When we were researching Ethiopian adoptions, The Hero and I learned that Ethiopians celebrate New Years on Septebmer 11th. I thought that was symbolic; The Hero and I were getting a fresh start to our family through Ethiopia but it would provide a good reason for jubilation on a day that needs some redemption.
I adore the fact there was not enough room to put the 'y' on Lindsey.
As the team sang 'Happy birthday' and we finished cake, I asked a stupid question. I had wanted to ask Yemamu if he had ever had a birthday cake of his own. What I asked was "did you ever have birthday cake as a child?" Yemamu's face was all teeth and grin as he nodded and said "Oh yes Lindsey. The Sheraton trash truck."
My dear friend, my brother in Christ who had grown up in Korah and dug through the trash dump for his necessities had also found some sweet memories there as well. The fact that he and many, many like him could distinguish delicacies from which trash truck they were in broke my heart. And these two sweet men had bought me a birthday cake. I am sure they had never bought one for themselves or even one another. It truly was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
Since our paperwork had not yet cleared the Ethiopian government, Hands for the Needy was still unable to feed the kids in our program. Yemamu and Sisay explained that even though tomorrow was Monday, it would be a holiday and everyone would be with their families. Except the boys at the dump. We asked if we could prepare a meal and take it to them to celebrate the holiday and buy the meal out of the funds that our team had brought. Yemamu and Sisay were delighted and we jumped into the van to buy a sheep.
We headed to the sheep market (I didn't know there was such a thing) where hundreds of people and sheep milled around, haggling and tying up animals which would soon be a holiday feast. Yemamu and Sisay engaged in aggressive negotiations over a particular animal and this proved to be quite the lengthy process. Sisay was giving me the play by play as to what you look for in a good sheep.
-Check his nose to make sure he isn't sick.
-Check the backbone towards his rump, if it's fatty, he's healthy.
-Open his mouth and look at his teeth to make sure he isn't too old.
As we finalized negotiations, we paid 700 birr (roughly $41.00) for what the boys determined to be a fine specimen and Yemamu estimated he would feed at least 60 people.
As the sheep followed along behind us, one thought kept flashing through my head.
How are we getting Mr. Sheep to Sisay's mom (who would be butchering him and making the meal)?
Mr. Sheep riding in our van.
Yemamu and Sisay asked if we wanted to attend a New Year's Eve party.
Yemamu explained that it is customary on Ethiopian New Year to attend an all night church service thanking God for what He did in the previous year and praying for what He would do in the upcoming year.
We picked up K and off we went.
The service was packed. Elbow to elbow these people stood, dancing and praising and jumping. It was incredible to watch. The entire service was in Amharic and while I wanted very much to be reverent, K was extremely bored by hour two and I pulled out a bouncy ball that my mother-in-law had packed for him (I love that woman. While I was packing him undies and clothes, she packed candy and toys).
We played and goofed off for the better part of an hour. Until he started to fall asleep. Since I didn't have any where for him to lay down, Yemamu called us a cab and our team headed home, while Yemamu and Sisay stayed behind to finish their prayer vigil.
As we said good night, K hugged my neck and kissed my cheek and asked again:
"Mama. I see you tomorrow?"
"Absolutely my son."
If you would have told me ten years ago that my favorite birthday yet was in a dirt floor church, making booger jokes with an eleven year old, I'd have thought you were drinking.