Day 5: Awassa to Addis

This morning was like a small taste of vacation; we sat for a few hours beside lake awassa editing photos and video, talking, eating, laughing and planning. We took a boat out on the lake to see the hippos and monkeys joined us for lunch.

This team of people is incredible; they're talented, patient, and humble and I respect each of them deeply. I've already learned so much; I'm bursting with ideas and fresh energy.

A dog chasing a rooster, a baby goat bleating as it crosses the road barely in time before we whiz by; a thousandmore things begging to be photographed.

Air whipping into the van's open windows smells like warmth and dry earth... and occasionally fresh onion skins. It's overcast and the road is dusty. We've been in thee van for what feels like days and I find myself continually wondering: are we there yet? Every now and then we pass through a village and the smells are different...diesel and dung, mixed with food being cooked. We compete with livestock and bajaj drivers for a slice of the road. The acacia trees fly by for miles, we're headed back up to lAddis to continue our work with several more organizations. I felt sad leaving awassa...we were there so short a time and yet it somehow became familiar.

The air changes again, suddenly smelling of beer, lots of beer. The van comes to a halt; the roadside is soaked and covered with broken glass. A truckload of beer has dropped some of its cargo, red crates and broken bottles litter the field beside the roadway, and the dirt is dark. Boys are strewn about stooping to collect the unbroken bottles and replacing them in their crates. More boys are running to help. I watch one boy wearing a faded orange t-shirt place half a dozen bottles into a clump of brush before covering them with dry straw. Our driver gets out and clears some glass in our path before climbing back in, we continue on.

The light is fading and we are still in the van. I begin to pray, thanking God for each moment of this trip. There have been so many moments, some captured, others only remembered that I haven't begun to process. There is so much here in this place where it seems like people have so little of the material. They rely on God and on each other for their needs. Though riddled with poverty, people are content, happy, and welcoming. This isn't someplace that needs saving, this is a place that I imagine people lIke me could be saved from themselves. Do I need to be saved? I'm already a believer in Jesus, but what I mean is... Is the way I think about myself and the details of my life something I need to be saved from? Is my way of thinking fundamentally flawed by the experience of living in the first world? Do I think I am more than these people because I have more money, more possessions? Am I believing that I have arrived? and that these people are on their way but not there and need my help? Do I think I know the right way to live? Is community, the way I see it displayed here, a more worthy goal then a bigger house? Probably. If that's the case what does it look like to alleviate poverty? What is needed? Is it restoring brokenness in relationships? God, self, others, and the rest of creation. What does that look like?

The sun finally sinks behind the hills and I feel peaceful despite the turmoil of looming questions on my mind.

Are we there yet? Nope.