Happy Thanksgiving! This is not a Thanksgiving post as it’s been written and sitting here for awhile. I’ve been waiting to get pictures from Jon’s phone…the pictures I have are incomplete but at night time, when I finally sit down to blog, my brain feels…umm…tired. See, I can’t even think of a more creative way to say it right now. This post also makes me so sad as we were with Meteku and now he is gone…This is still hard.
Onto the old post from October 15th. :)
On Saturday, we were visited by Challie’s dad. He wanted to invite us for their house for lunch on Sunday. We were supposed to be there at 11:00 am. In Awi culture the more important the event, the more last minute the invitation. If we invite for something very early, it’s shows we have little value on the event itself.
Our family was thankful for the invitation, thankful to praise God together for a successful surgery for Challie and that his leg is healing! We arrived around 11:20 because we hadn’t planned enough time for the long hike to get to their hut.
(this whole hike was especially funny as Whitney forgot to change out of her slippers until it was too late and she wore little slippers the entire time.) Meteku is in the background here, in the maroon scarf.
Miss T was hauled along by Jon and Zelalem. Tiger prefers to be in a carrier.
The end of the hike near Challie’s house.
Warm greetings were shared and then a wonderful time with the entire family, including extended family. We were served injera (our staple bread) with cabbage stew, boiled potatoes and spicy seasoning. Then the coffee ceremony started, we were around 2 hours in and normally, this is when we farewell and hike home.
Whitney had taken the kids out to pet the sheep outside near the barn and while they were out, the sheep was untied and then brought into the house. It quickly dawned on me that the party was just getting started because that sheep was to be the main course. In Awi culture, meat is eaten around 3 holidays a year unless you are invited to a wedding or a momentous special occasion where it is also served.
If you have had the opportunity to have your meat butchered in front of you, you know that from the start of the butcher to the meat being served is several hours if everyone works quickly. Inside, I had this inner-conflict as I didn’t know how I would keep four kids going for several more hours and I definitely didn’t bring enough water (and had forgotten the toilet paper). I was fighting my Amy cultural value of efficiency. In my home, if guests come, I try to have everything as ready as possible before they arrive as to not make anyone wait. If I continued to keep on that lens, the sheep being killed in front of my eyes was extremely rude and I might even go so far as to say it was wrong.
Meteku and Challie chop the meat into pieces.
I whisper-freaked-out to Jon and then thought about this phrase from pre-field training, “Different isn’t wrong. Different is different. Wrong is wrong”. This phrase has been unparalleled as it has helped me through many different situations. We learned to take any “twangs” where we would label “weird” or “wrong” to the Bible. In God’s Scripture, that is the only place where we discern “right versus wrong”.
Challie’s family, from their perspective, were giving us the highest honor they could bestow to thank us for our involvement in their lives and it was lavish and far outside what they can afford. Culturally, to sit for a day and be served dish after dish, share coffee, homemade beer and conversation while we do nothing but sit was thanking us.
And it was beautiful…and hard. The kids rocked the whole scene (as did Whitney) and we were so proud of them. We made it back to our house, honored and filthy and stuffed and flea-bitten around 5 pm. We had to cancel a dinner we were supposed to host as well as friends who were driving by and were going to stop for tea. The change in plans were all okay.
On Monday, as I reflected back on the whole day, God brought to mind how I would have missed the blessing of the whole event if I had not stopped to consider how another’s worldview, another’s life experience was different from mine but not rude, not wrong. As a human, my tendency is to devalue someone else’s experience as illegitimate if I don’t have a shelf to put it on or a similar experience with which I can compare it.