Part 3: The Miracle of My First Friend. #MakingMekelleOurHome

Quitting my job last summer made me face my real life, or should I say lack of a real life here in Mekelle.

Greg had started a business, he had employees and friends and was getting a hang of the language. It had been tons of work for him, but it was paying off. He was blossoming and I was sinking in to the shadows.

Every night at dinner Greg would pray, “Lord please send EJ a friend. We know you brought us here. We know will provide for us in this land.”  We had been praying about a friend for me since the time we decided to move to Mekelle.

Some days I would thrive; work on my writing, full of meaning and purpose, then to the kitchen to bake cookies or bread or start thinking about dinner: soup, tacos, teriyaki chicken, pad Thai. Other days I would sit in my chair and stare into the abyss contemplating my existence in his house, wondering how this place could ever be home. Why did I ever quit my job? Then the wondering and wandering would begin. 

Doing life in Mekelle. Photo taken by my cute sister-in-law  Emily Fages  of the  Honey Hue Paper Co.

Doing life in Mekelle. Photo taken by my cute sister-in-law Emily Fages of the Honey Hue Paper Co.

Those weeks in the late summer and fall were the closest I have been to depression.

Greg would call and say he was going to be late for dinner.  On the wondering and wandering days that would send me into a passive- aggressive fit. What does he think, that his life is the only life that exist in this marriage? He just thinks that I sit around here waiting for him to get home? I would mope when he finally walked in the door. Trying to drop subtle clues that I was unable to control. “Lord we pray for a friend for my sweet wife,” he would hold my hand and pray as we sat down to dinner. My mood would build as he would obliviously eat his large bowl of steaming hot tomato chicken soup. Did he not notice the tone of my voice or the squint in my eyes or the way I flicked my spoon down?

Heartily Greg would dig into this food as I dug into my dark hole. “Sweetie, how was your day?”

I played with my soup and spoon and kept my eyes down and voice flat, “It was fine.”

He would try again. This was what I wanted. I wanted him to find me, “What did you do?”

He would have to try harder and I begged for another question with a unenthusiastic, “I wrote, cooked, cleaned up.” Now it was time for a thick silence to drive my point home. I couldn’t just come out and say I was hurting and that I needed help and attention and a friend.

Finally after a moments of silence at our small table, he plugged deeper into my complexities, “baby, are you okay?” How did I except him to figure out and find when I couldn’t figure out or find myself?

I squeaked out a meek, “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s wrong.” Then tears. He would push his chair back from the table and motion for me. I would crawl up in his lap like a two year child and weep until there were no more tears.

One Saturday, Greg walked around our compound in this board shorts, waxing the car. I lay in sun trying to find words again. Eyes closed, my lips parted and then shut again thinking of how to phrase my thoughts, “Greg, something is wrong with me.”  In a thoughtful voice, with his eyes still narrowing on his work, “What do you think is wrong?”

I was quiet as I pressed into myself.

What was wrong? I didn’t know, but I would just start by talking it out, “I have been in a funk since I quit my job. I think my job was keeping me from having to make a life here in Mekelle, but now I feel afraid I won’t ever have a life here. And what if we are here for a few more years and I never have friends or community or purpose. I am having a hard time finding myself and my place, I just need help from you to make a life here.” Then the sniffles came. The eyes welled up.

He looked up at me, “Baby thank you for moving out here to this crazy place with me. I know it’s hard.” I needed him to say that. Then we brainstormed in the sun for a while and then we prayed for purpose and a friend.

I wiped the tears with the back of my hand, “I know the Lord led us here. I know he will provide, but I am just not experiencing the daily manna yet. I need the reminder of the promise” The reminder of His promise.

Later that evening, Greg and I suited for the hotel gym. We got our towels and keys for the locker from front desk. I leaned into the locker room door and was shocked to find a white European looking woman sitting on the wooden bench of the tiny room. I tried to act as normal as possible as I looked for my locker, number 70. What should my opening line be? 

I just went for it, “Do you live here?” Wow. Really EJ. What about “Hi” or “Nice bag” or “How are you?” Of course she didn’t live here, we were in the hotel gym. I was shocked with my opening line, but I was even more shocked with her response, “Yes, I do,” she responded in a strong Spanish or Italain accent.

“You live here?” was all I could say. I tried to play it cool as we exchanged numbers and I casually invited her for dinner the following night.

I emerged from the locker room with a bounce in my step and I whispered to Greg, “I met a friend.”

That was the miracle of my first friend and a reminder of the promise. A reminder that I was not forgotten. Interesting, that friend has since moved away and I am praying for a new friend here in Mekelle.


My best-friend. My constant. The one that is always finding me and sorting through my mess with me.

My best-friend. My constant. The one that is always finding me and sorting through my mess with me.