Thursday, October 31, 2013


When I said in the last post that we received undeserved gifts, I truly mean just that. We were benefactors of extravagant generosity. We were also tagging along with the team and so were about 1,000% humbled. Trying to write the entire experience over simplifies something that has layers of dynamics. I have recently felt voiceless as I investigate and pray through good practice on telling other's stories. For right now, the only story I feel equipped to tell is our own family's.  

That aside, the parents and staff had been secretly planning two "meetings" for when the Lifesong vision team would arrive. Our first stop, we watched children and then government officials give presentations and express their thankfulness at quality schools made available. Then the rounds of gifting started.

When I heard that The Littles were going to go in front of all of the parents and officials to receive a gift, I prepped them, "No matter what it is, be thankful and smile!" For good measure I added, "If you do good here, I will give you chocolate!"

They didn't have to feign delight as they opened their gift and were given beautiful Oromo dresses and all the accompanying jewelry and were promptly dressed by women.

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Next, the adults were called and given gifts.

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Jon and I each were also given an outfit. Have you ever had someone help you get dressed while several hundred people watch? Yeah, first time for me too.

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 It was so special to see Gary and Peggy Ifft from Misgana Ministries be thanked for the tireless work they have done on behalf of these communities. 

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We were so encouraged by our time with Bob and Ann, longtime friends from our church. 

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Waiting to be fed a traditional dish. Crushed barley, butter and spices. We were instantly given water afterwards as it somehow sucks all the moisture out of your mouth immediately. 

Being there was an indescribable blessing. Ceremony #2 coming tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ZAT Project

So, as you've noticed, we weren't in Addis for a several day jaunt south of the city. We so enjoyed our time with a team from Lifesong for Orphans.

We were invited along and were undeservedly treated like guests of honor. Two of the school sites had a surprise program prepared by parents, school staff and community members in thanks to the many who have sacrificially given (through monthly sponsorship and one time gifts) for their children to go to school.

Lifesong works with orphaned and vulnerable children. The schools in Ziway and Adami Tulu (Zat Project) provide a high quality education and two meals a day.

At one school, the students' drama club put on a short play, starting with two vulnerable children being found, enrolled in school and fed. It was touching to see the children's view on how lives are changed through education.

(Pictures from this post at Ziway Preschool)

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Watching morning routine, complete with worship. 

Several weeks ago, we invited a friend for dinner. As he sat on the couch, he told his story. One of his siblings had been sponsored through a sponsorship program. Now, at age 18, this young man points to that program as what God used to bring his entire family through some incredibly difficult years. Through the sponsorship, their family could stay together. 

Sponsoring a child for $19 a month truly changes lives.

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And a few other fun pics...

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Playing "Follow the Leader" tirelessly...

IMG 5933 Where were The Littles during all of this?

They started here...

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But warmed up and then...

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and later, at the elementary, while we helped with sponsorship updates...

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I could look out for the white scarves and find them being very well-loved.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hey Look, A Hippo!

I am not sure how the hippo became a cute little stuffed animal in the Western world. They are huge, kind of scary and a little sneaky.

After hearing there were life jackets, I changed my mind and said The Littles and I would go. Too bad I didn't think through the fact that they already heard me say they couldn't go because it was too dangerous. We had one very stressed out Little A on our hands. :) 

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Our hippo-seeking vessel...

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All aboard!

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Little J felt a bit braver about the escapade...

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"Hey Little A, look a hippo!"

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And about this point I started to say, "Okay guys, this is close enough, let's go"…I didn't want angry hippos overturning the boat

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Glad we went? Yes. 

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Glad to be back on land? Also, yes.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Picture To Make You Smile

Whew!  We have so much to talk about!  

Life's been go, go, go around here so hopefully we can catch you up soon. :)

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We were able to hang out with Dana and Kim last week, friends from our home state, as they came to pick up their daughter. We love you guys!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Big 3-0

Decorating birthday cupcakes with The Littles is like 60% fun and 40% stressful.


The handsome man in our house turns 30 this weekend. 

We are heading out of town to join with a group from Lifesong for Orphans, so excited. :) 

We would be so grateful for all prayers offered for God's protective hand to guide us on the roads.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We're Fancy Like That...

The Littles had collaborated during naptime, "Let's put on fancy clothes and go out to a fancy restaurant!" and who are we to stand in the way of two very fancy preschoolers?

We talked them out of wearing their tattered princess dresses as we weren't sure of cultural implications and convinced them of the next best thing. Gasp! LONG dresses. Very fancy. 
 While The Littles waited for us to get ready, they did the very fancy monkey bars, unhindered by their unders showing. :)

Then we drove to a restaurant that had "Mexican" on the sign because we are fancy like that. 

Positive that any fine dining experience includes dancing, The Littles and Jon had some moves. Thankfully, we were the only people in the restaurant. (And yes, I did get Jon's permission to post this video. :))
And The Littles ordered corn dogs because only the finest restaurants have those. (Seriously though, first hot dogs we have seen in a restaurant here-they were delighted).

Here's a picture of my food. Don't be deceived by it's Mexican appearance. It was good but the enchiladas were filled with curried chicken. It was like Indian/Mexican fusion.
The evening was topped off with something ice-creamish that came in a cone. Totally a win.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Instagram Photo Drop

A glimpse of our life through recent Instagrams...

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Saying goodbye to a friend, Maria, as her family moves "down-country",

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Charlotte drew a picture of the three amigas, I thought it was so cute.

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One of the reasons a 20 minute workout takes me over 50.

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This roadside puppy vendor had some pretty adorable options but our "no-bringing-animals-from-the-streets" policy won over cuteness.

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Guess what this says? "I bought coffee. Be strong woman." Guess who wrote it? ME!

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Ethiopia vs. Nigeria. Football (soccer) games here are like a holiday.

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The streets are like driving through an Ethiopian flag on game day.


We found a pool on a day off language school.  Nice time…though had a hilariously creepy backdrop.

Follow along on instagram: Amy: jonyamy Jon: gerstjon


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

View Of Our Street

God's given us community behind our house and I have two perfect windows to watch it all. 

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Jon plays soccer while the girls play something…else. I am not sure what. I asked them if they understood what was happening or what was being played and they said no. :) They played for a long time when I realize they didn't catch on the whole time. 

Thankful for how God has blessed us with so much community in our city stay.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life's Tough on Turtles

I can only imagine how hard it would be to be a turtle. They move slowly and Jon and Matt just had to rescue one who fell upside down into a sand pit. If they tip over, that's the end. 

Soccer Saturdays prove especially difficult for the turtles. This turtle was minding his own business, all pulled in on the sidelines when the soccer ball bounced off his shell. He decided he needed to get out of there and at his turtle's pace, he would crawl to the middle of the field. I think we witnessed the equivalent of a turtle going crazy.

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Do you see it? Creeping across the field? Two men would move it to the sidelines and it would crawl, back, to the middle of the field.

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Discussing where to put the turtle so it would stay away, at this point, they have moved it at least 5 times.  

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After multiple times, they moved it all the way to the other side. That lasted about 1 minute. It's not to be deterred, crawling back for the center of the field. 

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Poor guy, maybe he just wanted to play?

Meanwhile, the turtle's counterpart who normally hisses and withdraws into her shell if anyone nears, was thirsty enough to approach the girls in their mud pit play (they had water).

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You have to be brave to be a turtle and approach The Littles.

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Of course, the fun drama of a turtle rescue was about the most fun thing that these three could have imagined.

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They loved on the turtle, about as much a hissing, hard-shelled animal can be loved on. I wonder if she could feel all the loving rubs they gave her.

 I am very endeared to these animals, I hope they stick around!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall In The Spring

We are technically moving into Spring here. Not wanting to miss the Fall festivities, when driving by souks I have been scoping them out and I spied pumpkins for sale.  I love baking with pumpkin and am quite used to opening a can and dumping it in the bowl.

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I feel like this is the great start to a joke, "There were three ferenji walking down the street and… " 

This is way cheaper (and harder) but then I can feel all homemakerish. One cooked pumpkin had about 18 cups of pureed pumpkin. We've had pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin pancakes. We've had some wins and some losses with all the new recipes.

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As many of you have graciously shared vegetarian recipes with me, here's one we loved. I served it over rice as I didn't think The Littles would eat a whole bowl.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

4 cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

3 Tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups pumpkin puree

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cup pico de gallo (with tomatoes, onions, chili peppers)

Curry powder (to taste)

Cumin (to taste)

Cayenne pepper (to taste)

Sautee garlic, onion, and green pepper. After 4 minutes, add curry powder, cumin and cayenne, for three more minutes. Blend in flour and salt. Add  broth and heat until it thickens, add remaining ingredients and heat through.