs and kisses too. But know they send them to you just as much as they have given them to me.
Seyoum and I were inseparable once we reunited. We visited all the exhibits and talked and talked. Later we went to lunch and talked some more. We ate tsholo and injerra with mez to drink. It was fantastic. After lunch we walked back to the convent and I showed him all flutes. He was delighted to see them. I was delighted to share them with him. We then looked at several of the pictures Safia took and he loves them.
I started to feel a little sick and very tired. Seyoum and I said good-bye and I went to bed. I woke up several hours later sick. I must have gotten sick from something I ate at the restaurant. I spent the remainder of the day in bed. When it was dinner time, Sr. Mary made chicken soup. She gave me some sprite and I ate the soup. It made me feel a lot better.
I ended my day talking with Sr. Reggie (St. Lucy’s Principal) about the music program and everything she and I are going to do. I found out several of the teachers have left St. Lucy’s. Soloman Twabe has left and now works in Mekele, the teacher that tried to carry me on his back last spring when we climbed the mountain and Abraham quit and found work elsewhere, and I can’t remember the other teachers, but a total of 7 are gone. The school has 3 new teachers and Sr. Reggie is in the process of hiring more. My favorites still remain though. Seyoum told me today that they are all anxious for October to come, boy are they going to be surprised tomorrow when I show up. Just like I surprised Seyoum today.
It feels so good to be back in Ethiopia. What a time to reenter the region than with one of their kick butt feast days. In spite of getting sick today, the annoying experience with Ethiopian Air, I have to say I am so happy to be here again it is simply an amazing country indeed.
I send my family all my love. I miss all of you very, very, much. I wish in the worst way all of you could be here to share this experience with me. All who are reading, you too, come to Ethiopia. Enjoy this land of deep culture, faith, and love.
I want to finish this blog with a message to my husband Dan, I send you my deepest love, thank you for allowing me to come back and work with these children and people again. You are the best husband anyone could have. I love you. My dear friends, the house girls, the priests, and the sisters all tell you thank you for being so generous with letting me come back and stay for such a long time.
God bless all of you. Please write I love hearing from everyone.