Dear Family and Friends,
We are back in Ziway after our nearly-six-week "vacation" in the U.S. With three major building projects going on, along with a lot of ancillary activities, it was definitely time to return. We find ourselves in the midst of the maelstrom of activity that we had left back in early May.
All the building projects are proceeding, some better than others (New pre-school in Ziway, Pre-school addition in Adami Tulu, and Samuel's Home-our home for vulnerable children.) We will have more updates on these projects as they are completed over the next couple of months. We thought it might be interesting to include this month some of the personal observations and experiences we have had recently.
We flew Turkish Airlines back to Chicago on May 2. We have flown Turkish on several occasions recently and, of course, always pass through their hub at Istanbul. We have become quite familiar with that airport. However, on that day, the security seemed suffocatingly tight. We went through a thorough X-ray and physical search of ourselves and our carry-ons in Security prior to boarding our airplane. That was normal. But after walking about thirty feet, we were subjected to the same thing all over again (X-ray, searching our bags, patting us down). It was really unusual, and I (Gary) along with some other passengers was pulled out of line and taken to another station to sign a document. I had no idea what I was supposed to sign, since it was in Turkish. But the other passengers signed, and it appeared they were being allowed to enter the gate area. I signed (and still have no idea what I signed). They took away my can of shaving cream which they had never seemed to notice when I passed through there previously.
We had a nice flight to Chicago and while we were waiting for the bus to Bloomington, I was half-heartedly glancing at what appeared to be a documentary on television about Osama bin Laden. Suddenly I noticed across the bottom of the screen a message about him being killed by U.S. forces that same day. Then it all made sense. We had flown from a Muslim country located in the Middle East to Chicago on an airline owned by Muslims on the same day that Osama bin Laden was killed. That explained the extremely tight security.
Then when flying back to Ethiopia on the same airline, on the way from Istanbul to Addis Ababa, I was seated next to a very lively Italian couple. Shortly after take-off the man reached into his fanny pack and pulled out a can of beer. I thought, "And this is the same airline that took away my shaving cream last time?!"
Soon after that, the stewardesses came around with "supper." The man asked for a bottle of wine and the woman got a beer. That, of course, raised no eyebrows. However, as I usually do, I bowed my head to pray over my meal. I suddenly heard a very concerned loud voice, "Sir! Sir!" Raising my head up from my prayer to see what the problem was, I found the stewardess excitedly asking ME, "Sir, are you okay?" I guess they don't see many Christians praying before their meals on Turkish Airlines. I assured her I was fine.
As the alcohol consumption next to me increased, the conversation got louder and more animated. Then the stewardess came around with drinks again. The man asked in broken English, "Have you any rum?" The stewardess, knowing somehow they were Italians and thinking he had asked "Have you been to Rome?," answered also in broken English, "No, I haven't, but on July 24 I will visit Rome and Naples and some other cities. I am so excited." The man just shrugged, reached again into his fanny pack and pulled out a flask of rum. (The smell gave it away.) I thought, "What else does he have in that fanny pack?"
With beer, wine, and rum under their belts, the couple mercifully (for them) and thankfully (for me) fell fast asleep. The rest of the trip was much better. Peggy, on the other hand had three empty seats to lay across and sleep much of the way to Addis Ababa. Good for her!
On the day after we got back to our town of Ziway, because of jet lag I fell asleep on the couch after lunch. I woke up and found Peggy missing. The car was still in the compound, her mobile phone was in the kitchen, but she was nowhere to be found. I asked the guard if Peggy had gone out and he said she had, but he didn't know where to. I figured that she had either walked over to check on Samuel's Home or had gone to the shop. Relieved that she hadn't been raptured and left me behind :) I began working on the stack of paperwork in my office. Suddenly it dawned on me that Peggy had been gone for an extraordinarily long time.
I again asked the guard if he could give me any additional information about what Peggy said or did when she left. He said she was carrying some keys. Aha, I thought, she's over at Samuel's Home discussing the progress with the workers. I decided to go check. Not having the keys, I knocked on the gate. Immediately I heard Peggy yelling, "Help! Help me!" I became very concerned, but I didn't have any key to get in. I went over to the part of the wall I heard her voice coming from, and asked her what was the matter. She said she was locked in the small storage room of Samuel's Home. She had been there now three hours.
Fortunately, there was no glass yet on the window, and also fortunately, the window was close to the wall. She threw the keys over the wall to me; I let myself in; and found her truly locked in the storage room. It seems that she had gone in the storage room to check on it, tested the door, and saw that the latch wasn't working. So, kind of silly, to test it further, she closed the door. With the latch not working, she was completely unable to get out. With bars on the window and door, she couldn't break out, either.
I had to hurry back home, get some screwdrivers and a crowbar, and release her. She actually took her three hours of "imprisonment" very well, although she was a little shook up. She said the worst part was sitting in all the concrete mess on the floor staring at the walls which were painted a bright lemon yellow, much brighter than we had ordered. We both were very glad to see the end of that ordeal.
Next month there will be more updates on the schools and Samuel's Home, unless, of course, Peggy does something else more interesting to write about.
I have attached two pictures: one of Peggy re-enacting her time in "prison," and the other of the current status of construction of Samuel's Home.
God's blessings to you and your family,
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