Wednesday, November 27, 2013

They Are Thankful For...

Sitting at dinner, The Littles started listing reasons they are thankful. Though we missed that moment, we tried to recreate it on video. Unsuccessful? Yes. Funny? Also yes.
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Still cracking up that Little J ends up talking about hyenas.

Sometimes The Littles are brilliant, profound and wax eloquently about God and His love. Just never on camera. 

Let me know if you need translation.

Happy Thanksgiving.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


There are still no societal clues that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. Online, I saw that Black Friday is this week. It’s surreal really, there are many parts of the holidays I miss but am thankful to be removed from the consumer frenzy that easily infests my heart. 

We travel to the northern city of Bahir Dar on Wednesday night, it’s a short 45 minute flight but a LONG 12 hour drive, so we are flying. It’s our team meeting and we are also going to celebrate Thanksgiving there (though the majority of our teammates are not American and at least four other nationalities are represented, yay for multi-cultural teams).

On Saturday, I hit up a large bazaar that happens once a year before Christmas, to try and get some shopping done. Christmas shopping was significantly shorter then previous years and lacked the same excited buzz but had it’s own charm.

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I’m pretty sure your holiday shopping did NOT look like this but you probably weren’t half as amused. 

Anyhow, on to the important part of the post:

We can get Christmas cards! Yeah, for real! It’s maybe $1.20 to send a letter to us and we love your mail. Yes, we are heavily suggesting. Even if we don’t know you and you read along, we would love to get to know you. We also use the letters and pictures as part of our daily prayers for our wonderful support network. 


Attn: Jon and Amy G.

PO box 127

Addis Ababa



Monday, November 25, 2013

Back To Curls

Oh, the braids have been fun.

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And I have been getting props in public as nearly everyone thinks that loose hair is unkempt.

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But their scalps can use a rest...

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And I am happy for these curly heads again.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Four Is Older Than Three

I kind of feel like I have run out of things to say, life feels routine and so I’ll just show you a bit of what we’ve been up to...

You guys, The Littles are growing up, changing so much. It’s fun and scary all at the same time.   

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I love watching them grow but I do hope parts of our life never change.

(Stef, Gav’s star magnet is shining bright!)



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food For Thought

This has circulated multiple times but i am posting it because I find it fascinating. Obviously choosing just one family from an entire country is not wholly representative but still has some validity. Also notice the household sizes as well as the food.

Here are just a few examples:
(All photos taken from realitypod)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Birthday In A Box

Our home church prayer group sent us a “Birthday party in a box” and they thought of everything and I mean, EVERYTHING.  It was such a blessing. 

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Jon and The Littles prep for the party.

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You all know how difficult it was for me to leave The Littles to go to language school, particularly with someone I didn’t know. God has provided an incredible woman, Weynshet who loves our girls dearly and watches them during the mornings.


This whole picture should be in parentheses, but I need to include that Weynshet has been so wanting The Littles hair braided as opposed to loose and bouncy and she spent a Saturday with us, braiding these girls’ locs. 

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I didn’t take many party pictures, but the moments were sweet.

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Musical chairs

 The Littles (and Jon and I) have been feeling the love as they celebrated their birthday.Their party was a sweet night of praising God for what He has done in our lives. The night ended with worship songs and then a prayer of blessing, a pastor from Burundi blessed them in French and then an American pastor prayed an English blessing over The Littles.

Can’t wait to see what year four brings. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Beauty Redefined

We took The Littles and neighbor Charlotte to a night of cultural dancing. They chose what they wanted to wear and when you are four, nothing about a full Oromo ensemble seems tacky. 

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Before a meal is served, hands are washed.

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Because this is how we eat

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One large plate is shared and each person is supposed to eat with their right hand. Oops, I see a mistake with this in this photo.

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Jon mentioned that the spinach would make the girls stronger than him.  Notice what they are all eating. 

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Everyone flexing, to show their newfound strength.

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But the greatest part of the night?

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Oh wait, no it wasn’t a random tourist taking pictures of the girls like they were part of the show.  ;) (Although, I guess the clothes made them look like that.)

But the best part was, before our eyes, beauty was being redefined for the girls. 

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Little J was taken with the “bouncy, puffy"-haired ladies.

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***In regards to the questions about the braids; No, I did not do it, a friend did. Yes, it did take awhile. Yes, they love it and it is extensions which means that a bit past the shoulders is their actual length and then they have the joy of extensions. 




Friday, November 15, 2013

The Birthday Bubble

We should have known, yesterday, when we went into The Little’s room, singing “Happy Birthday” and Little A immediately buried her head under the covers and started to cry. We recovered and showed them the fun things friends had sent and put on the boas and tiaras.

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Here’s the pasted on fake smiles.

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Here’s the first thing in the morning, “Hold on a second, it’s your birthday, let’s prep about what that means" talk.

It was kind of a rough day. You know how you anticipate something so long and then you ruin it because of elated expectations? I think that’s what happened.

And we kind of planned it to be a long weekend of celebration, going out with two friends tonight and a birthday party on Sunday. 

Lest I am too dramatic, there were bright points in the day. 

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This is how Little A handled the pressure of everyone singing to her.

On top of it all, I decided it was the night we had to take a family picture and no pressure, but these will be our new prayer card and some of you will hang them somewhere visible for the year and so we need to look like models and my kids have to smile and the lighting has to be perfect. Only I’m not a model and in the middle of a very excruciating growing my bangs out process. My kids wouldn’t smile and our background wasn’t ideal. 

So, here is the best family picture we got yesterday. 

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Yes, it is only one member of my family. Right now, I think that’s acceptable, right?

I raise my cupcake to an off-the-day redo. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Oh my girls. They’re almost four and I’m almost 30. We can barely remember what life was like without them.


But not a day passes where we don’t thank God for The Littles.


We love watching Him work in their lives, as He grows their faith and their inner beauty.


Happy Birthday to our sweeties. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Ongoing Fall Fest

 There are actually advantages to celebrating a season, when not living in it. There are no cultural or weather cues to signal a necessary end of the celebration. We are moving into summer here, the nights are very cool but the days are sunny, windy and beautiful.

This was actually on October 31st. After reverse trick-or-treating, we combined efforts with the neighbors (which in case I haven’t mentioned this week how great our two families we share our apartment building with are, allow me to tell you again, God blessed us with some amazing people). 

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These four cuties dressed up and had bags (Although The Littles were really confused because they thought trick or treating was giving candy away and we handed them empty bags.)IMG 6131

Then, the adults went into an apartment and we stood behind every door, every kitchen, bathroom and bedroom included, in costume and acted surprised and exclaiming over the kiddos and their costumes. 

While we all got into it, the dads did an exceptionally good job of switching up the costume behind every door and in three apartments, there were a lot of doors.

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I was a little shocked when I saw that Matt had used scotch tape on his nose to enhance the costume.IMG 6122

And this guy…not only changed costume but personality behind every door. Yes, if you know him at all, you can imagine how that went down. 

Make sure you check out the previous post for a video of him opening the door, to the fear and delight of the four trick-or-treaters.

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That night ended with cookie decorating and a homemade piñata bashing (and what’s cuter than a croc-wearing baby Belle swinging at a homemade pinata with a rolling pin, really?)

Time ran short for all our glorious plans for “Fall Fest”, no problem, we all live together (PYG peeps, there are moments that remind me of the amazing days at Marsteller), so we rescheduled the rest. 

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While the girls made homemade signs in prep for the fest, the men outdid themselves in decorating.
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Our neighbors pulled out their Christmas lights for the event.
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We found hotdogs (Never mind the label read, “At least 65% meat”).

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And enjoyed a night where we all brought out the sacred care package goodies and feasted.

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We roasted the biggest marshmallows we had ever seen.

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And The Littles were once again caught at that same conveniently low food table, shoveling food in as fast as they could.

We put the kids to bed and then circled our chairs around the grill and it made a pretty good campfire.

The best part…I don’t know if we are done partying over Fall yet, we still have a care package bag of candy corn. Surely a good enough reason for another get together… :)


Video below. :)

Our Version...

Friday, November 8, 2013

What Can We Say?

Our unscripted, unrehearsed attempt to say...
From every prayer, Facebook comment, Instagram like, e-mail, letter and package...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We're Not Missing Fall...

I mean, yes, we miss it, but it's been very celebrated in our apartment building. 

I am drafting our first print newsletter since being here…I struggle with what to write. Do I focus on how much life here amazes us, how thankful we are to have the privilege of serving here? Do I write also how my hearts aches so much sometimes I am surprised at the physical pain of it? How many times I have wet the shoulders of Jon's t-shirts with my tears? You guys, we've hit five months of being here and it's been good. Oh. so. good…but. oh. so. hard. You can pray I know what to write in that one page document to sum up five months and three moves. :) 

Our Fall festivities started with pumpkin carving night.


I was skeptical because we were using baking pumpkins with really thick flesh. I suggested painting on the pumpkins but there were some die hard traditionalists so I agreed as long as I was only required to be a support from the sidelines. I have about a 15 minute window to carve a pumpkin and still think it's fun. Maybe I am the grinch of Fall?!

On the 31st, we did some reverse trick-or-treating. We debated about this one as we didn't want to be the foreigners dumping candy.

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We decided the idea was a go and went to friends' homes and basically said (Remember, our languages is still very limited) "Today is a holiday in the USA where we dress up and give out candy, happy American holiday". It was so fun, so glad we did it.

 More to come…the newsletter beckons. :)




Monday, November 4, 2013

Two Flats On A Country Road

Driving back to Addis, we were enjoying the views 

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and our sleeping children...

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When Jon said, "We've got a flat tire". He hopped out, no big deal, I was just hoping our loaner van had all the necessary tools. I got the spare out. Two kind men had already come along and offered to help. If you have vehicle trouble here, the vehicle stays on the road and you find big rocks to make a little perimeter. 

Then the next words were not the ones I wanted to hear. "The spare is flat". After asking a few passerby's, we learned the nearest town with a tire repair was 20 kilometers away. We prayed and then tried to flag down a vehicle. They were few and far between and they were full or too hurried to stop. FInally a bus pulled over and they loaded the two tires on the top rack and Jon squeezed aboard but not before he said, "Hey, maybe this will be the first night we sleep in a barn." He smiled and I didn't. The bus driver dropped him at the tire shop and wouldn't even let Jon pay for the ride.

A man who was passing by, walking home with his two bulls designated himself our guardian. While the Littles played in the dirt, we chatted. As many walked home from their days, they would stop and chat about the situation. After about 1 1/2 hours, with darkness nearing, I could tell our friend was getting nervous. His home was far and he had to walk his animals in before dark. He asked if we would walk with him but I didn't know what Jon would think if he came back and we were gone. :)

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One of the little friends who kept me entertained.

About 30 minutes after our friend left, a minibus slowed and then stopped.

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I told Jon I had never been so happy to see him, including our wedding day. I was kidding (partially). :)

Although knowing the sun was setting was stressful (driving in the dark is not recommended), it was probably about one of my favorite sunsets I have ever seen. 

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So, we will take the unfortunate event as a trade off for this very gorgeous view that we never get to see in Addis. We did get back to Addis well after dark.

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Thankful we didn't have to spend the night in a barn. :)