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Archive for June, 2009

We passed!

The health inspector just left and we passed! He made one recommendation and that was it. Apparently, we’re in the “top tier” of the places he typically inspects. Which is a bit crazy when you think of this old house. But I guess if most of the homes he inspects are primarily for foster care in Baltimore City, he probably sees some troubling things.

We worked like dogs this week and are so glad to have this behind us! Now it’s on to the fire inspection, which we hope to do in 7-10 days. We need enough time to fix the door in our bedroom which must properly latch closed and it doesn’t quite do that.

On the upside, our basement is thoroughly organized and clean, which has never happened. If it wasn’t for this inspection, we never would have done it because it was just so bloody hard and time consuming.

In another update, it appears WorldNetDaily got its facts wrong about the Ethiopian Patriarch revealing the Ark. Apparently, it was a matter of poor translation from the original article in Adnkronos and misreading the dateline (the original article was filed last week). The bottom line is, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has no plans to reveal the Ark.

I kind of wondered after noticing that no other news reports were coming out on it. This would be definitely a huge event — particularly in the world of religion, archeology and history — and if legit, would have inspired various stories.

So there you have it on this hot and humid Saturday afternoon… no Ark shown to the world, but one inspection done here in Baltimore!

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This is big news if it’s true:

WorldNetDaily reports today that the Ethiopian Patriarch has told the Pope he will reveal the Ark of the Covenant tomorrow for all to see.

Ethiopia is home to one of the oldest Christian communities who were isolated from the rest of Christendom. It has always been believed the Ark of the Covenant has rested in Ethiopia. In fact, a friend of ours traveled to Ethiopia eight years ago to write a story about the claim, and he found it to be well-substantiated. Of course, there may be many explanations, including the fact that there could be more than on Ark created way back when. But the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has maintained this claim for millennia.

Here’s the article:

The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world’s most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in his country for millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.

Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, “Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries.”

The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m.  Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D’Acosta.

“The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries,” said Pauolos. “As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now.”

According to Pauolos, the actual Ark has been kept in one church, but to defend the treasure, a copy was placed in every single church in Ethiopia.

He said a museum is being built in Axum, Ethiopia, where the Ark will be displayed. A foundation of D’Acosta will fund the project.

The Ark of the Covenant is the sacred container of the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron’s rod and a sample of manna, the mysterious food that kept the Israelites alive while wandering in the wilderness during their journey to the promised land.

The Bible says the Ark was built to the specifications of God as He spoke to Moses. It was carried in advance of the people and their army by priests. It was also carried in a seven-day procession around the walled city of Jericho.

The idea that the Ark is presently in Ethiopia is a well-documented, albeit disputed, tradition dating back to at least 642 B.C. The tradition says it was moved to Elephantine Island in Egypt, then to Tana Kirkos Island in Ethiopia and finally to its present site at St. Mary’s of Zion Church in Axum.

Ethiopians believe it is destined to be delivered to the Messiah when He reigns on Mount Zion – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 3:16 points to a time when the Ark will vanish not only physically, but from the minds of the people: “And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.”

The Book of Revelation says the Ark is in the temple of God in heaven (Rev. 11:19). Muslim scholars say it will be found near the end of times by the Mahdi – a messianic figure in Islam.

Fascinating stuff. I can’t help but wonder what the timing means. Why reveal it now? But it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. If it happens to be the true Ark — and I’m not sure how it could be proved — this is probably the most significant historic and religious finding (or “re-discovery”) to date. My husband — a history and archeology nut — will certainly be waiting with baited breath. He loves this kind of stuff.

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Procrastination

You know when you have so much to do that you don’t know where to start so you sit down and start surfing the web and writing blog posts you don’t have time for?

Yep, that’s me at this very moment.

I did have my physical today — all looks fine. They took a ton of blood, and I had a TB test, though I need to run in Friday so they can read it. We made another dump run today. And, I finally reached someone in the fire chief’s office to follow up on our request letter for an inspection which was sent a month ago. Naturally, they can’t find our letter and asked for it to be sent again.  I emailed our social worker for another one. It’s not enough to do these things one time around; you need to do them more than once, because that’s what red tape does… it keeps going. Like the Energizer Bunny.

If you’re also doing some procrastinating today, I encourage you to go over and read Sarah’s recent blog post at Much Has Been Given. Although I’ve never met Sarah, I get a lot from her posts because I can relate — she and her husband were happily married for 10 years, childless, and then adopted two little girls from Ethiopia. It’s nice to have others paving the way.

It’s a slow afternoon at work (my home office happens to be in the middle of our messy house) so I really think I need to be cleaning something right now. But first, I think a blueberry yogurt shake is in the cards…

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Countdown

Rubbermaid pins heading to the cellar...

Rubbermaid bins heading to the cellar...

We are four days from our health inspection and it still feels like there’s so much to do! Never thought I’d be so happy to see a fire extinguisher on the wall, or a lock on the basement door. We’ve been able to check off many items on our to-do lists , but it doesn’t seem to end. We almost forgot there’s a discolored patch of ceiling in the sun room– where we had a leak — that needs to be sanded, filled and painted.

The house looks like a tornado hit. We’ve made a lot of dump runs and trips to Good Will. The bright side of it all? It will sure be easier to move when the time comes. I’m just about to start a little cleaning in the cellar. That’s the spot we’re nervous about and if you could see it, you’d understand.

Unfortunately, the house trim will not be painted before the health inspector arrives. It’s possible the painter had one too many the night he told me he would come last week. When I didn’t hear from him I called, and he didn’t remember anything about our conversation. Then he said he couldn’t come until this week. But now it’s just getting too hectic with all that’s on our plates so I asked him to come next week. A newly painted house would certainly make a better first impression, but it’s not an issue the inspector will care to0 much about.

Okay, off to clean in the dungeon…

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There aren’t enough good Dads in the world. I’m blessed with one that I love very much, and who I’ve come to appreciate more and more with each passing year.

There’s a lot I could say about my Dad. Not just because he’s my father, but because he’s really one of a kind. I jokingly call him a mad scientist because he’s always studying or experimenting with something that seems a bit crazy, but just might turn out to be awarded a Nobel Prize someday. Next to the work he does , his idea of fun is reading quantum physics at 6:00AM . After that comes fishing, followed by some really good whiskey and maybe a game of cribbage .

My father knew at a young age he wanted to help people as a doctor and that’s just what he’s done ever since. I’ve always found such security in being able to call him 24-7 with health-related questions. Like the time I was in Italy and gave myself heart palpitations because like a dumb-ass I let my friends talk me into climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence. Since I have a phobia of heights, this was a very bad idea. The prolonged panic attacks I suffered while stuck in that dome for what seemed like an eternity left  me with weird heartbeats for three days. Thankfully, I could skip the Italian hospitals and call my Dad who reassured me from across the ocean that I wasn’t going to die.

My Dad is a talented healer and views medicine as an art, not just a science. He’s inventive, unconventional, always in search of knowledge, and upbeat. He’s got a silly side, he’s unpretentious, he loves the outdoors, and he’s tough as nails. I remember going ice fishing with him… I wore about five layers and a snowsuit,  with a scarf around my face. He had an open light-weight coat, his shirt was open, and no gloves. He didn’t bat an eye.

Dad is never bored and he loves life. I’m grateful he’s passed this quality on to me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m doubly blessed with a terrific father-in-law. He treats me like the daughter he never had. He is kind and generous, loving and warm. I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

Happy Father’s Day to them — and to all the Dad’s out there!

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A street in the city of Harar, Ethiopia

A street in the city of Harar, Ethiopia

Ethiopia has been experiencing terrible electricity outages. It’s fairly common, but it’s become pretty dire. The big reason is the shortage of rain. Electricity there is mainly generated by dams, which operate on water power. When there’s not enough to go around, the government rations it. Here’s a first-hand report of the difficulties of daily life right now from a mother of four and staff member of another adoption agency (AAI):

Back in February everyone was very annoyed with the rationing but as it continues, annoyance is a very minor issue. We went from losing power for 8 hours twice a week, to 12 hours then to 16 hours every two days. As of this week it is now 24 hours every second day. This is no longer simply an annoyance, but a catastrophe for the economy and for many people. And it is not over. Rumors around town are suggesting it will be as high as 48 hours of no power and 12 hours with.

Losing power in your home is no fun, especially when you are used to the luxuries of life, like hot water in the house, a fridge and washing machine. Without power those of us with the luxuries are reminded of what the majority of Ethiopians live without every day. This does not make it any easier of course. Planning meals is harder, shopping for groceries because a daily job and even taking hot showers (especially with a large family) becomes a job of scheduling.

But the impact on the country is so much bigger. There are many small business that operate in Addis Ababa and throughout the cities where that small business provides the income for the owner and/or employees and supports a large household. Income is shared within families as unemployment is high. As power rationing continues, business close down and more people will lose their jobs, with little prospect of another one.

Small business like coffee shops, translation offices, secretarial services and so many more are dependent on power to operate and on days without power they cannot work, which is a big loss for a business that needs to bring in a specific amount of income to stay operational.

Larger business like restaurant suffer greatly too of course. A lot more time and effort is needed to prepare food and keep it fresh and many need to spend money on purchasing generators.
Government offices, banks and others also suffer great slowdowns with the power cuts. The work of one week is forced into a few days and people wait longer for things that otherwise take only a few hours.

Large factories, which provide needed items for the society, or sent products for export, and bring in the needed foreign currency, are struggling to stay operational and every day you read in the papers of another one shut down. Without sufficient power the large machines cannot operate and many hours of work are lost when the power is shut off. The government is even requiring some factories to purchase generators for their power needs or to be cut off completely.

Specific factories are currently still exempt from the rationing, such as Pharmaceutical factories, but if the power shortage continues even they will need to be included in the rationing, forcing them to become dependent on generator power in order to keep the power properly regulated.

From mid to late June until the of September is when Ethiopia has its large rains. It is the “Krempt” season. Over the past few years the rains have come as early as late May, but so far this year there have been only a few showers here and there. Rain is very much needed and once the rainy season it is fully underway the power issue will be alleviated.

Of course rain for power is not the only issue. Ethiopia has faced drought many many times in the past and if this years’ rainy season is late, there will be many other problems besides the issue of power rationing.

We can only hope and pray that the rains will come very quickly and life can return to normal.

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At the coffee shop

Today I was sitting in our neighborhood cafe — a place I often work from for a change of scenery — when I noticed an adorable little girl.

I immediately thought she must be Ethiopian — she looked so much like a little Ethiopian girl. I figured if I saw who she belonged to, it might give me more clues, and it did… her mom was Caucasian and kind of looked like an adoptive mom… (whatever that means). I knew it was the mom because the little girl — who looked about two — was calling her “mama.”

I soooo wanted to be nosy, but  at the same time didn’t want to be one of those people I complain about who stares and asks questions that are none of their business. But when they sat with friends at a table right beside mine, my curiosity got the better of me — especially after the little girl wandered over to hand me a random flier she found.

“Your daughter wouldn’t happen to have been born in Ethiopia…?” I asked.

Sure enough she was. And then I recognized the mom’s voice — it was the same woman I’d spoken to by phone about two months ago, just before she left for Ethiopia to pick up her daughter. I had called her to discuss home inspections here in Baltimore to get some idea of what to expect. (Unfortunately, she had her’s in NYC where they are not insane about inspections.)

I’ve been thinking of them all ever since, wanting to know how everything went, but I lost their number so I just kept hoping we’d bump into each other one of these days. It was cool to finally do that, and to hear about the trip to Ethiopia, and to see this little girl flourishing.

Things like this cause little bursts of excitement, which is particularly great when you’re bogged down in to-do lists for *&^%$#@! upcoming home inspections!

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