House Parties, Animals, and Good Food [Henok's Highlights from the 2019 USA Tour]
Preparing for my fifth visit to the States, I knew what to expect but at the same time I knew it would be different than all of the other times! It would be full of new people, new places, and new experiences. I was excited!
We visited four new cities on Tour this year: Syracuse, Boston, Charleston, and Greensboro. In 30 days, we visited 8 states, 11 cities, hosted 16 events, and had a chance to share the story of Carry 117 to over 750 people! Not to mention the countless social media posts and shares from all of you. WOW! That just blows my mind that so many of our House Parties and events were so well attended and that people got excited to share our story. That is one of my favorite things—the House Parties and different events people host to help share the Carry 117 story and vision.
So many families I love surprised me at one of the stops. It was amazing. A lot of these families have been on mission trips to Ethiopia, or they adopted from Ethiopia. It was such a gift to see them on this side of the water and know they drove a long way to see me and encourage me.
Although we were extremely busy with events, we also had a little down time to explore the cities I was in. I had a chance to visit the Museum of the Bible in DC, which was so cool to see the area where it talked about the earliest translations of the Bible being in Ge’ez, which is the ancient language the Ethiopian Orthodox Church uses. I also got to visit the Air & Space Museum and see all kinds of airplanes and spaceships. I got to jump into the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time in Charleston, and experience an Airbnb in small town like in the movies. I can’t believe people just let you rent their house and they aren’t there! That was crazy to me. And somewhere in the middle of all of that, I lost my passport (don’t worry, we found it… at Panda Express).
The theme of this tour seemed to be food (as always) and animals (who am I?). I went to both the Atlanta and Washington D.C. Zoo this tour and saw animals I have never seen before. I probably saw more animals on this trip than I have ever seen in Ethiopia! My favorite animal was the gorilla.
On this tour, I also walked a dog for the first time ever. Her name is Rain and she is a 6-month-old Weimaraner. We don’t have these kinds of dogs in Ethiopia. She is so smart. I didn’t know you could train a dog to do all of these things she does. I walked her around the neighborhood, and also around stores like Home Depot and Marshalls. People would come up to her and want to pet her and say hi. It was such culture shock to me. I kept laughing to myself while thinking about if my friends at home were to see me doing this right now. It took me about four or five times being around Rain to not throw my hand up in the air in reaction to her nose touching it, because in Ethiopia, typically all the dogs bite. I don’t want to get bit!
One of the things I love most about coming to the States is the fact that you have so many different kinds of foods here. You can find any cultural food you want! My favorite is any kind of Asian food. Sushi, Thai, and Chinese food are my favorites, because in Ethiopia, we don’t have those spices and specific tastes. My favorite place to eat is anything that has sushi or at Panda Express, although I went to this place that had sushi on a conveyer belt going around the restaurant and you just pull off what you want. It was amazing.
I do love trying new foods as well, depending on who I am trying it with. I usually love everything I try, except one time my friend Megan made me try celery and to this day, I am traumatized by that horrible taste in my mouth for days. This tour I did try a number of different things that even some Americans may have never tried before. The top ones were in Charleston, South Carolina, which I am told is known for their food. I tried snails, oysters, and ate a whole rabbit. I would definitely have the rabbit again, but probably not the others. I am thankful for those experiences though. I felt so adventurous.
I also found out through some tests that I am gluten intolerant! I had no idea! Thankfully injera, an Ethiopian staple, is gluten free which is great news for me. To those of you out there who eat gluten free, I need you to help me figure out what and where I can eat when I am in the States!
Thank you for inviting me into your homes, churches, and community events. I appreciate your hospitality and excitement to know more about what we are doing over in Ethiopia with Carry 117. This was by far our best and most successful USA Tour!
In September 2020, I am headed to TEXAS, COLORADO, and CALIFORNIA!!! If you are interested in hosting a Carry 117 event in any of those states drop us a line HERE!