Tuesday, September 28, 2010
• FANTASTIC!! I will pass this on to my wife!! I have been amazed at your teaching them the "ferengie" flute!! Have you ever used the native Ethiopian flutes, which only have five (?) notes in their scale? Lap
• It's wonderful. They are beautiful children. Bb
• Dear Celine~ I’m so proud of you!! I was very impressed watching this beautiful performance! Thank you so much for sending it. I wanna hear more about your stories in Ediophia and others! HSP
• Wow Celine...worth all the suffering...St. Lucy would be so proud...incredible...
they sound like real musicians!!! Yeah for Celine...thank you for changing their lives forever for the better...God bless you. SMB
• Celine!!! Wow! Your students are amazing. They sounded great. I can't believe that they have improved that much since they performed at YGIS. You truly have a gift in teaching to have such great result. You must continue your passion. It is an inspiration to see. Love to you, and tell G/M Happy New Year. MC
• Celine, Very, Very impressive. Great Work!! The students sound really good -excellent. The positioning and playing accuracy is just outstanding. How are you doing, and are getting much support for this? Let me know. I am glad that you placed it on youtube. D
• Dear Celine, Congratulation, I am very happy and I wish you all the best. I assure you of my prayer. Best regards, S A
• Dear Celine, The students are amazing and the music is beautiful. I loved watching this video. PJ
Thank you very much for your letter of last week. We thank God that you turn back home safely. Hope have found your familly very well. Here thanks be to God,we have a very good summer rain. Hope we will have a nice harvesting time allover Ethiopia next year. Adigrat is beautifull now with grass,flowers...etc.
Reguarding your flute programme with Agazians was wonderful. Yes, it was transmitted on Ethiopian Television properly. It was nice and nodoubt you will have many friends and partiners if you do some kind of projects on your flute programe next time.
Finally, wishing you all the best for your future life and please unite in prayers,
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Abba W/Selassie Tesfay
Friday, September 10, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Well I'm at the end of another trip. When I first came it seemed like it was going to be one of the hardest trips ever. It has ended up being the most fruitful of all my trips. The flute school is doing fantastic. I'm at 14 flute students who are far more serious about their leanring and playing than I have had with most of my students in America. It has been such a wonderful time with them. I have many film clips of them playing scales and some of their songs. They have had far more performances from all the trips. I have 4 serious teachers who are also seriously learning their flute to help with my program. The 14 flute students are now good enough to help teach the beginner students. They are actually that strong.
This Sunday the flute class will perform for the International conference of the Agazi School Alumni. The head council of this alumni met with me yesterday. They are very impressed with my accomplishment to teach western music to the children of Ethiopia. This organization, the International School, and the St. Lucy school are all very interested in having me set up a liberal arts program for the schools of Tigray. So this is super fantastic and hopefully we can make something of this. Also, I plan to greet the flute professors of Addis Ababa at the Addis Ababa University to discuss what we can do about sending more flutists from the school of music to Adigrat to help with my program. I'm so excited about all of this and I pray and pray we can have a very big future for these children and their education.
As usual, the good-bye part of my trip is bittersweet. I'm so close to so many people. Everyone here loves how I have become Ethiopian. My dress, my eating, and my lifestyle has completely adapted to their culture. Not to include my ability to speak in Tigrinya has improved greatly. I love it here so much. But, I miss my beautiful children and family very much. I'm very anxious to see them and have the chance to greet with them and give all of them big hugs and kisses. for this I'm super excited to come home. But to leave all my friends and especially the orphans is so difficult....
I love everyone. I can't wait to post the pictures and film clips of the students. I'm so excited about so many things from this trip. Can't wait to see everyone....
God bless you and love always,
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I'm down to 2 1/2 more weeks here in Ethiopia. This has been a very interesting trip. I haven't had near the amount of time with the school children and orphans as I've spent on my last 2 trips so that has been a little sad for me. But it has given me the chance to explore and get to meet new people and other new adventures. I've met new people and have been able to visit new schools in Adigrat. I love meeting new people. The flute students have also had many more opportunities to perform for these schools and everyone is loving the flute program.
The flute students are doing wonderful. They began classes again last week. We are busy in progressing into learning about key signatures and playing in different keys as well as progressing in their music level. All are playing fantastic and I am very pleased to see such dedication from these students.
I also began the beginners adult program. they too are doing wonderful. It has been a long time since anyone has given them any lessons so we had to back track a little bit and retrace our learning steps. But I can see over the next few weeks they will continue to do fine. As for the beginner students, I think the summer bug has gotten them and they have forgotten that I was willing to start their program again. that's ok, I know that Seyoum will help me in September to begin learning the flute.
I've been staying in a hotel this last week. It has been a lot of fun. I enjoy the hotel staff very much. they have been very accomodating and kind to me. I've learned to eat many new Ethiopian cuisine because of being here. Its pretty cool. For breakfast I eat a dish called special fata. This is 2 rolls (like french bread rolls) torn into small pieces like you are preparing stuffing on thanksgiving. Then they add butter to a pan, fry onions, garlic and other spices. they add berber (chili powder) to the spices and then sautee the bread in this sauce. Then they scramble an egg. They put the entire thing in a bowl and bring it to me with a side dish of yogurt. I add the yogurt with some salt and toss it all together. It is extremely delicious and it goes great with a latte.(which I taught them how to make.) This dish fills me up and I don't need to eat anything until dinner.
I became tired of drinking their machiatto and I went into their kitchen and taught them how to make me a decent latte. they've been doing that ever since for me so I have a decent cup of coffee in the morning.
They other day I went to coffee ceremony at a friends house and learned how to make Ethiopian chiro. It is a dish made from legumes and it is very common in Ethiopia. It's actually the poor man's food because it gives proper protein and is cheap to eat. But it's also very excellent to eat. My friends say that I wouldn't like it if I had to eat it all my life too. But to me it's excellent. I will make it for my family with injerra with I come home. You will also love it too.
Last night I took my friend Atakilty out to dinner for his birthday. They don't celebrate birthdays here in Ethiopia so I told him it's time to do something from my culture and I took him out for a very nice evening. He really loved it and we visited for about 4 hours. It was a lot of fun.
I've kept myself busy with my flute school and watching the world cup. I voted for Spain and partied hard with my Ethiopian friends when Spain won. It was a lot of fun. I've attended a lot of social gatherings too b/c I'm not so busy teaching. I miss my teaching though and I really miss the children. But it's nice to have met so many new people. I've met people from Spain, Ireland, England, and Italy because they are also here to help with projects to help the Ethiopians. It's pretty cool to be around an international community that I've grown to know here.
It's been pretty easy going. I've gotten a lot of sleep which is great because I always run on a sleep deficit. So I'm well rested, well fed, and my social interactions have been fantastic.
Anyway, hope all is well with everyone. I miss all of you. Lots and lots of love to everyone.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
What a week I had last week. First we started it with the students performing for the ordination. The bishop told me how amazed he was when he saw and heard the flutes as the procession went up to the alter. Everyone applauded the performance of the flute students.
That after noon I felt really tired. But I figured it was because of waking so early. The flute students had to be at the school by 6am and then in the cathedral by 6:15am.
On Tuesday, again the flute students and i performed for the International School. They did a wonderful job and everyone really loved our performance. We got a tour of the school and the director of the school has asked me about my progam for this school too. I am very excited about this.
Again I felt extreme fatigue. On Wednesday I had a meeting with Seyoum and teacher Gebremedhin about the beginning flute program and the summer program or the continuing students. As I discussed these programs I began to feel very sick. I started to feel abnorally cold. I said I had to leave. I went to my room and began t cry I was feeling so badly. I was freezing which is very unusual for me because here I sweat all the time. I went o bed. My body absolutely ached and I lad there shivering. What's wrong with me? I thought. Withen 2 hours I was sick as a dog. Flat on my back and couldn't move. I ran a temperature of 104.
Previous that week I woke up with my entire left side of my body covered in mosquito bites. Sr. Nigisti and I cleaned my room but there was nothing I could do about it. I thought I had caught ringworm from one of the students as well. I physically hurt from the bites and itched like crazy. I scrathed so hard that I bled.
When I layed in bed I began to think of those bites. Sr. Antonia came into the room and also concerned was wondering if the bites was the cause of my illness. I know that I have never felt so sick in my life. 2 days went by and I was still sick. Sr. Antonia figured it best to get me to a doctor. She took me and I had to sit up (which was the most difficult thing for me to do) and wait for almost 2 hours to see the doctor. When he saw my scars from the bites he immediately ordered a malaria test and checked me for thyphoid. Both came back negative but he said I caught something from the bites. He gave me some medicine and by the next day i started to feel better.
I felt good enough to go and have tea with the teachers. When I came back to the sisters house I went to use the toilet and the pipes broke on me. I was bathed in water. the town of Adigrat had been out of running water into their house for 2 days and the water they did have was now all over the floor. Sr. Antonia began to cry as she saw the water going everywhere. I didn't know what to do. Then I on the way to dinner Sr. Antonia passed out from her high blood pressure. I had Sr. Nigisti of Gola angry with me b/c I wasn't coming to their parents day-even though I have been deathly sick and didn't have a ride to get there she still was mad at me. It seemed like everwhere I turned something went wrong.
This week has been so much better. I feel a lot better. I've lost weight and now I cant keep my pants on me. Today I have my interview with the International School about developing an entire music program here in Adigrat. This makes me very excited. Thi Tuesday I've spent an entire day with Father Selassie. We went to see his family in the village of Erobe. The country side was gorgeous and I had a delightful visit with my favorite priest. the flute students performed for the St. Lucy's parents day and I did too. Parents were extremely happy with my program and came to tell me thank you for bringing so much to St. Lucy's school. I really appreciated their comments as I thought some of them were not happy with me. this was not the case. They are very happy with my program and thanked me immensely for bringing it to their children. I attended the party with the teachers for their end of the semester and I went to my first party with some friends in Adigrat. It's Thursday and I'm currently staying at a hotel while the sisters are on retreat.
Life is always interesting here in Ethiopia. I start my beginners students today and the second year program with my advance students. We are all excited to continue our program and now I'm evern more excited for the potential expansion of my program..
That's it for now. I miss everyone very much. Please keep i touch. I love it so much when I hear from all of you.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The flute students are very excited to perform for this. It is a great honor to be called upon by the Bishop of Tigray to perform for this ordination. We have worked very hard on our piece and the students are sounding fantastic.
On Wednesday, yesterday, I prepared their new assignment. Starting next week in addition to flute class, 15 of the students has signed up for private lessons. The beginner students and adults will also resume classes next week too. As I handed out the assignments to their next studies, I handed them a new rhythm assignment introducing 16th-note rhythms. I told the class, that since they are ready to learn music in 16th note rhythms they are no longer beginner students but are now intermediate. Boy, you should have heard them scream for joy. They felt so proud of their accomplishments.
I’ve also introduced music history and new styles of music. They have learned how to play in waltz tempos and rounds. The students are eating this up. They are so smart and they learn so fast.
It’s pretty funny; when I’m waiting for the students to come to class I practice a little bit. The students hear me play and they come running in. Before I know it I’m surrounded by the children as I practice. I get a little self conscious and then I begin to sweat. Ha, ha, it’s funny. Then the students start to fan me to cool me off. They love reading the music while I play. They love watching me finger fast passages and articulate long runs. I remember when I was a beginning student and how much that impressed me too. I am so grateful that I can inspire these children to play the flute. This is wonderful!!
I’ve brought you up to date on my latest and greatest things here in Ethiopia. I’m having a wonderful time now. All is well. I will record the performance for the ordination. I will also record the performance for parent’s day which is coming next week.
I miss all of you very much. Please send me at least an email. I love more than anything to hear from all of you.
God Bless and Love,
Sr. Bindu asked me to give a presentation on my vocation as a teacher. I went to the teacher’s morning break and I shared with them my experience as a teacher and the purpose of my vocation. I was honored to give such a presentation and well received by all the teachers for the Miriam-Tsion primary school in Saesie. The teachers really loved what I had to say.
By 1pm the car came and it was time for me to go back to Adigrat. I arrived in Adigrat around 3pm and at 3:30 I went to see the children and the teachers at St. Lucy’s school. I was swarmed by the students and teachers all welcoming me back. How they missed me they told me and how happy they were to see me again. I was very happy to see all of them too.
What a beautiful place Saesie is. What a fantastic trip that was. I call Saesie Heaven on earth. I will return in July for another visit. I cannot wait.
After much enjoyable visits with Abba Tesfay and fantastic theological conversations we relaxed after lunch playing checkers. It was fun and we drank coffee as we passed the time. We waited for the sun to go to the other side of the mountain so that we would not have to hike back up in the hot sun.
Around 3pm we began our assent. Not near as difficult as the one from G/M’s home nor the gastrointestinal issues we climbed about 1.5 miles up. When we got to the top we were greeted by Sr. Bindu and one of the Saesie teacher’s Solomon. We all talked our way back to the sister’s house.
Abba Tesfay stayed and we all joked and laughed with each other at dinner. I loved it. I loved being with them. It was like being around my family. The sisters and the priests are good friends and they treat each other like brothers and sisters. I had so much fun. We laughed into the night.
Today was the baptism of the new family member. She’s the child of G/M’s other older brother GebreSelassie and his wife Nigisti. It is Ethiopian custom to not name the child until the day of the baptism. I asked G/M, “How old is the baby?”
“She is 2 months old.”
“She has no name yet?”
“No, she will be named today from the priest when he baptizes her.”
We did not attend the ceremony of the baptism because that is done only with family. But we attended the party of the baptism.
We arrived and many of the neighbors and family members had already gathered. I took many pictures. Then G/M, G/J, and I sat down to have food with his family. G/M told me that the child still has no name. “Why?” I asked. He said: “Because the priests, my family, and the village are so honored that you are our first foreigner to ever come to our village. You have brought us good fortune and we are very lucky to have you come. The priests want you to name the child. They want the child to have a foreigner’s name so that this child will always be remembered by your visit to our village.”
“Holy shit!!!!” I thought. “How the hell am I going to name a child?” I felt so much responsibility to the task. G/M asked, “Well, Celine, what name do you want to give the child?”
“Give me a moment Gebre and let me think about it.”
At that time I stopped eating and dropped my head to pray. “Please God how can I name this child? What would be the perfect name for the child?”
Then I remembered in Ethiopian culture, the name of the child is given due to the day of the month the child is born. Such as G/M is named his name Gebremedhin because he was born on the 27th day of the month. This means he takes this name because the date is a representation of Jesus Christ. That is what his name means: representation of Jesus Christ. The name is everything to the Ethiopian and so the meaning must have special purpose to when they were born.
I asked G/M, “When was she born?”
“At Easter time.” He responded.
Dear Family and Friends,
At 6am Gebremedhin called me to let me know he was waiting for me at the gate of the convent. “Hold on sweetheart, I’m going to grab a roll before we head out”. 7am we are on the bus to Dagohamos. Gebrejohannes was late and so we missed the first bus to Saesie and we had to catch the bus to Dagohamos and transfer to the Saesie bus in Dagohamos.
When we arrived in Dagohamos and had at least an hour and a half of a layover. During our wait we went to a nearby restaurant and had coffee and rolls to wake up. The sun was coming up and the warmth from the sun felt wonderful to sit in and have my macchiato.
Around 8:30 the Saesie bus arrived and we loaded up ourselves and my small bags onto the bus. While we are loading Gebremedhin’s brother showed up to catch the same bus. It was his oldest brother Hailu. We greeted each other and chatted as we all waited.
I was very excited to get to Saesie and nervous of the long hike down the mountain. I didn’t want the sun to get to high in the sky otherwise it would have become too difficult to do this hike in the hot sun. We wait and wait…. Many more people load the bus with their purchases from the markets. Again, many more load the bus. The bus capacity sat about 12-14 people. At this time there was at least that amount on the bus. Now people were also loading their purchases on top of the bus. I asked Gebremedhin (G/M) when the bus was supposed to leave for Saesie. He responded around 9am. I looked at the time and it was 9:30am. He then shared that the bus won’t go until the driver feels he has enough passengers to make it worth his time to go to Saesie. “Well great” I thought, “We could be here for a long time.”
A 12-year old boy, who had been sitting on the bus quietly all of a sudden flung himself out of the bus and attacked this elder woman, maybe around 40-50 years old. He started hitting her and yelling at her. I was surprised at such a thing and I didn’t know what the problem was. I didn’t realize that G/M is a high figure of Saesie and he and his elder brother got off of the bus and were breaking up the fight. G/M held the boy in his arms while the boy cried and cried. He talked to him and was comforting him while the elder lady told Hailu the problem. I could tell by the body language that G/M was calming down the boy and talking to him. The boy acted as if he was agreeing with G/M so G/M let go of him. As soon as he did the boy again attacked the woman. The woman in her defense hit him back repeatedly. G/M then grabbed the boy and wouldn’t let him go. The boy really cried at this time. The elder woman repeatedly hit the boy on his head and yelled at Hailu and G/M about the boy. When the drama was over I asked G/M what the heck happened. He said the woman stole the boy’s mother’s shawl at the market and he wanted it back and she wouldn’t give it to him. At first I felt for the elder woman, now I really felt for the boy as he reentered the bus sobbing uncontrollably.
About 20 minutes had passed and now the driver came. All the people loaded on the bus, some going on top of the bus. People were seated in the walk ways to. The bus was fully crowded. I sat by the window, G/M almost on my lap, and Gebrejohannes (G/J) on his lap. My arms and face were squished up against the window. On our way to Saesie the driver stopped several times more loading more things and people on the bus. I felt claustrophobic being crammed inside. Not only were we a can of sardines driving on dirt roads that jostled the bus around, these are people from a village and they smelled!!!!! I felt sick. The sun was up high in the sky and the heat on the bus became choking. I pulled some of which I knew from meeting in Adigrat. He has a very large family, very similar to mine. It reminded me a lot of mine. His home was filled with holy pictures all around. I sort of laughed inside when I saw it. Immediately they started the coffee ceremony which is custom to their culture as a welcome.
G/M’s older sister Mulu came to greet me. She had her youngest daughter on her breast. She openly nursed the child in front of everyone. I was a little taken back by it but I reminded myself, I’m in Africa and I tried to not stare at what I only saw on the National Geographic channel.
G/M brought in a huge platter of popcorn and cookies to start the coffee ceremony. His sister-in-law Tsega (Hailu’s wife) made the coffee and Mulu (the older sister) finished feeding her baby and brought in her homemade village bread hambasha. Everything was fantastic. G/M, G/J, and I were all very hunger from our long walk and we ate heavily.
I was quite full but Hailu brought in a platter of their fresh honey from their hives. I was spoon fed a lot of honey from G/M. To the point I started to feel sick from the high content of sugar. Then his mother brought in lunch. We started with tholo (barley and water mixture that is formed into soft balls) with their indigenous red pepper sauce (berber) stewed with sheep. We dip the soft balls into the berber sauce and eat that for a while. Then the bowl of the stewed sauce with sheep is poured out onto the injerra and we use our right hand only to tear off a little injerra and use that to scoop up the stewed sheep mixture. Ethiopian culture is the entire meal is put onto a large round platter. We all scoop up the food with the injerra and feed each other. It is a beautiful culture and is a very loving way to take care of each other. I love watching the family make sure all are fed well. I was fed by many of them. This dish was then followed by a stew of cabbage, potatoes, onions, and carrots. It was poured on the outside of the tholo and again we use the injerra to scoop it up and eat it. It was fantastic. We all ate and ate.
After lunch I took several pictures of the family. (I will post them to the blog when I come back). He has a beautiful family. All of them worked so well together, like harmony. All very gentle, kind, and soft spoken.
His home is nestled on one of the cliffs of the mountain looking down onto the river and valley below. The house is made of stones and cement with a tree trunk roof and dirt. Inside the home is one main room. It was quite large in size. I would say about the size of my entire first floor of my home in North Bend. Half of the large room is on floor level. The other half is a good 2 feet above. The floor is dirt and covered with fresh grass. (I learned that the fresh grass spread all over is a welcoming custom). In the main floor there was one couch type area right next to the front door. The couch was made of cement and that was covered with a blanket. The upper level was all cement and covered with rugs made of straw and that was covered with grass. There were 3 large tree trunks that supported the main frame of the house and 3 made sky lights that were open to the outside. The skylights brought in natural light. Also they helped when the coffee was being made and they became ventilators to the smoke that filled the room from the fire to cook the coffee.
At the end of the large room is a door that leads into the kitchen area. This is nothing like what we consider a kitchen. The area is open, the ceiling is the completely open and all food is cooked on fire. The only thing that looked like an oven was the injerra cooking pan but even that is cooked on open fire and while cooking the injerra is covered with a straw lid. Off to the side of the kitchen was what looked like a one room pantry and then from there was his parents’ bedroom.
wanted to mention that his family takes care of the priests that run the church now. G/M’s mother and sisters all cooked the dinner for the priests and took it to them on Saturday night. The majority of his family went to mass on Saturday night and stayed all night long until about 3am. The family then brought the priests back to their home and put them up for the night. Along with sleeping with his family we also had about 3 priests come and stay, which by the way were put into a bed.
I finally got on the internet to send you my blog from my Saesie trip. It was a blast, I hope you take time to read my blog.
Yesterday was the ordination of the priests-The flute students performed for it and everyone loved it-especially the Bishop.
The flute students have now graduated to the intermediate level, they are doing fantastic and so ready to take on more work.
Tomorrow morning i will have one student Biyon from grade 6A sing the English song "You Gotta Sing", the flute students will perform and I will perform too at the international school. Biyon, and 3 other flute students will share with the students at the intl school their experience they have recievced from learning English songs and the flute with me. We are all excited to have this opportunity. Then at the end of the week the flute students and I will again perform for St. Lucy's school parent's day.
The ordination was amazing. I have become very good friends with the deacons who are now priests. I cried when they took their vows to become a priest. What an honor it is to know these special people. When I performed for them I sang from the bottom of my heart. Not only are they my good friends but they are taking on a lifetime of such a service and vocation it really puts me in awe for them. I ask all of you to please pray for the new Abba Hagos, Abba Hagos, and Abba Negasi.
I tried to get Seyoum to take a video of the students performing but he didn't understand how to do that, so i will have to make sure I take a video of them playing tomorrow and them sharing their experiences. I will send all of that to all of you.
I hope everyone is doing well. I will send more emails very soon.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Another week has passed here in Adigrat. I'm having a really good week. It has been so nice to spend it with the children and the teachers. I often walk around Adigrat listening to my iPod. It really gives this country a different perspective on things. the flute class is doing fantastic. The children of St. Lucy's school are wonderful and we all have such a good time singing and dancing in class. I don't have too much of an update this time around just wanted to let everyone know I'm thinking of them and missing all of you.
I head to Sassie to spend the weekend with a teacher's family. I will live in their hut and cook by fire only. I will have to walk about one hour to get water from the river. I will take all sorts of pictures to share with everyone. It should be a lot of fun. I'm excited.
I have a new number: 011 251 9 20 43 30 15. It is an Addis Ababa number which is a lot easer to contact me in Adigrat with an Addis number.
I love and miss everyone very much. I send you big hugs and kisses. Oh, btw, since I will be in Sassie, my mobile is out of range so you won't be able to contact me until another week when I return.
Love and God Bless,
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Again, this week the flute class continued to show their ability to grow in their learning. Today is Sunday. I go to make more copies for them. I am now preparing them to perform for the ordination of the priests that happens at the end of the month. I think it will be wonderful for everyone.
I am so frustrated with my mobile. It’s not working right. I have changed the battery but it still is giving me problems. I think I will buy a new mobile so I can hear from my family. I miss them very much. After I buy the new mobile I will send my new phone number. I’m going to get an Addis Ababa number that way the line will be easy for everyone to reach me.
That’s it for now. I don’t have a lot of new news; I’ve been busy all week with the priests. Next week I will have more to share as things get back into their normal routine. I’m starting to have a lot of fun and I’m laughing again.
After the end of next week, I’m off to Sassie to visit a teacher’s family, Abba Tesfay (who needs the solar panels) and the sisters. I will spend a week visiting the school in Sassie and having fun with these children. This area is particularly plagued with AIDS. There are many orphans and many, many sick people. It is always such an interesting place to visit.
I miss all of you please send me an email or call me if you can.
Ok, I don’t know what happened while I was away in Gola. I have returned to Adigrat to see the person who treated me so badly greet me with open arms and love. I also found out that the teachers have regained their jobs and all is fine with them. I went to a coffee ceremony and the teachers all said they had a good talk with the person and the truth was revealed. This person apologized to them and has been fine since then. It was said that the person who spread all the rumors and caused all the problems was said that she was very sad now. I guess that happens when truth is revealed.
Later in the week, Seyoum went to this person and asked if I could return to the classes to teach grades KG to 4 my American songs during his music classes. It was agreed that I could do this. I began my general music classes again and it has been wonderful to be with the students and teachers again.
Lots of singing and laughter have happened since Monday. It has been very nice.
I also have enjoyed all the time I have been able to spend with the sisters. I have had more time with the orphans and the sisters because I have not spent so much time with the one teacher that caused so many problems. I’m building beautiful relationships with them and I love the time I can spend in the chapel.
On Thursday the nuncio and the Bishop from the Vatican with the Adigrat Bishop came to say Mass and have dinner with us. It was really nice. I took some pictures and we all had a great time together. I made a cake, non other than a devil’s food cake. I made a frosting that turned into a brick of thick sugar that sat on top of the cake. I couldn’t find any other recipe for a chocolate cake than devil’s food. As I prepared the frosting no matter how hard I tried to keep it fluffed up it would eventually flatten out all over the cake. As I decorated the cake, I realized that I had made devil’s food cake for some of the top officials of the pope. I didn’t know what to do so I listened to Rob Zombie on my iPod and decorated the cake!!!!
At dinner the Adigrat Bishop wasn’t going to have cake but I became incensed and so he took a little bit. He said, “Celine, this is delicious, what kind of cake is this?” Oh how I didn’t want to answer that question. I tried very hard to say chocolate cake but I couldn’t lie to the bishop. I told him I made them devil’s food cake. Everyone laughed hard as they could see my face turn red with embarrassment. How kind the bishop was to me and said “well the devil sure knows how to make a nice cake, I love it.” The Adigrat Bishop then asked me to play my flute for them at lunch the following day.
On Friday I attended the 3-hour long mass for the celebration of the Cathedral’s feast day. I spent many hours between mass and lunch visiting with all the priests that came for this special day. I loved it. All of them were so kind to me and we had many wonderful philosophical discussions. At lunch I played 2 pieces by Christopher Caliendo, “Contigo” and “Caliente”. I played these pieces because I know Christopher and he has written music for Pope JP 2 and was awarded by the pope for his compositions. I felt it appropriate to share his music with these priests. The nuncio really loved it, as well as everyone who was there. I made Sr. Kahsa very pleased with me which made me extremely happy.
I’ve been in Gola since Tuesday. I have had a beautiful time in Gola. I love that I am so welcomed by Srs. Mary and Nigisti. It is wonderful to be around people that really appreciate who you are. Even though they have heard the rumors they know they are stupid and have said so many Ethiopians can get really jealous. Sr. Mary commented that she too had to go through gossip about her. She said it comes with the fact that you are an American and you are trying to bring something different into their culture.
Yesterday morning I called my former husband and talked about this with him. He was encouraging to me to not give up and reminded me what is more important and to move forward for these children. He is correct. I am doing just that. So what!! So people get jealous. This is not my problem. The only problem I have is if I allow these people to get to me. For me I’m here for the children and to help expand their minds. I pray that I can do this. This is my calling and my dream. I pray all will succeed.
On the other hand, I have some things I wanted to share with you. I joined Sr. Mary and her caring project. These students are from child-headed households that have been put into cooking school, have graduated, and are starting up a restaurant. I have already sent you a note about this. The last two days I have been working with these children to make different items to put on their menu. In the past 2 days they have learned to make hand-cut French fries, potato chips, herb crusted pizza with homemade tomato/basil sauce, Boboli herbed bread, garlic toast with dipping sauces, croutons with garlic oil and berber (red hot pepper powder that is indigenous in Ethiopia). We tossed the salad with these croutons and we made a homemade (from scratch yogurt) dressing, tossed fruit salad with mango dressing, zucchini quiche, and miracle cake with caramelized bananas and pineapple. These students loved everything I taught them and agreed no one else in Adigrat will serve such a menu. They felt encouraged to go forward with their restaurant and introduce these foods to the people of Adigrat. I’m also helping them decorate the restaurant and manage it. Its lots of fun doing this kind of stuff and cooking is the most therapeutic thing I do when I’m upset. Timing couldn’t have been better to do this.
After two days of hard work the students left exhausted. It was a blast for me to cook so much and work with these children. I loved it. I also went to the Gola primary school. I taught grades K/G through four new American songs. Like the children at St. Lucy’s they loved it. I was once again allowed to be swarmed by children and it really calmed my heart to be able to be with these children and be able to teach them something.
Gola is gorgeous. I can’t remember if I have spoken about it but the sisters’ house rests on the edge of the mountain that over looks Adigrat. At night I go on the roof top and look at Adigrat all light up. Gola is super quiet; there is literally nothing except small hut homes, the sister’s house, and the Silesians priests who have their seminary right below the sister’s house. The sky is almost purple blue and there are roses and other flowers everywhere. (I will take pictures for you to see). This is the place that has the 400+ year old peach tree that Safia and I took pictures on our first trip.
The chapel is gorgeous and I love it here. Sr. Mary and Sr. Nigisti have invited me to stay with them for the rest of my stay and I’m strongly considering it. I will have to walk about an hour both ways to get to Adigrat to teach flute, but I’m so welcomed here and treated so nicely I’m considering it.
I’ve had a hard start, but life is like that. It can’t always be perfect and this is part of adjusting to the culture here in Ethiopia. I have learned to be a little more careful about what I say around the teachers and other Ethiopians so I don’t make anyone jealous. I don’t want anymore harm to happen to any of the innocent teachers that have been damaged by all of this.
I also wanted to share about some news that happened with the elections. Last Wednesday Sr. Kahsa shared that the nuns couldn’t drive to Zalambasa because the soldiers won’t let them in. Zalambasa is on the border of Eritrea. This is one of the most unrested areas in Tigray. Sr. Kahsa said that the soldiers told her to turn around or they would open fire on them. So they turned around. Some others were not so fortunate. They went forward and Sr. Kahsa said that the soldiers pulled out their oozies and opened fire, killing everyone in the car and around them. Although the news says were at peace, this peace is an emotional one and can easily turn into a riot at any moment. Please keep me and everyone here in Ethiopia in your prayers.
I need to go. I’ve made a cake for Sr. Antonia and I need to get to Adigrat so I can deliver it to her. I hope she enjoys it.
I love everyone. I will bring more news about the flute school next week. All students will return from their break and we will get busy again. I will try to figure out how to record them playing on my camera so I can post that to the blog too. You will be so surprised at how well they are playing. I’m very, very pleased with this.
Please call or email me. I miss everyone and it would comfort me a lot to hear from all of you.
Love and God bless,
011 251 9 14 18 00 71 (Adigrat mobile)
Dear Family and Friends,
It comes a time when all things are not perfect and this trip seems to be the case. I hate to have to report bad things but I guess that is part of life and even in the best circumstances things can go a rye.
I have been putting this information off because I don’t want to report bad news. But here it is: when I came to Adigrat I was very unwelcomed by a person. I won’t say who because I am a person that will not harm another person’s reputation. I was very anxious to see this person so as soon as I arrived I ran to see this person. Upon my greeting it was obvious this person was not happy to see me. I went into the school office and I was told that I can’t sing with the children or even help them in their English classes. I was told that St. Lucy’s school could care less for my flute school and that they no longer supported it. I asked what was wrong and this person said nothing was wrong. Well, wtf??? I thought, I have traveled 8,000 miles to come and help these children and I’m greeted like this. I again asked and this person wouldn’t give me a straight answer, just a slew of excuses such as: the parents are angry at my flute class. I have become too good of friends with some of the teachers. Parents wrote a letter to the school about my flute class because it was disruptive to some of the student’s grades and they were beginning to fail in the classes. I asked to see this letter but this person could not produce it. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to respond to this. I really didn’t understand.
The school bell rang and it was time for the students to go home. I went out to greet the children. They screamed for joy to see me again and literally ran to hug and kiss me. I was delighted to see them. I saw several of the teachers and they were equally happy to see me. The children all chanted: “Celine, Celine, Celine.” It was wonderful. I was then thoroughly confused as this person’s response to me. From the greeting of the children and the teachers it looked like they were overwhelmingly overjoyed to see me again.
After I sent the children off to their homes, Seyoum came to greet me. He was in a meeting across town and one of the teachers called him. He left and ran across town. We embraced as strong as we could. We were so happy to see each other. At that time the flute students came. Delighted to see me and asked me to come to their class. I went in, they all prepared for the class. They put their flutes up as Seyoum directed them and played. Wow, how fantastic they sounded. Unbelievable with the progress they had come to from my last visit. The students have really improved. I applauded all of them and they were very happy to have me share with them my enthusiasm of their growth.
After the class I sat with teachers Seyoum, Gebremedhin, and Gebrejohannes. They shared with me the reasons why this person in the office was angry because there is a teacher who is extremely jealous that I have been helping them. Whether I’m working on a sponsorship for Seyoum into America or that I have sent them money to help them and their families. I found out that teacher was one of my very good friend’s I had become very close to from my last visit. I was devastated when I heard of such information. I heard a slew of lies that was unbelievable. I was very offended at such gossip. I couldn’t believe that my dear friend had betrayed me so unbelievably. From this gossip these teachers had lost their jobs. These teachers are devastated because now they don’t know what to do for work so that they can support their families. I’m not just talking about their wives and children. These teachers also support their parents and pay for their siblings to get an education too. I was horrified to learn all of this. When I went to bed on my first night, I spent the night crying and praying to God to help these teachers.
The next day, I went to town to make some new copies of music. It was obvious the students were ready to move forward in their lessons. At the next class the flute students were given a new rhythm assignment. They sight read it. Then I gave them a full page of music with dynamics as the subject. They gulped up that information too. They read the page without effort or mistake. I then gave them a trio. Again, sight read it and as a trio. I couldn’t believe it. I was so proud of them.
In my curriculum, I teach the flute as an extension of them. I have them learn music as a language, similar to what Suzuki and the Gordon Music Learning theory is all about but with a literal understanding as well as aural training. This education is harder to teach and it takes longer to learn. But if the student becomes successful in this theory then the student can read anything or play that is within their known vocabulary of music, including their rhythm. It’s pretty amazing to watch. Here I am in Ethiopia where I still struggle with speaking Tigrinya but the language of music has penetrated these students. They are all so smart and so eager to learn. I am deeply impressed with them. I thanked Seyoum tremendously for helping teach these students and he commented “It wasn’t me who taught them Celine it was you. Your curriculum and skill as a teacher has taught these students so many things.” I almost cried.
The next day several teachers approached me with sadness as they learned I couldn’t come to their classes to have the students learn new songs and help them with their English. Several commented on how stupid it was to restrict me to only flute classes as the education I bring to these students will expand their minds.
As the week went on the students continued to welcome me with hugs and kisses. The person that treated me badly was not going to stop me from teaching my flute school. The only unfortunate thing is that this person has given St. Lucy’s school a bad feeling inside me and because of that I don’t think I will not return for a while.
After some meditation I remembered the life of St. Paul and his mission work. St. Paul never gave up. So I won’t either, no matter how hard it gets. I’m penetrating a culture as well as a judgmental person. Chin up, Celine. You can do this.
Fr. Larson told me on my first trip “don’t give up no matter how hard it gets. You are doing a beautiful thing and keep your focus on the children.” I’m literally chanting this in my mind daily, even hourly as I go forward with the school. Thank God for these things I have learned in my life as they are my source of strength in this difficult time. I am alone right now. Being alone, being unwanted, and so many miles away from those you love makes this even harder. I pray God will give me the strength to persevere.