Greetings! I have been observing new things the last few days here in Addis Ababa that I will share with you in this blog.
I am noticing now after being in many different cities in different countries and continents that in any city that is developed to any degree traffic is heavy. Yesterday I was in a van in downtown Addis and there had been a fire somewhere in the city and we passed two accidents. Traffic was snarled and incredibly slow. It reminded me of Nanjing China and Khartoum Sudan.
The good thing about snarled traffic is that it does allow a person to really observe one’s surroundings. Addis is very green. I remembered having heard that Addis and Nairobi are much alike in having some of the most pleasant temperatures in Africa — cooler, not humid, and very green. Driving along a boulevard in Addis did indeed remind me of my very short stay in 2009 in Nairobi.
This week was the Ethiopian celebration of Epiphany. I heard things which are very disturbing to me. I will break this down as best I can. In Egypt I was aware of the tension between the Coptic (literally, Egyptian) church and the Orthodox and Protestants. In Addis Ababa I am hearing of the tensions between the Orthodox church and the Protestant Evangelical churches.
When I was in Belfast Northern Ireland in 2006 I was shocked to find that there were Protestants who did not believe that Catholics were Christians and visa versa. I am now finding this same state of affairs to be the case in Egypt and Ethiopia. Christians who believe that other Christians are not true believers because their practices are different or foreign from group to group. Acceptance of divergent practices and diversity within Christianity are things that I would ask Christians and other people of faith to hold in prayer.
The final thing which I will share with you here is a lesson that I learned in a computer shop in Addis yesterday. I have purchased a copier/printer/scanner to take with me to the south of Sudan for helping in my teaching and my own doctoral work. I was accompanied by the friend and colleague with whom I am staying here in Addis. We have a man who drives us places often in his van as my friend does not have a car here, just as I do not have a car in Khartoum. We pay him by the hour and as hours pass it becomes expensive. I discovered that businesses in Addis (and perhaps in other major cities as well) make the assumption that foreigners who come in work for either the United Nations or an Embassy. This would mean 1. that the person is not paying for their own purchase and 2. that they have a driver who provided by their employer at no cost to themselves. The saleswoman did ask me if I was with the UN and I told her that no, I am a missionary. There was difficulty with getting my receipt printed. As time dragged on I realized that I needed to let the people at the store know that my friend and I are paying the driver by the hour out of our own pockets. I also told them that I am paying for the printer/copier/scanner out of my own resources and those resources are limited.
I am learning to be more aware of the assumptions that other people have about me and that I need to correct those assumptions because not do so can be very costly to me.