Sunday, April 29, 2007

new photos on facebook

ps- new photos on facebook- - I am a month behind on all these.
Here is the link :

sunday in ghana

I have left the land of Islam and entered “Christendom”. The 4 am morning call to prayer has been replaced by the drums and shouts of local charismatic/evangelical churches.
I attended my first Ghanaian mass today. I do have to admit that there were parts that felt foreign. As in Uganda, however, this was not because of their African origins, but rather because of their English origins. I sometimes feel we have more flexibility and creativity within the American catholic church (at least with regards to English music) than I am finding in these English speaking African countries, which are still using the old catholic hymns. I can understand why people leave the church because it is boring here. There is certainly more to church than music. I believe that community is a strong element of church. I think the sacraments are essential. True worship is important as well, and these other theological ideas remain to be just ideas as it is hard at times to see their physical presence. Take community for example. I think that this is one theological principle that has to be expressed in reality. There are some ways that we try to encourage that in the US. When I mentioned the idea of coffee and doughnuts (or the Ghanaian equivalent of coco and biscuits), as a means of creating a space where people can meet and talk after church. He thought it was a great idea. I was shocked that there was nothing similar to it here! I don’t think this is a difference of cultures, but really there is a problem in the catholic church here that at least could have some preliminary solutions applied to them. I have heard so much about the African principle of community, and I know that this exists in different forms that one would see in the US, but I would like to at least see a few examples of it in the church here!

Three days in Ghana thus far. I have been keeping myself occupied, but not necessarily productive. Such is life typically when I first move into a country. I always have to take some time to orientate myself, both in terms of the quotidian and in terms of the research. I have spent the past few days getting to know my local neighborhood and the community next door. I spent one day trying to figure out Accra, but it was just a little much for me. It is not big really. The capital boasts about 3-4 million people in this greater Accra region. There is quite a bit of sprawl as well. It is more that I haven’t been able to distinguish any sense of the center yet. I think I will convince some friend (yes, I’ve already made a few of those too) to give me a guided tour.

I am currently living at a hospitalers guest house. The hospitalers were one of those groups founded during the crusade (like the knights templar) to secure the road for pilgrims. There are none at this guest house, which is run all by Ghanaian women. I wouldn’t mind having a few around, cause that typically means good food that is typically included in the price, and the potential for some whisky stock. Well, no luck. It seems there might be a curfew here, but I have been told by the Danish girls living in the compound but outside the building that if I show up too late I can always crash in the bathtub. Once things get moving that shouldn’t be a problem, but in the meantime I wouldn’t mind getting to know the local scene.

I have been attending the environmental film festival here these past two days. Today there was quite a moving film about the witch camps in northern Ghana. Like in many parts of Africa, there is a tradition of suspicion of witchcraft. Women here are often accused and beaten until they confess. Then they are taken to these witch camps where they are both “purified” and returned home, or they go to live there forever. As some Ghanaian men whose friend’s wife was sent there said, if they are past child birthing years, they won’t come back. While looking at the situation from a human rights standpoint, we would be moved to shut such camps down, the local culture would make this more difficult. While it might be easy for us to simply say that the people are wrong and these women should return home, that would not reduce conflict at all, but rather it would escalate it. As I see it, these camps serve as a non-deadly outlet for these accusations and suspicions. This may sound terrible to you, but it is coming from the perspective of someone who has lived in Tanzania and heard how people are contract killed because they are accused of being witches. At least here, there is life after accusation. So what is the way forward? There was a Ghanaian female parliamentarian, who, upon seeing the situation in the camps and the inability for the women to go home, recommended further education of the populace. Another man in the film suggested simply an overall improvement of the living conditions in the camp. This requires a comprehensive solution, of course, and I wonder what other traditional reconciliation rituals could be used, but it would seem to me that the first and most important step is to make these living situations for these witches in exile livable. They are, in fact, internally displaced people; they are woman who have been forced from their community by neighbors or family, for the sole accident of being a woman (typically older), around misfortune, and disliked by someone. I wonder if the churches are doing anything to help.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Waking up in Ghana

Today, I woke up in Ghana. How do I feel? Hot, sweaty sticky, and furthermore, great! I finally set down here last night and was met at the airport by Fr. Ranjit, a Jesuit priest with whom I had been in contact. I am excited for this new country, new cultures, new people and a chance to reengage the questions that were touching me months ago before my excursion into orthodoxy in northeastern Africa. Just environmentally, everything here feels familiar. The hot humid air, the morning power cut, the local rooster to wake me up ring up memories of my months in Uganda. From what I know already, Ghana will have so much to offer, both in terms of theology and in terms of music and much more. Well, time to leave my room and discover.

Ps- my new number is 0207860120

Desert monks

Desert monks

It has been a rough week for me.
Ejected from the airport
Rejected from the monastery
lost my laptop charger (slim chance of recovery, should it be at the airport. now have 41 minutes of battery left for any remaining entires)
lost my flash drive (with no chance of recovery)
and many sleepless nights do to the adventures of those in the square below my room at the hotel.
I even have skipped a few meals simply out of exhaustion (bad idea mike)

Foxes have holes, badgers have dens, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head. This is certainly how I felt, after being rejected permission to sleep at 3 different monasteries. One cannot typically just show up at a monastery and try and stay there. Here in Egypt, it is necessary to get permission from the cathedral before hand. I, thus, spent the better part of two days waiting for such permission. With surprise on each of their faces, however, I was denied for both the monasteries. Coming to Wadi Natrun, the home to four living monasteries and over 36 ruins, I wondered what might be my luck. It is only an hour from Cairo, but crossing the landscape, one indeed feels that s/he is entering the desert.
I arrived in wadi natrun on Saturday. I would have come on Friday, but the one sure place that could lodge me, was booked until the next day. I never ended up staying there after all anyways.
Every Coptic Christian I have met on my journey to get to here have been quite helpful. The people at the cathedral, failing to secure me permission, went out of there way to find me potential housing. Those on the bus were eager and willing to direct me. Marco, a peer visiting the monastery helped me approach two monasteries to try and get permission, and finally entered town with me to get permission at the church. I never stayed at the potential, expensive lodging in town.
This is beginning to sound a little dull, but the question of housing and monasteries has been on my agenda since Thursday.

In Judaism, they have a tradition, that if you ask a rabbi to become a Jew, you are rejected. If you ask a second time, you are rejected. If you ask a third time, you are rejected. Finally if you ask a fourth time, you are allowed by the rabbi to join the faith. I was hoping, after being rejected nearly four times, that my situation just might be analogous. Finally today, my second day here, I am given permission to come. The Syrian monastery, renamed the monastery of the holy virgin, has opened its doors to me, though they quickly shut behind me. I had to, in fact, enter through the back gate, as the front gate was shut by time I was able to run to town and return with my backpack.

Monastic life is experiencing an amazing revival here. Here in wadi natrun there are four different monasteries. At St. Bishoy alone there are 160 monks. Many of the youngest monks are coming from the universities. I have already met one monk with a degree in agriculture, another with a masters in psychiatric counseling, and a third who has a degree in computer engineering. It certainly would not be uncommon for a monk to have a computer.
The monasteries are large compounds that contain farming areas, workshops, book printing and much more.

"Welcome home." said the elderly monk. I have never desired to become a monk, but upon hearing these words, some of the first words I have heard out of the monk’s mouths since I was welcome to stay here, I was almost ready to drop my book and pick up the cowl. The phrase turned out to be more the product of a person who knew little English, rather than some sort of deep spiritual insight, but its hospitality has been long desired, after being rejected permission to stay at three monasteries (this one included). I was later joined by the brother, aspiring monk, who ran the bookshop, who encouraged me to ask once more to stay at the monastery. We sat outside drinking chai in the calm desert and had a broken conversation about life, Christianity and later about Islam.
I joined the monks for prayer at 4 am, but, as expected, I certainly couldn't understand the language. I quickly set myself back to bed, but within minutes heard the bells again, calling to I don't know what. I stayed in bed.

Following my brief rest and my meal of cheese and hard-boiled eggs, I decided to take a walk, not exactly knowing where I was going. As my path led me around the monastery, I suddenly encountered the stark desert.
I know why now monks and ascetics have continually retreated to the desert to meet God. Having spent the past week in Cairo, the desert was another world. In contrast to the material creations of man, cluttering up any free space, within the desert there is nothing. The sand simply continues, and one's soul is laid bare as s/he is forced to reconcile themselves on this mirrored landscape.
I was only out there for a little over an hour, but the experience left a strong impression on me. Indeed, walking out into the desert was a chance to rediscover myself and what it is that drives me.
I continued from the Syrian on to Boromos monastery. This monastery was one of those whose superior had rejected me permission to visit there. Any hesitation or ill sentiment I might have harbored was quickly dismissed in the face of the kindness and hospitality of these monks. Fr. Macarius, who was my guide through the church, was eager and interested in taking with me about theology, culture and Egypt. He confirmed an observation that I have encountered a number of times, which is the pharonic ancestry still claimed by the Coptic Church.

I have now returned from this monastic life, and experienced another stark contrast, as I met up withal new friend of mine and entreated him to join me for some live music. While it was not my intention to visit such a place, what live music eventually came to mean, was belly dancing. Arriving at about 12:30 am, we were the only two men in the room. I must admit that I felt almost a little scandalous being the only man there. Rather than being an anomyonous observer

Eventually, however, the room filled with rich gulf Arabs.

I finished my trip to Egypt the best way. Packing all my luggage (I'm close to just 30k's these days), I hit the road mid morning. My first stop was the citadel with Muhammad Ali's mosque. Mohammed ali was one of the more important late Arab leaders of Egypt. The mosque was spectacular.
Finishing that and finally picking up my passport, I made my way to Giza, hopped on a horse and road around the pyramids. I had an annoying little boy as my guide who kept mixing up left and right, and thus confusing the hell out of me as he yelled left side all the more urgently as I turned left.
I haven't been on a horse in years, but that experience riding in the desert around has certainly reawakened in me a desire to "explore the west". Too bad there is no more frontier to explore.
Often enough as I have traveled throughout Africa this year, I have wondered what it would have been like to voyage here when the world was a little larger. Even visiting the Wataturu nomads, you felt that "modernity" was just around the corner. You would not be surprised to find a monk of the desert to sport sunglasses and pull out a cell phone from the folds of his robe.
I know there is no such thing as a "pure" culture, but there must be some places in the world where "globalization" hasn't even entered the local lexicon.

Enough musings... here is mike lechevallier, signing off of this blog entry from an airplane somewhere above east Africa.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Holy week in Ethiopia.

I was fortunate enough, returning from Lalibella, to have been able to catch a flight 2 days early. I enjoyed my stay there, but found the small place well visited in two days. Perhaps it was simply being alone and realizing that I had only one week left in Ethiopia that put a burr in my spur.
Arriving back in Addis Ababa, I was well welcomed, both by my boss, who would leave the next day for the US, and by his and my friend Rick Hodes, the American Jewish Doctor who I had visited every Friday for Shabbat. It being Passover, I joined Rick and almost 50 other travelers, Jews and gentiles alike, to commemorate the passing of the jewish people out of Egypt with a Seder Meal. I have attended two seders before, but it was nice to participate in a personal one, even if all of ricks adopted children are either orthodox or muslim. One of the disadvantages to having such a diverse crowd, with no homogenous experience of Passover, the ritual was not equally carried out. When some read it was rushed, while others seemed to enjoy the more liturgical aspects of Passover. All the same, the food was, as always, great at Ricks house.
This seemed quite an appropriate way to begin my holy week
My days passed quite quickly between Passover and easter Sunday. I used some days to study and record. I had a chance to interview the liturgical expert and overall perceptive French scholar, who certainly gave a critical view of the situation in Ethiopia.
I also celebrated my 23rd birthday. It being holy week, most of the priests around the house were quite busy, and most of the belly dancing halls were closed. This did not keep me, however, from celebrating. I started by heading off to dinner with Fr. Phillip. We visited a nice Armenian restaurant where I filled myself solely with appetizers. Following this, I taxied to the other side of town to the German brew house and met with some friends to enjoy these fine products of the brewers.
My birthday was on Wednesday. Starting Thursday, I began the longest weekend of church of my life. The Ge’ez equivalent of holy week translates literally into the week of pain. While this is referring to the pain and suffering of Christ, ideally one shares in this pain with Christ. Often, starting on holy Thursday, people will begin a true feast, not eating or drinking anything until Easter mass has ended.
On Thursday I attended an orthodox church at Kidest Gabriel. Unlike a catholic service, where 12 people are selected to symbolize the congregation for the feet washing, here, everyone’s feet are washed. This is quite a feat, as perhaps over 1000 feet are washed. It is quite an experience to be in church surrounded by 500 men and women, all wrapped in white cloth, worshiping, chanting and bowing in sync. Preceding the washing of the feet were many different readings from the bible and extra biblical texts. Then, the priest blessed the water and giant drums were taken throughout the crowd and with vine leaves, mass feet washing takes place. The vine leaves are used to connect the institution of the eucharist to the serving action of the washing of the feet. Because these are blessed by the priests, they are considered sacred objects and often are collected by women. After about 2-3 hours of preparation and finally feet washing, we started the mass. A mass in Ethiopia lasts roughly for 3 hours. Believe you me, I thought that after 6 hours of church that I had just plain had enough. Little did I know what I was in store for.
Good Friday.
I spent my good Friday with a friend at a catholic church. This is an Ethiopian rite catholic church, so many of the rituals and liturgies bear a strong resemblance to the orthodox liturgy. I arrived at church at 9 that morning. Good Friday is the day in which we commemorate the death of jesus. Often in the USA we do a stations of the cross service to bring us closer to the sufferings of jesus. In Ethiopia you suffer. We did about 4 sets of 50 prostrations, while praying Kyrie Eliason, which means, Lord have mercy. Interspersing these different sets are progressively readings from the 4 different passion narratives. I was fasting for the day. I thought that would be an issue, but we spent 8 hours within the church, so one did not even have time to think about food.

I finally left church at about 5:30PM. I headed over to ricks for my last Shabbat dinner. Upon arriving, and smelling the soup, I decided to enjoy my cross religious experiment. Shabbat, of course, means Sabbath. The Sabbath as we understand starts on Saturday. The same is true for the jews, but their Saturday starts with sundown. Well, according to jewish standards, my fast ended, and I got to enjoy one final cup of soup with the Hodes family (Rick and his 10 adopted sons) as well as some med student friends of mine volunteering at the Mother Theresa clinic.

We started our easter service on Saturday. We arrived at 9 PM, back at St. Gabriels. I had borrowed from the spiritians a Gabi, which are the white cloths that the men wrap around their entire body for the church service. The mass itself does not start until midnight, but given the solemnity of the occasion, it would be impossible to get a seat inside arriving any time earlier. Fr Emmanuel and Fr Phillip are known in this church, so upon arrival, we, the only four non-ethiopians in the church, were led to front of the church to sit in the raised floor portion just before the holy of the holies. This is quite an honor. Indeed, one of our group, a female comboni from italy, having entered into the women’s side, and not being there when we were invited up, decided not to join us. She was not forbidden to because she was a woman, however, for surrounding us were nuns and elderly women. They clearly came prepared, for they had pillow in hand, and sometime into the service they set it onto the floor and fell asleep.
Ethiopian orthodox traditionally don’t kneel when they pray. They pray either standing or in prostration. We saw another young deacon in prostration before an icon. He never arose from this prostration and at some point he fell to his side in what we sometimes call vertical meditation, or more colloquially, sleep.
Front and center of the church, over 30 priests were gathered. Each parish may have this number commonly available, as each church service itself requires at least 3 priests. On this day the mass would be celebrated on two altars. What we would call diocesan priests, have to be married, in fact. They do not want any “loose guns” out there, so the option is to either be a monk-priest or a married priest. Once a priest marries, however, he cannot not have any other wife. Should his wife dies, then he takes vows from the bishop to be a celibate man.
As the mass had not yet begun, these priests were performing the daily office of prayer. This is not a solemn chant as one might find in the latin church, and indeed, they were heralding easter. The prayer itself was intoned with drums and sisturn as around 20 priests (split into groups of 10) would do a form of dance leading forwards and backwards. Not having heard drums in the orthodox church these past 40 days due to lent, the prayer evoked in me the feelings of joy as the beat of the drum seeped into my own prayer. Raised above the rest, I was positioned perfectly to see these event and to record them. The entire congregation became involved as well, clapping as the beats of the drums syncopated. This dancing and praying went on for nearly 3 hours. Indeed, the priests were so involved in it, that when the other priests started to say the mass, interrupting them, they went right on praying the Kidan. There was a mini liturgical struggle, as 3 priests and a microphone tried to intiate a mass over the voices of 30 singing priests. As the service began, the lights were switched off and a flame was passed from person to person on their candles. To see hundreds of people all dressed in white, all carrying these candles, singing together, was quite a sight. The mass itself proceded quite normally (as I could tell, for I do not understand Ge’ez and our expert had to leave to say mass in a catholic parish). At the end of the church service, we also had an opportunity to witness something unique as the priests gathered to sing again. This was a time only for experts, though. As a few of the skilled priests whispered impomtu poems into the ears of one of the talented singing priests, he would incoporate these poetical lines into his own song. We, being exhausted, deemed to leave before all of these proceedings were finished, for it being 3 am and we having attended church for the past 6 evening hours we almost ready to fall where we stood. We finally returned home around 4 am and Fr. Phillip brought out for us some Brie and Sausage from France to help continue the joyous celebration of easter.
I don’t think I will ever forget this easter celebration.

The next day, easter Sunday, I made my way to the catholic service. It was a striking comparison, attending the English church service, which was somehow without a choir this service. There was no one to lead in the songs and only the entrance hymn was familiar to me. As the priest entered, no one was singing. I, feeling that music is an important part of my church experience, raised my voice and led us in the song. By time everyone had joined in, my hands were shaking. Public singing in front of a church is not my forte, my only experience with it being with the inmates at Oregon Penn, who, though being a captive audience, are also quite forgiving. When the next song was to come, everyone looked at me, but I hadn’t had the daftest idea of how the melody went. Eventually one of the choir members went to the front and tried to lead us accapella, and it went fine for a song or two. This was really not the way to celebrate the most important feast of the year. It quite surprised me, for this church was meant to serve the entire international community. Who dropped the ball? That church service, however, signaled the end of my stay in Ethiopia. That evening I caught dinner at a friends house and the next morning, I was on a plane to Egypt.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

For Aunt Jane, on the day of my Birthday:

Today is my birthday, and I would like to remember my aunt Jane, who passed away this past week.
Aunt Jane is, in fact, my great aunt. She is my grandma’s (gram) older sister. Ever since I could remember, Aunt Jane always seemed old. She lived in an older house, a little run down out by rivers edge athletic center. She spent years smoking, so the house always had that particular smell stick to the walls and carpet. You used to find all sorts of things around the house. I remember when she once gave my older sister a whole collection of porcelain nuns, wearing blue or black veils, kneeling in prayer or standing with hands folded. I used to go over there to help clean around the house, cut plants in the back or just visit with my mom. I didn’t always necessarily want to go work there or visit there. I had other things to do in my busy young life, like running through the forest with John and James or playing GI Joes or gathering around John’s Sega Genesis. Her son Don, who lived in the house, helping maintain it and support his mother, would always be our foreman. It was difficult in my youth at times to go over there, but I would because I knew that Aunt Jane loved us.

Throughout the years, on this very day, a phone would ring in our house and my mother would pick it up. “It’s for you,” she would say, and I, quite surprised, would take it. Then in an old, somewhat rough voice, I would hear Aunt Jane singing Happy Birthday to me. I can still recall her graveled voice coming across a staticky phone celebrating my birth. Aunt Jane really loved us.

Aunt Jane had been getting older and older these past few years. At times, being young and inexperienced, it was somewhat difficult to face this aged woman. Seeing her, you were seeing age, weakness and infirmity. You were confronting mortality. She had trouble walking and trouble seeing. You had to speak directly into her ear, and sit as she mumbled to you. She carried her age in her body. Love, however, helped me to overcome these difficulties, and pushed me to go forward and embrace the woman with a hug who had welcomed in so many birthdays for me.

She moved out of her house and into hospice care, and we never really knew how much longer she would last. Out of difficulty traveling, she stopped making appearances at our family events and I have a hard time remembering the last time I saw her.

This last week aunt Jane slipped into a coma and passed away.

On this day of all days, the death of aunt Jane has hit me. I look back with sad disappointment that I wasn’t around to be with her during these past few years. I wish I could say that it was distance of college, the busyness of jobs, or the travels to foreign lands that made it difficult to see here, but that would only be lying to myself. I became simply occupied. Aunt Jane, thus, remained largely outside of my life. Now, having become comfortably close with suffering, illness and death, as I have visited AIDS and TB patients at Mother Theresa’s health clinic and cared for their wounds, I would hope that I wouldn’t hold the same indifference at home. I would hope that I could find it in me to visit and be present with someone even in the face of illness and death.

Now Aunt Jane has passed on, without a whisper of goodbye, and today, I remember her, for so many years of calling on this day to sing to me Happy Birthday. I can’t attend her funeral, and I haven’t received such a call for years, but my memory of her, and the way that she blessed my life with those small moments of celebrating with me will always stick with me and be remembered on this day.

March 26, 2007

Jane Marie Riordan Daron passed away during the night, having slipped into a coma last Thursday. Jane was living in a care facility in Tigard, Oregon.

Jane Marie Riordan Daron (Stephen, Stephen, James) b April 1921, d March 26, 2007, was born in Baker City, OR to Stephen Joseph Riordan II and Grace Mary Conlan. Jane married Donald Ray Daron in Baker City on May 24, 1940. They divorced in 1965. Jane resided in Baker City, Portland, Gresham, Lake Oswego and Tigard, OR.

Jane is survived by her sons Stephan Ray Daron, Donald James Daron and Clifford Michael Daron, 2 granddaughters, 4 great grandchildren and her sister Margaret Riordan Schreiber.

Funeral arrangements are Apr 14, 2007


Turning through rock hewn corridors, I came across one of the most marvelous sights I have ever seen. Free standing and pillared, the church of…. Seemed to blot out the sun. It almost appeared out of nowhere as we twisted. This rock hewn church, carved supposedly by angels during the reign of king Lalibela. Some of these churches are over 15m high. With 11 churches in the city alone and over 600 ordained priests in the area, the town of Lalibela breathes religion in and out. Yet, this has somehow remained unknown and uncommercialized. While you encounter quite a few tourist shops, there certainly is not the ubiquitous groups of youth hawking their religious wares that is ever present in Axum.
Just as spectacular as the works of man in and around the country, is also the work of God: mountain upon mountain, carved away by rain, hill, valley and canyon interlacing each other. Flying over land to reach the town, I sat with my eyes glued to the window in disbelief at the extensive, finely molded Ethiopian highlands.
The remoteness of this ancient town, hidden away in this geographic fortress only adds to the magic of this place.
King Lalibela reigned in the 12 century. He is reported to have built all 11 churches within a span of 11 years. Regardless of names and dates, the skill involved in the carving of these churches and the determination to construct these monolithic churches is quite impressive.
Highlights of the churches include a pillar in bet Maryam that has remained covered since the 16th century. It supposedly is covered with engravings that describe how the entire complex was built. It supposedly glowed at that time as well, until the priests deemed it too dangerous to look at, and it was covered. Most of the churches of Lalibela are carved directly out of the rock. There are trenches and tunnels that connect everyone of them.
Bet Giyorgis is the famous cross church of Lalibela, measuring close to 15m high. It is the only church not covered by scaffolding.
I attended palm Sunday starting at 4:30 am in Bet Medhane Alem, the largest monolithic church in the world (800 m squared). This is the first time that I have heard drums in an orthodox church, as the entire time that I have been here has been lent, a period of fasting and symbolic mourning.
On palm Sunday I also made my way to two churches outside of the city. These were Yemrehana Chistos and Bibilla Chirkos. Yemrehana christos is an Axumite style church built in a cave. I slept through most of the hour and a half journey to get there, as I was quite exhausted from the previous nights tej (local brew) tasting and early morning church.
Upon hearing that there was a monastery in the area, I convinced my Belgian touring companions to join me up the hill. We never came across the monastery (in fact, it no longer exists), but we did meet a large grop of people at the top of the hill, all sitting around a smaller group of people with colorfully dressed horses. It took me some time and some terrible Amharic exchanges (2 months have left barely a dent on my primitive language skills), but I finally realized that it was a funeral I was watching. Scolding the boy who kept asking me for money during the funeral, I moved to the side to express my condolences to those around me and to observe the funeral. It was quite unlike anything I have ever seen. The ceremony that I had a chance to witness involved the mourning family circling around with the horses while wailing. A man leading the donkeys would intermittently blow a horn. Spotting the group were also other various church liturgical items like drums, robes and liturgical umbrellas. I wish I could have stayed for the whole thing, but driver and Belgians were waiting.
Our next stop was some local lunch and bibillia chirkos, another ancient semi-monolithic church with a very pleasant priest and a beautiful painting of Mary on the pillars…..

I will try to post some photos soon enough, but a Google search of Lalibela should be promising.