I signed a contract today! I will be joining Ob/Gyn Associates of West Michigan in Muskegon, MI starting in July. I am so excited to get started and feel honored to be able to work with the group of women that I will be joining. I start in July if anyone needs an appointment :-). The job will allow me to do missions work for several months out of the year. I don’t know how balancing a practice and missions will end up looking, but I am jumping in and going to give it my best try!
I haven’t shared too much about Kebede, my fiance. It is, well, interesting dating someone and straddling two cultures. The things that are ingrained in us as “normal” are really just cultural norms. We have both had to compromise along the way. I can’t claim to be an expert on Ethiopian courtship or how it works. Here are a few examples as to how we have navigated through it.
In southern Ethiopia, when two people are dating, it is a secret. If you see the family of the one you are dating, you literally are supposed to run the opposite direction and hide. Now for anyone who knows me, this is NOT at all me. I am much more likely to hug you, kiss you and search for you to say hello. This was probably the hardest part for me. We did, somewhat, break this tradition, but not by much. My family and a few friends knew, but they were all sworn to secrecy. I was really excited that my mom could come and visit because I wanted her to meet the man I intended to marry. This brings us to the next tradition. Normally, the man in the relationship is to go to the family of the female and get permission to date. This permission usually has a price tag of butter, chickens, blankets, sheep, goats or cows. So, prior to my mom coming, she and Kebede skyped to set the bride price. I tried really hard to tell my mom I was worth at least five cows, while my mom was telling Kebede he didn’t need to get her anything and that if he hid in the bushes she would jump in after him. Kebede was quick to reminded us that it would be very insulting if my mom left behind any of the gift! I just kept picturing my mom convincing immigration that she HAD to bring the cows home. After a short time the “price” for me was set. It was so interesting, for me, watching Kebede that day. It was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. This was a really important thing for him and it was decided.
Most weekends, Kebede and I would go and visit his family. We didn’t tell them we were dating. I was just always there with him. It has been such a pleasure to get to know them all, to hear their stories from the week, to drink coffee together and a lot of times to just sit and watch them interact as I didn’t understand most of what was being said. Towards the end of my time in Ethiopia, Kebede’s father made the comment that earlier in the week he had been drinking tea at a shop. The lady who owned the shop mentioned that Kebede and I might be getting married. I think Kebede’s response was something like, “So, how was the tea?” The question was diverted and answered all at the same time. Now his family knew for sure.
We are now going through the immigration process, which for now, is primarily a waiting game. We hand in the papers and wait about 5, 6, 7, 8…. months. We are in our 4th month of waiting. Next week, I will be returning to Ethiopia. We wanted to do some sort of celebration with his family and friends, but we can’t get married until he comes to America, so on May 4th we are going to have a ring ceremony. I am still not exactly clear on what will happen at the ring ceremony, but I do know that we will exchange rings (that have to be identical) and then have a big meal to celebrate all that is to come. I am just elated that we will be able to celebrate with family and friends in Ethiopia. Once he has a visa, he will come over to the states and we can at last get married!
In the next few days, I have a lot going on. I will be taking oral boards (AGH!!!), packing… This reminds me. Guess what I was able to buy because of all of your generous donations?!?! A cryogun to treat precancerous lesions of the cervix. This was one of the projects I had hoped to complete before leaving Ethiopia. It is packed and ready to go. Once I get to Ethiopia, I am hoping to locate Bereket. After I returned to the US, he ran away, so I am hoping to find him while I am there. This has been heart breaking for me. He really took me leaving very badly and I blame myself, but don’t know what I could have done differently. Dr. Mark Karnes will be returning to the US for a few months, so I will be back working at Soddo Christian Hospital for about 3 weeks. Mid June, I will be returning to the US to start work. Please keep Kebede and I in your prayers. We have a lot of exciting changes coming up!