Friday, March 16, 2018

A Bullet Point Version

This dear, old blog has been a sweet friend to our family. Thank you for weathering the ups and downs with us and now the silence. I am in this glorious, full-on stage of life. I love it at this same time, I am exhausted and my brain operates…at a reduced capacity. I sit behind my keyboard, looking at the white screen, just waiting for brilliant words but then, I only think of this phrase, “Sleep while the kids are sleeping!” ;)

On February 15, as a result of the Ethiopian Prime Minister stepping down, there has been a state of emergency declared and the country is currently under military rule. There have been meetings happening and it’s expected a new Prime Minister will be named any time. The nation proceeds as normal at the same time, there is a slight sense of waiting with baited breath and travel plans changing. Jon is out of the country now on some business and I am in Addis Ababa with the kiddos. God has been sustaining and sent along many faithful friends to lift the load. Good friends of ours, the Kruse family, even extended their time in Addis Ababa to offer their many hands while Jon is traveling. 

A lot of ground has been covered since I last wrote and my trusty old Mac is sl o  w   i    n     g down so pictures are more than I can mess with right now, all out of order and never downloading all. So, here’s the best I can do, the bullet point version. 

-We said "goodbye” to Eliza

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Christmas morning Eliza gave the girls super-hero outfits. 

-Traveled for holiday to South Africa

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This little specks on the beach are J and A. 

-Said “hello” to Papa and Nana

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Cracks me up that mom and dad look 4 feet tall in this picture

-Celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on Table Mountain

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-Extended our trip in Cape Town because of unrest in Ethiopia

-Back to Injibara

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-Celebrated a certain joyful, chunky baby’s 1st birthday

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-Back to Addis to say “goodbye” to Papa and Nana and to daddy as he travels

-“Hello” to Aubrey (A new intern to help our family with homeschooling and baby for the next 3.5 months!)

All of this has been under a shadow of insecurity for what might happen next here. Kind of a weird season. 

Thank you for sticking with us and praying for our family as well as the Awi. I’ve been thinking about the way so many pour out love and generosity and I pray for each one and know I cannot repay but great is your reward in heaven. 






Tuesday, February 27, 2018


 We went to South Africa to enjoy a holiday and met my parents there for a planned week vacation. We were supposed to return to Ethiopia to spend 2 weeks with my parents accompanying us to Injibara. However, because the Prime Minister suddenly announced his resignation on February 15th, the situation was unsteady enough that we were not able to return to Injibara. (Ironically, the President of South Africa stepped down on February 14).  Instead of returning to Ethiopia and waiting out the waves of political upheaval at a guest house in Addis Ababa, we extended our stay in Cape Town and fly back to Ethiopia tomorrow, February 28th, where we pray we can go to our station together on March 1st. 

I am thankful for the Lord’s provision that once again, in the unsteady political climate, we were out of Ethiopia. A state of emergency is put into place for the next six months for the country and there is talk of a new Prime Minister being named this week. Pray for peace, wisdom, justice and protection of innocent lives. As I am sure you can guess, this also isn’t my favorite situation to take our kids into but we are peaceful. 

And I can’t think of too many other places where I’d rather wait out a situation. Cape Town is ocean, remote beaches, tidal pools, warm bays, mountains, sunshine, braai and animals.  Just wildly amazing and beautiful. Also, wild in an untouched sort of way.  In a penguins swimming around your legs, ostriches grazing on deserted beach, baboons in our kitchen, seals on the pier, a pod of orcas sighted off the balcony, baby shark laying at my feet kind of way. We made a list of wildlife we had seen and not counting bird and fish species, we are at well over 20. 

Putting up these pictures, I’m laughing at how non-chaotic we look. At the risk of being a broken record, traveling with babies is chaos. We’ve got some sweet babies and people are gracious.  

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Wading between boulders looking for penguins There are 3000 penguins in the colony. 

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All but Tiger, he just wanted to touch them but we kept stopping him because we wanted him to keep his fingers intact. 

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They would swim all around us.

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Then we were down at the Cape of Good Hope and I am exclaiming, “GIRLS! WOW. This is just what we studied! Who was the first explorer to come around this Cape?” and they blankly stared at me. They did like the wild ostriches though.

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I didn’t get a picture of this mama baboon and her baby sitting on our kitchen counter. I noticed banana peels outside on the steps, along with a knocked over jar of peanut butter and assumed J and A had a snack. Then I noticed spilled granola, moving into the kitchen, there they were. We stared at each other and I slowly walked towards Miss T, who was alone and crawling around the kitchen floor. “Umm. Guys, baboons are in the house!” The mama baboon loaded up her arms with a cereal box and fruit, she left an apple she had started on the counter, her baby jumped on her back and they ran out. 

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The seals were jumping onto a pier, clearing out fish the fishermen had dropped. Jon decided to try and touch it and…

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Oh my word. I wish I had a video. Jon leaping backwards as the seal aggressively came towards him, barking and chomping. 

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And following our theme, here’s Tiger, so bugged he can’t pet the animals!

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Look at this shark…it was kind of cute, only because I wasn’t in the water. 

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We have babies obsessed with birds. 

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Thank you so much for your prayers. 
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Here’s our child-friendly “horsey” we found. 


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Just Stand

 From the “Spiritual Survival Handbook for Cross-Cultural Workers”, this quote resonates as it seems to be written directly to me. 

“Realize that the terrain changes quickly in ministry. One week, it feels like the world is falling in on you; it feels like things couldn’t get worse. Don’t react, attack or retreat. Just stand! Stand in faith. These moments of difficulty will pass in due time. It is important that you see that God is able to sustain you in the midst of trials. The next week everything seems to be going well. Be thankful, but realize that there will be challenging days ahead. Don’t give yourself to opinions, emotions, or circumstances. Move in the Spirit. Stay on the trail. Keep running the race.”

From my deepest core, thank you for your prayers and encouragements regarding the last post. I knew in writing, I was at risk of saying too much. Usually when I recognize myself in a desperate state, I stay far away from the computer keyboard to avoid the risk of exposing my soul in an extremely vulnerable state. However, prayers are vital and you all know I am not some superhuman. Another thought from our Spiritual Life Conference, quoting Daniel Hahn, “Inadequacy turns out to be our greatest gift because dependency is our greatest achievement”. 

Your prayers and our return home have been a balm to my soul. We have been able to stay here and we are so thankful to see our neighbors again! Jon has found internet if he drives to Tafera’s house…a bit like dial-up speed but its there. I’ll have to limit the pictures but I at least wanted to post and say, “I’m ok, thanks for caring so much.” :)

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Here is some of our frost! I know this doesn’t compare to your snow. :)

A few pictures of our time with the Schrocks (hopefully more to come). We are so thankful for their visit. Graham and Hudson take amazing photographs that I haven’t even finished weeding through yet but photo credit to them!

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Besides this one, credit to Jon. 

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 Their view out of their “loft” window. (It’s actually an attic but Eliza and Whitney have made it cozy).

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By God’s grace, we are still standing. Thanks for your prayers.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

He Sees Me

The last weeks have gone vastly different than planned. As God allows, we travel North again today, finally back to our home but for various reasons, it may only be a few days before we leave for another location. For the last few days, I’ve been raw and on the edge of tears. Please pray with us for safety, settling and the ability to stay in our Injibara home for more than a few days. 

Have you ever chosen a word for the year? As I explained in the last post, I have only chosen one in retrospect, giving a year a word in hindsight but this year, I was challenged by a friend to intentionally find a word to focus on in the future, 2018. I had initially thought of the word abundant but am I allowed to shift mid-January? If so, this time, it’s a phrase. Maybe I am more like a-word-of-the-week kind of gal. 

 At our Spiritual Life Conference we spent some time reflecting and discussing this Rembrandt painting, “The Storm On the Sea of Galilee”. We had a very large image of the painting and I don’t know if it will have the same effect here but what stood out most to me was the disciples desperately pulling on the sails, doing everything in their power to keep the boat from sinking and there lays Jesus, peaceful, all-knowing, unphased. Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

He saw the disciples in their distress. When asked to reflect on what emotions we felt while looking at the painting, I was surprised one of my first emotions was frustration. How could Jesus be witnessing the desperate state of his friends and just calmly sit there? Why wasn’t he intervening? How could He have been sleeping? I know He is with us in every storm but why does he sit? I’m okay having these emotions because I know God is big enough to handle them. Since then, I’ve mentally returned to this image and new thoughts flood my mind. Jesus saw them. He wasn’t ignoring the storm, and just as the disciples can rest in the assurance Jesus is in the boat, I can too. He sees me. He sees my storms. He sees me in the night time feedings and early mornings. He sees our displaced family. He sees the beauties and the pains of our Awi neighbors. He sees the tears, mine and the ones I wipe from the cheeks of my children. He sees me, He knows me and He still invites me to rest in Him. 

He sees me.

We are not alone.

Whew! That was a bit heavier than I expected…Suitcases are waiting to be loaded and I am waiting to see if the water comes on so I can shower. I hope the next time you hear from me, I’m in Injibara!

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Thanks for all your prayers!


Thursday, January 11, 2018


Life’s been a little on the low side. It’s seen in our routines (6 different locations for our family since Christmas Eve), sleep patterns, in every luxeccesity (my word i created during one of my many nighttime wakes).

Luxeccesity: (n) luxuries for most in the country that are perceived necessities for me, example, power, running water, internet.

This morning the water came. I was so happy and waiting for a shower but then there was no hot water because of a power problem. Hmm. hot water is also another one of my luxeccesities. We’ve been flushing our toilet with buckets (especially hard as we’ve been passing around a stomach bug along with a cold), filling small tubs with boiled water hauled from buckets for the babies’ bath time.  hopping online when we see the signal to find internet.

Now, to move on from my whining, all the night time wake-ups, kids in our bed, gave me time to mentally frame this blog post. :) As I lay between two kids (a big and a little), I know I wouldn’t change it. Yes, I would change that water runs from the pipes, I would choose internet and that we could be in our village home in Injibara, but I was flooded with thankfulness for these four children, as circus-like as we may be, the man God has given me who is an amazing father and has incredible vision for how to see the Word of God spread here. As much as I dread the revolving door of cross-cultural workers here and so. many. GOODBYES, I also am blessed by the many deep friendships here. 

We are in Addis Ababa for the time being and as internet has been cut in the countryside, we’ve made the hard choice that we need to stay in Addis Ababa until internet is turned back on in the countryside as Jon is working on his MBA on an online program. He has a heavy load this semester. I know God uses this time, we are abundantly blessed in our Addis relationships, with Ethiopian and expatriates alike. I also crave our life in the village, busy in some ways but so much more peaceful in others. And that is our home. 

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In the mornings when both babies want mama. It’s so cute and quickly turns painful as they crawl all over me like a jungle gym.

We currently have two Awi medical patients in Addis and it has been a blessing to be in contact here (but so hard…hospitals here are very difficult for me). God is astounding us with how He is blessing our time in the capital and connecting the new project we get to steward, KIBIR Consulting (Kingdom Impact Business and Investment Resources) by bringing a dynamite and godly manager as well as connections and excitement pouring from unknown places and meetings that leave us undoubtedly sure God is moving this concept forward.


Do any of you choose a word upon starting your new year? I would love to hear yours. I have never done it before but I give words a year in retrospect. This year, I do want to focus on a word and the word that keeps coming back to me is abundant. Even though I am now in a low circumstantial time, I praise the God of abundance and the ways He deals abundantly with me. Abundant grace, abundant mercy, abundant children, abundant ministry.  Praise Him. 

Now a glimpse from past pictures.

Before Christmas, as we studied the Renaissance in school, Eliza practiced a Christmas song with the girls so they could have a recital. It was adorable. These dresses were from Great-Grandma and have been perfectly timed with our renaissance study. :)

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They were so nervous as they played for us and Mark and Debbie but also proud.

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Eliza played a Christmas song first on the violin.

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A asked if we could all close our eyes.

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J beamed the whole song.

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We had a “reception" and I loved the dress hoops as the girls considered which dessert to have.

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Yay for Renaissance ladies! Who I let have free reign on the treats. 5 cookies each went on their plates and I smiled and shut my mouth.

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And yay for Mark and Debbie dressing up and blessing us with their attendance.

Thanks for reading and praying us along. We love you.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Travel and Pictures

We travel today to Addis Ababa, which will give us the weekend before a week long conference. We have enjoyed a few days break in Bahir Dar and enjoyed each other (and wifi) while we were here.

Here are a few pictures I’ve never shared.  

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The babies sharing a bowl of gooseberries. Tiger has really gotten into pulling Miss T’s hair or pinching her chubby cheeks so we can’t let them alone for a second. She holds her own with toys though. 

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Here are the girls on the morning we got our sweet little puppy. Tomoca is a great addition to the family and so much healthier after her medicines! She does nip, I think we have five teethers right now. The girls classify themselves as teething as they are losing teeth and gaining new ones. :)

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The babies love the puppy. When she whines outside of the door, they imitate her sounds and ask for the “puppy” or “Mona!”

And this…so much glorious imperfection (My favorite being Miss T’s overall buttons being completely undone)

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so much glorious imperfection (My favorite being Miss T’s overall buttons being completely undone) 

And because I have so much to catch up on in the past, I’m going to try and include a throwback picture or two in each post. 

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Field Days in the city, once again, such a blast to cheer on our team and our girls, who practiced this year and enjoyed it more than ever before. They did the best in their three-legged race event. Probably the practice and the twin advantage. :)

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Here’s our future track and field star. :) An asset to any team, little Tiger is coordinated. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Story of Christmas As Told By Puppets

Though this won’t be seen for awhile, I’m writing two days before Christmas and hope to go to a location on Christmas day with wifi. Currently, the babies are sleeping, the rest are curled up watching a Christmas movie. The days are warm and sunny here but we are getting frost. Jon’s pretending it’s snow so we can have a white Christmas. Our house does feel chilly in the mornings too! Jon dreams of installing a fireplace, which sounds cozy right about now. I now spend our evenings and mornings in sweatshirts and blankets.

We are gearing up to be away from our home starting on Christmas day for 2 1/2 weeks. Time at meetings, time resting, time celebrating with friends, time to restock supplies…making meals takes extra creativity right now as many of my basic ingredients are gone. Leaving home always is a mixed bag, so many good things we do while away, but unsettling for the kids and I as all routines are thrown off. Not having any internet has been a challenge, like no internet to the point we can’t pull in e-mails but we continue to pray for peace in the country and an opening of communication lines. 

Our Advent season has been beautiful as we have slowed and taken the time for the season to soak in, in all of it’s shining glory. It’s so different to celebrate here from the USA, some things we miss dearly, while other things are so poignant here…most of the kids in our area are shepherd children, who were born in mud houses, some probably in the presence of animals. It has been a special time of making gifts for family, assembling gift bags for the orphanage and kids in prison. We don’t have the “hustle and bustle” and I miss it at the same time, never before have we been able to so fully embrace the season in our own ways. 

Teammates, a family from Canada and a family from Belgium prepared a beautiful puppet show about the true meaning of Christmas and God opened doors for three showings in our area. The first at a local orphanage.

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There are 48 kids at the orphanage. 15 babies not attendance. 

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But we did get to meet the newest member at the orphanage (where they are very well-loved by Catholic nuns from Latin America and a sweet Ethiopian staff). This baby had been there 4 days. Yes, if adoption were being allowed to foreigners, we would probably grow the family again because MELT MY HEART. 

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Passing out bananas at the end.

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We had two showings in our compound. At starting time, there were five shepherd boys, we waited a bit and by the end of the first showing, there were around 30 people. In the intermission between shows, the first five shepherd boys ran out the gate, gathering their friends.  More people entered and the second show was beautiful as well. We pray what was proclaimed takes root!

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The front row’s faces when the puppets made their first appearance. God has been so faithful in so many open doors. 

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I love this picture more though, the delight and disbelief by the men sitting in the back. 

and one last prayer request:

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8-year-old Aburich has a bone infection. After hospital visits, the family had opted against surgery and it is looking better with antibiotics. We are thankful for this but have also seen that deep bone infections do need surgery to fully heal the leg. Please pray for wisdom and open doors that this little girl can return to school and live a normal life. Bone infections left untreated most likely will result in leg amputation.