Tuesday in the streets with no name

I wanna run

I want to hide

I wanna tear down the walls

That hold me inside

I wanna reach out

And touch the flame

Where the streets have no name

I wanna feel sunlight on my face

I see the dust cloud disappear

Without a trace

I wanna take shelter from the poison rain

Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name

We’re still building

Then burning down love,

Burning down love

And when I go there

I go there with you

It’s all I can do

The city’s a flood

And our love turns to rust

We’re beaten and blown by the wind

Trampled in dust

I’ll show you a place

High on a desert plain

Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name

We’re still building

Then burning down love,

Burning down love

And when I go there

I go there with you

It’s all I can do

Our love turns to rust

We’re beaten and blown by the wind

Blown by the wind

Oh yes, in dust See our love turn to rust

And we’re beaten and blown by the wind

Blown by the wind

Oh, when I go there I go there with you

It’s all I can do

“Where the Streets have No Name” by U2

Having met the kids and having a larger bed helped a lot in getting a betters night sleep. Now I did discover that the new room’s window opened right up to the lovely sounds of the Mosque next door. 6am the shoffars blare away and the chanting begins. It’s actually quite a lovely sound, but it’s a weird thing to awake to. Especially seeing as I didn’t want to be up this early, and the boys there, well they don’t stop!I woke up very refreshed, and very awake so I decided to walk to the orphanage. On the way I discovered a small shop with several computers that sold internet access for a little over a $1 an hour. Two girls owned the shop and the one spoke decent English, all of the computers shared 1 dial up access to the internet so it was very, very slow, and my blog is being blocked, as are all of the blogs, by the government controlled ISP.

There weren’t many beggars on the road on my first walk up, in fact most of the street was empty for the morning. The few that I did pass I gave a few coins to. It was so very, very little yet they were very appreciative of this little amount.

When I got to the home the kids were very excited that I was back. I totally have fallen in love with all of these kids , there are all so freaking great!!!! I let the kids take the camera and take their own pictures. My thought was that these are their memories, and they will cherish the photos they took more than anything I would do.

I spent the morning rough housing with kids and playing a lot of soccer. I had so much fun just getting on their level and playing with the kids. During the afternoon it rained so I pulled out a ream of computer paper I had bought and took all the older kids into a room and we drew pictures for their families back in the US. I spent the day just being with my kids and their friends. At some point in the day my son rummaged through my bags and found my gum from the flight. I only had a few sticks and didn’t want to put my kids into a “haves” in t a society of “have not’s”

I was so overwhelmed with the entire day, so I took a walk around the block just to check out the neighborhood. I can tell you that most of the people around the block aren’t used to the ferenj walking around. 15 minutes into the walk I resigned myself to the fact that every other person was going to offer me a Taxi, and every empty taxi was going to stop and offer me a ride. I stopped in a few of the shops to see what they had, but I was trying to clear my head, not shop so I never stuck around for long. In one of the shops I bought every piece of gum they had. At a fruit stand I stopped and bought some fruit and some soda from the stand for my lunch. It worked for me. The walk itself had the opposite effect on me though. I was here for my kids, and wasn’t really thinking about the poverty I would be faced with. This walk had thrust me headfirst into the poverty, into the middle of the real Ethiopia, the world my kids came from.

I paused while walking over a bridge and looked down into the gully at the stream. Typically I find the small streams to be very cathartic, but looking into what was no doubt the water supply for the huts below I was looking into what would be considered a landfill here in the US. There were tons of trash forming the banks of this small stream, and that is when I saw them. The people sitting in the middle of this trash splashing in the water. Some were doing their clothes, others were bathing their bodies. I don’t know that I could even brush my teeth in a landfill, much less live the life these people were demonstrating. Then I watched as a pile of trash began to move as a man lifted the tarp he was sleeping under and came out of his small cave that was obviously his home.

I wanted to scream, I wanted to puke, I wanted to know why we continue to pump millions of dollars into missionaries to build great western churches in these communities in the third world, while the very people there are going to reach are dying from a lack of water, education, shelter, and food. Why the agencies that are supposed to be raising money for these people use 80% of their funds to keep their fundraising programs and staff alive. Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in the world, and here I am watching families draw their water downstream from the water that just passed through this landfill.

My walk returned me to the home even more drained than when I left, yet I couldn’t bear to break away form these kids. It was so obvious they were longing for love, for attention, affirmation, and hugs. I was there to do that for them, not just my kids, but all of the kids there.

I found myself feeling very deeply for all of these kids, and I am so glad that the kids have families. I don’t think that I would survive this trip if they didn’t. My daughter is starting to finally warm up to me, but she talks in whispers and I miss half of what she says. Other kids compete for my lap when I sit down on the floor with them, It was nothing to have over 6 kids sitting on or leaning on me all scrapping for a small token of affection, a hug, a ruffle of the hair, a tickle.

I love these kids, and they in turn loved me back. I will be nothing more than a fleeting memory for them as they grow older. Many will forget the week the crazy long haired tattooed American spent with them in Ethiopia, in fact I doubt very few of them will remember the time at all. But this time has been forever burned into my heart, and all of these kids have touched me deeply and profoundly.

I was so drained at the end of the day so I decided I would go back to the Lime Tree for supper. It was a very western atmosphere, and very posh, very “StarBucks” now last night I had the guard get a taxi for me, but I was more acclimated to where I was tonight so I decided I would get my own taxi. I figured walk down to the highway, and get one of the countless taxis that stop for me anyways to take me to the Lime Tree.

Well as I was walking a taxi driver did exactly what I thought he would do, and asked if I wanted a ride. I asked him if he know where the Lime Tree was, he looked at me odd, so I said Friendship Building. Yes, he knew right where that was and we were off.

Well when we arrived it looked nothing like what I remembered from the day before, but I was there in the day, It was night now, he assured me the café was in the top of the building and so I went in, and told him I would be a while to just go. As I got to the door I was stopped by a guard who wanded me. At least there was the appearance of this being a safe place. As I entered I found myself in what could only be referred to as a small mall. Unfortunately there was no place to eat here at all.

On the plus side I found a silver smith who made beautiful jewelry, very heavy, very lovely pieces of art. I found a set that I fell in love with, matching earrings and necklace and a bracelet and a ring. The total was a bit to steep for my blood, and I knew my wife wouldn’t wear the bracelet or the ring, they were way too large for her, and he was willing to split the set. What was left was the necklace and earrings, and yes, Heather loves them.

So I left the mall and began to just walk. Mind you I have NO IDEA where I am, I just want to eat and go to bed. As I am walking I see that there is a building with bright blinking lights across the street so I cross over to see if they are a place to eat. I figured they were probably a restaurant or a bar, either way I would either get fed or be able to get a taxi to take me to my hotel.

Now mind you it’s after 9pm, so I didn’t think aimlessly walking Addis would be the smartest idea, But I guess walking up to a blinking building isn’t always the smartest thing ever either. Here in the states the only places I’ve ever seen decorated that way are the strip clubs hidden in the back alleys that look like you could probably catch something if you were to breathe too deeply near their establishment.

Thank God for small favors, and His irony, because I wound up sitting in the middle of Ethiopia, lost, in the middle of the night, eating at a Chinese restaurant eating mutton ribs, egg rolls, rice and soda for $5. I even got to sit next to the TV and watch the BBC world news. This is where I discovered Israel had declared war, America was backing them, and there was a massive flooding in the US again. Ok the last time I was in Africa we had the New York and LA riots. I’m starting to see a theme here.

After my meal was over I asked them if they could get me a taxi, and they were very happy to do so. Then they asked how I got there without a taxi, when I told them, and told them what he charged me they informed me I was so, very, very,very ripped off. They told me what to pay this taxi to get me back to the hotel and off I went for the evening.

I got back to the hotel and swore off taxis. I don’t know where I am going, how much to pay, or how to get home, I will walk anywhere I want to go until it is time to go to the airport. When I return I will contact one of these guys that you can hire for the day as a guide/translator but this trip was for the kids, not for comfort or sight seeing. I will find what I need within walking distance of my hotel. I have seen enough to know the locals survive in the community and can walk to find all of their needs, I will do the same.

Being lost in the middle of Addis with no idea of how to get home was very much the kick in the pants I needed to see just how lost I am here. How foreign I am. I also understood for the first time in my life just how nice it is to have a travel companion when you undertake these excursions. Just having one person you can be lost with and share the fear and excitement, and overwhelmingness of it all with. I never understood the traveling companion before now, I have always had one on every major trip I have ever done, and you don’t have a true appreciation for what that companion does for you until you are there alone.

The oddest part of it all though, is never, not once in this entire day did I ever feel unsafe. I’ve been lost in a large group in New York before and we all felt unsafe even though we were together. Here I was alone in Ethiopia, lost, stranded and not knowing the language and my concern was sleep, and hunger, not safety.

I tried to watch some TV when I got back to my room, I wanted to know more about the war, but I discovered I only had E-TV and unless I learned Amharic overnight, well I wasn’t going to get anything from my one channel in my room.

I slept and slept deeply. I was with my kids in Ethiopia. My other kids were enjoying themselves with friends and family in Pennsylvania, and it seems like the page is being flipped on this chapter of the book and that our family will be complete and whole soon.

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4 Responses to “Tuesday in the streets with no name”

  1. I am enjoying your story! It feels like we are there with you! Thanks for sharing your love for God and your kids!

  2. lisa paulsen Says:

    Its great to read you traveled to see your kids, didnot see yourself as a helpless american that needs to have a agency or others intiminate you not to travel, and are wearing the amor of God on your trip:)
    It is like reading a novel too!
    lisa p

  3. Avery — thank you for taking the time to write this. It’s priceless to read about your trip, your children, Ethiopia…I’m thoroughly enjoying it all!

  4. I agree Addis felt very safe to us as well. How wonderful it is to experience life beyond these shores!

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