No. 1 thing to have in the event of a fire: a tin opener.

So Christmas is very much on its way here, and it is getting very busy. This past week I have been finishing up any assignments with the kids, and finishing off any theory ready for the last 3 days of term in which I don’t plan to do much work with them.

Street ministry was good this week, we had a couple of other Forengi join us, just to observe. They were over visiting for a few weeks. We met up with most of the kids we have been meeting over the past number of weeks. They are always so pleased to see us and sit down with us, listening intently. We met some new kids also, one of whom must have been about 10 years old. He was very cute kid, who had beautiful big eyes but he had a bandaged head. When Dundee asked what happened, he said that he had tried to sleep beside an electricity box, probably for warmth, and had gotten very badly burned.  It is awful to see. This week, I also found out Dundee’s real name, and that his nickname does come from the crocodile version.

Thursday of this week was a day with a lot of excitement on campus, and a day to be thankful. If you are wondering about the title of this post, I’ll explain. Steph Moffett and Steph Paget, who were living together moved into an apartment with another two girls, Christina and Jen, on Sunday of last week. This was to make room for another family who are coming in January. Anyway, this Thursday morning they woke up to smoke coming through the floorboards of their 1st story apartment. Confused as to what was going on, or to how serious the situation was, they got up and woke up the couple who live underneath them. After they roused Murray, our director, they began to try and see what was going on. In an attempt to pry up the floor boards, and in absence of any crowbar, Jen tried to use a tin opener. This has been a subject of much laughter about the compound in what was an otherwise very serious situation. Once Murray got to the house, got the girls and their stuff out, and started prying up the floorboard with a crowbar, the situation became apparent. What seems to have happened is that the night before, the girls had lit a fire in the fireplace, as they had every night before that, and as had been done for most nights previously for most of the building’s 50 year history. This time, though, the fire had burned through its base, which consisted of one layer of bricks and sand, and started burning into the wooden floor. The insulation in between the floorboards was straw. Seemingly, the fire smoldered all night, and didn’t actually catch until the morning when it was discovered. It is a miracle that the damage to the apartment was not worse, and that no-one was hurt in the incident. We are so thankful to God that the only problem now is where to house everyone while the apartment is repaired.

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The damage to the floor, you can see down to the apartment below.

On Friday night Bingham had its Christmas play which the elementary pupils participated in. I was asked to help out with the technical side of things. Once word gets round that you are in the slightest bit competent with <strong>anything</strong> technical, you get asked to help anywhere and everywhere. I don’t mind, its nice to be useful. The play went well and all technical things went smoothly.

On Saturday afternoon we had a “Gibsha” for the Ethiopian staff of Bingham. This was essentially a large afternoon meal to say thanks for all the hard work that they all do. The event was held under large marquees and for lunch was, of course, injera. All the staff and their families were there and it was great to see all the families of the workers that you see about compound all the time. There were also some acknowledgements to the Ethiopian staff who’ve served at Bingham for over 20 years, some even serving over 40 years.

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My plate of injera complete with toppings.

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Coffee ceremony: Roasting the coffee beans.

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Freshly roasted coffee beans.

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Amanda wrist deep in injera and wot (the sauce with the injera)

After everyone had eaten, there was a vast amount of leftovers. Brian had the idea to drive around Addis and give it out to the beggars. We boxed all the injera and wot up into packages and loaded it into one of the cars. Brian was anxious that it go to those who needed it most, and knowing that at the first sign of stuff being handed out the car would be swamped, he devised a way to ensure only a couple of needy people got food at each stop. By waiting in traffic, and handing out food quickly just before driving off, we could ensure that a crowd would never gather. A Drive-by-Fooding as Brian called it.

We set off and found some people with problems to give the food to. Most of the people that we handed the packages were extremely grateful, some however seemed unnecessarily fussy, claiming stomach trouble, fasting or other excuses and not accepting the food. We did manage to find enough grateful people to hand it all to.

On Saturday evening, I was invited to the home of one of my students, Eric Blacksten, along with a couple of the other teachers. They had organised a Gingerbread house decorating competition. We were divided into 3 teams, and each team was given a blank gingerbread house made by Mrs. Blacksten (works of art in themselves). We were all given various colours of icing and various biscuits, sweets, marshmallows, cocktail sticks etc with which to decorate the houses. Our team went with a traditional approach, with Santa stuck down the chimney, reindeer on the roof (and some on the ground who’d fallen off) and other traditional things. Murray Overton’s group made an Ethiopian themed house, with a water tank on the roof, a satellite dish (essential stuff according to Murray), taxis and other Ethiopian things. Brian’s group decided to make a house regarding current events, and put fire on one side of their house. No group with Brian in it wouldn’t have a dig at Murray in some way, so he made a Murray figure out of marshmallows, trying to put out the fire while at the same time saluting the American flag. This was very funny as Murray is very proud of his New Zealand heritage.

After all the houses were finished, the houses were judged by Mr and Mrs Blacksten, who announced that the competition was a draw. However, when it was time for us to leave, Mrs Blacksten asked if we would like to take the other two team’s houses home, and if she could hold on to ours, making it fairly obvious whose house she liked best. Alright! The evening was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done at Christmas time, really great craic.

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Brian’s team’s house, the “Keep out” was to do with Murray not wanting anyone visiting Bingham while all the commotion was going on.

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Here he is, trying to put out the fire apparently.

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Our team’s house, complete with Santa, reindeer, snowmen and Christmas tree and a “Santa Stop” sign.

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The Ethiopian house, complete with water tank, taxis and even a tramp sleeping outside.

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As always, I’ve uploaded some more pictures, check them out <a href=”http://deniall.x10hosting.com/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=13″>here.</a&gt;

This evening is the Forengi staff Christmas event at Bingham, I’m singing in the choir. Next week will be fairly relaxed, I have 3 days of school, one of which I will be taking the grade 7 students swimming in the Ethiopian Airforce Officers club pool I was at before. On Thursday, I head to Kenya for 8 days where I’ll be staying on Mombasa beach. We’ve managed to organise a 2 day Safari which I’m really looking forward to.

In closing I’d just like to share about another missionary from down country who we have all been thinking and praying about here. She is a young woman, on a short term service, in Ethiopia, down south of Addis. She was driving and had an accident where she hit and killed a small child. Given the respect that people give to the roads here, it seems amazing that this is not an everyday occurrence, as kids wander out aimlessly in front of speeding cars all the time. Anyway, she unfortunately hit this young child. This was clearly not her fault, apparently, so much so that the parents of the child were willing to sign a statement freeing her of any blame. However, this is Ethiopia and the law states, as I’ve said before, that someone must go to jail for 15 years if they’re involved in a fatal accident. So the police are charging her with manslaughter. She has been granted bail and has been allowed to return to her home country to see her parents, but she must return to go to court here on Feb 14th of next year. Just something else to remember in prayer.

Niall

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