Friday, August 27, 2010

Update on Wes

I (Morgan) have been recieving a lot of emails and messages through FB on the status of Wes Haws, the project manager that was hit in the head with an axe. I thought that I would post this message I recieved from Wes' mom this afternoon.

Wes has had a couple of very hard days, he is in a lot of pain and discomfort. They decreased his sedation and pain medication because his heart rate and oxygen levels were very unstable and going very low and thought it was because of the medication but now they are not sure that is the problem so after a lot of consultation with american doctors and his neurosurgeon there, they have decided to send him to a very good and modern hospital in Tel Aviv Israel where he will get much better care. They are concerned with the pain and discomfort that it is not good for the swelling to reduce and healing in his brain to be at it's best, he needs to be calm and resting and unstressed during this time. They (Wes and Alyssa) will be leaving on a medivac flight early Sunday morning for Israel. (about 11 p.m. saturday night our time) Alyssa's sister and Everett will come on a comercial flight later and their 5 children will be staying in Addis Abada with friends and going to school there for the time being. He will possibly, depending on his speed of recovery, have to be at the Israel facility a month or so. We will try to get another e-mail address there to be able to send him letters and well wishes while he is recovering.

Mark and JoAnne

Mom and Dad, hope you don't mind I posted this but many were concerned and I don't know if you guys are getting as much info as we happen to be. Our prayers are with Wes and Alyssa.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It was a very Bad Day!

First, let me apologize to everyone for not having posted in alomost three weeks.  I know everyone likes to know what is happening here on the other side of the world, but I have been a little sick and cranky and just plain feeling ornery.  Morgan's probably thinking, "Good thing she's far away in Africa."  I have had only one bad day, and it just happened to be Monday, the 23.  Yesterday  (23 of August) was the worst day here on the farm.  I don't know how to describe what happened except from my point of view.  About 11:30 in the morning I was standing out on my porch when Alan came running into the yard and quietly but urgently said, "Where's the satellite phone, I need it now, Wes has been shot!"  I immediately shouted to him as he ran by, "Where's Alyssa, does she know?" and he said, "Yes, she's with him in the clinic."  I ran over to find the first aid kit at Wes's house and told Nate and Kate.  We grabbed the first-aid kit and toted it over as fast as we could.  Alan was busy calling the office in Addis telling them what had happened and they quickly arranged a flight to get him back to Addis.  Alan and others started interrogating everyone to find out who was with him when it happened.  As far as we can tell, Wes was outside the farm with a land clearing crew opening up some new land.  Some villagers were there and were trying to stop the land clearing because they "claimed" they had not had compensation and felt that we were trespassing.  Barouk, a GPS guy, was ahead of Wes and the dozer trying to figure out where to strike a line.  Some people from a nearby small farm were there, as well as some villagers and they  warned Barouk and Kadir telling them to stop and go back to the farm.  He told Wes that they were in danger and needed to leave, and that they were threatening to kill him.  One man came and tried to throw a rock at the dozer or Wes, I'm not clear about that, and Wes grabbed the man's arm and made him lose the rock.  That man ran to one of the guards and tried to get the gun from him.  He said he was going to shoot Wes.  Wes being unaffected took the GPS from Baruk and was looking at it when he he was struck on the head from behind.  Not realizing exactly what happened after receiving a blow to the head he asked Baruk if he had been shot.  In the commotion he didn't get a clear answer.  Baruk and Kadir quickly got him to the land cruiser and they came into the farm with Baruk steering and Wes shifting since Baruk doesn't know how to drive.  When they came roaring into the camp, Alan says the land cruiser was going as fast as it could in first or second gear and he went to see what was happening.  Wes, with a shirt wrapped around his head , was helped out of the Land Cruiser by two guys and told Alan he had been shot as he was rushed into the clinic; and Alan could see the blood covering his shirt.  That's when Alan came running over for the satellite phone.  Alyssa and Abdul were there immediately and everyone jumped into action at the clinic and did very well to take care of him and see what part of him had been hurt.  It then became clear form witnesses that he had received a blow to the head from an ax.  Nate and Alyssa tried to staunch the blood flow, but we all know about head wounds - they bleed a lot. Alan was on the satellite phone talking with Marty telling him what had happened and informing him of Wes's condition.  They soon realized that Wes would have to be flown out of here, if he were going to be saved.  An emergency flight was arranged with Abyssinian Airlines, who got permission to fly through the no-fly zone covering a large area between the farm and Addis cutting down the flight time 20 minutes.  When Nate could get a good look at the wound he could tell that his skull was fractured from the blow to the right back of his head. There was a three to four inch gash and there was a lot of bone fragments. His blood pressure and heartbeat were slowly dropping and they strongly urged that the plane get here as soon as possible. The plane arrived after a couple of hours and Wes was carefully taken in the back of a pickup truck over to the runway and loaded onto the plane.  The plane was only here a total of about 15 minutes before it took off to Addis with Wes and Alyssa and family. Wally Odd, the executive vice-president of Morrell Agro came to the farm on the same plane that took Wes to Addis. He was going to come the next day anyway, so he just came a day early to manage the situation and put fears to rest. During the flight back to Addis, the US embassy was contacted  to insure that there would be blood available for a transfusion if needed, which it was.  At the airport in Addis they were met with an ambulance and doctors who took him directly to the Korean hospital where he underwent a CAT scan. They did think about sending him for surgery to Cairo or Nairobi, which have larger hospitals, but decided against that and kept him in Addis where he underwent brain surgery for 6 1/2 hours. If I heard right, it was a Pakistani doctor and a Norwegian doctor who performed the surgery.  It was fortunate that Wes was kept here in Ethiopia; because something about swelling and pressure and other stuff which I don't totally understand and it would take too long to fly him to another country. We heard the next morning that his skull was indeed fractured and there was damage to a sinus on the right back of his head. He lost a lot of blood here on the farm as well as in surgery and there was some talk about flying Bracken up to Addis to donate because he and Wes have the same rare type of blood. As it turned out, they decided against that and Bracken is still here with us at the farm. We have been kept informed here on the farm of Wes's status and doctor decisions through our trusty satellite phones and we heard that he is sedated and will be in the hospital there for as long as he needs. There is an American doctor there who was helping in some advisory capacity - so apparently he is being well looked after. That's as good as you can ask for here - an international group.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, after much interrogating of the witnesses, we found out that he had not been shot but another young man, about 20 years old, ran up behind him and cleaved his head open with a ground clearing axe.  When I say cleaved, I mean that the man really meant to kill Wes, but somehow the aim was not the best, thank goodness.  The axe wielder took off running with the villagers chasing him and then some security guards after them.  Wes and Alyssa did find out here that it wasn't a bullet wound but an axe wound before they left for Addis.  The police from Beltu were fetched down to the farm in the afternoon and they promised they would find the perpetrator. They did arrest the young man's relatives, brothers and sisters, father, and were in the process of arresting the whole village when we found out what they were up to.  Wally had to go up to Beltu and prevent anymore random arrestings.  I guess they think that will placate everyone until they can find the axer.  A policeman came here to the farm today asking Alan if he could get some fuel for his vehicle so he could go after the guy. They heard that the guy's mother took him to Jara to escape the police.  So if we said "no" does that mean they won't try to go after him?  Alan said yes, but he made the guy sign a paper saying how much we gave him.  As I have said before, the police here are a joke.  When they came down from Beltu yesterday, they had a Rambo type gun with a tripod mounted onto our Toyota pickup.  Alan was impressed with the gun, but not so much with the police work.  Our prayers are with Wes and his family - we're able to keep up to date on his condition which sounds positive. 

I didn't take any pictures of all the commotion yesterday - and it really was commotion.  The whole farm shut down,, even Bracken was hurried in from the field. Alan and Bracken later decided that they wouldn't be intimidated and so between them they decided that it would be a good time, with all the villagers running scared, to get some disking done, so Bracken went back to work (with a gun).  Many of the people here on the farm were scared and took off running to their huts, if they lived nearby.  Ashreka hid in my house when she saw all the police.  She was very scared but she bravely undertook the washing of the bloody pans that had been used at the clinic. She just looked at me a little funny when I asked her to wash it and asked, "Ees Wes's blood?"  'Yes, it is," I said, and then she said "I wash." 

 Wally will stay with us for a little while, until he needs to get back to Addis.  He will work with the government to suggest and advise them on how to manage this hot situation out here.  The farm has suddenly become a target for dishonest people who see an opportunity to get money.  They come and claim they have land here and should be paid a compensation when they have never been here before.  There are all kinds of rumors surrounding the incident. I don't know what to believe.  I'm either crazy or brave, but I don't feel threatened here.  I believe this was an isolated incident. 

OK - so I'll tell you other news.  The disking of the stubble fields was completed on the 19th of August.  One day before they finished, Alan and I drove up to the Wenjisa place and we kicked Bracken out of the tractor and Alan took a turn with me taking pictures.  It was pretty nice to get off the compound for a few hours.  There were little children from the Wenjisa village who were out in the field chasing the tractor and disk up and down the field.

 They would run and wave at us and we waved back every time to every child.  There were two little guys who looked no older than my little grand daughter Leah who kept tripping and falling and losing their pants, but they didn't quit.   Only one little girl had shoes and she kept losing them.  Now I know why the Ethiopians are such good long distance runners. They train early.  It was beautiful going along watching the camels in the distance and the stubble field slowly turned to a darker color.  I took some pictures of the Kello-Bilt disk in the sunset and the field.  I guess only a farmer or farmer's wife would think that farming equipment in the sunset is beautiful. They are now working disking the newly cleared ground that measure about 1000 hectares (2,500 acres) altogether.  We hope to start the planting in early September when we have enough rain to sprout the seed.

The tractor drivers are being trained on the new John Deere 8320R.  They are taking shifts so that all the tractor drivers can learn. BTW, here in Ethiopia, tractor driving is an occupation and they are required to go to tractor-driving school.  To get into the school they have to be at least 16 years old and have completed the 6th grade.  That explains the early incompetence of the tractor drivers  It is taking Bracken and Alan a lot to retrain these guys.  They're getting there.  Speaking of tractors, one of my favorite people out here is Seid, the manager of the tractor drivers.

 Oddly enough, when Alan was looking for Seid after Wes's incident, he was missing.  We later found out that Seid had hopped on the plane and went up to Addis with Alyssa.  What?  How does a tractor driver make his way onto an emergency flight and not tell his boss he's leaving?  Needless to say, Alan was a little surprised and will be talking to Seid when he comes back from Addis.  I think I know what was going on, but I'm not going to say until I talk to Seid myself and ask him. He is a university graduate majoring in world history, so Alan and I get lots of lectures on Ethiopian political science and history.  He can go on and on about Ethiopian subjects.

Another of my favorite people out here is Haile, the assistant farm manager - not to be confused with the junior assistant, Zakir.  Haile is one of the handsomest guys I have ever seen.  Have you seen "The Blind Side"?  You know that part where the mom says about one of the coaches from a university," I find him to be extremely attractive."  That's how I feel about Haile, it's no big deal, I just appreciate his manly comliness.

 He is married and his wife and family live in Ginir, a town 3-4 hours from here.  I made Alan take these pictures of Haile, so he started posing.  I think he was halfway embarrassed because Alan was taking so many pictures.   Haile could be a male model.

Another person that I'm getting to know and really like is my little next door neighbor Nia.  She is soooo cute.  I told her that her skin was beautiful and she said, "It's golden."

 And her eyes are so beautiful and her hair is such a pretty color too.  She has such a sweet little personality and we have cute converstions about her favorite color (pink), her books, her favorite food to eat, and her friend at home named William.  She got a bad case of bed bug bites and she's just barely starting to recover. She has a purple fairy doll (missing wings) that she totes around and she likes to help me water my plants.  She told her mother, July, that I was her new friend.

 Here she is with her doll showing me that it can do all kinds of splits and straddles.
I have to tell a story about a farm meeting that involved a her purple fairy doll and the monkey. It was a farm supervisor meeting so Alan, Wes, Mark, and all the supervisors over the different departments were there, at least 10 or 11 guys . As they were sitting in Wes's house, Martk was conducting the meeting and he was sitting down talking about the project and all the time the monkey was climbing all over Mark being a pest, pulling on his beard, climbing on his shoulders and around his neck, and Mark just let it climb, which made Alan laugh. Then, one of them saw Nia's purple fairy doll on the coffee table and started messing with it's hair and petting it. Then he put it down, and the next one picked it up and started getting preoccupied with the doll. Then another and another until it had made the round of the whole group of supervisors. Alan was quietly amused by this behavior and imagining the same thing at home in the United States. Can you picture it, a group of farmer/construction type guys sitting around in a meeting caressing a Barbie doll and a monkey on the loose?

One night as I was sitting in my house alone, Bracken came in to check his emails and he saw a huge spider on the floor.

 Bracken's favorite thing to say around me is "Holy Crap!" So that's what he said, because Bracken is afraid of spiders.  According to Bracken, his fear of spiders stems from cat face spiders in the elevator and around his house up in Squirrel when he was young.  Bracken was yelling, "Kill it, kill it!" but I wanted to take a picture of it first, which scared it and caused it to run under my couch.  I was laughing at Bracken because he was such a scaredy cat.  He lifted up the couch and I was going to hit it with my shoe.  Bracken jokingly said, "Watch out , it's probably pregnant and a million babies will come out of that thing."  You have to realize that Bracken was really nervous this whole time.  I hit it with my shoe and it popped like a little ballon and sure enough, immediately hundreds of tiny little spiders came running out, spreading in all directions.  Bracken almost screamed like a girl.  He was swearing and telling me to get the bug spray, which I did and I sprayed and killed some, but I didn't get them all.

 It was the ugliest, scariest spider I had ever seen until the next day when Alyssa showed me the spider she caught out in her flower bed. 

I had the idea to show Bracken just to get his reaction, so we decided to play a trick on him.  The spider was in a tupperware container and I told Alyssa to hand it to Bracken who had just driven up in one of the gators.  She asked him to close his eyes and hold out his hands because she had an early birthday present for him.  He was a little suspicious, but he did it.  He was so excited when he opened his eyes because he thought he was getting tupperware for sandwiches and food. 

When he looked closer and saw the spider he screamed again and threw the tupperware into the air and it landed in the back of the gator.  We all laughed alot, but Bracken just got surly.  It gives me a good feeling to see Bracken be a woos.  Is that how you spell that?  A day or two later Alan found another spider just like the one Alyssa found - just a little smaller.  He had it by the leg with his pliers.  He showed Bracken, and Bracken was really calm - too calm it seemed.

 Then the spider moved and he jumped away, getting mad at Alan.  He had thought the spider was dead.  And that's how we entertain ourselves around here - showing Bracken spiders and watching him get upset at us..
And here's a picture of a very large grasshopper.  It was huge - at least 4 inches long. 

Two weeks ago, Alan and I went to Beltu with Ashreka to see a new baby, meet some of her family; and go to the market.  This is a picture of the hill we drive up to get to Beltu at the top.

 I knew from how Ashreka was acting that she was very excited to have orchestrated this get together.  We stopped at her aunt's house first and took a picture of them outside in the road.

Then we went to her cousin's home to see the baby.  I found out that this is also the place where Ashreka sleeps.  We  met several people outside - all Ashreka's relatives and were escorted into the house.  The houses in Beltu are all made of dung, straw, and mud and surprisingly are very sturdy.  They have tin roofs and are rectangular homes.  They have no electricity and so most cooking is outside.  We went in and sat on the floor on the mat where Ashreka sleeps.  They had set out stuff for an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, even though Ashreka knows we don't drink coffee.

 I think it was to show as a decoration more than anything.  There were silk flowers and wallpaper and decorations on the wall and they were so excited for us to come and visit, we could tell they had really prepared.  Everything was spotlessly clean. 

We talked for a little while and then they brought out the baby - oh so petite and all sweetness and her head was beautifully buttered. They put butter or some kind of grease on the babies' heads to keep them from drying out. So she smelled very buttery. We took pictures with the little butter baby.

I love the one of Alan and Ashreka and the baby. It looks like Alan has a brand new little family doesn't it? It was funny because they handed Alan the baby and wanted me to take a picture of them and Ashreka was so excited she jumped right in to the picture. Then they served us some pasta.  It really was so kind and they were so generous.  The pasta came on a big tray with two spoons.  Alan and I looked at each other wondering how we could eat spaghetti with spoons and so we just dug in with our fingers.  They also gave us each a warm Coke.  We wanted everyone to share with us, and pretty soon everyone was eating from the big tray of spaghetti winding it onto our fingers and stuffing it in our mouths. 

Then we went to the Beltu Market.  Market day is every Saturday.  The people come from far and wide to sell and buy.  There is a big cow and goat section and chickens everywhere.  Then there is the main market which is mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, sugar, etc., Most of these vendors are women who just throw down an old raggedy scrap of fabric or a piece of plastic and then they spread out their goods on more dirty plastic, or baskets or gourds. You have to be careful walking amongst them because they are so close and you don't want to tread on any fruits and veggies.  One time I stepped on a lady's scarf and she turned around and gave me a real wallop.  Then she saw who she had hit and she was mortified.  Then there are other stall like places where you can buy dry goods like dishes, shoes, scarves, soap, baskets, etc.  You know - just your average everyday Ethiopian market.  I like to go up to Beltu to shop because I can find things for so cheap: limes are 20 for about 7 cents, mangos are each 21 cents, bananas are three for 14 cents, dried beans are 14 cents for one cup.  The dry goods are more expensive, but I like the thrill of shoppingup there.  There are two things that I don't like about the market: first, I don't like the constant pushing, poking and pinching they seem to think they should do to me, and second, I dislike that they jack-up the price when they see a forenjee coming.  One lady tried to sell me 8 limes for 7 cents.  I knew I was being taken, so Ashreka went to another vendor and got the 20 limes.  Some things I don't know, but I do know the price of limes in Beltu. 

Last week on Monday, I think, was a Christian holiday here in Ethiopia to celebrate the end of the rainy season and the beginning of better weather..  Young men and boys go from house to house chanting  really loud, clapping and singing.  They surround the master of the house and while chanting really loudly they compliment him and say really good things about him.  They keep it up until he pulls out some money and gives it to the group.  If you want, you can give bread instead on money.  So on Monday night, such a loud chanting and laughing started up down by the apartments where the majority of the Ethiopian workers live, that I wanted to know what was going on.  Nadi explained to me what was happening.  They were surrounding each other and carrying on until they would contribute to a kitty they had going on.  I got really curious, so I walked down and saw that they were all having such fun.  Before I knew it, they had surrounded me and were chanting, but I had to tell them I had no money with me.  I ran back to the house, and told Alan, who was having a meeting with Haile and Seid at our house, that he should go down and see what was happening.  I tucked 100 birr (about $7.00) into his pocket and told him he might need it.  He was slowly walking toward the apartments when the group saw him and they rushed to surround him.  They carried on, singing, and clapping, and circling around him.  The noise they were making was so loud he couldn't hear anything else. 

He finally pulled out the money and gave it to them and they all shouted and really cheered hard for him.  I had my camera and I took pictures and then I steered them up  to my house to get Haile and Seid.  What a rowdy bunch and what noise they made.

 It was really fun - kind of like a Halloween thing going on.  Then when they gather all the money they had all given, the tally was somewhere over $100.00.  Because they were all Christians, they decided to donate it to the Christian church up in Beltu.  I didn't know there was a church up in Beltu, so that was a surprise to me, but I was glad they had done it.
I want to show a picture of the bread I made last week.  I make bread a couple of times a week and I have become so good at it, I just had to show you.

 I'm not a slouch at baking, but the bread I make over here is truly amazing.  I have been given the gift of making bread and I feel accomplished and Alan rejoices. 

We are both well and we stay very busy.  We're looking forward to getting the rest of the field work done and the grain planted within the next month.  There are many people here that are becoming some very close friends.  We hope that you're all well at home also.  Til next time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Harvest is over (and other news)!

The first week in August has come and gone and we have had another uberfun-filled week here on the farm. First, I just want to say “MY SON ZACK HAS BEEN ON HIS MISSION ELEVEN MONTHS! Only 13 months to go!

OK enough about him, back to my life. So many things have happened, I can’t remember everything. We did finish the grain harvest on Thursday the 5th of August and the farm/grain wrokers were so excited and happy that they decided to have a party and invite everyone on the whole farm.

In honor of the occasion, three goats were killed and made into tibs, and enough injera and umbasha and soda were provided for everyone on the farm to get so full and satisfied that they lost their inhibitions and even danced and clapped a little. And that was just the Americans.

 I suspect the real party started after all the Americans left and the habeshas could be themselves. The tibs were pretty good, still tough and greasy, but flavorful. Alan and I had eaten previously, so I didn’t eat much – only a few bites. Everyone else really indulged. One really nice thing about living in this place, is that hardly anyone drinks alcohol. It is rare, and on these accasions they get enough enjoyment out of the good food and soda that it is enough celebration for them. Zakir and I often have conversations about drinking and smoking and how it is bad for the health.

Remember two weeks ago I said I was going to a wedding in Goorooraayaa. Well, I didn’t go and I’m glad I didn’t go. Alyssas went and said it was weird. The bride wasn’t in view and so Alyssa asked to see the bride. They brought out a girl who looked like she was maybe 14. All she did was stand there and look sad. Alyssa found out that her husband was an old man who already had two other wives.  He was actually one of the village elders who came onto the farm last week and stirred things up. So they were celebrating this old guy's third wedding. Can you imagine? I’m glad I didn’t go! I totally disapprove. What he really needs is a good kick in the pants, and NO wives to take care of him!

I had Zakir and Ashreka kill a rooster a couple of days ago. Ashreka skinned, cleaned ,and cut it up. She does a very good job. Most of the work that she does, I can do myself; however when it comes to killing and cleaning meat and doing laundry, she is worth her weight in gold.

 It was a small chicken – only a pound or two. I decided that stewing is my only option when dealing with meat here. It has to cook forever in water and then it is tender enough to eat. So I let it sit in my refrigerator for a day of relaxation and then cooked it for about four hours with an onion. My house smelled so good, everyone was gathering round for a sniff. I deboned the meat and then made chicken vegetable soup. I didn’t make noodles because I have nothing here with which to roll the dough. My rolling pin is in Djbouti along with everything else for my house. I made some bread pudding while the chicken was stewing and so we had a good dinner and dessert and even had enough bread pudding for breakfast the next day. I also made two loaves of bread  that day.

One day this week I was called over to the clinic to help with a little girl from Goorooraayaa. When I saw her face from afar, I thought she was growing a big black beard. When I got close and took a good look, I saw that the black stuff was crusted on and oozing yellow puss. Hmmmm. In my limited medical experience I think I would call this a bad case of acne. JK, the girl was only a child.

When I got close to her she started howling and screaming “Ani demuu fee dha!"  Which means "I want to go!” over and over again. I brought Alan’s trusty squirt bottle and squirted her on the side of her face, which caused her to scream even louder. I started laughing and all the health workers and her father also started to laugh. She probably thought I was going to kill her. She was one of the dirtiest little children I have ever seen. Really, she was just pure filth. I started wiping at the scum, and it came off pretty easily, but underneath were huge sores. Our nurse, Abdul, told me that the black stuff was a traditional medicine applied by someone down in the village.  I think it is just chewed up chat.  I asked if they knew what had happened, and the father said she had a rash and wouldn’t stop scratching it. He kept saying "She did it to herself."  So we cleaned her off and her lower face was literally one open sore.

We applied Neosporin and bandaged her up. She also had some on her buttocks and one elbow. Everything was cleaned and she screamed through it all. At one point her father and two other men were holding her in place so we could take care of her.

When we were finished, she had screamed herself into such a state she was almost faint. The whole process took about 30 minutes. I gave her a lollipop and she wouldn’t eat it. She looked like she wanted to stick it in my eye. She was so surly; I've never had a child so mad at me.  Sooo funny. We all laughed again, and I told her she must come back or she wouldn’t get better. I don’t think she will be willing to come back. Afterward, I looked up skin diseases in my books and on the internet. I found a picture of impetigo in my book and researched it. I think this could be impetigo. said it is caused by staphylococcus and or streptococcus bacteria and more common in children than in adults caused by dirt and filth getting into open sores. The internet also said to give antibiotics and if you can, to wash the area three or four times a day and let it dry in the open air. I am worried about that, because this child cannot be kept clean. Hmm what to do?

The next day, Abdul wanted me to come and take pictures of the child who had been kicked in the face by a donkey. He is looking so much better than when I first saw him.

And I also took pictures of a man’s chin that Abudul was stitching closed. I guess the man had a run-in with a cow horn.

 I wanted to tell Abdul not to pull the skin so tight together, but just ease it together, but I didn’t. Now the man will have a pretty good scar on his chin for the rest of his life. Oh well, Abdul is doing a good job and needs lots of encouragement and high fives. Also at the clinic was a man who had a thorn in his eye for four days. Who walks around with a thorn in his eye for four days? He finally decided it was bad enough he would come to the clinic. I couldn’t see well enough, even with my trusty magnifying loop and we thought maybe the thorn had just pricked his eye, but Wes decided to take a look with the loop and he thought he saw something in there. With the loop, sharp tweezers, and flashlight he pulled out an ugly looking thorn. What a relief! Good thing the man came to us. Wes said it was in sideways – not straight in and that’s why the man couldn’t get it out.

Last week Ashreka came to me and told me she wanted to use my hair dryer. She has seen me using it and wanted to try it on her hair. I told her it would make her hair too fluffy, but we used it a little anyway. Then I got the bright idea to show her my hair straightener. I took a lock of her hair by her temple and straightened it. She was happily amazed that her hair was suddenly kind of straight and long. I kept on going and about three hours later she had semi-smooth long hair. All the sudden she turned into a princess and couldn’t stay away from the mirrors. For the rest of the day, she would run around showing all the women her long beautiful hair. Her hair is longer than mine when straightened. Alan came in and saw her hair and she was very embarrassed that he saw her without her scarf. Since then I have had several requests for me to straighten hair, but I say no, because now I know how long it takes. 
Poor little Ashreka working working working all the day long.  I should call her Cinderella.

Now here she is with her beautiful hair making me take several shots so that she could choose which one she liked best. 
  She liked this picture the best of all.

Alan has decided that he will take Zakir with him for most of the day and make him of use. Zakir previously took care of the monkey and other animals that Wes brought onto the farm, but when we came back in July, Zakir had been promoted to taking care of the mule. He also waters my garden (too much). Alan sees a lot of potential in this boy because he speaks fairly good english and is smart. 

Zakir's parents had no money to send him to preparatory school after the 10th grade, so he could enter the  university.  College is a possibility, but only if someone will pay for him to go and pay for all expenses.  After thinking about it for a while Alan decided that he would have Zakir work with him under his tutelage.  He was wondering what title he could give Zakir – because they always want to know what their title is and how they fit into this farm. So Alan told him he would be his “junior assistant.”

Zakir came to me later that day and told me he was now Alan’s “general assistant.” I said, “You are not a general assistant.” He said “Yes, mom, I am the general assistant! Dad say this ees so.” “You are the junior assistant," I said, "there is a big difference between general and junior." After telling him what the difference was we laughed, but Alan and I are still laughing about the 16 year old general assistant.

Anyone reconogize all these shirts and pants Zakir is wearing?  I scrounged them out of my Zack's high school leftover wardrobe.
Speaking of my garden, which I did, it is doing alright. I won’t say great, because some of it is getting too much water. I can’t keep them from watering my garden. But the zuchinni, butternut squash, peas, beans, tomatoes, yellow summer squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon are all doing well.
Beans above and peas below.

The lettuce and spinach not doing so well.

The spinach and lettuce are struggling. Have I told you about how each time I go out into my garden area I get about three or four people coming to look at it with me? The garden area should be private, not public, is my thinking. Everything here on the farm is just out in the open for everyone to see and enjoy. At least three or four times a day I long for my Idaho home with white picket fence and doors that lock and people who use phones to visit instead my open yard/door which seems to say, “come in and stay because I can’t get enough visitors into my house and yard.” With some people, it is a must situation because the apartment and dorms are not bathroom ready. Clair, Bracken, Heidi, Mark, and Nate all need access to showers and toilets and so they visit the houses with bathrooms several times a day. But everyday there are others who come to conduct business with Alan, or sick people who think I'm a good nurse, or come to admire themselves in my mirrorl-like windows, and even the monkey makes it into my house every day. I treasure the little bit of solitude I get here.

I made cream puffs the other day because I had so much milk and cream and eggs. I get the milk from the cow which is milked by Wes’s boys Mesafint and Mubarak, and the eggs come from the farm chickens gathered by Wes’s kids also. But the other day we had eggs from Addis. The difference between our farm eggs and Addis eggs is notable. Ashreka calls the big ones “forenjee eggs” and the little ones “ habesha eggs.”

So I made the pudding the day before and didn’t do the best job – I had to strain out the lumps, and then I made the most beautiful cream puffs ever.

And we all had one and I took the extras to Wes and his kids. After all they have been bringing me milk faithfully.

The other day, I think maybe Monday, another tractor and drill came. This drill was supposed to have arrived with the John Deere guys, but we heard that the truck had broken down. In reality, part of  the drill had fallen off the truck and was badly damaged.

The older gentleman in the picture is Yusafa.  He calls me "madam."

They had a time getting it back on the truck and bringing it on down here. They shouldn’t have brought the drill, because the police should been called to do an accident report when and where it happened. Regardless, the drill is here now and we had to get a policeman from Beltu to come and make a report. Alan said that the policeman was more interested in throwing things at the monkey than the damage to the drill and getting the report done.
As I was out taking pictures of the tractor and drill, I saw Bracken disking with the new tractor in the field just south of the airstrip. It was such a picture, because behind him in the undisked field were camels grazing in the golden straw and then the purple mountains in the distance. I tried to take a picture, but I couldn’t because my telephoto lens doesn’t work well. All I got was a fuzzy picture of the camels and the mountains - no tractor.   Hardly worth my effort, but here it is.

Two days ago I was invited to go up to Beltu with Ashreka on market day to visit her aunt and cousin. I think I understand that there is a new baby that I am going to see. I don’t know if I should be taking up something as a giflt or what. Maybe some birr would be the most helpful. I will either go up on the bus with Ashreka or something else. I think this will be another adventure. Alan says I might regret this because they will want to serve me something really scarey. I will say a silent prayer over any food I consume while there, and hope that I will be blessed for my good intentions. I know several of you have mentioned that you pray for us, maybe this would be a good time for another prayer. Seriously, thank you all so much for your support and interest, as well as your prayers. We certainly do need them.

We are doing well, and having good times as well as some hard times. Have a good week , until next time.