Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 4

 Day 3 in Addis Ababa


You probably remember that Madonna song from the early ‘80’s, “Papa, Don’t Preach”. Well, my Papa DID preach! No, he wasn’t a preacher, but he came from six generations of Lutheran ministers, and he broke his mother’s heart when he didn’t become one. And he’d have been a great one, as he could always give great speeches.

Anyway, when we first moved to Ethiopia in 1957 there wasn’t a Lutheran church we could go to, but by the end of the year that had changed. My parents were two of the first adult members of the congregation, and my father was president of the congregation for many of the years while we were in Ethiopia. My sister and I were confirmed in the church the year before we moved back to the States.

(Note: This picture is from the ILC Website,
So, when I went to Ethiopia last month, I was delighted to find out that the church was still there, in the same building where I had attended confirmation classes and was confirmed. Caroline, Linda, Brenda and I attended, and were introduced as guests, along with two couples who had come from the US to adopt Ethiopian children. There was also a group there from the Sudan who asked for prayers for their church, which had been attacked by Islamic extremists the previous week.

Sitting in the pew, so many things seemed just the same — the wooden cross, the light fixtures, the balcony area where we attended confirmation classes. The soundproofing was still rather poor between the Sunday School area and the nave, a constant reminder that the children weren’t far away. And when a baby started to cry, I could practically hear my father turn and hiss to my mother, “Why doesn’t someone take that God-damned kid out of here!” (In retrospect, there were probably good reasons that Dad didn’t become a minister!)

And some things were different. The traditional hymnal has given way to a more modern songbook, and the accompanist played a guitar. But for me, who had gone to missionary schools for several of my years in Ethiopia, who had attended Sunday school downstairs, had attended confirmation classes in the balcony area, and had secretly wished the church would allow me, a girl, to be a minister, the very most exciting change was the minister, Ann. You GO, Girl!!

Heading to Hanna’s Orphans Home:
After the service we headed to another orphanage to deliver quilts. Along the way I couldn’t help but notice that it looked like “Bring your Goat to Work Day”. Goats everywhere!

I also got a kick out of this shoestore window display…

  … and found an interesting juxtaposition between the ramshackle and unsteady construction on the left side of the street and the shiny modern buildings on the right.

Hanna’s Orphans Homes:

At the compound for Hanna’s Orphans Home we were introduced to Hanna, who runs several group homes and a couple of “prison orphanages”, where the children of prisoners who have no extended family live (as an alternative to actually living in the prisons with their parents). The children in Addis live in several group homes of about 6-8 children, and are brought to the main compound for their lessons and to play every day. We were given a tour and brought into a room to distribute the quilts. As I waited to step into the room, I felt a tiny hand grasp mine. I looked down into the face of a small girl, about 3 years old. I asked her name, and she replied in a voice too quiet for me to hear. A girl of 5 or so, standing with a protective arm around the little one’s shoulder, looking out for her little friend, told me her friend’s name and her age. I was very touched to see the way these little children looked out for each other, and how protective they were of the littlest ones.


After the distribution we took some group shots, and Hanna wrote the names of the children on the “Belongs to” line on the labels of their quilts. I noticed that the children didn’t want to let go of their precious quilts, even while playing, jumping rope, and watching a buddy get a haircut.

Villa Verde:
Since coming to Addis, I’d been hoping to find the Villa Verde, a restaurant that I’d gone to many times with my family 4 decades earlier. Villa Verde set the standard for lasagna for many of us who grew up in Addis Ababa, with a sauce that was cheesier and creamier than most of the lasagna sauces I’ve eaten in the US. Hanna knew where the restaurant was, so we stopped in, even though it was only about 4:30 in the afternoon. When we arrived it felt instantly familiar to me, even though the building was painted entirely different colors than the Villa Verde I’d known in my childhood. Tthe manager told us that their chef, Franco, was in Italy for a two week vacation, so if we wanted Pizza or traditional Ethiopian food they’d be happy to accommodate us – but if we wanted lasagna, we were out of luck. Having had pizza and doro wat very recently, we decided to pass. I’ll have to try it again on my next trip to Ethiopia, and I’ll email ahead of time to make sure Franco stays put!  I’m sure he wasn’t the chef 46 years ago, but perhaps the lasagna recipe was passed from chef to chef over the years!

Pepsi vs. Coke:

Finally, as we headed back to Cherokee House for the evening, I noticed that the Pepsi vs. Coca Cola wars are not a North American Phenomenon. Every fruit stand seems to have a preference!

More tomorrow, assuming the internet connect at the hotel for MQS is cooperating!


2 Responses to “Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 4”

  1. Ollie Gayle Kryszczuk Says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the church & the pictures are great. I loved tghe children & their quilts. They look so happy. You group are a lot of great ladies. Ollie

    • quiltsbeyondborders Says:

      Thanks, Ollie. It was so touching to see how thrilled the kids were to get the quilts. Addis Ababa gets very cold at night, and central heating isn’t very available, so the children will appreciate the warmth, but I think they were also very happy to have someone give them something of their very own. I can honestly say that this trip was one of the most rewarding times of my life.


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