Saturday, July 31, 2010

Spending the Day in Awasa


July 31st, 2010 Awasa

I was able to talk to my family for two hours this morning, most of the time with Erika.  I used up 2/3rds of the minutes on my modem.  Skype is free but it costs 100 ETB ($7.25) each time I fill up my modem with minutes.  I am not exactly sure how it works; talking minutes just count down a minute at a time but internet minutes last quite a bit longer.  It seems like it is almost two internet minutes for one purchased minute. I have 35 minutes left to get me through the weekend.
The view from my hotel room with the swimming pool and Lake Awasa.
Erika and I feel really good about how our lives are going right now.  The Lord has blessed us with everything we need and much more.  We have our challenges like everyone else but He helps us through them.  It is almost scary to feel so at peace when life can change so quickly.  I guess that is what the Savior meant when He said “my peace I give unto you not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.”  I just feel confident that He is in control and as long as we follow His will everything will be all right.

They had a big breakfast buffet at the hotel but a lot of it was Ethiopian style so it cut my choices done.  I did have an awesome omelet with everything in it. The pastries look really good but don’t have much salt or sugar in them compared to the U.S. so they aren’t appetizing to me. Ingera for breakfast is more than my body can take.

I was just checking out when Abera and Gemechu showed up.  The hotel was booked for the night so I had to go to another one which was ok with me because I am fine with a less expensive hotel.  We can use Paul’s money better in other ways.  I am staying at the Oasis which is much smaller and more Ethiopian style. The rooms are all tile floors and I have a balcony overlooking the front of the hotel and the street.  For this room the cost is 303 ETB/night ($22).  This includes wireless internet (very slow), breakfast and laundry services.  For the price it is one of the best hotels that I have stayed in.
The cobblestone street being laid.
I walked up the street to see what was going on. They were making a new cobblestone street. At the end of the street is a new hotel and convention center.  They were not open yet but offered to give me a tour anyway. They have four nice conference rooms, 14 bungalows, and the hotel that overlooks Lake Awasa. You could tell that it was meant for foreigners because all the room rates were quoted in U.S. dollars from $49 up to $249.

I had a deep fried, breaded fish cutlet for lunch with mango/pineapple juice.  It was very good all for 54 ETB ($6).  Since it is fast Sunday I won’t try their breakfast but I will see what it looks like.

I spent the afternoon resting and writing reports. I think that I am finally caught up again. This has been a busy week and a good one.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wando Genet University-Haili Salasi Hotel in Awasa

July 30th, 2010 Kokosa-Wando-Awasa

When I awoke this morning I checked my cell phone for service and was disappointed to see that there was no coverage.  I was thrilled about 15 minutes later when my phone rang and it was Joshua.  We had a nice discussion and scripture study as I stood out in the middle of our pasture in Kokosa.  Mulgeta had already gone to prepare the cows so I had to cut our conversation short.  We bred another dozen animals and found one that was aborting.  She was probably pregnant to Mulgeta’s artificial insemination breeding a month before, unless the guards had let our fattening bulls get too close to the cows.

We packed up and prepared to go while Abera gave instructions to Nuritu.  While I was waiting for them I started weeding the garden.  It didn’t take long before several of the guards were helping me.  Before Abera finished we had weeded the lettuce, onions, squash, tomatoes and carrots.  Our staff doesn’t have a lot of ambition on their own but they work hard when you set the example for them.  Their culture hasn’t had exposure to planting vegetables.

We dropped off Jamal, Sultan, Gemechu, and Mulgeta in Shashamene, grabbed some food and water then drove to the VOH compound.  The cow was in heat so we bred her.  I hope that she conceives this time because her milk production is really getting low.

The three inch leeches that were pulled out of the cows mouth. 
Abera and I drove to Wando Genet University where we met Girma and Emebet.  I looked over the cows and the facilities and asked a lot of questions so that I could give them some good advice on how to improve their production. I could have made many suggestions but settled on advising them to milk the cows at even intervals.  One of the cows had bloody slobber coming from its mouth.  When I pointed it out they told me it was because of leaches then proceeded to pull two, three inch long leaches from underneath the cows tongue.  We also found another one in the cow’s water trough.  Apparently they attach when they are really small when the cows drink from the nearby pond.

They currently milk at 6:30am and 3:00pm.  In the morning the cows have full udders but in afternoon they are not.  The full udder in the morning sends the message to the cow’s brain to slow done her production.  All of the cows are in good shape but they only give about 6 liters of milk per cow. They should be giving at least 15 maybe as much as 20.  Girma gave us a liter of fresh milk as we left.

We drove from Wando over to Awasa.  It is a very rich area that grows a lot of sugar cane.  Unfortunately they also grow a lot of chat which is a strong hallucinogenic. There is a lot of money in selling it.  Many of the car wrecks are due to the drivers being high on chat.  It is illegal to drive while on it but that doesn’t stop a lot of the drivers from using it.
The new Haili Salasi Hotel in Awasa. It is a very nice new hotel bordering Lake Awasa
Abera and I stopped at the Haili Salasi hotel.  Paul suggested that I might want to try it if I was in the area.  I checked in, 1500 ETB/night ($85).  Abera and I walked around to see the pool, hot tub, saunas, restaurant, and gym.  We got kicked out of the gym because I had my hiking boots on.  The lady said that we were ruining the carpet.  I thought that I had stepped out of Ethiopia for a while.

I got settled in my very nice room and went down to the restaurant.  They had set up a large buffet for a conference that was being held in the hotel. They said that I could fill a plate from the buffet and take it into another room to eat it.  The cost would be 316 ETB($23) where most meals in Ethiopia are 100 ETB tops.  I looked over the food and decided that it wasn’t worth it.  I walked around the lake front then went back to my room and had spam and crackers for dinner.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Breeding the Cows-Training the Staff


July 29th, 2010 Kokosa

This morning I shivered awake at 5:30.  I had rolled around during the night and kicked my blankets off. The temperature was about 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit).  It was extremely foggy outside but as the sun came out it burned off.  I started weeding the garden until Mulgeta came out.  Abera has his beehive set up near the garden. I am pleased that he is taking initiative to try new ventures.
A typical beehive in rural Ethiopia with a piece of tin over it to keep off some of the rain.
Mulgeta went to separate the animals and I went to gather the breeding supplies.  We had seven animals to breed this morning and one sick one to treat.  Abera bred some of the cows with my assistance and Mulgeta bred the others.  I taught Jamal how to prepare the semen.  He did really well except for the one straw that he put in backwards. I am happy to see them taking control more and more.

We went back to the house for breakfast.  I had a peanut butter and banana sandwich while they had ingera.  Abera was a little late getting in so he missed out on the ingera and had to eat some bread.  He took pictures of the other four finishing off the last of the ingera.

We collected nine liters of milk last night and eleven liters this morning.  Most of the cows are giving two to three liters a day and feeding their calves. I am working with the management to think through their options and sell the milk or products for the best possible return.  Last night Gemechu went to Arufta , a nearby village, to see if they wanted to buy milk from us and at what price.  He wrote up a little report with his recommendations at the end.

Abera met with the staff for a couple of hours to handle daily work issues.  When he finished I talked with them about where we have come this year and where we are headed in the future.  I asked them how their life had changed since MAI came, for good or for bad.  They talked about how positive it was for them.  They now had jobs but more importantly they had learned a great deal.  They didn’t believe us when we talked about embryo transfer or even artificial insemination.  Now that they have seen calves born they believe.  One comment especially caught my attention.  One of our guards said that we were preparing their minds for the truth.  That had deeper meaning for me than he thought. I wanted to keep it brief because Abera had talked with them for two hours already but they had a lot of questions and comments so we kept talking for almost two hours.  I challenged them to do something in the next year to make themselves better.  I also challenged them to make enough profit over the next four years to pay Paul back his investment. They were nodding their heads and smiling so I took that as a good sign.  Finally Mulgeta held up a sign that said lunch so I ended the meeting.
The team having a quick bite after working hard. It is typical for everyone to each from the serving dishes. The faster you eat the more that you get.
After lunch I met with Mulgeta, Gemechu, Negeso, Jamal, and Abera.  I asked them how their lives had changed since they started working with Paul. I taught them the principle of being “above the line” from The Oz Principle with my additional thoughts about revelation coming from God if we are working above the line.  We batted ideas and comments back and forth about the project and had a good discussion.  As the meeting was winding down I asked them why they thought that Paul was working here in Ethiopia.  I told them that he was rich and could easily stay home and relax.  Abera added that he had flown to the States and it was no fun.  I told them about his fight with government officials and how he was fighting so that he could help the people in spite of the government. I then talked to them about the difference between temporary fun and long lasting joy.  I said that I couldn’t speak for Paul but I could for myself.  I asked them if they thought that coming to Ethiopia was fun for me.  They laughed and said no. Then I told them how much joy it brings to me as I see them grow and progress.  I pointed out some of the difficult things that they do to achieve success and how they felt when they succeeded. They got the picture.  It was a spiritually uplifting discussion.
Part of our plowing crew. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to earn the 15  ETB/day so that they have money to buy their school books and supplies.
Mulgeta and I went to check on our 27 man plow.  We have about one hectare (2.45 acres) plowed and it has taken about five days to do the whole thing.  We pay the workers 15 ETB/day($1.10) this is up from 10 ETB/day which is the normal daily rate.  This injects a lot of money into the local economy.  It can really help if they use it appropriately.  Mulgeta told me that most of our workers are high school students earning money to pay for their books this fall.

We bred eight more cows this evening.  I would have expected more to come into heat by now.  I hope that we have a lot in heat tomorrow.  We will give everything that doesn’t come into heat another PGF shot on Monday.

The cellular network was down today so I wouldn’t have been able to talk to Erika and the family if they had called.  I hope that it is back up tomorrow.  It makes communication difficult when it is down.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shopping in Shashamene and Work at Kokosa


July 28th, 2010 Camel Wreck-Shashamene-Kokosa

I had a nice visit with my family before scripture study and prayer. It is really good to be able to talk with them even though I am half a world away.  I anticipated that it would take about 45 minutes to get my breakfast and I was about right even though there was only one other couple in the restaurant that came in after me. I had ordered an omelet not the most complicated of breakfasts to cook.

Abera and I went shopping for jumper cables but they don’t know what they are in Shashamene so I bought 20 feet of heavy wire and some battery clamps and made my own for 392 ETB($28).  They don’t look very good but they got the job done.  We also purchased a large jug for storing milk, a couple of plastic buckets, basins, and pitchers all for 108 ETB($7.80)  We also spent about 50 birr on water and 50 on oranges, bananas, and bread. This will feed us for a couple of days I hope.  I am sure that Abera will go with Negeso to his restaurant a time or two and probably take Mulgeta and Gemechu. We also bought 20 liters of gas (13.23ETB/Liter, $3.65/gal) to run the little generator that they bought after my last trip here.  Jamal tried to run it on diesel but it didn’t work very well.
A load of camels ran off the main road and crashed. Many of the drivers chew "chat " a hallucinogenic plant. 
Abera drove to Kokosa and stopped where the camel carrying Isuzu truck had run off the road and down into the river.  It looked like everything and everyone probably died.  The road was just finished and has no guard rails. Many drivers chew a plant called chat which is similar to marijuana. Usually the poor road conditions keep the road speeds below 50k/h (30m/h) but with the new road the drivers can get going much faster.

The drive went well until we were about half way down the muddy lane to the farm. Abera overcorrected and slid to the low side of the road and got stuck.  He looked at me as if to say can you get us out now. It took a shovel and four people pushing but we got out and Abera learned a little bit about mud driving.  I pulled out some birr to reward the helpers.  Two of them gratefully accepted but two of them said that is not enough they set the one birr back on the truck seat and said give us ten birr each. (Ten birr is a day’s wage in this area).  I said if you don’t want the birr I will keep it and we drove off.  Abera was disgusted with them.  I asked him if it was because I was a farenge (foreigner) that they acted that way.  He said yes that he never pays people that help push and usually they don’t expect pay.
Gemachu and Mulgeta using the newly installed water pump. They were very excited!
The water pump is working great.  We filled a 10 liter bucket in 20 seconds.  That is much easier than hauling it up out of the well by hand. I had to calm everyone down or they would have pumped the well dry.  We will buy two more to use over by the corrals.

Mulgeta and I bred the three cows that came into heat.  I hope that the rest of them will come in tomorrow.  I am not sure about the semen quality but I am using this more as a training exercise for Mulgeta.  Tsehay is having the semen checked in Addis.  If it is no good we will just have to buy new semen. There are probably 6000 to 7000 doses in the tank. The semen that I have here was in the smaller tank so I hope that it was OK. Mulgeta bred all three cows with only a little difficulty on one of the cows.  I also started training one of the workers to thaw the semen.  He will need more practice.
Sultan explaining the project to Mulgeta. The idea is to have the overflow of the first trough to fill the second one.
Sultan has been working on the water troughs and is getting the hang of it now.  I told them that the first one is where we learn by making and correcting mistakes but from now on we do it right the first time.
Our new crop of Boran calves watched over by one of our herdsman. The cows are being milked as part of our dairy program. Most of the milk goes to a restaurant in Kokosa.
Mulgeta and I walked around the farm looking for other possible sites for gravity flow water troughs.  I continue to stress the importance of having lots of clean water for the animals to drink.  With so much rain and green grass the animals don’t really get that thirsty so the herders just assume that they don’t need any water and just let them drink out of puddles if they do.  Good management here will really make a difference.
Abera is very excited about his new toy. This will work much faster than the hand labor plowers.
I had attached my makeshift jumper cables to the tractor batteries and let the truck charge them one at a time. When I first tried to start it I couldn’t get any power to the motor.  I looked all over for a switch or something that I might have missed to no avail.  Later I climbed in again and tried the same thing and it worked. I went through the gears to figure out what was what then I trained Abera how to drive it.  He was really having a lot of fun so I left him and went to eat dinner.  I picked some chard and carrots to eat with my ham sandwich.
           
With the generator running tonight I am able to type even after dark and not worry about my battery dying either. With no light around it gets very dark here on the farm.  When the sky is clear you can see millions of stars.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kokosa Cattle and Harvesting Vegetables for Sale


July 27th, 2010 Shashamene-Kokosa - Adami Tulu

This morning after a smashed banana and peanut butter sandwich I went out to work the cattle with Mulgeta.  He already had the ones that we needed separated out so it was easy for us to process them.
One of our Jersey cross calves enjoying her breakfast.
I walked around the farm looking at the grass and the cattle.  There were a lot of thistles near where the bulls were grazing so I waved the guard over and showed him how to cut the thistles then gave him my knife and motioned for him to continue.  Even though we don’t speak the same language he got the idea.
The bulls that we are fattening at Kokosa
We loaded the harvested beets, chard, and lettuce into the truck and headed out.  I had Abera pray for us before we left.  The road was scary but we made it out.  At one point I was sure that we were headed into a ditch but the truck pulled away from it at the last minute.  When we reached the main road I stopped to change out of my boots and let Abera drive.  We said another prayer of thanksgiving.

We dropped the vegetables off at the Arsi Negele office for them to sell for us. Mekonen said that everyone was harvesting at this time so the prices were depressed.  We shouldn’t use the results we get from this trial to base our future plans.  The vegetables must have looked good to them because several of the staff were offering to buy them.
The central office complex at Adami Tulu with their mission statement on the far wall
We drove on to Adami Tulu to meet with Dr. Hailu.  We arrived early so we went to the cafeteria to see if we could get some lunch.  Abera had driven very fast from Arsi Negeli with that in mind.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any food left so Abera had a cup of coffee and I got nothing.

We met with Dr.Hailu and Ato Taha to discuss our plans for the recipient animals.  I offered to synchronize them and breed them on Friday to Holstein bulls.  They thanked me for the offer but declined saying that they needed to set up their own plan and they could use their own technicians for the breeding.  I was very happy that they took the initiative of doing their own project.  Now I will have more time on Friday to do other things and I won’t feel like I left them hanging with the recipients.  Abera did a great job setting the stage for our discussion.
Mideksa and Joseph at an earlier visit to Adami Tulu
Mideksa already had the cows ready for us to synchronize.  I felt bad telling him that we had changed our plan and only needed to check one cow.  He took it in stride and quickly separated out the cow for us.  To show my appreciation I gave him the camping utensil tool which has a spoon, fork, knife, can opener and cork screw.  He was very pleased and said that he would hand it down to his posterity.  He was also happy when I told him hello from Joseph.

Abera drove me back to the Lilly Valley.  I had a head ache and needed to rest.  I showered and felt much better so I spent the afternoon doing emails and chatting with my sweetheart on Skype.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Installing the New Well Pump at Kokosa


July 26th, 2010 Shashamene-Kokosa

Last night I went to bed at 8:30 so when the dogs really started barking at 4:30 I had already slept well and wasn’t too upset with them.  I arose at 5:00 feeling great. I had a short scripture study and prayer with my family.  I was able to read several chapters of scripture before I went down to breakfast at 7:00.  I had a cheese omelet with onions and bread.  I paid for my room 563 ETB ($40 or $20/night) for two nights. Abera showed up with Gemechu and Mulgeta just as I was getting back to my room. They carried my suitcases out. I had one with clothes, one with animal supplies, one with food, a backpack with medicine and toiletries, the semen tank, the bag with my boots and coveralls, and my computer bag.  The Ethiopians must have really wondered what was in all of those bags.
The well for the houses and the "bucket" that was used to get water.
On our way out of town we purchased cement, food and water. I drove with Abera and Mulgeta in the cab and Gemechu, Jamal and Sultan in the back with the pump, cinder blocks and cement. We had a full load.  The ride was uneventful until we reached the farm turnoff.  Negeso called and told us not to even try and drive in.  I wasn’t looking forward to carrying my bags, and everything else for 2 miles.  I asked Abera and he said maybe Jesus will help us.  I was glad that I was driving because I have had a lot more experience with mud. I kept my speed up which meant we bounced through a few places.  There were a couple of scary places where we almost got stuck but in the end we made it through. Abera was right Jesus helped us through.
The new pump being installed for the well.
Abera and Sultan went right to work on the well while Mulgeta, Gemechu, Negeso, Nuritu, Jamal and I gave PGF shots to the Boran cows. We expect them to come into heat within 2 to 5 days and Mulgeta and I will breed them. Towards the end it started raining hard. Negeso jumped in to hold an umbrella over me until Jamal made it with a rain coat. By the time we finished a little while later the rain had slowed down to a drizzle. On the way over we stopped and looked at our water trough problem. Sultan had made a nice rock wall dam so when he finishes the trough should work alright.

We went back and helped with the well.  A couple of times they tried to have me go eat.  I wasn’t sure whether they were concerned with my welfare or wanted to get rid of me.  There were a few times that I caught some major mistakes before they had gone too far.  I think that we will have some amazed people when we try it out tomorrow.

Once they were close enough to finishing that I felt comfortable leaving I went and walked through the cows and cut thistles that were going to seed.  We have a really bad thistle problem here and I am just barely getting the crew to understand it.  I headed back to the house and had a late lunch of tuna on crackers and a smashed banana sandwich.  The bananas bounced around a little too much in the truck.  Abera didn’t like the tuna at all so he had avocado instead.

After eating we tried to get the tractor started but the batteries were dead again.  Apparently the shut off switch doesn’t work. The tractor is only about six months old but between its use on the Alyssa farm and going to get repaired in Nazaret it looks like it has had many years of use.

Mulgeta’s vegetable garden looks very good.  We harvested the beets and will take chard and lettuce with us to the market tomorrow.  I ate some peas, beans, cilantro and carrots.  None of them were ready to harvest but I wasn’t going to wait any longer to try them.  We also have a small yellow squash growing and will soon have tomatoes, onions, and corn.  I didn’t think about it until now but I probably should have cleared the seeds through customs. Oh well I guess the worst that could happen is some edible vegetables could grow wild in Ethiopia. It is 7:00 and almost dark so I will sign off since we don’t have electricity here yet.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Extemporaneous Talk at the Awasa Branch of the Church


July 25th, 2010 Awasa-Shashamene

The sore on my face is completely healed except that the skin is still red in the area where it was and there is a small pimple like thing in the middle.  I hope that it is just a pimple.  Being in a developing country can be disturbing when strange health issues arise. There are a lot more illnesses and the medical care is very limited and somewhat primitive.

When I first got to my hotel yesterday I pulled back the covers and sprayed my bed with bed bug spray.  I laid down on top of the bed and took a short nap.  I think that there must have been bugs on top of the bed because I had three bites right at my waistline when I got up.  I sprayed the top of the bed and my clothes then took a shower.  I think that solved the problem because I didn't get any bites last night or today when I took a nap.  As a bonus there were no mosquitoes in my room so I slept solid all night long and felt great when I woke up.

It rained hard most of the morning. Everything was wet and many of the streets were flowing with water.  When Abera and I arrived at church the branch President told me that his speakers hadn't arrived and asked if I would talk.  I agreed and quickly put together a talk about remembering our Savior and obeying His will so that we can have joy and happiness in this life.
The other speakers showed up later in the meeting and gave their talks also. They spoke in Amharic so I had to try and feel their message.

They now have full time missionaries in Awasa so I introduced them to Abera.  I think the rain had dampened their spirits and clouded their eyes because they didn’t see the golden contact in front of them.  Abera not only reads the Book of Mormon but has been teaching some of his friends about it.  Last week he asked me where he could get five Books of Mormon for his friends. After the meetings I did suggest to one of the missionaries that they might want to teach him and his family.  He said “Oh yeah I need to get his phone number”.  I think that they will be pleasantly surprised.  On the way home Abera pointed out where one of his friends in Awasa lives and said that she was going to come to church next week.

I had a migraine coming on by the time that we got back to the hotel so I ate, took some Excedrin, listened to Truman Madsen and took a nap.  I felt better when I awoke but I have fought with a slight headache all afternoon.  I felt like I should start writing my philosophy about Ethiopia so I entitled it “The Enigma of Ethiopia”.  So far I have five pages of ramblings that will need a good editor to straighten them out but at least it is now in words.

I am not sure what it was about today but in the 20 km drive from Awasa I saw four guys urinating at the side of the road.  It is not uncommon for me to see one or two especially if it is a longer drive but four in such a short drive was uncommon. The closest that these guys get to being discreet is that they usually turn their backs to the road.  They don’t seem to care that there are dozens of people that can see them.  Yesterday I saw a man defecating just off the road.  He didn't even try to go behind one of the nearby trees. It is really disgusting and brings a whole new meaning to public bathrooms.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Driving a trailer with a big tank through the Ethiopian Countryside


July 24th, 2010 Addis-Shashamene

Abera and I awoke at 4:00 am this morning, hooked up the trailer to the truck and headed out of Addis.  We were pulling a 15 foot trailer which is unheard of in Ethiopia.  I have only seen one 5th wheel trailer my whole time in Ethiopia.  On the trailer we had an eight foot diameter 12 foot long plastic water tank. It looked funny with our little truck pulling such a big tank.  After the tank was loaded on the trailer yesterday Mogas, our transportation director was worried that we couldn’t drive with it and suggested that we just let him line up a big truck to haul it to Kokosa (probably cost 4000 ETB or $300).  I told him that we would be fine.
The new water tank for Kokosa. We hauled it from Addis on this small trailer.
It only sprinkled on us a little bit a couple of times so the roads were really good.  We didn’t have any problems with traffic at all.  We were pulled over by the roadside police outside of Ziway but when they saw me driving they waved us through.  Teddy calls this “Farenge pass” or foreigner pass.  Abera said that if he would have been driving they would have asked him all sorts of questions.  We had prayed for safety and protection before we left and we felt that we were blessed. We only stopped a couple of times to adjust the ropes holding the tank on. We left the tank in Kersa Illala near the orchard complex.

Abera and I stopped at six different plumbing/hardware shops in Shashamene to find a one inch pvc pipe coupler.  None of them had it. One shop had a fancy coupler but they wanted 85 ETB ($6.50) for it so we passed.  I may have to resort to duct tape.

We stopped in at the Shalom juice bar and I bought us fresh mango juice.  It supplemented our breakfast of bombolinos, donut shaped scones.  Abera dropped me off at the Lilly Valley hotel.  I spent the day doing office work and catching up on some needed rest.

This evening I had a really good talk with Erika and our future. Sometimes I feel bad about the hard things I have to do but then I look around and don’t feel as bad.  I have been listening to the biography of John Adams and have been amazed at what he and the other founding fathers of our country went through so that we could have what we now have.  My challenges are nothing compared to what they had to go through.

Friday, July 23, 2010


July 23rd, 2010 Addis

Abera and I went to Selam Manufacturing which is an extension of Selam Children’s Village.  The Village is an orphanage of about 400 children. As the children enter high school they take academic tests if they pass they can continue with their education if they do not they have to go to work.  The manufacturing center is set up like a vocational school where the students are taught skills such as welding, wood working, masonry, etc.  This gives the nonacademic students a chance to better themselves. The school sells the products that the students make to help fund the school.

We purchased a hand crank water pump to use with our wells at Kokosa. The pump is very simple yet very effective and inexpensive, 2000 birr ($150) for everything including the pipe.  I am excited to try it out.
The pump that Abera and I purchased for the Kokosa property

This is a water pump that uses an old differential to transfer the power from  an ox or a donkey walking around to a six cylinder water pump
I went to lunch today with a group that Mike and Julie Rhodes brought on an expedition.  Two of the young men did Eagle projects as part of their trip.  It was fun talking with them about their experiences and remembering my first visit to Ethiopia.  They had been discussing how they were going to explain the experience to their friends and family.  The one word that they came up with was unbelievable.  I agree.

This afternoon Abera, Tsehay and I ripped through the pro forma budget that I had set up.  It is really nice to have three strong opinions that come from opposite sides of the dairy business.  The pro forma is now much better than what it was to begin with.

Abera and I loaded up the pickup truck to go to Kokosa.  We have the water pump and the semen tank in the truck and a very large water tank on a trailer that we are pulling.  We are going to leave at 4:00 am so that we don’t have to try and maneuver a trailer around in the Ethiopian traffic.


Thanks to Joshua’s scouting requirement I have been exercising almost every day.  It really helps me get going in the morning and I am seeing some improvement in my physical condition. I do stretching, pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and I try and walk some every day.

When I called home on Skype I was serenaded by Erika and the girls singing a barbershop version of Lollipop. They are really good and I love to hear them sing.  We read from Helaman chapter five this morning.  I noticed that in verse twelve it says that “when” not “if” the devil sends forth his … “challenges” we need to be prepared by having a firm foundation in Christ.  I am grateful for my faith in Christ because I have had some big challenges here that could have really discouraged me to the point of not trying anymore. The power of the Lord can and does lift us and carry us through those hard times.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Office and the Orthodox Church


July 22nd, 2010 Addis

The last couple of nights I have been tortured by mosquitoes buzzing in my ears. Night before last I arose twice and killed two blood laden mosquitoes before I could sleep restfully.  Last night I couldn’t find the culprit(s) but they returned as soon as the lights were off and I was snug in bed. I pulled the pillow over my head and tried to just ignore them.  You would think with the mosquito repellent that I had on that they would leave me alone. On the bright side the sore on my nose and face has almost completely healed.  I don’t have any idea what it was but I am very grateful that it is gone.
The Orthodox Church Compound across from the office. The building closest to us is the dormitory . The three large domes are on the Cathedral itself. They have the humongous speakers that blar the prayer chants. To the right you can see the round water container that provides water to the dorms. 
The company is moved into the new office building across the street from the Orthodox Church so we get to be serenaded. I haven’t figured out what the schedule is but it seems to be at least once every day for several hours. The first couple of days in here we were short chairs so if you didn’t get here early you had to go search for a chair.  Apparently the staff has been jockeying for office position and has about driven Paul crazy with their requests. There has been some moving around of personnel. I have been in the conference room most of the time but now have been moved into the room that will have work stations for the people that travel from outside Addis to use. They brought in a bunch of chairs today so I think everybody has a chair and some offices now have chairs for visitors also.

The office looks alright by US standards but is probably the best that I have seen in all of Ethiopia including the government offices which are some of the best. The staff is very excited about it after being cramped into Paul’s house or in the outside offices for several months.  There are a few interesting things about it.  For example the stalls of the bathrooms on the top floor are against the back wall and there is a large window that sits right between the men’s and women’s bathrooms. So in one stall of the men’s and one of the women’s there is half a window. There are about three inches open between the wall and the window so two people, one in each stall, could easily touch each other. Sound also carries very nicely from one side to the other. The bathrooms are very nice but like all washing places in Ethiopia there are no towels or blowers to dry your hands. There are two towel racks so maybe eventually they will have something.

Paul took me to lunch today at the Beer Garden Restaurant. It is a German Restaurant so we had spritzle, bratwurst, and sauerkraut. The food was very good much different than anything that I have had in Ethiopia.  I made a Spanish tortilla for breakfast so I have had an international food day. I finished the day off with ramen noodles, tomatoes and a banana.

We didn't have rain all day today in fact the sun came out and it warmed up.  Tonight we are getting dumped on again.  It is pounding so loudly on the roof I can’t even hear myself think.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dr. Fitzhugh at the Ethiopian Veteranarian Association meetings


July 20th, & 21st 2010 Addis

This is the rainy season of Ethiopia.  It rains several times each day and night.  Many times I am woken up at night by the rain pounding on the roof. The heavy rains help to keep the air clean and fresh.  When it is not raining every day the black diesel smoke from all of the trucks soon makes a brown haze all around Addis. The downside to the rain is that everything is muddy. Most of the areas that we go around here are either paved of have sidewalk so it is not a big problem but I have seen deep mud and stuck vehicles because of the weather.

This morning Tsehay and I went to the Ethiopian Veterinary Association’s annual meeting. We meet Dr. Fitzhugh and Belachew at the gate of the African Union complex where the meetings were held. They are working on a USAID project to standardize the regulations for slaughtering and exporting meat. Dr. Fitzhugh has been working in Ethiopia for about 30 years.  He and Tsehay know each other very well from working on similar projects.  I was also able to meet several of the staff members from ATARC, DZARC and HARC. 

As we walked into the conference center we saw Dr. Abera, the Minister of Agriculture, and his party off to the side.  We went over and said hello then followed them into the conference hall. Most of the seats were full so I just followed Tsehay who followed the group and we ended up sitting directly behind Dr. Abera and Dr Birhanu, the President of the EVA.  It was a little uncomfortable for me to sit there but I consoled myself by thinking that it would probably give credibility to our project and may open doors later on down the line.

Tsehay and I spent yesterday and today formulating a new plan for the Kokosa property and the dairy initiative.  In a nutshell our plan has three phases: 1-build a small simple dairy in Kokosa this year, 2- build a larger modern dairy near Addis in a year or two, and 3- develop a support industry for the Ethiopian dairies in two to three years.  Paul liked the first and third initiatives but was hesitant on the second until we have more experience in the dairy industry in Ethiopia.  I feel much more comfortable with this plan.  It will still challenge us but it won’t be such a huge financial drain to start with.

I bought some roasted corn on the cob for 2 birr ($.15).  Either corn is more expensive here in Addis or I got the farenge (foreigner) discount of twice the price.  The corn is more comparable to our field corn not as tender as our typical sweet corn but it is still good.  I bought a kilo of oranges, bananas, tomatoes and half a kilo of onions for 32 birr ($2.35).  For the most part the produce here doesn't look as nice as the produce in the US but with few exceptions it tastes much better.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Strategic Planning


July 19th, 2010

I am over the jet lag now and able to function normally again.  I slept well but was awakened by the chanting coming from the Orthodox Church loudspeakers.  Today they started at 5:00 am.  I guess one of these day I will just be able to tune it out completely.

Tsehay and I with Dr Haven Hendricks

I worked with Tsehay this morning putting together a presentation for Paul on the projects in Kersa and Kokosa.  It is amazing to see what has been accomplished this last year.
The presentation went well now we just need to put together our plan for the future.  I know that this office work is important to the project but it wears me out. I need to do some physical work for a change.

Today I had Spartan meals: a bombolino (unsweetened donut) with peanut butter and jelly for breakfast, Spanish rice for lunch and fried potatoes with a tomato for supper. I just don’t have a big appetite here in Ethiopia most of the time.

This afternoon I looked up the morrellagro.com website.  I was really impressed with how much detail there is.  I was embarrassed that there is so much about me and my projects but it was uplifting to think about all that has been accomplished in less than a year.

The power went out just as I was finishing preparing my meal tonight so I ate by the light of my computer screen.  I worked on our home budget and just got it emailed to Erika as my computer battery died.  I guess I will go to bed a little early tonight.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday teaching and challenges in Ethiopia


July 18th, 2010

Marty and Nate arrived late last night a full day late.  They had mechanical problems on two of their planes so the delays set them back two days. It is a long trip even without having problems like that.

Yesterday the skin around my left nostril started feeling sore so I put some antibiotic cream on it.  This morning there was an area about as big as a nickel that was covered in a crusty yellow layer.  I cleaned it off and the skin was raw and tender underneath.  I put an anti-fungal cream on it hoping that it might help.  By the time I arrived home late this afternoon the serum that seeped out had mixed with the cream and dried into a crusty yellow layer again.  I cleaned it off again and put more antibiotic cream on it.  I hope that it isn't anything serious.
A weird facial rash that oozed serum for several days. Kind of spooky in a developing country.

Brother Jackson had asked me to teach Sunday school last week so I had prepared the lesson on Joshua.  It has good application for my life right now.  Joshua had a great task placed before him but the Lord committed to be with him and gave him the steps to stay strong.  I find that I have a lot more faith when I study the scriptures and work hard to keep the commandments.

The branch had three more baptisms today but their attendance is dropping from what I can see.  I think that many members come hoping for money or a job and leave when they don’t find it.  It reminds me of some of the 5000 people that Jesus fed that left when the going got tough.

I spent the afternoon with the O'Crowlys.  We went to a party for the branch president of the other branch.  They recently had a baby and were having a celebration.  It was my first Ethiopian food of this trip. I have been doing most of my own cooking and the times that I have eaten out have been in western style places.  

After the party we went to the O'Crowlys home and discussed the challenges and opportunities of working in Ethiopia.  They are a wonderful couple and are doing so much good here. They have experienced firsthand how many problems arise when people are given handouts.  In many cases they have to help the people see that it is important for them to work for what they receive.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Chant That Wakes Me in the Morning


July 17th, 2010

I discovered part of the reason that I was so drained yesterday.  As I was preparing for bed I was hit with a bad case of diarrhea.  It kept me up for several hours and left me very weak.  


This morning the Orthodox church across the road stared with their prayer over the loud speaker at 6:00 and went for two hours.  I really needed to rest but couldn’t.  

I talked with Clair for a while as he was packing to fly to Beltu then turned on my computer to see if my family was still awake.  I had a good chat with Erika which helped me feel much better.

Friday, July 16, 2010


July 16th, 2010

Abera and I left for Addis this morning at 6:00 am to get to our meeting at 10:00. The four hour drive gave us plenty of time to discuss our plans for Kokosa. We stopped in Mojo to by some bombolinos, a fried bread shaped like a donut, for breakfast.
Research plots at the VOH compound near Kersa Illala

We spent the day updating Tsehay on the projects in Kersa Illala and Kokosa.  She has joined the company from her position as a dairy advisor with Land O’ Lakes, a USAID project that taught dairymen how to improve production.  She will be helping all of the operations with data collection and analysis to help us use the best practices.  She will be very helpful to get the dairy going.

We spent several hours discussing the ownership situation of the Kokosa property.  The land was leased to us over a year ago but the buildings have to be purchased separately.  The original land agreement was for 357 hectares but when the contract was written up the scribe wrote 247 hectares.  In trying to resolve the issue we used GPS to estimate the farm size and came up with about 450 hectares. (Once we calculated all of the indentations and crooked border lines by walking the entire border with the GPS, we came up with about 350 hectares.)  The regional officials came and estimated that it was over 1000 hectares.  Now we are trying to determine the correct way to resolve this issue and which level of government we have to work with. Once the land issue is resolved then we can work on purchasing the buildings.  Part of the struggle is just learning how the government operates.

I am feeling the effects of a long hard week.  It has been hard for me to stay focused and excited about this administration work when I am so tired, especially when the conversation drifts to the Amharic language and I only pick up bits and pieces of the discussion.

This evening Paul took a group of us to Avanti, an Italian restaurant that has good quality food. Many of the Beltu farm staff were there so he gave them a pep talk.  Paul is such a good leader.  He has a way of calmly and directly showing others his vision in such a way that it inspires you to reach farther, work harder and get better results.  He is just an ordinary man with struggles like the rest of us but he is accomplishing extraordinary results in impossible circumstances.  This work is incredibly difficult but very rewarding.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Progress and Disappointment With the Cattle and the Vegetable Garden

Abera and I left for Kokosa with an omelet in hand that Almus and Larry had prepared for us.  We picked up Gemechu in Edo and met everyone else in Kokosa. After unpacking the supplies we went to check the cows. As I suspected and feared we only had one pregnancy from the embryos that we put in last time.  This pregnancy and the one at Holeta came from embryos that I had left at Holeta in January.  It appears that all of the embryos that were in our tanks in Addis between January and the end of March were killed.  I suspect that somehow water got inside the tank and caused the problem.  The liquid nitrogen was low in the shipper tank and almost completely gone in the other one.  It just makes me sick to think of all the time and money that was wasted because of someone’s thoughtless act.  They probably didn’t even realize they were doing something wrong.
MAI Kokosa management team in front of the improved cattle handling facilities

Checking all of the cows went incredibly fast compared to when we first started the project.  They had constructed a new corral and chute that made things much easier and put the workers underneath a shed.  I was so happy that I had them get in front of it so that I could take a picture. I think that we processed all 115 head in less than two hours. The first time that we did 90 head it took us two days.
Beautiful but non functional water trough. Water runs down hill!

I walked around the farm to see the progress that had been made.  I was very upset when I came to the new water trough that was built below the spring.  In spite of my telling them that it worked by gravity and that the place that they had started building it was too high, they built a very nice looking water trough that is totally nonfunctional.  The trough itself was built up on a base making it higher than the spring.  Mulgeta got the brunt of my frustration but Abera got there in time to feel some heat too. He apologized and took responsibility but explained that he had told the contractor the right way to build it but the contractor had not listened.  Mulgeta suggested that we dam up the spring and raise the water level so that it could flow into the trough.  I said that I thought it would work.  He said that they would try it. I just replaced the pipe and stated making it myself.  That caught them all off guard but several others soon joined in to help. We built a two foot high dam from sod and soon had the water flowing into the trough.  They will have to fine tune our work but we were able to see that it will work.
Abera hand plowing the field
I was pleased to see that they had plowed about 2 acres.  When I asked them about the tractor they told me that it had been plowed by hand.  Even though the tractor had been there for a couple of weeks no one knew how to use it so they hired laborers to plow the land by hand.  I took them to the tractor to teach them how to use it but the battery was dead so we will have to do the training next week.

Mulgeta has worked hard on this vegetable garden and it is doing very well
Lettuce
Swiss Chard and Beets

Carrots
The vegetable garden looks very good.  They weren’t sure what to do with the radishes so they let them grow. Some of the plants are standing over five feet tall. Carrots, beets, swiss chard, lettuce, peas, pumpkins, tomatoes, beans, onions and cilantro are all doing well.  The corn was hurt by the snow that fell. I guess it does snow in Kokosa. It did not freeze but was cold enough to stunt the corn. It is incredible how well everything is growing.  It would be so easy for the villagers to grow very good vegetables with very little work.

I had a good planning meeting with our management staff then did performance reviews with all of them. I am pleased with the work that they are doing but we have a long way to go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Embryo Transfer Calves and Alfalfa

Teddy picked me up just after 6:00 this morning. He loaded my five bags into the car while I was packing up my computer.  I was trying to download emails but the internet was so slow that none of them came through even after 45 minutes of being connected.  
It had rained heavily during the night and was still drizzling. I noticed a small towel on my seat when I climbed in the car and soon realized why it was there as the drops came down from the top of the windshield onto my lap.  I spent the next hour either wiping the drips off before they fell or feeling them hit my legs.  My sleep had been restless the night before so I was very close to sleeping in the car on the drive but forced myself to stay awake so my body will learn the difference between night and day.

Abera met us at ATARC and I sent Teddy back to Addis.  I really like riding with him.  He asked when Erika was going to come over so that he could meet her. I told him maybe next spring.

Holstein X Jersey heifer calves born to Boran cows. Utah genetics in Ethiopia.

The crew at ATARC was ready and waiting for us. We quickly ran the cows through checking them one at a time.  My worst fears were confirmed, not one of the 24 embryos recipients was pregnant.  Tomorrow I will check the ones in Kokosa. On the bright side all five of our calves from the first implantation are doing fine.  They were all born without assistance even though their surrogate mothers and half the weight of their genetic mothers. They are now 2 months old so I dehorned them.  

Alfalfa growing at the MAI test plot in Kersa Illala, Ethiopia

Abera and I checked on the alfalfa at the school farm. The magnum is doing well but the other varieties are struggling.  We stopped at the VOH to check on the milk cow and say hello to Mambrat and the children.  They will all be going to homes soon and the VOH will be closed for good. Everyone was sad.

Abera and I spent the afternoon going over performance appraisals.  We have some good ideas for going forward with our team.  I was happy to go over Abera’s with him.  It is nice to spend most of your time pointing out all the good that the employees accomplishes and not have much correction to do.  When we finished I asked him if he had any comments or questions and he said that he enjoyed working with me.  He said that he has worked with many "Farenge" and has learned a lot from them but that I teach differently more like a father would teach his son.  He said he was grateful that I not only taught him that way but all the others that we associated with.  I appreciated such a sincere complement.  I told him that I felt that now was the time that the Lord wanted to bless the Ethiopian people and that He only waited for them to reach out to accept it.  I told him that he was one that was reaching out and the Lord would bless him and his family.

This evening I was finally able to get a good enough internet connection to Skype with Erika.  It was so good to talk with her even though much of our conversation centered around challenges that we would have to deal with.  She is a great companion!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Water Pumps at Selam Children's Village

Last night I woke up a few times in the early hours of the morning but I was able to get to sleep again.  I have felt tired all day but not enough to interfere with my work, (jetlag).  I spent the first couple of hours finalizing performance reviews and doing other office work.
A water pump that is powered by feet. You get a work out and water at the same time.

At 11:30 I went with Elder O'Crowley to Selam Children’s Village.  It was set up 25 years ago by a Swiss family to help orphaned children.  They house 450 orphans and train many more children in academics and vocational trades.  They serve a five course meal for about 45 ETB ($3.30) which is to help the students learn how to prepare and serve a western style meal. The food was actually very good.  After the meal we walked around the compound where they have a large garden and several greenhouses, rabbits, and a 30 cow dairy.  It was very impressive to see all that they were doing.  The dairy cows are the highest producing cows that I have seen in Ethiopia.
We also drove up to the other compound, Selam Technical and Vocational Center, where they manufacture many different items from water pumps to butter churns.  I think that we will buy some of their equipment to use on the farm.
Elder O'Crowley, LDS Church humanitarian missionary looking at a simple water pump at Selam.

This evening I met with Tsehay to go over our plans for the Kokosa property and the dairy initiative.  We both agree that there needs to be some changes in the plan.  I am glad to have her as part of our team and look forward to working more with her.

As I was cooking my dinner this evening Alan and Sherry Baum came over to say hello.  They just flew in this morning and will be here until Saturday when they fly to Beltu. I arranged to have Teddy drive me to Adami Tulu tomorrow morning where I will meet with Abera and we will check our embryo recipients.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Prayer chants, Banks and Power Outages

I slept fairly well last night only waking up a few times in the early hours of the morning but I was able to get to sleep again. Jet lag can be a real problem but I have learned some techniques that help me minimize the effects. I even slept longer than I had planned in spite of the loudspeaker blaring the prayer/song/chant.  Erika called so I had prayer with the family before starting my day.  I had ramen noodles for breakfast and decided that I had better go shopping.
The Othodox Christian Church: There are large loud speakers around the compound that blare out the prayer song/chant that can be heard from several blocks away.

I spent the morning going through the new office building and being welcomed by our wonderful Ethiopian staff.  I love to see them and enjoy working so much with them.  At noon I went shopping and bought rice, eggs, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and bananas. It cost about 135 ETB ($10.00), nothing very fancy but it will keep me alive.

I took a short afternoon nap then drove with Diriba to the bank to get my money for the trip. The banking situation is very different here. The banks have armed guards that frisk you before you can go in. I have to have cash because most of the purchasing I do requires cash. After the bank, we drove back to Paul’s house where I picked up my clothing. (I leave my clothing here in a suitcase so that I can fill my suitcases with supplies for the farm and with clothes for the poor villagers). I was getting tired of wearing the same clothes that I had worn on the flight.  I was glad that I had packed an extra pair of underwear in my carryon.

The power went off for much of the day and the internet was down almost all day so I was not able to do a lot of what I wanted to do. When I first started working in Ethiopia last year, the power was almost always off every other day. They have improved their power grid substantially but long blackouts are still common. New hydroelectric projects will give Ethiopia enough power for her needs and some to sell. The blackout helped me to appreciate the constant power that we have in the US. Even if we have bad weather that knocks the power out, it is usually back on within a few hours. The outage also curtailed my conversations with my family.  I was able to send a few texts back and forth with Erika.

I am anxious to meet with my team and push this project on faster.  We have a long way to go and a hard road to traverse but the Lord is pushing us along so we will make it. Ethiopia can feed her people if the people are taught correct principles and allowed the freedom to implement them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Flying to Ethiopia for the 5th time, July 9th,2010

July 9-11th, 2010

I arose early and was glad to have everything packed. Joseph was already dressed and ready to go when I went out for breakfast. In the car we chatted briefly then we went over the Melchizedek Priesthood preparation lessons together. I am very pleased with how prepared he is for this next big step in his life. He will be ordained an Elder in August. I told him that I was sorry that I would miss the sustaining at Stake Priesthood Meeting but that I would be home to do the ordination in August. My heart melts with joy and gratitude as I see the tremendous growth he has made in his life.

All went well with the flights to Detroit and to Frankfurt. On the flight I watched Invictus, a movie about Nelson Mandella and the South African rugby team’s fight for the World Cup. I love the poem that inspired the title and I really enjoyed the movie. I found a quiet corner of the airport and took a long nap for part of my 12 hour layover. I had a good talk with Erika on the phone and spent the last couple of hours watching the soccer match between Germany and Uruguay for 3rd place in the World Cup. It was exciting to be in Germany as they won the match.

As I was getting my seating assignment I volunteered to move up to business class if they needed me to. The man at the counter smiled and said that he would make a note of it. I was pleasantly surprised when I was called up as we were boarding and he changed me to business class. It made the flight much more pleasant especially considering that the movie they were showing was filth. I listened to my Gerald Lund story during the meals and slept the rest of the time.

I was stopped by Customs because I had more than one laptop and they wanted me to pay tax for it. The last time I had a laptop they charged me the tax for a new computer, 2000 ETB ($166). This time they saw that my computer was used and only charged me 800 ETB ($67). The Lord must have known this in April as I stuffed 800 ETB into my booklet and forgot about it when I turned in my expense reports. I was very grateful to have just enough to pay the tax instead of having to return the next day.

 Danny met me at the airport and drove me to the three bedroom house that Paul has rented near the office complex. I showered, cleaned my dress shirt and changed into my dress pants. I arrived at church early only to find that they had moved the time up one hour so I just caught the end of sacrament meeting. It was good to see so many familiar faces and disappointing to not see some. I found out later that Thadeus is serving a mini mission in Debre Zeit while he is waiting for his call. Ashuje on the other hand has not been back to church.

I slept for a couple of hours in the afternoon then forced myself to get up. I walked to Paul’s house and called Erika. We chatted for a little while before she had to go to church. Paul arrived home as we were finishing our conversation so I talked with him for about an hour. I love working with that visionary and unselfish man. I wish that I could spend more time learning from him. By the time I walked back to the house Ethiopia had shut down. It was about 9:30pm. I was ready for bed.

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