The warm morning sun faithfully shines this time of year and we enjoy every ray as we know rainy season is coming and bring with it, wet, cloudy and chilly. During this season between Easter and the rainy season, it’s busy with weddings. The long fasts of Easter are over and this is the only time of year when the Ethiopian Orthodox don’t have their fasting on Wednesday and Friday either. The paths aren’t bogged down in mud and it’s the ideal time for weddings.
(The boys play on the drums while they are not involved with the bridal party celebration)
Last Sunday morning, I was reflecting on WhatsApp chats with both of our family’s. I was feeling gloomy at how much we miss out on in our nieces and nephews lives. Additionally, in a few short months, we will have three new nieces. Our two babies are toddlers, giggling, talking and playing and know their extended family through pictures and very occasional FaceTime. I told Jon about feeling the heavy weight of separation from our families and friends. The day moved on and I forgot about this feeling in the midst of a morning of house church and worship. Jon and I were invited to a wedding within our village area but not a groom or bride we knew well. Our stomachs are worn down from all our Easter feasting so we both weren’t excited about the meat stews but also have appreciated weddings in the relational aspects.
We walked along the paths, following a friend, single file as we neared the hut and people were leaving who had already celebrated, eaten and drank the appropriate amount.
(Homemade beer is served in cow horn glasses.)
A bright-faced young mom came towards us, ornately decorated basket of injera balanced on her head, baby wrapped in a scarf on her back. She greeted our friend and then looking to us, asked, “Who are these foreigners.” “They’re ours”. was his response. She broadly smiled and repeated, “Ok, they are ours”.
(Not the actual woman but a similar style basket)
We greeted and moved to onto the animal skins where we sat for the feast but the phrase, “They’re ours” has rolled around in my head. Father, thank you for this encouragement on a day when my “home” feels so far away!
(The bride and groom. They are actually very happy but following cultural standards, the bride needs to look sad the entire time in respect to her parents as it expresses her sadness at leaving her parents’ home. )
The Awi culture is a strong insider/outsider culture and we know we will never be Awi. Our neighbors from villages 10 minute drive away are considered outsiders but we thank God for the gift of the Awi allowing us to be “belonging outsiders”. We were recently invited into an Awi activity and as I thanked a member of the group who had been key in our invitation, he laughed and said, “Yes, little-by-little”
Thank you for prayers based on Easter follow-up. On our walk home, a group of young men followed to play soccer in the pasture.
They had all watched the Jesus Film. Jon asked them, “What was new for you in the story?” The leader replied, “It was all new! We learned many good teachings.” Continue to pray with us.