Friday, May 31, 2013

Four More Sleeps

That’s it. Four days. It’s exciting, surreal, sad and sweet.

We said goodbye to aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on Memorial Day.

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Trying on Grandma’s wedding dress.

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Enjoying family and Dan and Deb’s puppies.

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The Littles liked the puppies, but not as much as Riley’s Rapunzelesque hair.

The week has been blessed with friends, family and some new experiences.

Like all four of us spending ALL DAY in a salon on Thursday (More pictures to come).


The Littles had their feet washed by friends in an act of “sending” them to the Awi people.

Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is my last “work” day here!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guess Who’s Coming With Us!

This lady!

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Woohoo!  My mom is going to fly over with us and spend our first two weeks with us.  Jon and I will have meetings and appointments in government buildings and that will monopolize our time. Not having to haul around two jet-lagged, disoriented toddlers sounds like a good deal to me. We are so thankful.

We leave a week from today. (We fly out on June 5th, but will leave on June 4th to spend the night in Chicago).

So, how are we doing?  Well, The Littles are touchy and sensitive, thrown off by the packed suitcases and saying goodbyes. Their Mama also happens to be touchy and sensitive and their Daddio, well, he’s just doing all he can to stabilize the three women in his life. Bless him.

Thanks for your love and prayers.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Kitten Name Game

Toodles, our wonder cat, is now Toodles, the wonder mama. Yep, four sweet baby kitties now reside with us.

First things first in the morning. The Littles snuggle a bit until they remember to bound off for the dress up box, ripping off pajamas on the way. “Mama, can we braid my ‘hair’?”

(Sorry for the photos snapped on the phone lately)

A pre-breakfast visit to the kitties.


Same scene, different view.


When asked what to name the kittens, they had some ideas. 


For the females: Fancy Nancy, Princess, Litte Kitty, Truly, Bree, Tianna, Lucylala, Lulu, Lady Paige, Meg


For the males: Excellent, Robin, Ralph, Ralphie, Diego, Sir Wobbleton, Rob, Lot & Bear Lovie

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Daddy Mama

On Mother’s Day, for some unknown reason, The Littles started addressing Jon as “Mama”.  Annoying? Yes. However, I will take it because it spawned a great idea for which my husband deserves a medal.

Packing up is something I have thought through, planning out suitcases and totes in my mind, it is hard to delegate it, even to Jon. So, his brainchild was that he would be the “daddy mama” for the week. As in, he is 100% in the child care role and is even cooking meals and cleaning up so I am freed up to pack, sort and purge with few interruptions.

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Bless him.

We are hitting it hard this week, with hopes to be living out of suitcases by the weekend so we can focus on last minute details and fun in the following week. A few friends are going to help clean our spaces in grandma’s house on Friday and Saturday.

Kids usually regress through transition.


Don’t worry, Little A didn’t really go back to a pacifier, she was just playing “baby”.

Overall, The Littles seem to be powered by your prayers and doing wonderfully.

The purging is freeing, sometimes fun and sometimes not.


Jon and I both tried to get all our clothes in one tote. I had sent some things in another tote and this doesn’t include my socks and underwear. This was uber-hard. Hard to limit but also hard realizing that all of my clothing “sacrifices” still meant I am probably going to be way over-dressed with just straight up too many options to be culturally relevant.

We laughed about how much easier this would be after we have lived there for a bit. We will look back and roll our eyes at ourselves and our over-exaggeration at the difficulty of getting rid of stuff. 

Jon and I feel your prayers too. Normally under stress, we don’t show grace to each other (especially when packing!) and are easily offended but we are, dare-I-say-it, having fun!

My plan to this point is clean out the rooms and drag it into the basement, my packing headquarters.

I can’t believe I am showing you this but here is what I am facing.


Projects like this always get worse before they get better.

At least that is what I tell myself. :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Few Steps Closer

Wheaton training highlight: Matt, Kristi and Mercy also attended. We spent our spare minutes hashing out life’s problems.

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Matt and Kristi are both doctors with SIM also preparing to serve in Ethiopia. Jon is brainstorming how to do some CHE (Community Health Evangelism-Combo of a doctor with an agriculturalist as an outreach strategy) down the road with them. (Let’s make this happen, okay Floreks?)

Back in Indiana on Saturday, we were honored to pick up our team leaders up at the airport. Mark and Debbie are North Ethiopia directors and our team leaders. Their son Jonathan was with them and we had a whirlwind 24 hours of laughter, conversation and fellowship. We downloaded information and they “handed off the baton” as they are just beginning their year on home assignment. All four of their children are now back in the US for schooling.

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This is old news for those who get our newsletter, but after spending 1-2 weeks in Addis Ababa, we will go to Injibara to live for the summer before starting our language school in Addis and then on to Bahir Dar. They have so graciously moved out of their home where they raised their kids and readied it for our arrival. Not everyday that someone up and gives you their house.

We sold them our trusty van (probably the spot where we have spent the most time this year!).

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  Sniff, sniff, bye Odyssey.

Obviously, a day with our team leaders cannot fully prepare us but it helpfully slides our expectations closer to reality.

We are going to need wisdom. So much wisdom. It was wonderful to hear how God is moving among the Awi. Keep praying for His light to penetrate the darkness.

Eating breakfast with some from my family was a wonderful collision of the two worlds we are straddling. Next, Mark and Debbie met our wonderful church family and they felt the love that has tethered us and bonded us so deeply.

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With the momentum at having a departure date two weeks out, meeting our team leaders and packing suitcases, waves of joy, then fear, then excitement, then sadness, then peace crash around us. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Memories They Won’t Forget

We’ve had such the weekend. Seriously. I can’t wait to tell you about it.

We are home from training and have had a chance to spend time with our Littles. Two very spoiled and very happy Littles.

Uncle Nick and Aunt Kris turned our week of training into a staycation for The Littles…like a staycation for their nieces when they both took off work and just partied.

Walks to nearby parks


Birthday parties (two of them, even though their birthday is months away)


Trips to YoYos


More park adventures


Making cupcakes and licking the dishes clean


The zoo


Trips to library to find dvds for their cuddly movie times


And according to The Littles, that’s just the beginning.

Not too bad. This week, The Littles are on detox.  Jon is taking role of “Daddy Mama” but more on that later…

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

While We're Away

This is our last training. I am reminding myself not to just sit through it but really glean all the wisdom shared here. I sort of feel like I have trained to know surface level in 1,000 topics but not really be proficient in any of them.

At least I don't have to worry about The Littles. Here is the start to their first morning with Uncle Nick and Aunt Kris.
It looks like Captain Nick has Snow White and Minnie completely entertained. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tick Tock

The countdown is on. If I quiet myself and sit for a moment, I can hear the ticking clock, with each beat, reminding me, “Just keep moving, forward progress!” I think of Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” And we do.

Our weekend was sweet, blessed to have a reliable vehicle to get from place to place, hugging, laughing and talking…and some tears. Those who know me well know me at all know that tears are as common to me as words themselves. If I  feel strong emotion, joy, sadness, etc, I cry. Needless to say, there were tears and times when the bitter threatened to overwhelm the sweet but by the grace of God, we keep swimming.

We said goodbye to siblings and nieces and nephews. I cried through the hugs and choked out “I love you’s”, not able to say much else. My tears dripped on little heads as they looked up at me with questioning eyes. I assured them we were okay.

I can’t imagine how different this scene will look in two years. 9 grandkids, who recently discovered it is GREAT to play together and two amazing grandparents.

Gerst Grandkids 

Goodbyes were hard on the girls. It was all too much for Little A and we are praying them through this time.

Jon and I have our last training, starting tomorrow. The Littles get to stay at Uncle Nick and Aunt Kristen’s. I am tired today and sad to leave my kids but overflowing with my God who personally holds me in His hands, Who comforts me in goodbyes, confirms His plans for us among the Awi and cloaks me with His love.

June 2nd, we will have a commissioning service at our local, sending church and then an evening open house for anyone who would be interested. You can contact me with more information. I promise to do all I can to not cry…too much. :)

On June 4th, we will ride up to Chicago, in preparation for our early morning flight on June 5th.

Bless you. Bless you for reading, for introducing yourself, for loving, for caring, for praying.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Oops, have to keep swimming!

Friday, May 10, 2013

“I Buried It Like A Kitty!”

This weekend, we were going to small town Indiana for some family QT.  Then, there was the death of a family friend. Our plans changed to Michigan. Then, Jon’s uncle died. So now, we are heading to Iowa. What a reminder that this world is truly not our home.

Iowa makes the 25th state we have traveled to since November. In between trips, we have managed to get rid of a few more things, shove a few more things in suitcases, purchase one way tickets to Ethiopia (June 5th departure)  and visit daddio in the field.

After riding with daddio in the tractor, we picnicked and all was going fine until nature’s call was urgent. She said the potty couldn’t wait.  What’s a mama to do but shrug her shoulders and joy in her kiddos flexibility?

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And of course, what one Little does, the other does too.

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Little J came around the tractor triumphantly, proclaiming, “I buried it like a kitty!”

And then we laughed, put our to-do lists aside and breathed deeply while The Littles adventured.

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If you don’t get the ridiculous scarves, check this out.

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Now we know The Littles think squatting and burying poop is fun.

We’re good. Moving forward. On the road again but oh. so. blessed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tale As Old As Time…

I am in a chaotic stage of parenting right now. It seems we are in a new stage that is not responding to my normal “go-to” disciplines. Out in public, I have recently been told multiple times, “Wow, you’ve got your hands full”.  Translation: “Wow, your kids are totally out of control”.

So we will take the good with the bad, rejoicing in the blessed moments that are inexplicably sweet.

Setting the scene: We walked down the path, through the woods to watch the tractors in the field. The Little’s obsession with long hair has continued and they commonly ask me to “braid” their “hair”.  You need to know that the whole time this was happening, they were singing “Beauty and the Beast”.

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They forgot to watch the tractors as excitement over the field of “flowers” overcame them.

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“Tale as old as time…

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Both a little scared, neither one prepared…

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Beauty and the Beast.”

Yes, this is a moment we can do again. :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dandelion Fields

June 5th is our new target departure date.  Yes, that is one month from yesterday!  I hope to make some big strides this week regarding packing, purging and purchasing.

For now, we will keep enjoying the many little joys Spring brings.



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Testing the Waters

“Please can we swim, Mama, please?” 

I dragged out the kiddie pool and warned The Littles it would be ice-cold. Undeterred, they put on their suits.

They started out slowly and carefully, testing the waters.

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As the slide got wet and faster, Little A reconsidered.

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Hmm.  That was a little too fast. I almost got wet.

Then the differences in personality strongly emerged. Little J, clambered up with her toys, told them “don’t be scared” and then shoved them down the slide, hurtling herself down after them.

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Little A talked sweetly to her toys, climbed up the ladder, sent them down the slide and then climbed down herself.


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I love this contrast.

In our life, Jon is like the Little J in this picture, full throttle ahead and I am like Little A, not too sure if I want to get wet, definitely don’t want to be cold. That’s okay. Hopefully we strike some sort of balance. :)