Nov. 9 - 10
Monday - Wednesday
Evan, Wally, Carol and Kate returned on Tuesday afternoon from Shashamene.
Joe decided to do other things while Evan and I went to the John Deere Dealership for the first time. Chombe greeted us and introduced us to his staff.
They recently moved to this new location and they had been doing excavation to provide for repair bays. They were excited to have us and they showed us their supply and parts room.
They also showed us a machine shop next door that could be vital to repairs of equipment. I was comforted by what they had. It seems my comfort level and expectations have evolved.Following that Chombe had one of his staff to be our guide to areas of the city which sells tools and other services which could provide aid to us while farming. Stores here are very small by US standards. A lot of hand tools have name brand names on them but clearly are cheap Chinese knock offs. There are apparently no laws in place here to guard against this. I wanted to take pictures of what I saw but I was stopped by the store manager..
In the morning Evan and I went to see Dr. Amsalu in his Addis office to talk about seed trials and varieties of promise. We came back to our office for a 2pm meeting with Dr. Amsalu and Dr. Ali with Paul, Joe, Evan, and myself to again talk about trial results and talked a little about the state farms. They thought they would be a great opportunity to rent but that they have debt to deal with; curious due to the fact that it is government run. The State farms are large acreage farms with facilities. They are run by the Ethiopian government but eventualy want to turn to privately held operators to run.
That evening Mr. Chombe, the John Deere dealer, invited me to have juice at Kaldis Café, which in its appearance is a knock off of Starbucks. We again had good conversation. I talked to him about my religions Word of Wisdom and how we don’t drink coffee. He said that most people in Ethiopia don’t eat pork because of their religious beliefs whether they be Christian or Muslim because they strongly believe what is taught in the Old Testament. For the Orthodox Christians it is a traditional belief rather than doctrine. He also said that Ethiopians are picky eaters and will starve with good food right beside them such as pork or even fish in their lakes. He told of a lake not too far away that is full of rainbow and brown trout but Ethiopians don’t like trout so no one fishes it. I asked if the fish were ok to eat and he said they are absolutely fine. It gave me an idea to fish there sometime but Chombe said that finding a fishing pole would be difficult because Ethiopians don’t care to fish.
He has yet to receive prices of equipment from the US so we will have to be patient.
Evan and I went with Dr. Amsalu to see test plots in Arsi Nugeli. The later plantings did not look so good. It was dry and had disease in the plants. It is obvious that the grain here will need fungicides to perform well.
We later met up with Lloyd and his group of Wally, Carol, her grand daughter Kate, and Brent. It was on busy street and soon came a crowd to stare at us. They especially stared at Kate who is 18. She felt she had to jump in the car because she felt uncomfortable.
One young man was trying to beg some money from Evan and he could see he was capable and chose not to give. He got a little upset and walked off raising his fist in the air and then slid his thumb across his throat back to Evan. This is uncommon for them to get upset like this. He soon came back to the car and had the nerve to beg again but this time he wanted to give some Chat to Evan in exchange for money. We then realized he was stoned on chat and that was why he was somewhat aggressive. We soon drove off. The staring crowds are hard to deal with but when they beg it is even more difficult. It seems that a lot of the people have learned to beg from the white foreigners.
Recognition of Dr. Ejeta
Today Paul invited me to join him, his brother Joe, and Evan as well as Shimelis to a special recognition of Dr. Gebisa Ejeta who recently was awarded a “World Food Prize”, for work he did with sorghum at Purdue University. A natural born Ethiopian Dr. Ejeta left for the US to study plants. His work has done great things for Ethiopia as well as other countries dependant on sorghum.
We traveled to his home town an hour out of the capital where the festivities were to be held. When we arrived we could see a festive atmosphere with a tent like structure to shade dignitaries and an open area in front corded off with thousands of people encircling it.
On the outskirts of the area there were proud horsemen parading traditional wear representing different tribes of the area chanting as they trotted around the perimeter. To get to our seats under the shade of the tent we walked along side the restless crowd. They would start to clap in unison and chant in exuberance. It was a powerful display of pride and excitement for these people to recognize their home town hero.
As we made our way to our seats I could see we were the only Caucasians in the whole crowd and we drew some attention. We were stared at and had cameras pointed at us as we walked. Since Paul rubs shoulders with a good share of these dignitaries we were afforded seats under the shade of the tent not far from the podium.
Presiding at the event was Pres. Abadula who is the president of the Oromiya region of Ethiopia. Though he is referred to as president his position is similar to a Governor in the US. Beside him sat Dr. Ejeta and his mother came to join him which drew a lot of clapping and cheering. There were a few talks given in there native tongue. I panned the crowd and noticed young boys had climbed twenty to thirty feet high in the near by trees to get a glimpse. Dr. Ejeta is a man of large stature and his demeanor is such that when he addressed the crowd you could tell he is much respected, I wish I could have understood his talk.
After the event the dignitaries made there way to an area set up to have lunch. There were young boys with water pitchers and bowls with which to wash your hands before eating. There was a buffet of traditional food to the area. One notable menu item is a freshly cut slab of raw meat placed in the center of the plate. It looked like a nice piece of beef to throw on the barbecue but….no barbecue. "Bon Appetite"
We went into a small building where chairs were set up to eat and Paul was invited to sit at the head table and the rest of us sat against the back wall. I happened to sit next to a couple of young men who remembered us from a tour we took at the Oromiya research center in Harar a couple of weeks ago.
I appreciated Paul inviting me to have the opportunity to take in such an event.
First LDS District formed in Ethiopia and the Wedding of Danny and Worknesh
We were split on who wanted to witness the first LDS district conference of Ethiopia and the wedding of two Morrell Agro employees Daniel (Danny) and Worknesh which was scheduled at the same time. Knowing that the wedding festivities were to last several hours some of us decided to go to conference first.
When we arrived at the church you could see some rented buses had arrived to deliver members from other areas to the meeting. Inside was crowded with about 300 people packed in a chapel that was made for about 250. President Christensen of the Uganda mission presided. Ethiopia does not yet have its own mission but is an extension of the Uganda mission. They officially set up a new district calling a Presidency made up of local members as well as a district High council of which our Awkwok was called to serve. Awkok is our accountant for Morrell Agro and was one of the earliest members in Ethiopia baptized in 1994 and was I believe the first missionary to serve from Ethiopia to the Uganda mission. After church I ran into an Elder Dallin Beard who is serving from Blackfoot, ID and told me he is related to the Beard family as well as the Armstrong family from my home town. He was excited to run into someone close to home. I also had another good visit with Daniel Mekonen who is still awaiting his mission call.
Wes, Alyssa, Mark, Haven, and I then took off to the wedding festivities in Holeta. We unfortunately missed the actual ceremony but were able to take in most of the festivities that followed. There was a large tent set up with every one gathered underneath. The couple was dressed much like in the US. They had bride maids on one side and grooms on the other sitting on raised platform. They had traditional Ethiopian food at a buffet table and a traditional drink which Worknesh clued the servers not to serve to the Mormon “Forenges”; apparently a drink with a little something extra. With that in mind they had a lot of fun and dance. They then had a ring ceremony in front of the cake and then the cutting of the cake and feeding each other and the bride maids and grooms and then the champagne.
Their wedding was very lively, almost rowdy and makes our LDS receptions seem pretty boring. We grouped together one last time to get a group picture with everyone of Morrell Agro.
It was a lot of fun.
We later returned to the Addis house and saw off Mark and Haven who went back home to the US on a late flight.