Sunday, January 15, 2017

Omo Region Day 4

We got up early again and had a quick breakfast and then off we went to see the Karo tribe.  We drove through more desert and then after about an hour we drove into the village and right to the edge of a cliff that looked down over a beautiful scene.  The Omo River with it’s brown water was flowing freely and on the other side of the river in the valley were beautiful green trees and foliage.  I could not believe what I was seeing!  We had seen nothing but desert for many miles and then this!!  I was astounded!  The Karo Tribe is one that likes to body paint.  Most of the women were painted with white and/or yellow paint made from plants around the region.  The women in this tribe also use scarification on their arms and stomach for beauty.  These women also wear colorful beads as well.

One interesting ceremony that the Karo tribe does is when a man wants to wed a woman he must pay a dowry to the woman’s parents of 127 goats and/or sheep.  After that is accepted than he must do a bull jump.  That is when eight or nine bulls are lined up and the male must jump on the backs of all of the bulls without falling to be able to marry the girl.  If he fails then he does not qualify.

                                         The Omo River and Valley in the distance

                                                    Painted girls

                                                    Below is a picture of the village chief.

                                    I love the picture of this woman overlooking the valley.

                                     An example of the men sitting on their chairs.

After visiting the Karo tribe we went back to the lodge to have a little lunch.  Then we went off to see the Dassanech Tribe.  I will not write much about this experience because it was not a good one for me.  While all of the tribes live in filthy circumstances this one to me was the worst and some things I saw made me physically ill.  The people truly had an animalistic look in their eyes!  The women and children kept pressuring to be paid to have their pictures taken and I felt hands touching and begging and I just wanted OUT of there.  Finally I broke away from our group to get out of that place.  Still the people followed and I just held onto Rick so that I could get back to the boat (Did I mention we crossed the river to get there?)  Anyway, it felt good to completely shower that night!  I will post pictures but that’s all I will write about that particular tribe.

Before I went to bed that night I saw yet another spider run across the floor (on my side) and again I was awake much of the night thinking about spiders and the awful experience that I had earlier in the day.  My thoughts turned to Heavenly Father and how I know that he loves each of his children.  I wondered if the people in these tribes volunteered as spirits to come to such a place just to gain a body?  Were they extremely righteous spirits that would automatically be saved?  Did Heavenly Father really have to choose which spirits had to come here to live?  How do you do that to someone?  These people have no idea about Heavenly Father and Truth and Jesus Christ.  Why were they chosen to be born here?  Why was I born into a loving family that has the gospel and into a land of freedom and excess and not in a Godless tribe in Ethiopia?  To be honest with you these questions did not begin with this experience in Ethiopia.  It has been brewing in my mind for many months now as I see the poverty and terrible conditions of so many that I have come to know and love in Uganda.  Why them here?  Why me in my comparative temporal affluence in the US?

As I look back and write about this experience I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to attend church today.  (It is now Sunday and our week in Ethiopia has ended)  Today in the Entebbe Ward in Gospel Essentials class we learned about “Our Heavenly Family.”  One passage stood out to me.  It says, “Our Father in Heaven knows who we are and what we did before we came here.  He has chosen the time and place for each of us to be born so we can learn the lessons we personally need and do the most good with our individual talents and personalities.”  This passage makes it clear to me that Heavenly Father is in control.  He knows each of us individually.  And while I don’t understand why things are done the way they are and what the reasoning is behind what spirits go where, that’s ok because He is in charge.  What is important is that because I have been blessed to have been born with the Gospel as a guide and light in my life, it is my responsibility to share that message of truth.  It is humbling (and even a little overwhelming) that Heavenly Father has placed me in a position to share and teach truth to other people of other lands.  It is clear to me as I think about the setting apart that Rick and I received before we came to Africa, as well as my own personal Patriarchal Blessing, that this will not be our only mission.  Rick and I have been blessed with much through the years and I believe that with those temporal blessings it is expected of us to use our means to show Heavenly Father that we are willing to serve as much as He needs us to.

I will share another thought that I had today as I was sitting in Relief Society.  In this particular branch at the beginning of RS we all stand up and recite the Relief Society Declaration (Is that what it’s called?)  It says, “We are beloved spiritual daughters of our Heavenly Father and our lives have meaning, purpose and direction.”  That one line tells me that these tribal women have meaning and purpose.  They get up in the morning to find and prepare food, to care for their children, and to have relationships and have joy with other women in the tribe.  Since they live in such harsh and primitive circumstances I think to myself, “How could these women ever be happy?”  Today I understand a little more clearly that their lives, however strange and different that they are from mine, have purpose and they are making the most of what they have been given.  

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