by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
written 11/3/19

Jason and I had an uneventful flight, always a good thing.  We left Seattle at midnight for Chicago, then a 17-hour non-stop flight from Chicago to Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia.  Not only did we gain a day crossing a plethora of time zones, we went from winter to balmy summer.   It is good to be here with our amazing colleagues who are also dear friends.

We drove from the airport to Adama an hour-and-a-half away, going straight to an orphanage where I met with two birthmothers whose children have been adopted by a wonderful U.S. family.  I think it is as fun for me to see pictures and read updates as it is for their Ethiopian mothers.  It is a joy to see the children develop and hear about their accomplishments and struggles – and the news brings immense joy and comfort to their birth families.

This particular adoptive family has been faithful for ten years to send their birth mothers pictures, samples of school work and newsy letters.  These Ethiopian moms feel valued and loved, as they should be.

But it is buna (coffee) that we need, and the smell of coffee beans roasting draws us to the common room.

The wonderful orphanage staff set out plates of cookies, kolo (roasted barley) and popcorn with strong, rich, Ethiopian coffee served in tiny cups.

Jason and I were drooping and the coffee and treats were just what we needed to give us a boost.

After lunch, we continued south for two more hours and we are now in our simple rooms at the Bethlehem Hotel in Ziway.  This sweet place is an oasis of calm and, after a cool shower and a change of clothes, Jason and I took a walk to a nearby lake to help us stay awake.  Our bodies scream for sleep, but we know it is best to keep going until it’s a reasonable bedtime.  We will have dinner with our friends in a few minutes using this time of fellowship to review plans for tomorrow. Tomorrow is an overly full day… I hope we can accomplish everything we need to do.

Jason and I are reading an interesting book called Foreign to Familiar by YWAMer Sarah Lanier. The world is getting smaller as more people travel, immigrate, flee war zones and work overseas, creating cross-cultural encounters at a mind-boggling rate.  Though cultural differences among us provide rich color to our lives, it can also be the source of wounding and conflict.  Being from a cold-climate culture (North America) working in a hot-climate culture (Africa) gives Jason and I opportunity to understand our African friends better and make the necessary adjustments so relationships can flourish.

Did you know?

Hot-Climate Cultures:

  • Are relationship-based
  • Communication must create a “feel-good” atmosphere
  • Though the individuals may be otherwise, the society is feeling-oriented
  • Efficiency and time do not take priority over the person

Cold-Climate Cultures:

  • Are task-oriented
  • Communication must provide accurate information
  • Though individuals may be otherwise, the society is logic-oriented
  • Efficiency and time are high priorities, and taking them seriously is a statement of respect for the other person*

*Page 30 Foreign to Familiar