2 bags 50 pounds each, plus 2 carry ons. Clothes for training, driving, playing with kids, training supplies (10 pounds of paper material, 10 pounds of candy, and a huge bag of fidgets for the trainees to use when we are lecturing) Tomorrow I arrive at the airport about 12:00 for a 3:00 flight. Mostly due to when we can get a ride, but none the less, we will have PLENTY of time to check in. Then a quick flight to Detroit followed by an 8 hour jaunt across the ocean to Amsterdam. We will get to hang out in my motherland (airport) for about 5 hours until we board for Addis Ababa. But before we land there, we need to stop for 1 hour in Khartum Sudan for a refuel. Finally, after a total 8 hours we will arrive, in the dark, at my favorite city on earth. (Sorry NYC, I know we are close, but Addis wins) I know this airport well, how to great people and thank them in their language and know I will see the beautiful purple flowers on the walk to the parking lot. I am also anticipating the comfort of Lucyland hotel with the great cook and friend Asnagew. Her pizza, her smoothies and her amazing breads for breakfast….
But I can not get to comfortable since we leave that same morning for Hawassa. I hope we will get a quick stop at the BCS office to say hello to all my amazing colleagues. The ride to Hawassa is long. 6 hours on bad roads, through small towns, countryside and the great rift valley. Sometimes, if we are lucky we see camels. Once we even saw gorillas! Although the ride is long and dusty and bumpy, I always enjoy it. I feel I really get to see the variety of life if Ethiopia.
We will hopefully arrive in time to enjoy a dinner at our hotel, The Haile Resort. This is a fabulous fabulous place that we barely get to enjoy all the amenities. But we enjoy sitting in the lobby at night looking over the lake and getting on line. And of course this will be a great time to catch up and laugh with our great friends/colleagues and co-trainers Dinke and Adey. Last fall we laughed and laughed about corny pick up lines.
Our goal, our mission, is to train social workers in domestic adoption, so children can stay in the countries they were born in. Not immigrate across the world. Our goal is to prevent orphans. Can you imagine if children did not have to ever enter an orphanage! I hope, more than anything, that my work will keep at least one child in a family. If only once child, it will be worth it.
I day of training government officials on Parenting the Traumatized Child and Sexual Abuse. The 2nd day will be doing home visits with the social workers to see how foster homes are going and answering any questions about assessments, matching, etc. Then the drive back to Addis on Saturday… Likely to be home by dark. No time to enjoy Addis or catch up with friends or visit our favorite restaurants and coffee shops. But I am NOT complaining. I will embrace every second I am a guest in that country!
Sunday we fly to Uganda. I know very little about this country. We will be staying in Kampala, the capital, which is on a very large lake. We will be staying at the orphanage that is hosting us. I know we will spend a few days meeting with staff and getting a sense of what they are doing there. There may be some time to tour… I hope we can, but it is not why we are there or our priority. We will have three and a half days of training with staff, board members, caregivers and government officials. We have no idea if we have internet or if we will leave the grounds all week. But, we are go with the flow girls and if we have no expectations, our plans can not be disrupted.
Friday night we fly out in reverse hopefully landing in Grand Rapids Saturday late afternoon. I know people travel a lot for work. I know some like it and some feel it is a hassle. I think I am just as excited as the first time I went. I love traveling. Not just traveling, but being able to go somewhere, give something, share what I know, meet people, form friendships, learn about my world, change my attitudes, my priorities, be reminded about everything I have to be thankful for… Every time I go, no matter how much I prepare, not matter how hard I work, I always leave with more than I taught. Always. I hope I can share that all with you and love to have you.. “Along for the Ride”