Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Sheep Butcher and Right Versus Wrong

 Happy Thanksgiving! This is not a Thanksgiving post as it’s been written and sitting here for awhile. I’ve been waiting to get pictures from Jon’s phone…the pictures I have are incomplete but at night time, when I finally sit down to blog, my brain feels…umm…tired. See, I can’t even think of a more creative way to say it right now. This post also makes me so sad as we were with Meteku and now he is gone…This is still hard. 

Onto the old post from October 15th. :)

On Saturday, we were visited by Challie’s dad. He wanted to invite us for their house for lunch on Sunday. We were supposed to be there at 11:00 am. In Awi culture the more important the event, the more last minute the invitation. If we invite for something very early, it’s shows we have little value on the event itself. 

Our family was thankful for the invitation, thankful to praise God together for a successful surgery for Challie and that his leg is healing! We arrived around 11:20 because we hadn’t planned enough time for the long hike to get to their hut.

IMG 2184

IMG 2189

(this whole hike was especially funny as Whitney forgot to change out of her slippers until it was too late and she wore little slippers the entire time.) Meteku is in the background here, in the maroon scarf.

IMG 2191

Miss T was hauled along by Jon and Zelalem. Tiger prefers to be in a carrier. 

IMG 2195

The end of the hike near Challie’s house.

IMG 2197

Warm greetings were shared and then a wonderful time with the entire family, including extended family. We were served injera (our staple bread) with cabbage stew, boiled potatoes and spicy seasoning. Then the coffee ceremony started, we were around 2 hours in and normally, this is when we farewell and hike home.

IMG 2203

Whitney had taken the kids out to pet the sheep outside near the barn and while they were out, the sheep was untied and then brought into the house.  It quickly dawned on me that the party was just getting started because that sheep was to be the main course. In Awi culture, meat is eaten around 3 holidays a year unless you are invited to a wedding or a momentous special occasion where it is also served.

IMG 2212

 If you have had the opportunity to have your meat butchered in front of you, you know that from the start of the butcher to the meat being served is several hours if everyone works quickly. Inside, I had this inner-conflict as I didn’t know how I would keep four kids going for several more hours and I definitely didn’t bring enough water (and had forgotten the toilet paper). I was fighting my Amy cultural value of efficiency. In my home, if guests come, I try to have everything as ready as possible before they arrive as to not make anyone wait. If I continued to keep on that lens, the sheep being killed in front of my eyes was extremely rude and I might even go so far as to say it was wrong.

IMG 2243

Meteku and Challie chop the meat into pieces.

I whisper-freaked-out to Jon and then thought about this phrase from pre-field training, “Different isn’t wrong. Different is different. Wrong is wrong”.  This phrase has been unparalleled as it has helped me through many different situations. We learned to take any “twangs” where we would label “weird” or “wrong” to the Bible. In God’s Scripture, that is the only place where we discern “right versus wrong”.

IMG 2239

Challie’s family, from their perspective, were giving us the highest honor they could bestow to thank us for our involvement in their lives and it was lavish and far outside what they can afford. Culturally, to sit for a day and be served dish after dish, share coffee, homemade beer and conversation while we do nothing but sit was thanking us.

IMG 2213

And it was beautiful…and hard. The kids rocked the whole scene (as did Whitney) and we were so proud of them. We made it back to our house, honored and filthy and stuffed and flea-bitten around 5 pm. We had to cancel a dinner we were supposed to host as well as friends who were driving by and were going to stop for tea. The change in plans were all okay.

IMG 2223

On Monday, as I reflected back on the whole day, God brought to mind how I would have missed the blessing of the whole event if I had not stopped to consider how another’s worldview, another’s life experience was different from mine but not rude, not wrong. As a human, my tendency is to devalue someone else’s experience as illegitimate if I don’t have a shelf to put it on or a similar experience with which I can compare it.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Once Again...

Thanks for your prayers on behalf of Meteku’s family.

I just found this picture from Graham’s camera and it made me laugh. It’s from an traditional restaurant in Ethiopia. Little Miss T’s face is perfect and the food is amazing looking. Have you tried Ethiopian food yet? It’s a fun one. 

DSC 6933

There has been another hard situation and we know your prayers change things. A man who works at the Woodmizer sawmill came. His wife has disappeared. She had a mental break about a month ago and has been leaving in the night. She left for longer this time, leaving her three children, 6, 4 and 5 months. Praise God, there is formula available in town and I had a bottle to give but please pray with us that the mother is healed and returns to her family. My heart breaks for these kiddos and her husband. There is not much available in country in terms of mental health. 


This is not the mother or babies but just a sweet picture of our neighbor girls, Habte wearing her little sister, Helen.

Thanks for loving us and our neighbors. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Now There Is No Meteku

Hey! I started this post earlier in the week. It is possible to do life without a phone and I just have to be a bit more creative to still communicate. It’s also been a bit fun as it pushes me to use our big camera instead of my mediocre camera phone. Yesterday we dropped the Schrocks off in Bahir Dar. What a great time we had with them. I have so much to write about, girls’ birthday, Field Days, North Team Retreat, hut visits, bit by bit maybe I will catch up. 

IMG 6349

Whitney is safely back in the USA.

20171026 132638

I love this sweet shot of she and Tiger on an in-country flight. He slept the entire time.

And just because Little Miss T found her groove and now crawls, scoots and wiggles all over the place…

IMG 6309

We arrived safely back to our Blueberry house (our Injibara home) on Friday night. It’s always fun to see our home through the fresh eyes of visitors. After the sun went down, a neighbor came to tell us the sad news that Meteku was hit on the road and it didn’t look good for him. Meteku, a man with whom we have shared countless cups of tea and coffee, a man who we have grieved with over his 13 year-old-daughter who had a long illness and just passed away. 

He’s the uncle of Challie and has gone with us to Bahir Dar and came to us with countless messages on behalf of Challie’s family as Meteku’s house is closer to us than Challie’s house. We moaned and groaned and prayed for more time for Meteku. God’s plans are not ours but He is always good. Meteku didn’t survive the night. 

Entering into the beautiful hillside where his funeral was held by the Orthodox church, my heart was captured by the beauty, the way the sun shone on the green grass and the bright yellow meskel flowers. The sea of white movement as everyone wears their white gabis and ornately decorated horses lined the perimeter. We drew nearer into this valley of grief and the sounds washed over me, the distant chanting of the priest, the beat of the drum, the wailing and groaning of pain. We waited our turn to be drawn into the circle where we walked and cried and when we were near a family member, we came in, shaking, crying and hugging. The family is marked as they hold items of Meteku’s up, a sword, a whip, his wife held his jacket. There are loud cries of “my brother” or “my husband” and tears run down cheeks, unchecked by normal cultural standards of “don’t cry”. One more kept yelling, “Now there is no Meteku”. 

IMG 4505

I stepped back with Debbie and we watched the scene from a hill and prayed for this beautiful scene, yet with so much darkness and lack of hope. I groaned with the throng but I am still crying out to God on behalf of the Awi.  

Thanks for joining us in prayer. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Silence On Our End

We just said goodbye to Whitney. She flies through the night. This “year of the girl” as I’ve recently dubbed it is incredibly full of blessing as we are blessed by young women who sacrifice and serve on behalf of our family, it’s also hard as it brings more goodbyes to people who are folded into our family. 

Our family just returned from our North Team Retreat and it was a beautiful, hard time for gritty honesty and prayer. Trent and Heidi Schrock have been here with two sons and I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 days as time has flown and we so look forward to showing them our world in Injibara starting tomorrow. (Prayers for safe and uneventful travel appreciated!)

There won’t be much communication from here as my phone has died and 97% of access I have to internet is through my phone as well as almost any pictures, so until we can find a solution to that, it will be quiet.

Thank you for your prayers, we are incredibly humbled by them.


Amy (for the crew)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Yay! We are so happy because look at these babies!

IMG 5605

Our family is in Addis safely. Thanks for your prayers. Unrest has continued in parts of the country. Please pray with us for peace. While we are in the city, we planned a Harvest party with our house church group. We have loads of photos but members of our house church are in a secure areas so you can just look at pictures of us. :)

IMG 5623

This guy was what our whole family’s outfits centered around because he walks around the house growling, “cookie”. No one taught him this and he has not seen Cookie Monster but is just his style. so adorable. 

IMG 5622

It is adorable. And because we were hosting at the guest house, Jon, Whit and I were incredibly busy with decorating, activities and food, so he didn’t wear pants, which isn’t a problem because a baby in a onesie is near perfection. 

IMG 5663

So, the girls and Whit are sugar cookies while Jon and I are bakers. 

IMG 5664

Look at these sweet sugar cookies!

IMG 5679

IMG 5666

The girls with our friend, “The Queen of Sheba”.

IMG 5670

The amazing HQ kitchen staff who made us the meal and were just amazed at all the costumes. 

IMG 5724

We had a pumpkin decorating contest and this one didn’t win but was a favorite. :)

Thank you for your prayers, we feel them and are excited about what God is doing among the Awi. 


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Traveling Plans And Our Local Market Treasures


Our family leaves this Thursday for Addis Ababa. There are multiple events happening during the next few weeks and we will be glad for the time, although it is always a bit unsettling for all of us to uproot, pack and then resettle in a small apartment. It’s like packing for a two-week camping trip every two months. 

We plan to travel by plane…we were hoping to drive (at least Jon was) but our road to Addis has been blocked for about a week. Our friends here have advised us to fly and they don’t have to tell me twice! Can you pray with us for safe and uneventful travel on Thursday (your Wednesday night)? Also, there will be many out of the city families in the city for multiple meetings or for various reasons had to leave their stations. We are all used to mobility and since flying is the recommended travel right now, we will all get to share a few vehicles…it’s an opportunity to be flexible and serve each other but hard when we are all used to independence and use our extra Addis time as sailors who get off a ship, eating out, visiting friends, stocking up on groceries, etc. 

Master TreeGrowers wrapped up really well. It’s an amazing and big week and their were beautiful opportunities to teach about many things and amazing channels to share our Hope with an unreached area. 

One morning, the trainees all went to the market and one of the activities was to find as many items as possible, hoping to find rare ones and the person with the most was rewarded. It was fun to see the market from this perspective. Here’s a glimpse past all the veggies and livestock.

IMG 5156

Ready to shop!

IMG 5166

Wooden chair with woven cowhide seat

IMG 5167

Grasses and other plants I don’t know the function of…I’ll have to ask Jon on this one. 

IMG 5171

Handmade grass shopping baskets

IMG 5172

This vendor has a bit of everything but I spy Ethiopian Orthodox crosses and posters, as well as wallets and hair accessories.

IMG 5174

This man walks home with his  load of wood.

IMG 5161

Nothing is for sale in this picture but I think this little boy is precious. 

IMG 5183

The hardware area. I see some rat traps, shovel heads, scythes.

IMG 5187

This is the type of grass sold that is woven into baskets. You can see a basket being sold in the picture.

IMG 5188

IMG 5189

This is a grass injera topper that a women has woven into a pattern that’s for sale. All of these are made without patterns but the designs come out of the women’s minds. So amazing.

IMG 5199

Bananas and oranges

IMG 5214

Eucalyptus branches make amazing tooth brushes when stripped of leaves.

IMG 5215

As modeled by Mark.

IMG 5219

A homemade butter. Definitely a different taste to what I am used to but this is used in hair and in food around holiday times.

IMG 5217

Seeing his market differently

IMG 5226

Incense and spices

IMG 5209

A rainbow of plastic shoes

Thanks for your support and prayers, friends!



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Master Tree Growers Training

It’s Master TreeGrower (MTG) time again! This is an amazing training spearheaded by an Australian organization called Beyond Subsistence. 

We were able to host and implement our first MTG training two years ago and this training is in a different region, more remote and into the countryside. 

IMG 4965

I’ll go more into the details at a later date but will you pray with us that as we learn much about erosion control, markets, different growing techniques, we can also clearly communicate about the Master and Creator. 

IMG 5027

Coffee Time

IMG 5079

The training involves many field visits and this man, Aba Mulu Neh, is a model farmer. Years ago, he put into practice ideas the 5Fs were teaching on fruit trees and it has brought incredible results for he and his family. He credits one fruit tree for bringing enough profit that it sent all his children to school. 

IMG 5088

Getting to the sites isn’t always easy. 

IMG 5112

But learning from others is always worth the trip. 

IMG 5148

IMG 5134

Another model farmer, Aba Atenaf, who has used farming techniques thought by 5Fs to help restore his land in numerous ways.  Mark accredits him to be the father of thousands of native seedlings we have propagated and distributed through the years in the Awi Zone, from seed collected on his property.