Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Baby Dik-Dik

Our neighbors rescued this baby Dik-Dik. 

IMG 2406

How are baby animals so cute!?!

Jon also spotted a bush baby in Tanzania. They are one of the most obnoxious sounding animals.


He went to go scare it away so we could sleep (it sounds like a cross between a dying duck and an obnoxious dog). Doesn’t this look like a cartoon?!

We sorely miss our children’s zoo but we also stumble upon amazing animals.


This herd of camels blocked the road. We inched by these animals that seem so proud. In Ethiopia, if you hit an animal, you pay for it on the spot. We don’t carry enough cash to cover hitting a camel one is worth about $1000 USD. Many people groups drink their rich milk.

A Big Problem With A Tiny Start

Before launching into the post, a note on care packages. We LOVE ‘em. They bless us immensely and it is the cause of great giddiness in our house. However, we have had the mystery of missing packages. A few have gotten through but now we have missing packages (one from November). However, if we can produce a tracking number, the disappearing package manages to suddenly appear! It seems like it takes at least one month but have waited around three for others. If you send one, just hold on to that tracking number and if you haven’t heard from us in three months about it, maybe let us know one is supposed to be on the way and the tracking number. We have suggestions to if you want ideas, just shoot us an e-mail! :)


Onto the annoying topic of mosquitos. They have been on my mind since Zanzibar, especially because Little A seemed to be putting off a pheromone that made her so succulent, poor child was covered in mosquito bites. Malarial mosquitos don’t live at high altitudes so we don’t have them in Addis Ababa or Injibara. 

When we travel to other places in Ethiopia, we start our malaria meds and often sleep under mosquito nets.

IMG 9981

Here is an example of mosquito nets put up for the day in Langano. At night, they are let down and tucked under the mattress. Malaria mosquitos are not active during the day but starting at dusk.


It was so annoying, you know how the bites are. Here are The Littles, oblivious to the beauty behind them, just so glad to have somewhere to scratch their mosquito bites. 

Here’s the reality, I have the luxury of being annoyed by mosquitos. For half of the world’s population, mosquitos are more than annoying, they are killers. Underneath our mosquito nets, on our malarial meds covered with repellant with access to medical care that can catch it early, it’s extreme unlikely we would die from malaria. 

According to Mashable.com, written by Bill Gates, "The worst is malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually."

The following graphic is also from mashable.com and though I don’t agree with humans being lumped as an animal but overlooking that, it is worth viewing. 

Mosquito Week Infographic

Through many organizations you can donate nets to parts of the world where malaria kills kids at a rate of one per minute. I have little personal experience with any of these agencies, so I hesitate to mention any but will mention one that stands out after minimal research. If interested in getting involved, please do your own research and don’t take my word for it!  I am impressed by netsforlifeafrica.org as they not only distribute nets through the local church but they advertise a strong advocation for a “net culture” that comes with training with each net given. Because in many locales, the known reason for malaria isn’t directly thought of as tied to the mosquito and the tight woven mesh blocks air flow so a  net donated without training may be used for a fishing net or a bridal veil, not out of ungratefulness but lack of knowledge about the transmission of the disease.  

Is this something that stirs your heart and passion? We can’t get involved in every cause, but maybe this connects.



Friday, April 25, 2014

Stone Town

Finishing up some vacation posts. I thought about not posting it, but the history of this place was just astounding. I know you aren’t reading this for a travel blog but just in case you ever plan a trip to Tanzania. If you go to town in Zanzibar, the people are referring to Stone Town. It’s been named a world heritage sight by UNESCO and you should probably wikipedia it.

The town is built with coral stone, very narrow cobblestone streets and the because of it’s history of colonization, being the base for the slave trade from the East African countries, home base for David Livingston, and mix of Indian, Arab, Tanzanian roots, it’s unlike any other city I have seen and our pictures, most of them taken covertly, do not do this town justice!

This is where I did our grocery shopping. 

IMG 0844

We rode on public transport. Little A looked around and said, “Hey, do you know you are the only white people on this bus?” :)

IMG 0711

At any moment on the rooftops, I thought I was going to see Aladdin and Abu leaping from the rooftops.

IMG 0714

A fig vendor wheeling his wares.

IMG 0767

One of the narrow streets we walked on towards the harbor.

IMG 0779

A crazy, beautiful mess. We sat and watched boats come in from fishing and others from Tanzania.

IMG 0799

This was some archaic building that we were too hot to do a tour of. The girls also really wanted to swim.

IMG 0806

A friend from the house we were staying at helped with the kid load through the market.IMG 0808

The buildings are stout but because of the heat and ocean air, many are rusted or crumbling. Most are also centuries old!

IMG 0829

This is about when the girls have decided it’s too hot to go a step further.

IMG 0814

Jon agrees. 

IMG 0752

There is a pride in detail through every narrow street, walking along drab buildings and then there is a door like this. From what I can read, there’s a sense of one-upmanship throughout the town. 

 I’ll go back to Ethiopia post now. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's Next?

Recently we got an e-mail along these lines from a friend. “So, umm…what’s the plan now? I seem to have lost track.” When we originally came to Ethiopia, our plan wasn’t to be in Addis for nine months. Here’s the brief update along with some vacation pictures. Zanzibar shots may drag on a bit, I have whittled it down, just not well. :) 

 We hope to finish our language study in Addis near the end of May. We will take about a week to pack up here and then go North, to Mekele, for about one week for a team meeting. The team meeting is only a few days but we will have to spend two days driving there and two days in return. We hope to spend at least one day before the meeting locating the girls’ birth father. We may do two visits. We would really like to take the girls to our first meeting but also want to make sure it will be a safe environment, so Lordwilling, on the second day, we could return with the Littles. Back to Addis Ababa as we get our groceries for the summer (until the next time we come back to Addis). This is a big job involving many stores and souks to find what we want. 

We will hire a flat bed Isuzu to drive up with us as we will order furniture here and also appliances. We were able to buy a large portion of used furniture from German man who needed to leave the country in one week and sell all of his things. We will soon be finding a carpenter to make our beds. This will all make the journey north with us. 

Once we are living in Injibara, we will probably return to Addis four times a year. There are many reasons why this  number could be higher. At this point, we know we need to return in August for a homeschool training I can attend. We will see how this all shakes out once we live in the north. Jon and I are anxious to move forward in the reason why we came. Our Amharic has a long way to go but just because we move, does not mean our language training is done. It will be a continual pursuit, as we prayerfully stay motivated!

Feel free to send us any questions you have, we would love to answer them. 

IMG 0669

Catching a sunset

IMG 1303

Shells, shells and more shells. Because of the tides and the lack of beachcombers, intricate rare shells were everywhere, even conch shells. Because I did not want a shell collection to haul around, we took a picture of it and let the girls take a favorite shell. If they know you, they probably picked up a shell for you. I take full responsibility you didn’t get one mailed to you. 

IMG 2299

Low tide left an ocean floor ripe for exploration. We mainly saw sea urchins and jelly fish. I was also stung by jelly fish so was a bit more hesitant to explore. Around noon, we could walk hundreds of feet into the ocean and maybe about one kilometer out, there was an exposed sandbar. Jada and I were walking to it one day and had almost arrived and in the crystal clear water, I saw we had walked into a family of jellyfish. I scooped her up made a beeline for the shore! 

IMG 2302

Little A keeps a good distance to point to a sea urchin.

IMG 2324

Jon invented a game where they ran from the pool to the ocean yelling, “FREEDOM!” I am unclear of the objective but I was supposed to chase them. People poolside weren’t sure whether to be amused or annoyed at the three wet bodies streaking past, making a run for the ocean. 

IMG 2329

After a few minutes in the ocean, they ran to land and would dramatically grab the sand like they had been stranded. 

IMG 2356

And these girlies, they learned to swim. Not just a little bit but running wild leaps into the deep end. 

IMG 2313

 I didn’t know if I would ever see the day. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter in Ethiopia

Though we missed our first chance to celebrate Easter in Ethiopia, we were blessed to return and feel a sense of familiarity wrap around us, even from the airport. 

The holiday has trailed on a bit. This ends a long fast for the Ethiopian Orthodox and now for two months, there is no set fasts within this church. Today a shopkeeper told me she likes this time where she can eat what she wants but she also doesn’t feel as close to God.

A few men, who have been reading the Bible with Jon have had their hearts opened through the Scriptures and have a growing appreciation for Jesus’ resurrection, came over with Easter cards for us in the evening. In which, they profess their love for Christ and their thankfulness for what He has done. 

Traditional Ethiopian Orthodox clothing is typically seen on the streets on any given day but especially around a holiday. 

IMG 2407

Fikhado is dressed in traditional priest garb. He has had this outfit for ten years and has managed to keep it spotless.

IMG 2408

Traditional hair style along with traditional dress


We have more vacation pictures to come, I just don’t want you to think we only play on the beach. :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just A Little Walk

You know I have to do it. I little walk down nostalgia lane remembering our first time to Ethiopia, four years ago. First time we met our kiddos, first time we could whisper into their ears, "You are mine."

And let's pretend J's dress isn't tucked into her underwear. It kind of ruins the moment of our 4 year Gotcha Day picture. 

God is so gracious.

Friday, April 18, 2014


It’s Good Friday. Reflecting on Easter here has been different. None of my normal visual clues that Easter is approaching are present. The days have run together like a blur and in Zanzibar, a minuscule part of the population celebrate the resurrection.

Vacation has been so good. Our eyes are full of amazing scenery, each breeze, each wave pointing to our great Creator. 

IMG 1009

A bucket fell off a fishing boat so the girls tamed that bucket, riding it over waves. The ocean is at least 90 degrees.

Jon is like energizer daddy. I swim for awhile but The Littles can go all day and Jon does too! I’m so glad!

IMG 1015

Because of rainy season, it’s pretty quiet around here but the sun has been tricking the weather man and sneaks through the clouds.

IMG 1084

Although, the rain doesn’t stop the girls from a swim.

IMG 1024

The beach has an amazing tide. In the morning, there is probably 200 meters of exposed white sand. In the afternoons, the waves crash against the stone wall. The beach is also like the public sidewalk. 

IMG 1049

As we walk down the beach, because the adoption culture isn’t known, we create much confusion.

IMG 1056

Everybody joined in collecting. The kids are from a fishing village right on the beach. The wide conclusion seems to be that we are babysitting and we can’t speak Swahili to explain that the girls are our children and our pantomimes do nothing to bring understanding. We are definitely studied a lot. 

IMG 1166

Thoughtour Easter season has been different than ever before, we are no less thankful for Jesus' Redemptive power.

IMG 1247

IMG 1174

The girls are learning some important lessons, like how to swim, that it’s okay to pee in the ocean and how to outrun the waves. 

May your Easter be blessed. Thanks for loving us and supporting us so well. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Deep Waters

Golden tones radiated as the sun set. 

IMG 0855

Cows were washed in the ocean.

IMG 0915

And the last of the dhow boats pulled onto shore.

IMG 0864

IMG 0932

After our dessert picnic, they raced down to the waves

IMG 0925

Looking through pictures later that night, I noticed something that made us laugh. Can you see what what Little A is doing? She has her nose plugged. She’s so grossed out by the smell of seaweed, she calls this the “smelly beach”. A friend recently described our girls as “deep waters” because emotionally, they process things sensitively and so deeply. Little A has a tough time fully enjoying this vacation because every vacation she has ever known has involved extended family. 

This picture accidentally captured where she is at right now. Witnessing a beautiful sunset on the Indian Ocean, in the arms of her beloved Daddy and she can’t get over the smell. She is so, so homesick for the USA. The stuff doesn’t matter but the people mean everything to her. The places she called home. The security she felt in our old routines, in our church. Her memory is astounding but it is a traitor as she remembers so much what she loved and now lost, she feels she can’t control what’s happening and is slow to open up again. She does so, reluctantly, out of obedience but with a grief in her little heart.

IMG 0929

She did lose her self in the moment eventually, just giggling about the present, reveling in the moment, not in the smell.

 We are navigating some deep waters.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Spice Farms

We drove to a junglish area because the island of Zanzibar (part of the United Republic of Tanzania) is called the spice island. A guide walked us through winding trails to identify what we were seeing.

IMG 0326

This is nutmeg. You use the seed for the spice powder.

IMG 0389

The girls loved the “Touch-Me-Nots”.

IMG 0358

We stopped to see ruins of a persian bath, made by a sultan for his wife, in 832 of coral stone.

IMG 0365


IMG 0404

We wound through backyards and enjoyed glimpses of the ocean.

IMG 0428

We made dye that is commonly used in cosmetics, clothing dyes and for deep red curry powder. 

IMG 0416

After painting himself, he painted the girls and I. 

IMG 0477

Little J smelling a root to guess what spice it produces.

In all, we saw coriander, lemongrass, cinnamon, all spice, menthol, cloves, black and white pepper, nutmeg, vanilla, turmeric, iodine, langilangi and masala. God is truly amazing. 

IMG 0500

A young man climbed a tree to cut down four coconuts, which he threw down with flourish.

IMG 0508

The girls hunted them on the forest floor. 

IMG 0538

We then ate avocados, oranges, grapefruit, bananas and coconut picked on our route. The girls were more excited about the coconut juice before they tried it. They thought it would be like a juice box. :)

IMG 0599 2

Our guide then made us creation out of palm leaves.

IMG 0603

IMG 0619

IMG 0631

We finished our tour with lunch in a house that had been set up for tourists.