Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nov. 9th - 15th

First of all I must thank my wife and daughter in updating this blog while I have been in Ethiopia.  The internet there sometimes prevents blogs and the like from being accessed so I have been sending documents and limited pictures via email so family could post them.  I am now home and I am trying to go back and update the blog with more posts and pictures.  More information on my return to come in future posts.

Nov. 9 - 10
Monday - Wednesday

I am currently staying at the Addis Ababa Home/Office doing planning on the computer and periodic ventures with Joe going throughout the city looking for dealerships and other potential suppliers.  Not much note worthy to mention.  We did however find the Case IH dealership with no one around to answer questions.
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 CafĂ©, 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.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 6 - 8

2009Nov06 Ethiopia

“Travel from Goba to Shashamene”

We had breakfast in the Goba Hotel. Joe, Mark U., Mekonen, and I made a quick trip to Sheneka Farm to take soil samples. We drove around to assess the fields but we are not yet sure where they will lie. I felt the grass was thick enough that it will need to be sprayed first with Roundup. We then headed for Sheneka. It was a long bumpy ride which made it almost impossible to get any rest.

Mekonen invited us to meet his family when we arrived at Shashamene. His home was a nice modest home but very nice by ET standards. He has a wife and four daughters, six through sixteen, as well as a niece who helps in the home. They were very hospitable. They quickly made us a meal that was more than we could eat. The girls wanted to practice their English with us. Their daughter had to sing “ Twinkle Twinkle little star” to me; such a cutie. They helped me make a list of common words in Amharic to study. Amharic is the language of the larger cities and to do business. Oromo is used in the more rural areas. I sense that it is more the language of the lower class. People sometimes seem offended if I say hi to them in Oromo if they are more professional. We arrived the Lilly of the Valley Hotel were we met up with all the others. Alyssa and Everett were there as well as Carol and Kate. Wally arrived later.My room was nicer than the one I had here before.

2009Nov07 Saturday

Ethiopia “A day with Mr. Chombe Seyoum”

We awoke in the Lilly of the Valley Hotel and waited for Mr. Chombe to arrive. He is the owner and manager of the John Deere dealership in Ethiopia. We all met him a week ago when he treated us to dinner and entertainment in Addis. He arrived shortly before noon and we were off to see some of his custom harvesting operation not far from here. Our group included Wes, his soon to be adopted son Tofik, Mark B., Mark U., Joe and me. I had the privilege to sit next to Chombe along the way. He is a down to earth, intelligent man in his later 40’s; full of ambition. He is operating several older New Holland TC 55 combines some 14 years old and one 1165 John Deere. I asked why mostly yellow? He proceeded to tell me his life story how he only bought the dealership three years ago and had this harvesting operation for about 15 years and felt comfortable that he can maintain these older machines, some with over 24,000 hours on them. I had to re-ask if I heard right and he said 24,000 hours. That is unheard of in the US for a combine.

His story is very inspirational. When he was just a boy in the early 1970’s he remembers his father being successful and who had acquired a fair amount of land. He had a tractor too. The politics in Ethiopia changed drastically in 1974. The country was taken over by a communistic regime which is referred to as “the Derg.”. The leaders decided that people could not have more than a certain amount of net worth. They took land from the people and certain assets. He remembers being afraid. His father was forced to take his tractor to a large lot in the town where they lived and give it up to “the people”. He has a vivid memory of going with his father to give up his tractor. Fortunately they were permitted to retain their home and barn as well as the crop they had just harvested. With the money from their crop they were able to purchase an oil extraction machine and motor to extract vegetable oil from oil seeds. The family ran it in their barn around the clock and Chombe and his brother would take the night shift. He would go to school during the day, sleep a little after school, then he would press oil at night. The family was able to make enough money to eventually send Chombe to school in Scotland. When he came home from school in Scotland he purchased a small tractor and plow to farm for hire at surrounding farms. He was so successful he purchased another. Fifteen years ago he had the vision of bringing in a combine to the area, the first one in the whole area. He traveled from one area to the other gathering all the business he could. He was able to pay for a $60,000 combine in a year and a half. After many years of struggling to get parts for all the combines he had owned he decided to purchase the John Deere dealership which was not doing much business. He drove us to a large gated yard in his home town where he kept his custom farming operations. There were many combines being used for parts for his running ones. He said; “this large yard is the very yard where my father drove our tractor and gave it up during the Derg, and now it is mine.”

Chombe drove us close to the center of his hometown and wanted us to get out and walk with him to his home. Many people along the way greeted him with a lot of respect. He is obviously “the home town boy who done good.” He said he lived there until only three years ago. His home was very simple with a barn behind. In the barn was the old oil extraction machine. He was excited to explain how it worked and tolfd us more stories of his childhood. When we left an emotionally distraught elderly lady encircled by some young men came to him pleading for help. She tearfully explained to him her plight. She had lost her childhood home to some government project. She knew he would have the power to help her regain her home if any body could. He took some paperwork from her and told her he would do what he could. It was a sad scene.

Chombe treated us to a meal at an outside restaurant and of course we had injera and Tibbs, goat I think. While we were eating, he told us another story of when he was a young boy and had to be sent to a hospital in Addis Ababa for treatment of an eye infection. It was his first visit to the big city and he was amazed at what he saw. When he returned home he tried to explain to his friends what pavement was, how it was hard like rock but smooth. He tried to tell them about television and how little people were in the box doing things to entertain and when they were tired they would go away. His experiences were so thrilling that after some time at home he wanted to go back to the city. He desired to go so much that he put some kernels of wheat under his eye lids and then showed his mother how swollen his eyes were and explained that he needed to return to Addis Ababa. Of course after seeing his eyes, his mother immediately took him to the local clinic where the physician peeled back his eye lids and found the wheat. Rather than enjoying a trip to the Capital he ended up being disciplined by his mother.

We got back to Shahamene at around 7 pm to stay the night before heading back to Addis in the morning early.

2009Nov08 Sunday


Chombe arrived at 5:30 with his driver and one other guy at 5:30 am to drive us up to Addis by 9:30. I rode in the back with Chombe and once again had some interesting conversation. He explained that the Government of Ethiopia is trying to rid itself of most of its holdings it acquired during the Derg period. It was apparent that there are many business opportunities. Many other countries have moved in to purchase or lease long-term the property from the Government. The costs for land and buildings are like bargain basement prices back in the US. He treated me to breakfast at a fairly nice restaurant along the way and I had an omelet which seems to be a common breakfast food here. We arrived in Addis at around 9:45, so everyone was gone from the Addis Home where Paul lives. Paul’s brother Joe showed up an hour later, then Paul arrived soon after. Paul knew I was coming so he came home before Priesthood mtg. started and invited me to come to church with him. Joe is not a member and stayed behind.

The teacher for the week was Bro. Tanner, who is here from Lethbridge, Alberta, with his wife. They are of retirement age ad involved with NGO work and have been here in Ethiopia nearly six months. He gave a very good lesson and he is a very dynamic teacher. I got to visit again with Daniel Mekonen and he was excited to tell me he was going to go to a nearby city to work with the missionaries for several weeks, while he awaits his mission departure. He has yet to get his mission call and I said maybe he will go to the states. He said that was very unlikely, because many missionaries who have gone there in the past fly the coupe into the US society. That was sad to hear, but he was still excited to serve in another African country. He told me he came from a part-Jewish background from an area in northern Ethiopia that has a large population of Jewish people. He is the only member from his family, yet he’s very solid. I’m so impressed with him. After church the Tanners joined Paul and I for lunch that Paul’s maid prepared. We had a good conversation with them.

Next Sunday there will be a conference involving all four Branches here where they will organize a District calling a district president and many other callings. The Ethiopia mission is an extension of the Uganda mission and it has been somewhat difficult for missionary work here due to the language difference. As I understand, this organization change will facilitate a new mission to be formed. I look forward to that meeting; however there is a wedding planned for the same time, between two Morrell Agro employees, Danny and Worknesh, who are of another faith. Everyone is in a quandary what to do. Go to the conference or go to the wedding.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ethiopia Log: November 2nd - 6th 2009

Ethiopia log: Monday, November 02 2009
Evan, Lloyd, Miesa, and I left Sashamene for Goba. The first part of the drive had a landscape of large golden grainfields. This new area had a look very similar to back home. It was a wide open valley with hills in the distance. I saw more machinery and some combines threshing grain.

CLAAS, John Deere and New Holland combines were the makes that I saw. They are not models I was familiar with and small by our standards with about 16 foot headers.

We stopped at a State-run farm that was raising 80 acres planted with Jefferson hard red wheat which Evan had brought over to try some months ago. We met up with some head honchos of the place and they took us to the field. Evan had heard bad reports of how it was going to yield but soon found the field to be in good condition. It was about a week or two away from being harvested. Evan felt much better after seeing it. It bolstered his confidence that the variety could do well here in Ethiopia. We took pictures and left.

We then went to another state -run farm which was also planted with Jefferson wheat. It was in an area that had received a lot of rain and the ground was a little waterlogged. Consequently the wheat did not fare as well and had lots of grass weeds growing in it. They still felt the variety still held promise.

Soon we started to climb in elevation. It was a pretty sight but the road was terrible. They were repairing the road so it could be paved in the future. It was very wearing on the body. The road climbed to about 11,500 ft in elevation. and we drove right near Bale national park.

We saw some Nyalas (a dear/elk like animal) and some wart hogs.

The hogs were rooting on the side of the road having no worries about nearby traffic. They looked to be about two to three hundred pounds. They had large tusks and a mane of long hair on the hump of their back.

As we approached the Goba region it became very green and beautiful. It was obvious they receive a lot of rain. The grain had just barely headed and was lush. It was as if we had changed seasons. However, the road continued to be terrible.

The Sheneka farm, which I would be assigned to, is situated near Goba and Robe. I was told of the Robe and Goba area before and for some reason I had a preconceived idea that it had some good services and that the Hotel in Goba was pretty nice. It is critical to my committment to Morrell Agro that I have decent support for parts and repairs and a good place to stay. As we drove through Robe it was evident that it was a poor little town with meager resources. It was a rough dirt road lined with tiny shacks for stores. I looked for the John Deere dealership that I heard was there but I didn't see it. My first impression wasn’t good. I was anxious to get to the Goba hotel.

I was told that at one time the Hotel was very nice; catering to tourists at the near by Bale National Park. We drove in and could see it was a little run down.Our rooms were run down, drab and grimy. The floors were dirty enough that I didn’t want to go barefoot.

This was a major set back for me. I had so badly wanted it to be nice enough for Shelley. Evan and Lloyd could tell my reaction wasn’t good. Lloyd admitted that he didn’t know what he would do if he were in my shoes. Evan told me he would certainly understand if I chose not do this but I could tell he sure wanted me to.

What am I to do? I have felt the spirit tell me that I need to help the people of Ethiopia. I have tried to be a good sport in tolerating the unfamiliar food, the large crowds and the different culture. The conditions are not acceptable for having Shelley join me living out of a run down Hotel and a farm some 45 minutes away. She would have nothing to do. The vision I had before coming, was a nice home to live in on the property where we have a garden, good home cooking and privacy. I had so badly wanted the Goba ad Robe area to be nicer and have more services; especially those that I would need to farm Sheneka. The Main streets are trash lined dirt roads with hundreds of people and horse drawn carts moving back and forth. The businesses are nothing more than tiny shacks where they sell a minimal amount of goods. If Paul were here at this moment I would have to tell him not just “no”, but “Hell No”!

I have mixed feelings because my desire to help the people here is battling with my intolerance of the living conditions. Can I humble myself enough to live in these conditions? If I had a breakdown in the field it may take days if not weeks to get parts and repairs. I would have little to do but return to a depressing motel. The restaurant has maybe two items on the menu at any given time. If I brought Shelley here she and I would go nuts. This definitely will take thought, prayer and a lot of faith.

Ethiopia Log: Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Today was the first day of rain since arriving in Ethiopia. I went outside of the Hotel and used a satellite phone to call Shelley. I told her briefly of my concerns and to be prepared that the plans of us being there in the long run are in the balance. She was supportive of what I wanted to do. I calculated in my mind the time frame of preparing and planting 500 hectares (1,200 acres) of the first crop of wheat, starting in February. If the equipment arrived and were assembled in a reasonable time I would only need to be here for two to three weeks, then travel to the Alyssa farm near Beltu to be with Wes, where I could be better help. Plans are in the works to build homes there and the Cessna Caravan plane is to be stationed there. Shelley would then be able to come and help with things. I was feeling a little better about coming back to help in February. I could tell that Evan and Lloyd were happy that I was feeling better about it too.

We headed to some government offices to talk about the ground in Sheneka. My impression of government buildings is not good; they are very run down, dark, and dingey. We went to another building to pick up a government official, Sheki, who would accompany us to the property. He is obviously Muslim, wears a jacket with the African styled Muslim type hat and tinted glasses. He spoke little English and he is very serious.

It took us about 45 minutes from Goba to the Sheneka farm. They showed us the approximate place where the 500 hectares of land would be allocated to us. They could not tell us exactly because they would have to relocate some farmer peasants who have begun to farm portions of the ground. The ground seemed to be a heavier soil than I had hoped. When wet the mud will collect easily on the bottom of shoes. The grass and weeds growing on it were grazed down to the ground in most places. It should be easy to disk and make ready to seed.

It was too late to head to Beltu where the Alyssa farm is located so we decided to spend the night once again in Goba.

Ethiopia Log:Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Trip to the Alyssa Farm (named after Wes' wife)

We arose and once again picked up Sheki, the Government official who was to travel with us, (Evan, Lloyd, Miesa, and Girma our driver), to the remote area of Beltu some seven hours away. We had to make a brief stop at his home to pick up some personal items because we knew we would not be back for a couple of days. We found it very interesting that Sheki came back with clothes and an older made semi-automatic (Russian made) with about a 30 round clip and a pistol. We were told it’s just good to have them with us just in case. I thought to myself “just in case of what?” Are there to be Lions, Tigers, Hyenas, or wild tribesmen? Is there something we should know? He reassured us there would be no problem. Hmmm…

Seven hours of more miserable rough roads awaited us. We stopped in a small town and had some charcoal lamb tibbs to eat and had one of our tires repaired.

The tibbs were cooked on a ceramic type pot/plate thing where charcoal was placed in a holder to heat the plate above to cook the chunks of meat mixed with onions and peppers. It sat on a larger plate that had engera and rolls circled around it. I would have to say it was one of the best meals I have had here. They placed piles of Burberry off to the side rather than on the meat so as not to ruin the flavor of the meat (in my opinion).

Sheki seemed to have a lot of friends every where. When he stood in the street he was greeted by many. He must be a respected individual among his Muslim faith.

We took off and went through varying terrain. Field crops were far between. We dropped in elevation about 2,000 feet into a valley where there were beautiful mountains similar to some I've seen in southern Utah, only very green.

Soon trees and brush were on both sides, with no crops, and fewer people along the road. We hoped that these mountains would be in view of the farm but we still had a couple more hours of travel. I had a first good impression of the area because it seemed secluded. Occasionally we saw a person or a small herd of cows, goats, and even some camels.

Sometimes there was a small clearing of a few huts. I thought how cool they would be to live in for a short time. We got to the area of the Alyssa property and looked for Wes, Joe, Mark B. and Mark U., who had come the day before. We knew they were camped out in tents somewhere. We couldn’t see them for the longest time. Finally just past the end of the property the area opened up and there was a village of huts. The kind of village you imagine to be in Africa with thatched roofs stick fences etc.

In the middle of the village were some camping tents which were surrounded by a small crowd. We greeted the villagers and we were excited to reunite with our comrades. They told us that they had camped out in the brush a few kilometers but the villagers insisted they move camp into the Village. They said they were very friendly and told of a festive gathering they had the night before to welcome them. They were even given a live goat that was paraded in front of them which was to be dinner for that night.

It was dusk and they brought another goat over to be butchered. They went around a hut and proceeded to do just that.

Meanwhile, we were treated to a handful of a mix of ground barley and wheat to eat, then we were to drink from a community cup of milk poured from a really cool gourd flask. Of course we did not want to offend them so we partook. The milk was warm with a charcoal smoked flavor. At the time we had the idea that it was camel's milk. We must have been quite a sight to see us gagging it down. Later we learned it was just cow’s milk. Someone there must have had a good laugh. We were invited into a gathering shack where we sat around an oil lamp on blankets and awaited the cooked goat. There were some tribesmen on the far side of the shack who were chewing on the hallucinogen chat; it seems to be more common than originally thought. They finally came in with two large platters loaded with chunks of goat meat on layers of engera. Oh what a savory sight. We were asked if we wanted to pray over our food so Joe volunteered the prayer and we feasted.

We thanked them for the meal and went for the tents, where we would spend the night. Wes offered to share his tent with me and we had a good visit then went to sleep.

Ethiopia Log: Friday, November 05, 2009

Tribal Discontent

We awoke from our tents to a beautiful sunrise over the Village huts.

We congregated around some meager food supplies brought by Wes for breakfast; bread, peanut butter, jelly, and some apples. I just had some bread because of no utensils.

We planned to see the area where the crew of about 60 Villagers had cleared the day before; approximately 1 hectare (2.4 acres). They cleared thorny bushes with no shoes, no gloves, and primitive tools. We were to look at the job they did and I was to take some soil samples.

After that we planned on coming back to the Village pack up the tents etc. and go back to Goba for the night.

We were a Caravan of two Land Cruisers loaded with Wes, Joe, Mark B., Mark U., Evan, Lloyd, Miesa, Mikonen and two government officials, Shaki and , an armed police guard, and our 2 drivers. We got to the location some three miles down the road. To the side of the road was a gully that paralleled the road. It was about 8 feet deep. We crossed and headed to the clearing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, appeared about thirty young men with sticks, etc. and undrawn guns. They started to yell at us. We clearly could see they were not the welcome wagon. We turned around and headed for the Land Cruisers. As we crossed through the gully they raised their sticks.

We loaded into our vehicles and our guards and Government officials talked amongst each other. We promptly turned around and headed back to the Village. The young men with sticks were lined up on the side of the road. Lloyd waved at one of the younger boys and smiled at him and the boy couldn’t resist and smiled back and waved. That seemed to be somewhat telling. I never felt they intended to do bodily harm but as we were driving back we asked what that was all about and they said that those people are a tribe of nomads that live off the land and don’t want us there. Wes recognized some of them as the same men who helped clear brush the day before. When we got back to the Village the police guard loaded into a pickup and headed to the city of Beltu five miles away to get more help just in case. The incident caused a sudden meeting with the men of the friendly Village, our accompanying Government officials, Shaki, Miesa and Mikonen. In the middle of this meeting was the Village Elder who was older and very tall. He wore a loose dull red turban over his head, a beard colored red, and a wrap around his waist and a walking stick. (For those who have never met Wes this is him next to the Village Elder)

They were in a lengthy discussion in Oromo language. Lloyd, as usual, decided to entertain some of the young children who were there with his magic tricks. He soon got the attention of many of the slightly older young men who found Lloyd more interesting than the meeting. There soon came an older man who scolded them and told them to pay attention to the meeting. We got a bit of a chuckle and we all thought that if we had thought fast enough we could have had Lloyd show the Nomads his magic tricks and somehow all would have been OK. By the serious tone of the meeting, we knew there was now a new dimension to this project that we did not count on but it certainly makes sense that there would be people there who didn't want to be displaced, even though they have no legal right to the land.

There were multiple communications via satellite phone to Paul Morrell as to what we should do. At first we thought for safety reasons we should plan to leave the area through the north route, which would add two hours to our trip back. Knowing how rough the roads were, I was prepared to fight our way through if it would save those two miserable hours. Lloyd, Evan, and I wanted to go back to a safe distance away from the young Nomads to get our soil samples. Our drivers were not willing to go back down the road, even to a safe distance. We were told to be patient that thepolice would be back to escort us through.

As we waited, I wondered how these Villagers felt about us being here. Were we truly welcome? The meeting broke up and we were told not to worry about the incident and that they really wanted us there to provide jobs and opportunities. The villagers that were friendly feared that we would decide to pull out and go away for good. They said the other unhappy tribe was not an educated people and that they know little of what we plan to do. They clearly wanted us to proceed with the project, this was very reassuring. The police arrived in a Toyota pick-up loaded inside and out with men.

They said they wanted to go first with a couple of government officials to make peace with the nomads and secure the area and they would soon be back for me so I could take soil samples.
About an hour later they came back and told me to jump in the front seat of the pickup and we would go. Wes jumped in the back with countless other police. At the last second another man jumped in the front seat with me, making for a tight fit. They chattered back and forth as we bounced down the rough road with people hanging out both sides. I wished some how I had a video of all this, what a sight and experience. As we pulled up to the site of the incident there must have been some 150 tribesman sitting on the side of the road. They were being talked to by the government officials and Tribal leaders. I wondered where they all came from, especially when it seemed the area was loaded with brush and void of people.

I was escorted by the police with my shovel in hand to the clearing made the day before. I pulled two soil samples, put them in zip lock bags and returned to the crowd. The whole time Wes was trying to make nice with the tribe. Soon our Land Cruisers showed up and the rest of our group bailed out and tried to show that we were friendly people. Once again Lloyd was back to his antics and the children were again entertained. He does a trick with his finger where he folds it over and makes it look like he is detaching then reattaching it. It is a sight to see the sick look on their faces when he does this. He does it so well, I fear they may think he is a devil and might haul him off and burn him at the stake or something.

Sheki then addressed the tribe and seemed to give them a bit of a scolding. He is an interesting man who apparently is held in high regard by others. Everywhere we go with him he is greeted by others with respect, maybe there is some significance to the that. Anyway all appeared to be peaceful and Sheki said it was time for us to go. We all loaded up and we were off to Goba. Wes said he thinks there may have been some tribal jealousy; one being hired and the other not. Our group wants to make sure all tribes are ok with us, we shall see.

DISCLAIMER: Since I (Morgan) posted this post and not my dad I had to guess which pictures went where. He just sent a bunch of emails with a ton of pictures so I don't exactly know what goes where so I hope I guessed correctly but probably not. My dad will explain further when he returns home on the 21st. For now here are some pictures I didn't know where to put.

The following is a picture of the house/mansion located in Addis.

Morrell Agro employees. Wes is in the background.

Banana trees

This picture is of a well that was drilled for this village by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I know, it's hard to see the well, but that's what it is.