We made it to Addis Abeba, we will be here until Tuesday night when we fly out. We drove out of Soddo thinking about how long we have been there and how long it will be before we go back. There have been things about this past year that have been easier…we know more people, more Amharic, more of the systems and culture, the kids are older, not to mention that Paul had another surgeon come alongside him.  This has made a huge difference and we are incredibly thankful to be able to work together.  But there are also a lot of things that have been even harder this past year.  It is hard to put it into words, but I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that we are so involved in the hospital.  Paul plays a big role administratively, not only with PAACS, but also within the hospital.  So, when some of those systems break down, it really wears on him.  I have helped and managed a ton of guests and there have been more new people who have come to live in Soddo which means that Paul and I have somehow become the experts on some things.  Which is slightly daunting, thinking we are still pretty young in the culture.

This past week has been a busy, but fun week, so I thought I would share, some pictures and some of the events.

On Tuesday night the girls from our bible study took me out to eat.  It was so much fun to hang out with them. I always love spending time with people in their own environment.  They went around the table and shared all of the funny things that farengis (ex-pats) do or have done in the past. (All I could think is I am sure I have done some pretty silly things and it is probably even worse that I don’t know what those things are.) But after talking about that, they went around the table and shared memories we have had together or their appreciation for me.  It was really sweet, one person even said, she considers me habesha (Ethiopian) because I am so comfortable in Ethiopia and can speak the language and love getting to know them.  Now, if only I had a habesha suit, so strangers on the street wouldn’t know me by my white skin.

Here is Dr. Ruth (due in June), Chaltu (holding Addis' baby), me and Addis. They are all resident wives.

Tsion (hospital accountant), Sintayu (ortho nurse), me (as if you couldn't tell), Aden and Cissy (resident wives)

On Wednesday night, in honor of my habesha-ness…I threw an Ethiopian party.  We had all of the residents and their families join us and we did an Ethiopian pot luck.  They said they hadn’t done a dinner like this before, but they really liked it.  Each family brought a different kind of wat (stew that they eat with injera) and there was  injera and bread.  They even have an Ethiopian saying that says, “50 limes is a burden to one, but to 50 people it is easy and fun to do together”.  (Of course, it is more poetic sounding in Amharic.)  And they do live this out.  Any time there is a birthday party or a wedding, friends and family come together for the whole week before and begin chopping onions and preparing food.  This is actually my favorite part of Ethiopian celebrations, the fellowship that happens over 50 kilos of onions and an entire slaughtered sheep.

My Ethiopian party! We had all kinds of delicious food.

The PAACS dinner! From left to right: Cissy, Allison Karnes (Ronald, Cissy's husband and Dr. Karnes were in surgery), Ruth and Moges Mulu and baby Efrem and one on the way, Becky Martin (in back, visiting ortho surgeon's wife), Aden and Dejene, Stephanie Hail, Seigni, Paul and me, Chaltu and Daniel and kids, Kena, Ayba, KaKu, Teddy and Addis and Dr. Martin in the back.

On Thursday night, we were invited to a dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate a new partnership with the Soddo University and Soddo Christian Hospital.  The university is starting a medical school and will begin sending med students and other physicians of certain specialties to SCH for training.  It was exciting to see these 2 growing entities join together.

On Friday, I went around town saying goodbye to friends.  They all asked if I was taking my children to America with me. Of course, I said, “yes”.  The grandparents would ship me back if we came home without them. Then they all asked if Paul was going too. They were shocked when I said yes. And then they said…then who will operate on the patients? At which time I pointed to Bekah Pollock and said her husband. The hospital has been very busy lately and Paul has done some big cases. We will continue to pray for the Pollocks as they hold up PAACS and surgeries in Soddo on their own for a few months.

Along the way through town, I stopped by to pick up the last of the 75 dresses I had made.  (I hope you ladies were serious about wanting to buy one!)

Here is Tamane, who sewed all the dresses that I am bringing back. This is the sewing shop where I take everything. They do all of my hemming and mending for free because I take everyone else there and give them so much business! They have sewn something in every room in my house. I love just looking at all the fun fabrics they have on the wall.

Here is a sample of some of the dresses. I have 15 different patterns of material. Each material has 5 dresses made in 3 different lengths (long /47 inches from under the arms to the bottom, extra long /55inches and short/ 32inches). And in the pictures are my beautiful models and friends, Richelle, Sophie (who is 5'9" and the extra long is too long on her), Sharon, me and Bekah P.

And on Friday night, after packing up every closet and checking off the last box on the check list, we went to celebrate with friends and say good bye.  We had a little party and had so much fun hanging out, eating American cheese that was going to go bad in my freezer and saying goodbye for the next few months.

So now, here we are in a quaint little apartment in Addis, thankful for time to reflect and refresh before jumping on a plane for 24 hours.  We may even take the kids to see a movie at a theater in Addis on Monday!  See most of you soon!