the BIGGER picture

Icon

Just a glimspe. Susan's Perspective.

Orthodox Easter (Ethiopian)

So, another 3-day Holiday / “Holy-Day” in Ethiopia. Aside from Christmas and Meskel, the Orthodox Easter long-weekend is the most important event of the year. Church here is definitely a way of life for the majority of the population.

You definitely know when there’s an important event coming up when thousands of sheep start taking over the street corners in Addis Ababa. After a long fasting season, no meat and dairy, pious Orthodox Christians rev-up for the big feast! Families purchase a sheep (live) home, and slaughter the animal, usually in the backyard. These herds of sheep roaming precariously on the streets of the Capital, basically await their destined death. Buyers harass the animals (e.g. hold them by 2 hooves and see them walk, lift up their tails, prod at their fat etc.), and when one is finally chosen, the sheep is usually either thrown into the trunk of someone’s car (alive), tied and strapped to the top of a taxi/truck/car (alive), or just dragged along with its front hooves tied…ALIVE! The smell of sheep’s blood will overpower the pollution in the air, and the sight of sheep carcasses will litter the streets. Yay.

Here’s a short photo essay about the Orthodox Easter celebration in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

Sheep Shopping in Addis Ababa photographed by Susan Wong

Orthodox Easter in Addis Ababa photographed by Susan Wong

Medhane Alem Cathedral in Addis Ababa Ethiopia photographed by Susan Wong

Orthodox Good Friday in Addis Ababa photographed by Susan Wong

Sheep Skinning for Easter in Addis Ababa photographed by Susan Wong

Sheep Slaughtering for Easter in Addis Ababa photographed by Susan Wong

On a brighter note, with Easter (March 23 2008 ) still fresh in my mind, I feel like this second Easter in 2 months time (Ethiopia runs on a different calendar), is another reminder and opportunity for me to reflect on my choice to remain in Ethiopia. After my internship had concluded with the Canadian Government in Ethiopia, I spent 3 weeks back home (Canada) visiting my family before I came back here for a fresh start…a new job…a new career…a new apartment…and NEW life. To keep long story short, I basically didn’t know Easter was a couple of weeks early this year. So, by total freak accident…I got baptized! A dream of mine realized…THANK YOU.

Anyhow, the following was the testimony/speech I shared with my family, friends and congregation that day (full house!)…and now, I share it with you:

Good morning Everyone.

You’re all probably wondering how did this fair-skinned Chinese girl get so tanned, or where did she go for March Break? Well actually, I just came back from a 7 month internship with the Canadian government in Ethiopia.

As my plane attempted to land last Saturday during the record-breaking snowstorm, I looked outside and watched a snow-covered Toronto whiz by. I was Home. Memorable moments of my young life danced on the reflection of the airplane’s window:

o I remembered and giggled at my memories of being a big mean bully in primary and junior high school;

o I remembered the moment I came to know God….which was by accident. During University, I was prepping for a Genesis fellowship bible study, and ended up reading the wrong passage. But that’s how God speaks to us, in the most unexpected moments, and then BAM! A light bulb turns on;

o I remembered my struggles with honing down my numerous interests and career selections during University. From working as a Morgue Attendant at St. Mike’s aspiring to be a pathologist, to studying to be a forensic psychologist, to working at the film festival….and, to aspiring to be a photographer and globe trotter. Through all the stress of trying to figure out what I’d do with the rest of my life, God reminded me of how important trusting Him was. I really was lost…I had too many things I wanted to do and succeed in… and most importantly, I had no clue what my calling was;

o I remembered the moment my friends at Genesis Fellowship asked me if I would attend the international missions conference, Urbana 2006. A missions conference?! That sounded a little intense for me. I wasn’t ready. Or was I? Seeing that the conference only happened every 3 years, I thought I’d just give it a shot. Some of my friends and I decided to screen some t-shirts for all of the T3C participants, and I decided to incorporate a passage from the Bible in the design. When we finally arrived in St. Louis, I pulled out our newly given conference bible, and was in shock to learn that the same exact verse that I had chosen, was also the theme for Urbana: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 There was no doubt that God wanted me to be there;

o I remembered how God placed Africa in my heart and opened doors for me to go serve there. Even though I was an intern with the government, nothing to do with missions, I felt like my trip was a personal missions trip;

o I remembered the many moments I felt hopeless and how God encouraged me. Whether it was simply blessing me with good health during stressful university exams, watching over me while I climbed Mt. Kenya, keeping me out of trouble in Sudan, protecting me during my daily routines in Ethiopia, and filling me with His grace when I felt alone and shut out in Africa;

o And finally, I remembered how much I wanted to get baptized over the years, but timing was never right. And this time, it would be no different since Easter was in April and I was leaving Toronto before then….but wait a moment, Easter is early this year! Perfect timing.

And now, here I am, 3 days before I move permanently to Ethiopia…standing before the congregation and sharing my journey with all of you. A dream come true. God has truly been faithful and blessed me with so many opportunities. He has challenged my trust and faith through out the years. He has humbled me and made me realize that living a purposeful life is a much more fulfilling experience than living solely for myself. I was always an outgoing, happy, and energetic individual. But now, after knowing Christ, my happiness and passion stems from genuine joy.

For updates on my African Adventures, please visit www.thebiggerpicture.wordpress.com

God Bless and thank you for sharing this moment in my life. Thank you.

****Like my plug?! lol Stay tuned! My adventures in Africa are only just beginning!

Advertisements

Filed under: Africa, Ethiopia, Life, Photography, Travel, , , , , , ,

Infectious

I believe everyone has the innate willingness to give. Though sometimes we may feel intimidated and hesitant with the concept of selfless giving, but once you start helping others, you just can’t stop. Giving is simply infectious. And, most importantly, we all have it in us.

Today [2 weeks ago] was an incredible day. Actually, it was exhilarating! Prior to my visit to Toronto, Tadeese, the Director of Bright Hope Bright Future Kindergarten had informed me that upon my return to Addis Ababa, a reception in my honour would be held. I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t donate these chairs and tables to be recognized, nor did I want the attention. This was just my humble attempt to inspire others, and to do something for these incredibly joyful children and their financially-stricken community.

When I heard about the numerous confirmed guests, I was in total shock. It turned out that while I was in Canada, Tadesse was able to successfully invite members of the community, all of the students’ parents, government officials, children’s sponsors, journalists, representatives from businesses and colleges, and finally potential sponsors.

Today [2 weeks ago], as I walked through the gates of the school, I was overwhelmed by the outpour of gratitude, appreciation, and support. As my gaze fell on the 100 or so strangers awaiting my arrival on this early Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but question whether or not a sense of disappointment had ever crossed their minds. They took timeout of their busy lives for me, whom seemed to be young and naïve?! They probably imagined the guest of honour to be much older or at least someone who looked wiser. When all of the children welcomed me loudly and waved with illuminating smiles, it was clear, I was the ‘Suzan’ they had spoke about. A simple 23-year-old young Asian woman…um, surprise?!

In addition to presenting the books, crayons, pencils, sharpeners, games, and numerous other donations that were donated by my friends and family to the school, the program also included an awards ceremony for the top 3 students in each class. As the morning went on, random people in attendance began to raise their hands and pledge their support! There were many who pledged to sponsor some of the children, and there were others who decided to donate 1000birr in cash! These generous people had always had it in them to give, but because of all of your donations, YOU HAVE INSPIRED OTHERS TO HELP TOO!

GIVING, IS SIMPLY INFECTIOUS. It’s easy to get cynical when you’re stuck in cyclical bureaucracy and surrounded by people and organizations that have lost the passion to advocate. But, with a little inspiration and some momentum, realizing our social responsibilities is as easy as 1-2-3.

Let’s continue….to work together….and to inspire one another.

Susan Wong in Ethiopia Visiting a Kindergarten March 23, 2008

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Ethiopia, Life, Photography, Quotes, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , ,

Through My Eyes

TWEETS…

%d bloggers like this: