A Joyful Journey CP Africa Trip
Part Eight: The Celebrity Choreographers

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into that summer day in August as we walked down the streets of Soddo. They say ‘news travels fast’ and it certainly had throughout this little town. A small, young adult dance group from Wolaita Soddo Christian Church had gotten news that these American choreographers were cominginto town and they HAD to meet us. When Jeremy informed us of this inquiry, we knew none other than the simple fact that they wanted to make their acquaintance.

As we blindly walked onto the beautiful grounds of the church, we were immediately swarmed by questions, introductions, hellos, and ‘Salems’ from young Ethiopian guys that wanted to be our new best friends. After about fifteen minutes of this excited chatting, one of the men informed us that we would be watching their group perform followed by a performance from us. Bianca, Ellen, and I exchanged worried glances…we did not know this was going to be a little showcase! The man continued to speak saying that following the performance each group would be teaching the other group mini dances. Now, it was a good thing we had taught so many master classes in Addis, so that the three of us had at least a few combinations in common. And don’t fret…us CP girls pulled it off!

One of the things so beautiful about dance in Ethiopia is it is all done to praise God. This group’s simple movement was made perfect through the genuine quality in which it was performed. It was simply done out of their love for Christ. One of their pieces portrayed how poverty and pain may have boundaries, but God has no limitations. This was a message that Bianca, Ellen and I took to heart. We saw this message throughout our whole experience in the country. While poverty and pain were present, a resounding joy or Desta seemed to always prevail.

After this reviving experience of performing, watching performances, teaching and learning, we walked outside and something happened. We became famous. Almost as soon as our new Ethiopian shoes hit the red dirt, we were being pulled in every direction. Each Ethiopian wanted to take our picture, sign our journals, and get our Facebook information. Even if they did not own a computer or have a Facebook account, they said, “For you we get one.” I had never felt more like a celebrity.

When walking back, one of women, Hiwot (Life), baffled me by saying that the people act so excited because some of them had never seen a white person before! I was amazed. It was to no wonder why we had so many Ethiopians point to us as we walked by and yell, “Forengie!”

On top of the fame we gained from teaching, we experienced so much love in return. After teaching at the church, we also spontaneously taught at an orphanage close to the hospital. Since it was towards the end of the trip, we were able to use the little Amharic we knew to help communicate with these children. And, oh boy, were the kids excited to hear us use familiar words like, “Gobez!” or “Konjo!” It was in this moment as I looked around when I realized how blessed I was. Not only was I given the opportunity to travel to such an amazing country, I was in awe of the people that God sent with me on this mission. Despite the language barrier, I saw these children’s gaze fixated on Ellen and Bianca as they taught the choreography. It was an honor to witness such incredible teachers be able to adapt to such a different society. And not only adapt, but thrive. We were thrown so many curve balls along the road. Whether it was being asked to spontaneously perform, teach with no music, or stay an hour longer than we thought, these incredible girls I was with always seemed to come up with a brilliant solution. Each beautiful Ethiopian’s face we taught has been engrained in my mind and has transformed heart forever.

Evelyn Fontana

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Thank you for always being ahead of the curve, thinking of every detail, being servant leaders and inspiring us to keep pushing. Love CP!Camp merch is also very nice every year!

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