First Day of the Fast — Ethiopia

This is a piece that I wrote 3 years ago today while I was serving in Ethiopia. I love to look back and reflect on these rich experiences, and see the progress of how much my thoughts and consciousness has grown and evolved. This was my second fast as a Baha’i. Each year the appreciation and spiritual understanding of this time of year grows much greater. The Baha’i fast is from food and water, sunrise until sunset for 19 days. Click HERE to read more about it, and HERE to read more about the Baha’i Faith. Happy Fasting!

“This is, O my God, the first of the days on which Thou hast bidden Thy loved ones to observe the Fast. I ask of Thee by Thy Self and by him who hath fasted out of love for Thee and for Thy good-pleasure—and not out of self and desire, nor out of fear of Thy wrath—and by Thy most excellent names and august attributes, to purify Thy servants from the love of aught except Thee and to draw them nigh unto the Dawning-Place of the lights of Thy countenance and the Seat of the throne of Thy oneness. Illumine their hearts, O my God, with the light of Thy knowledge and brighten their faces with the rays of the Daystar that shineth from the horizon of Thy Will. Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. No God is there but Thee, the All-Glorious, Whose help is implored by all men.

Assist them, O my God, to render Thee victorious and to exalt Thy Word. Suffer them, then, to become as hands of Thy Cause amongst Thy servants, and make them to be revealers of Thy religion and Thy signs amongst mankind, in such wise that the whole world may be filled with Thy remembrance and praise and with Thy proofs and evidences. Thou art, verily, the All-Bounteous, the Most Exalted, the Powerful, the Mighty, and the Merciful.” Baha’u’llah

“I come out of the café and look for a moment into the darkness. The torrential sound of rain reaches my ears again. I can see a river of muddy water rushing down the road, faintly illuminated in by the café lights. After hesitating for a moment I push my book inside my jacket and push out into the rain.
Most people are waiting it out inside, but the thought of a half finished bar of dark chocolate waiting at home propels me on. It has been a challenging first day of the fast, and for the first time since 4:45 this morning I finally have food in my stomach.

I walk quickly, but it is dark, and the road is a topped with fast moving water. I make feeble attempts at first to avoid plunging my feet into the water and mud, but it is hopeless. My dress shoes soon disappear beneath the murky river. The road is rough, full of potholes, large rocks, rubble and garbage. I know that somewhere in the darkness there are holes that plunge 6 feet down that will be entirely full of water now. I hope my luck continues to hold in avoiding them.

The smell of raw sewage mingled with the wet smell of fresh rain meets my nostrils. The stiffness of my book bumps against my ribs underneath my jacket. It is ‘A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier’ by Ismail Beah. I’ve been reading it for a good portion of the day. It’s an amazing story, although heartbreaking at every moment. I’ve tried to relate to it by imagining a One Planet student in grade 4 carrying an AK-47, firing RPG’s, and slitting men’s throats. However it is just so far out of my world, that I cannot even imagine it.

I thought it would rain, but I still decided not to wear my raincoat. Water is now streaming down my face and my jacket and jeans are quickly becoming soaked. I have only been walking for 3 minutes tops. Jasmin and Kyle went to the Sheratan for all you can eat Sushi. I was tempted to go with them, but $30 is far from my budget, not matter how good the meal is. Instead I enjoyed a large bowl of rice and vegetables, with a glass of blended mango, papaya, and pineapple. It cost me a total of $2.24. My socks are wet.

As I walk down the balcony to my apartment, I am now completely soaked. Lightening flashes to my left, and thunder roles in the distance. Jerking the door and turning my key at the same time the bolt slides open and I push in the door. I pull off my wet clothes and put some water on to boil. I didn’t do much today, but it was a good day. I ironed and hung all of my dress shirts, and by 2:00 my stomach was twisting with hunger. After that I sat down and read, distracting myself. Today was the national holiday of the Victory of Adwa, the day on which the Ethiopian’s defeated the Italians during the first Ethio-Italian war. I drove through Adwa. It is all mountains.

Adding powdered ginger and cinnamon to a mug I pour in water and add a large spoonful of thick honey. I have become so used to constantly snacking and consuming a perpetual stream of water that it is almost more habitual than need. You never really notice how much of your day you spend eating, until you don’t. The hot, sweet, and spicy liquid pours down my throat. It is delicious and soothing.”

Here’s a few photos from the duration of my time there in 2009 and 2010 with my Pentax point and shoot.