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Debre Zyet, Ethiopia

I’ve never been in a country where I wake each morning to the chanting of prayer. It’s been a problem for some of my colleagues because the chanting sometimes starts at 4:00 a.m.! The Ethiopian Orthodox Church recites prayers for much longer than the Islam call to prayer. In fact, they pass out walking sticks that have a chin rest so the men can rest if they’re chanting for hours! But it seemed especially appropriate on a Sunday morning.

We went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Debre Zyet.  It was heartwarming to see some of the translators we’ve been working with all week and meet their families.

Monica, one of my new friends, noticed early in the week that the schoolgirls are reluctant to participate in the village.  Of course she would–she’s a wealth planner at Goldman, Sachs & Company! When she managed to get one in front of the class the little girl froze and couldn’t speak.  All week long we’ve been encouraging the girls to feel comfortable answering questions.

So it was gratifying to attend Relief Society, the women’s meeting, at church today.  The group was small, but the women were confident in what they believed and spoke eloquently.  It inspired Monica and I to tears!  These woman are strong, beautiful women that are full of faith.

Monica invited me to attend lunch at the home of a relative of a friend. We arrived with some trepidation, not knowing what to expect.  The people were gracious and insisted we leave our shoes on even though they removed their shoes.  They poured water over our hands from a pitcher while we washed them in preparation for the meal. This is a custom and we did it after the meal as well.

And the meal!  It was the best meal we’ve had all week!  Monica said it redeemed her opinion of Ethiopian food.  We were served key wot (potato with meat and spiced with berbere),

alcha wot (potato and meat without spices), and timatim kurt (tomato with slivered onion and pepper).  The timatim was like a refreshing salsa to balance the richness of the stews or “wots”.  There was a bounty of rolled injera to eat with.

To get home, we took a bajaj!  They’re made in India and are basically a motorcycle with a box on it.  It was a fun ride and another unique form of transportation to add to my ongoing list.

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