St. Lucy Flute School

St. Lucy  Flute School
Class of 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009


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
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.

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