Making So Many New Friends

Visiting Ethiopia has been all about relationship development so far. On all sides. You know -- getting to know my American mom team members, bonding with the local staff, learning more about our trip leaders {Tim -- Jonathan loves mountaineering too!}, and of course, beginning to understand local culture and language in order to bond with the Ethiopian people.

The most important word, one we've been saying many many times each day is "Ameseyge'nallo'" {thank you}. Long "a" sound and the double ll says l, not y as in espanol. :) We have been getting our languages jumbled a bit -- I've caught myself saying "si" and "de nada" and this very very old woman {106} spoke some French phrases to me at the homeless feeding yesterday.

"Wuha" means water. That's fun to say. :) "Cascaza wuha" means cold water.

"E'shi" means OK. We say that a lot too.

"Salam" means hello.

And then the silliest word ever, which always brings laughter -- it means "I'm full" in English and sounds something like this -- "tbgk". No vowels. It's our go-to word when we need a laugh.

Here's a list of commonly used Amharic words
, including numbers 1-10 and how to pronounce the seven vowel sounds.

We've had to learn how to respond to begging children {sent by their parents} at the markets.

We're learning how to best interact with the village people, not raising their expectations for "free money" but encouraging relationships and partnership.

We're learning to tune out the 4am prayer songs.

I'm learning to be brave enough to try to talk to the Ethiopian mothers, and it usually turns out we have something in common. It's surprising how much can be conveyed with sign language. *point to her children, raise two fingers and point to myself* "I have two kids." {then they laugh about the potential of my womb}

Our local staff are incredible -- I can't say enough good things about them. They are attentive to our comfort and our safety, always staying close when we're out and about. Offering a hand when we jump out of the truck. Reminding us to watch our heads {duck}. Alex {his Americano name} is particularly savvy with the American culture. Courtney was teaching him how to say 'sup yesterday. With a tip of his baseball cap.

We love these guys. They will stay forever in our hearts. Alex is in charge of the village blogs and now has a smart phone, so we're encouraging him to keep us updated on a more regular basis. Now that he knows us and we know him -- there is more motivation to communicate!

We've got this inside joke -- Alex said something about a skinny cow and now everything is "skinny" -- and we laugh. =) Skinny chicken. Skinny arms. Skinny ice cream.

I could go on....

We've made lifetime friends here. It's not hard. They are so easy to love.

, Heather, Jennifer and I have bonded over silly things like monkey chasing and late night "everything is silly sessions" in our rooms. We're helping each other learn language and helping each other fight with slow Internet {really, we're thankful there IS Internet} and confusing cameras. When we visit a village, we work together -- blowing bubbles, taking photos, trying to talk to the people.

It's been the longest and best seven days of my life so far with little sleep and so much to absorb.

But I'm so glad I came to Ethiopia.

Do you have any questions about the people here?? Or about the GHNI team?? Or about the other moms, come from America to tell the stories?? Want to know what our favorite Fanta flavors are? Leave a comment! :)