About a month ago, during a break between classes some of my students were quizzing me on Ethiopian cuisine, wondering what I liked and disliked. On my “no way” list were dishes such as doolet (sheep stomach) and kort (raw beef cubes). One student teased me, commenting that all foreigners’ stomachs are weak. Slightly offended, I retorted in Amharic, “Not me- my stomach is strong, I’ve eaten kitfoe! (rare, spiced ground beef)” It was true, I had eaten side-dish portions several times and felt no ill effects. My “street cred” was seemingly restored outside the classroom that night.
Yesterday I met one of those same students for lunch. He surprised me in the parking lot as he pulled up in his car, an uncommon luxury. I hopped in and we were off. He was ecstatic to take me to one of his favorite places. We chatted continuously for about 15 minutes about school, our families, and youth ministry. Pulling up to an unfamiliar restaurant I sounded out the sign with my 1st grade Amharic– kih–ti–foe. Immediately I thought to myself, “No problem, I’ll just sample a little with my meal…” When the menu arrived I read over the 25 options– 24 of which were beverages. Before long I was greeted with enough ground meat to complete an Old El Paso Taco kit. It was actually quite good, but enough for two people! I cleaned my plate like a good boy, but now I have this bowling ball of spices, butter and uncooked madness gurgling in my stomach. I am completing this post from my bed dealing with the unpleasant shock to my system. I am thankful for little things like clean water, a bathroom and no teaching obligations today.
Of course, Emily offers little sympathy– only an all-too-familiar eye roll/head shake combo. Tonight for dinner she will be serving me de-worming medicine with a Pepto-Bismol chaser.
Setting aside my temporary discomfort, I must say our conversation about the state of youth ministry in Ethiopia was invigorating. I am thrilled for this developing friendship, but will insist on pizza next time.
AN AMAZING SUNDAY
This week I was invited to teach an introductory youth ministry workshop for 30 young adults. Many of them have little experience, however they are familiar with the dangerous trajectories facing teenagers in Addis Ababa. We had a blast creating a profile of an urban teenager, addressing global trends, and building a leadership approach in light of Jesus’ calling of Matthew (Matt. 9:9-11). Challenging them to take two teenagers to tea in the next 2 weeks, I look forward to our follow-up and cannot wait to hear what they have learned through their conversations.
I would have stuck with the beverages… and probably still would have gotten sick.
You are either one crazy, adventurous person or one brave, courageous soul! Could this be referred to as “contextualization”? Enjoyed reading your letter Jason. Sad to hear of Emily’s bout with pneumonia. Trusting that she is improving and the healing touch of the Great Physician.
Merry Christmas to the family. Praying for the training of new youth leaders. ~ Amy Saal