I have been trying to find a way to pay tribute to our friend, Biruk so I'm going to do it through these photos and stories.
Katie, De and Blake met him when they were working in Korah previously. He was there with another American friend, helping her. They all began hanging out and became fast friends. You may remember that I mentioned a guy who took a punch from a shop owner in Addis for Katie and De? That was Biruk. Biruk was helping them with a purchase and told them not to buy their items from this particular shop owner because he was ripping them off. When they walked away the man punched Biruk. Poor guy! We've been Facebook friends since then.
We knew when we went that Biruk was planning on spending as much time as possible with us Ferengy's (American's). He met us with the wonderful Korah welcome committee at the airport and literally almost never left our sides until we had to go into the airport to leave. He went home a couple times for things and stayed behind when we went for 2 days to Hossana but otherwise he was with us. Katie and De had a bunkbed in their room at the guest home where he stayed. We LOVED every minute with this kid!
In the picture above, he is interpreting for me at the Korah clinic. He is an incredible interpreter, rivaling any adult interpreter and better than most, that we've ever had. He is intuitive and sensitive. He knows what we're thinking before we even say it. His maturity is unreal and I had a very hard time remembering that he was only 17 years old and not a peer of mine!
One time he let his age show.
At the clinic in Korah, you will remember that my job was triage nurse. All the patients who were seen first came to me or the other nurse, Janet. We took down their names and their medical complaint. You can imagine the types of medical problems these people had...everything under the sun. Well, I am a nurse and a mother so not much flusters me.
The other thing you need to know about Ethiopia is that youth is not respected. If you are a young person, older people look down on you.
Ok, so here we are. I am heavily relying on Biruk for his interpreting skills and these mostly older people need to respect him enough to relate their personal medical concerns to him...a 17 year old boy.
It went very, very well...overall. I have to be a little blunt here to tell this story so I hope this doesn't make you blush too much.
Here's a little overview of the more sensitive cases:
Biruk: "She is having trouble with her breast..."
Biruk: "Her menstrual cycle keeps going...it never stops."
Women lifted their shirts. Boys pulled down their pants. We saw it all and all the while, Biruk was completely unfazed...a true professional. I was impressed! I don't know any other 17 year old boy who could conduct himself like Biruk.
One of the days was particularly long and exhausting and we both were feeling it.
Toward the end of the day, a mother came through with a son of about 9, although he looked 6. Biruk proceeded to ask her what kind of problem he was having. After listening intently, he leaned in close to me and said, "He is having a problem with his butt hole."
Me: "Ok, what kind of problem?"
Biruk: "Something is coming out of his butt hole."
Me: "Is it a worm?"
(Don't forget where we are, ok?)
Biruk: "No it's not a worm. It's more like," he then makes a gesture with his hands like something being squeezed through his tight fingers and says, "it's more like meat!"
I totally understood what he was trying to tell me but by this time it was all he could do to hold in his laughter! He kept saying quietly, "He's having trouble with his BUTT HOLE!" This would bring more snickers and I am ashamed to tell you...I couldn't hold back either! Soon, I pulled myself back together and announced my diagnosis.
The poor kid had a hemorrhoid.
Even the best translator can have trouble with a word. Here "meat=tissue."
We just had the best time that day!
This pic is outside the shelter in Korah on sheep killing day. From left to right is Goshu, Murad (both Korah church leaders), De, Katie, Biruk and Danae (she nannies for Sumer).
Biruk and Katie on their balcony. A beautiful view.
De, Katie and Biruk.
In the van.
Biruk ate like a king (as we all did) the entire time we were there. This is kitfo, a traditional Ethiopian dish that is a huge treat that they rarely get. It's raw meat mixed with spices. I warned him not to do it! Maste told us he's gotten tape worms from eating it before but Biruk wouldn't listen. Hope he's tapeworm free!
Donkey carting in Sheshemene!
I do have a small fear of hyenas and they all know that there. So whenever there was a dog present, I was told it was a hyena. This is one tame hyena who lives in Korah.
Messing around on sheep killing day!
I love this picture! Biruk did kill one of the sheep and was feeling pretty macho about it!
I have something else to tell you about Biruk. He is one of the most godly people I know. He loves Jesus and relies on God for absolutely everything. His faith is huge and can and will move mountains. God impressed on his heart when he was a very young boy that he'd one day be an evangelist, sharing the gospel to people who've never heard it, in places where it is not welcome.
He's been looking into schools in the U.S. He wants a theology degree and a minor in music, as he wants to use music in his ministry. He's interested in North Central University in Minneapolis. We've told him that if God provides the tuition, he can live with us. So as of now, we are praying for God to move the 'tuition mountain.' Can't wait to see what God will do!
He spent so much time with us and not in school that we all went to speak with his principal. We explained what he was doing with us and for us but the principal wanted to know what it was that we were doing for him. He was very concerned about Biruk missing school but with the promise that he'd make it all up, finally gave him permission to miss a few more days to be with us.
We really are indebted to and thankful to and for Biruk. He helped us with so much while we were in Ethiopia! Honestly, I don't know what we would have done without him there. He is an outstanding young man and I know God will use him greatly in the future.
So this Thanksgiving, among so many other things I am giving thanks for our friend, Biruk.
We love him!