Wherever I have gone in Addis Ababa, I have been asked if I like the city. I do! There's a crazy, frenetic energy to Addis (especially the way traffic flows here), but there's also a genuine warmth. People will meet your eyes and greet you in a way that doesn't happen in the cell-phone-gabbing, self-absorbed atmosphere back home. Some of the people I am traveling with were in Addis five years ago, and they can't believe how much the city has grown since then. I am told it is the fastest-growing economy in Africa that's not based on oil.
The guys on the video crew have learned a number of Amharic words (the language that is spoken here), but I've only mastered "e'shi," which means "okay." However, we have grown fond of the Ethiopian way of answering in the positive during a conversation in English -- "Of course!" You have to say it with a rising inflection and draw it out a bit to say it like they do here.
When we were shooting in the Somali neighborhood I mentioned in the previous post, I encountered the little girl standing in the photo on the top left. She had an obvious eye infection (which isn't easy to see in this photo). Her left eye was practically closed. So we prayed for her, asking God to heal her. Some of the people here literally have nothing. Getting enough to eat is the big order of the day. Medical care is beyond their reach. So poor Christians must pray for healing and not look to any doctor to help them. As a result, their faith is often rewarded with amazing accounts of healing. I felt so helpless to offer this little girl any medical relief, but I could offer something far more significant by praying for her.
What's surprising to me is how much joy and happiness exists even in these deprived conditions. The little girl standing with Drew, John David, and David in the picture top right hung around as much as possible. She always smiled her shy little smile while invading our personal space. It's hard to walk away from such appeal. Seeing the kids in poverty is hard. You just want to scoop them up and take them all home. No wonder we keep seeing so many couples with their newly adopted Ethiopian children in our hotel.
Yesterday, we interviewed pastors Mo Adugna and Wondy Getahun in the Entoto Mountains overlooking Addis. It's hard to see in this photo, but the city is sprawling in the distance behind them. We were surrounded by eucalyptus trees. I don't think I've ever seen a live tree--just the dried ones among home decor collections. The live ones are fairly redolent, too.
In the afternoon we did some shooting on the street, which attracted a number of hopeful people who thought we might be able to give them lots of money because of our camera. I was concentrating on my shot list when I heard John David and Andrew say goodbye to someone.Then I saw John David pull the shirt off his back and give it to his new friend, who smiled broadly and clutched his new treasure to his chest. The guys on the crew have been incredible about reaching out to people here, spending time with them and giving them little gifts. They spent their first day in Addis befriending a group of young boys and ended up buying shoes for them. Now every time we pull into the hotel parking lot, these kids appear as if out of the mist, running and waving, eager to catch the attention of the guys in our van.
There's so much more to say, but few words flow at a late hour. We've got several more days in Addis, so I hope I can post more photos before we go.
Update: The comments function is open, though it may take me awhile to moderate and publish them.