“You! You!”

18 Sep

Foreinge, Foreinge!”  Rhymes with syringe.  Like when you go to the dentist.  It means, “foreigner.”  It is about as much fun to hear as, “Open wide, this won’t hurt me a bit.”  It is really not hard to realize that there is still, after two plus years, an obvious difference, in our appearance, from 98 percent of the people we meet here in Ethiopia.  Many days we do not see another white face, but everyday we are seen…and noticed.  “Birr! Birr! Money! Money!”  Everyday, it is the consistent herald as we attempt to walk anywhere in public.  Everyday that is, except Sunday,…but only if we go straight to church and come straight home.  If we are stopped in traffic at a red light.  If we go to the post office,  grocery store, or bank.  Even if we get out of our car to let ourselves into our compound when the guards are not there.  Everyday. “Open wide, this won’t hurt me a bit.”  Is it a natural human reaction to want to avoid those things that are irritating?  Or is it better to just retort back with humorous sarcasm something like, “You’re kidding, when I shaved this morning my face was black.  What happened!”

Birr! Birr!”  These remarks are not said to non-whites, yet there is nothing even remotely racial in the utterance.  Rather it is an uneducated, slightly disrespectful, or undisciplined habit of mostly young people.  “You! You!” means that I have just noticed that you are different from me and I would like to get your attention so you will notice me and that I am different from you.  Same for the, “Foreinge, Foreinge!”  The opposite word is habesha.  On one occasion when I was called foreinge, I responded with, “Endea! Nech habesha neng!”  (Are you kidding, I am a white Ethiopian.)  Once he closed his dropped-open mouth, he forgot to follow with, “Money! Money!”

You! You!”  Even minor irritations like a drop of water falling on your forehead, done with repetitive monotony can become a major distraction,a downright aggravation, or even torturous.  Avoidance therapy does not really work all that well.  Complete isolation, for aggravation’s sake, from the people we desire to serve does not share hope with hearts.  But the temptation is there and if we succumb, our house turns into a self-imposed prison.

Aggravation avoidance… “You! You!”…for me.  Drip…Drip…Drip…

What is it for you-you?

3 Responses to ““You! You!””

  1. Carrie Schmit September 20, 2013 at 5:26 am #

    I really enjoy reading your posts and today I felt as though you must have known what I was feeling or experiencing and your writing was perfect to remind me that I cannot fall to the temptation of hiding from those we came to serve. Keep up the good work! Thanks for always taking the time to write and post… Many times it has encouraged me to press on in what God has called us to do in Honduras. May God continue to bless you both!

    • Allen & Susan September 20, 2013 at 6:14 am #

      Many times I have been ready to quit the blog, and then God inspires just the right person to send some encouragement. The Holy Spirit says through their words, “You can push on, come on I will help.” Thanks for being the right person today.

  2. familyrenewalethiopia September 24, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    We are very sorry Allen & Susan and we are sharing your feeling, this is the reality in our country because of a lot of reasons like illiteracy(which is respect others …and so forth) poverty…
    Any way it is difficult to avoid this kind of social problem in short term so our advice is just expect it and have consideration for everything. We are very sorry on behalf of our culture.

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