Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cultural Cues from Color

In the USA, if a baby wears pink, it is safe to assume the child is a girl. Here, there are not cultural cues associated on color. 

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Case in point, Nick and Kristen played with this little girl for a chunk of time before learning this color coordinated sweetie was a he. :)

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Be looking for our monthly newsletter in your inbox today about God’s work in this little boy and his mother’s lives.  

Goodbyes Aren't As Picturesque

We didn’t snap a single shot last night as we hugged our goodbyes to Nick and Kristen. It was sad but the nine days together is worth lingering heartache. 

When they tell you that we trooped all around, believe them. :)

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Hiking after church on Sunday. I didn’t have the altitude to blame as I am acclimated it but I didn’t mind that Little J hiked s-l-o-w-l-y.

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Sweet Ramiah

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As it was a Sunday afternoon, there was a kids’ class being taught at the Ethiopian Orthodox church where we rested. (you can see The Littles and I watching from the top)

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Overlooking the city

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A high view of Addis Ababa

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


On Saturday, we went on another day trip and due to it being market day, spent a lot of time on the road. 

It was beautiful country we haven’s sen yet, so still very worth it.

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Gurage country, so green even before rainy season.

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Playing hide-n-go-seek.

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Nick, Kris and Jon all rolled around the kiddy pool with the girls.

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Hunting monkeys

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Mindy, the swimsuits are awesome! Thank you!

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Showing their swimming and floating skills

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Macchiatos in a tree house

IMG 1743 How can their departure date be tonight?!?


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Portuguese Bridge, Porcupines and Precipices

Nick and Kristen have already got to experience the way plans can change around here. In the mornings, Jon and I are still studying language, but not today, we took off to go to a swimming pool and after the girls had on their swimsuits, I decided to call and make sure we could swim. Umm. No, the pool is empty, so we went north instead, for a hike and a meal.

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We arrived at the restaurant, planning to eat but the restaurant was closed for the week. Everyone flexed and kept their smiles and ate lots of trail mix.

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We hiked down to the Portuguese bridge, and laughed at the steep drop offs with no guard rails and thankfully didn’t plunge to our deaths. 

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We saw where there would be waterfalls in the rainy season. As amazing as the waterfalls would be, I was glad it wasn’t wet because it would have been slippery and there wasn’t much room for slipping as the precipice was always very near.

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Behind this group is where the first waterfall should pour over. The pool behind Jon is 45 feet deep.

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And then there were cacti (or porcupines) to avoid. J touched one. :( Thankfully there were some skilled men at removing the prickles nearby.

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The views didn’t disappoint. Although we may return in rainy season, to see the multiple waterfalls, that was plenty of adventure for our first expedition. 

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Beloved visitors are definitely a win for everyone. :)


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Airport

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We waited impatiently at the airport. Unless you are a passenger or have a special pass, you aren’t allowed in the airport. So, we each packed a carry on and walked right in. :) The girls made welcome signs and we drank macchiatos to pass the time. They were nervous but excited.

And then I saw them, my sister, Kristen and brother-in-law, Nick in the customs line. I waved through the crowd and the mass turned around to see me, standing on my tip toes, arms up in the air, having just caught a view. When they heard it was my sister and I hadn’t seen her in a year, everyone was so sweet and happy for me that they arrived. It was a randomly special moment shared with strangers, many relating to not seeing their family in a very long time as many Ethiopians have relatives abroad, working in different countries.IMG 1570  Version 2

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It was so good to hug them, to see them. 


Sigh. :) We have lots of catching up to do. It’s started with Nick and Kristen doing whatever the girls want. ;)


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Plague Video for Previous Post

Sorry, here is the video for the previous post. The man's voice is hilarious too.


A "Plague" and A Giant Surprise

Eating dinner, my attention was drawn outside as the sky suddenly darkened.  I ran to look telling everyone to follow as our neighbor came shrieking up the stairs. "Look out your window!" 

There were hundreds of thousands (very possibly millions) of grasshopper/locusts creatures. They were large and darkened the sky. 

We ran outside and on the ground, saw them pass overhead, the weaker ones dropping down and then flying/leaping all over. A badminton racquet would have been a blast as we chased these critters and then screamed and dodged when they lunged our way. 

In several surrounding countries, this migration is met with joy and traps as these fried bugs are a delicacy. Not here so much.

This video wasn't taken by us but watch it for like 30 seconds to see the crazy. 

Some are calling it a plague but I haven't heard they did any damage. So, it was more like watching the  Discovery Channel in 3D.

And onto the sUpRisE!
Tomorrow morning, two very dear people get on a plane, headed for Addis Ababa. 

I was planning on keeping this a secret, you know, just in case something fell through, but I can't hold it in anymore! So, because I still want some surprise, we will keep their identities secret until Monday. (Probably most of you already know, lol). We are beyond excited and I am happy to tell the two mystery guests that the "plague" is done and the citywide water shutdown seems to be over. :) Welcome. 

Join us in praying for a safe, uneventful trip. 

Our family is beyond excited to have you and show you this amazing place, starting with macchiatos as soon as you land. :)
The Littles have planned your itinerary and includes monkey hunts, tree climbing and Trader Joe's. We don't have a Trader Joe's, but I like that they dream big. :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Turtles' Hobbies

If you are a regular reader, you know we have some animals crawling around. Really, really slow animals. 

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Just because they are slow, doesn’t mean they’re cowards. One day, there were three dogs chained up on our compound. This turtle walked just out of reach of all three of them while they howled and strained against their chains.

And then there is the baby turtle, who is very well 10 years old. (The elder, big tortoises have been giving demonstrations on how baby turtles come into the world. Um. “Let’s go inside girls")

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It’s just the right size to haul around.

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As far as we can tell, his favorite activity is definitely swinging. 

This turtle can’t wait to be big enough that kids can’t pick it up.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bike Repair

Our family has the joy of sponsoring Binyam's education. Before he left for another school session, he was given a bike and needed the tires fixed. Many times according to culture, these extras are often paid for by the sponsor. Jon went down to assess the situation and help with the tires.

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And any street repair draws a small crowd.

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And toddlers walking away with bike parts.

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These kids love The Littles. J and A have gotten better at playing together, letting their hands be held. A is in the  red dress.

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A few group shots. 

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 This little boy loves to hold the girls’ hands. J said, “Mom, I think Temesgen really loves me”. This was after I comforted her as he was holding her hand and running down stairs so fast she fell.





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Inheritance

Another serious post, I don’t want you to think we are spiraling downward, we are doing okay, really, we are doing much better than that, so I don’t write this post to shed gloom but in an effort for transparent communication and to encourage us all.

The network is present of women, some I barely know. We’ve found each other’s blogs, met at trainings, are acquaintances through mutual friends or we’ve bumped into each other at a garage sale. Though we may not know each other well, our hearts are deeply connected as we all have something in common. We have moved our families, far from what’s familiar. We embrace the new culture, loving what it brings and taking joy in watching our kids experience these moments, knowing that their life is forever enriched, ours are too. But we also understand holding our children as they soak our shirts with tears and our wet faces show that we hurt so deeply alongside them.  We don’t sit around and cry all day and neither do our kids, our lives offer so much blessing. I have thoughts of turning this blog into only our shining moments, when the sun rays pierce through and the clouds disappear and our hearts could burst in contentment. However, I want to share the hard, as I truly believe, so many of you are standing bravely in the gap for us, for each family overseas. Be encouraged that your prayers are vital and felt.

After a recent e-mailed conversation with a mother who is weathering her first year too, I dug out this article again. I first posted it on my blog in January of 2012. I was in such a different spot then but already felt a messy paradox of grief and joy for what the future may hold.

This is Little J this morning.


I don’t normally hold her while I make breakfast (and normally Jon is our breakfast maker :))  but she said a tough goodbye last night to a friend and spent the first part of her day needing a shoulder to lean on.

Our team leaders leave the USA this week. It’s the first time they are leaving all four kids in jobs and colleges, an ocean away from where Mark and Debbie call home.

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Can you pray for Mark, Debbie, Caleb, Jonathan, Anna and Daniel?

I found this article in HeartCry magazine from one missionary mama to another. This time, reading through it, my sister is pregnant. It will be the first niece/nephew to be born with us far away and the article hit a new spot in my heart.

I recently began to feel the acute pangs of missing home. I think it began with my sister going into labor and me being so far away in a tiny village when I received the news. I felt so far away and sensed a growing sadness in not experiencing that moment with my family. I was bombarded by a growing array of thoughts about having missed so many other joyous family moments. I looked at my little daughter who is a constant joy in my life, and I ached with the desire for her grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles to experience her life as I do daily. But they won’t and when they see her again, this stage will be gone. These sad thoughts grew, linked themselves to others, and spiraled downward to a place where my sacrifice no longer seemed worthy it. My head knew why it was worth it, but my heart refused compliance. I began to think: If I could only have some assurance as to when we should be finished with the work, then I could set my eyes upon the light at the end of the tunnel. However, this caused my heart to leap at the thought of returning home to family rather than at the precious reality that a new people group is now offering a new praise unto our Father.

Today, while reading “Candles in the Dark” by Amy Carmichael, I came across an excerpt of a letter to a dear friend in which she quoted Deuteronomy 18:2:

“The Lord is their inheritance as He hath said unto them.” Amy then followed by writing the following: “I thought then as I think now of the lovely inheritance you might have had. But He is your Inheritance instead of that lovely earthly joy. Throughout all eternity that word will be opening up its treasures.”

At that point I could not remember exactly what the context was for this verse, so I looked up Deuteronomy 18:12. God, in giving instruction to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land, lays down what should be the inheritance rights for the Levites, those God-chosen servants who were to devote their lives to worshipful service in the temple. My heart sank as I read: “The priests, who are Levites-indeed the whole tribe of Levi-are to have no allotment of inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the offerings made to the LORD by fire, for that is their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as He promised them.”

Tears burned my eyes as the Lord spoke these words directly and deeply to my heart. I thought of the other eleven tribes who received-as their right-a share in the goodness of the land. I then thought of my family, in their homes, enjoying the blessings, those “lovely, earthly joys” God had frequently given them. And I heard in my heart, But that is not to be your place. Your inheritance is different.” As I was soaking this in, tears again burned my eyes, and I whispered back to Him, “This is a hard word.” My desires to have my daughter grow up around her grandparents and family and an eventual life of pleasant familiarity in America crumbled around me. Then, I again heard God whisper, “This is not your inheritance. Your inheritance is Me.” How true this is for my life. I even live on the offerings made to the Lord by my brothers and sisters who have received a very different inheritance. As I closed my Bible my eyes again went to Amy Carmichael’s letter: “You will never regret your choice. It is wonderful to be free to pour out all, every drop of one’s life; and that is what you have done and are doing. No, you will never regret it; never.”

There, in my mind’s eye, I knelt beside the road of my spiritual journey, dug a small hole and buried, hopefully deep enough, my desires for a different inheritance. He is enough! My heart still feels weighted with mourning the death of a desire. However, my heart is secure in knowing that He is enough. I must, in faith, cling to this promise. He is my inheritance, my eternal inheritance, just as He promised.

Bless you all.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Feeling Emotional And Furniture Shopping

I wanted to do a post about Mother’s Day, in tribute to our moms and grandmas and aunts and spiritual mentors. But to be honest, it’s hard. We miss the wonderful women who have poured out countless hours and sacrificed much to teach, train and raise us. I miss my grandmas. Trying to gather pictures, I smiled through tears at warm memories and as I neared our time of goodbye in pictures, the lump in my throat grew and I decided to save that one for another day.  Thank you for loving us so much. We love you and are so thankful for you.

For today’s topic, I will do something non-emotional. (Which is hard for me. I can get emotional about almost anything, happy, weird, sad, it doesn’t matter, I can cry about it-especially here. I am like a fountain.)


For the record, I don’t think I have cried over furniture-YET. Though, I am sure I can find a reason to tear up.

One day, I saw on an Addis Ababa online forum, that a man, who worked for the German government, had to return unexpectedly and only had one week to wrap everything up. 

Used furniture goes as fast around here as chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. I immediately called Peter and told him we would come over. He wanted to sell all his furniture in one deal and so with little effort, we got a dining table and chairs, a small sofa, two chairs, a bookcase, coffee tables and other odds and ends. Victory! Imported things can be purchased but they are so expensive. As we live in a furnished apartment, we stored these items at a friends.

Now, we are gathering other things we need. Last week, we went to a wood workers shop that was recommended to us so we could order beds. (It works best to have a general design and sketch as well as measurements). We had heard that this guy does great work. 

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Here’s his shop. Jon tried to order beds but Noah, the highest recommended man in town, is gone for two months.

We also went and picked up our couch. 

This process was over several months and involved 5 stops to the couch shop and one stop to a fabric store where I looked for the upholstery we needed. 

I drew the couch and gave measurements We said we needed it long enough for someone to sleep on. 

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Yesterday, they called, 2 months later, they had it done.

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It was a success! Comfy and well made.

Now, to find paint, appliances, beds, mattresses, dressers and other household items. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Running Commentary

My commentary on recent happenings.

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Do you like cream cheese? Me too and for 20 dollars, this 7 ounces of light cream cheese could be mine. My brother-in-law Nick mentioned that if he were cream cheese, he would be worth around $10,000. 

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Due to uncharacteristic tensions on the streets, church was cancelled so we gathered with neighbors (from Ethiopia, US, Finland and Norway) and had church.IMG 6891

Jon and Nick made a quick trip to Injibara to switch out vehicles for the project, one day up, one day back. I am so glad that Jon had a friend to go with him! We are getting so ready to move to Injibara.

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It’s starting to green up again as the rains have started.

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Jon said driving through the cloudy Blue Nile Gorge with low clouds was like piloting a plane. 

Thanks to the prayers of many, it was a safe, productive trip. On the way back, they witnessed a fatal accident and rushed to the scene. Kind of difficult.

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Sunday morning Bible study with friends.

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The girls are getting a bit better at making friends. We’ve been working on small ways they can spread their wings and become more independent. So, most days, they have also been choosing their own clothes. They are probably about as good at this as they are at making friends. :)

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Somedays, I immediately veto the selection. See above picture. We didn’t go out like this. 

IMG 2432Hey look! I found Target!

I had a Target dream two nights ago. I was in the dressing room and had a cart full of options. I was thinking about missing care packages (they are here somewhere…just can’t find them in the post office) and in my subconscious it stirred a desire to go to Super Target.   

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I don’t have a Target but I have a souk on the corner! It’s kind of the same. Okay. No, totally different. I adore this girl. 

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Sweet neighborhood girls. 

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Little J with her faithful stead. Yes, her outfit choice. ;)