As missionaries, getting permission from a foreign country to stay permanently takes a lot of time and resources, especially in Kenya. Trae received his work permit last year, but Adrianne had to come into the country on a travel visa and then apply to be under his after arriving. However, you can only stay 6 months until you have to leave Kenya in order to come back in and pay for a new travel visa. While we are so close to receiving Adrianne’s permanent status, we had to leave Kenya in July in order to be in the country legally. So we travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!
Ethiopia is a great choice for many missionaries because it’s close, cheap, and safe. Also, it is one of the approved countries to re-enter from. Some of the surrounding countries (Uganda and Tanzania) are not approved for this, and others (Somalia and South Sudan) are not safe options. One bonus is that Ethiopian food is Trae’s favorite! The bad news is that most people in Ethiopia do not speak English. Their main language is Amharic, which looks like a bunch of squiggles and makes ordering at restaurants quite difficult. However, the word “pizza” is something that everyone in Ethiopia understands!
There is every type of cuisine imaginable available in Addis Ababa. Obviously there is Ethiopia food, which is always eaten with their staple bread called injera. Injera is a giant sourdough pancake that you scoop up food with. Though Ethiopia borders Kenya, the two countries are drastically different because of the Middle East’s influence on Ethiopia, especially with the spices used in the food. There is also Italian food on every corner because of Italy’s influence when they attempted (and failed) to colonize Ethiopia. (Fun fact: Ethiopia is one of only two countries in Africa that are considered to have never been colonized.) We even found a Canadian restaurant with pizzas named after famous Canadians. Sometimes you just need a Michael Buble pizza.
The legends are true: coffee in Ethiopia is the best in the world. Even Trae drank a cup while we were there! Legend has it that coffee was discovered by a shepherd named Kaldi. He noticed his goats were hyper after eating some red beans from a nearby tree. He tried them for himself, and thus began the history of our love for caffeinated coffee. For those who aren’t into macchiatos, there is also peanut tea in Ethiopia! It’s basically a liquid peanut butter cookie that you drink, so it’s amazing.
There are many museums in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is home to some of the oldest bones discovered on Earth, including infamous Lucy and Ardi! Lucy got her name because the archeologists were listening to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles while unearthing the bones. In Ethiopia her name is Dinkinesh which means “you are marvelous” in Amharic.
There are also many old and magnificent churches in Ethiopia. The two main religions in the country are Orthodox and Muslim, which are mixed in with many traditional African beliefs. Orthodox Christianity has been in Ethiopia for almost 1,000 years and many aspects of the religion are deeply ingrained in everyday Ethiopian culture.
A more somber part of our visit was to the Red Terror Museum, which showed the history of the mass genocide in Ethiopia from the 1970’s to the early 90’s. The victims were represented throughout the museum with pictures, personal artifacts, and their stories. One room even held many real skulls and other parts of those dug up from the actual mass graves, which was so shocking that Adrianne would not even go into the room. There were also glass towers filled with the belongings that those killed by the Derg were buried with in the mass graves.
It was very interesting visiting a country just next door and learning about all of its cultural differences and fascinating history. And at the end of the day, it always felt like we were home in Africa when we came back to find a goat waiting for us at the door of our guesthouse!