Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Mountain Just Begging To Be Climbed

Guys, I am sitting in an internet shop, have wifi and am so gleeful, I am can even block out the horrible music squeaking through the speakers. :)

This is the mountain seen in about 80% of our photos. :) Despite it being rainy season, when Chad was here, Jon used it as motivation to hike this mountain. They talked Feysil into going too.

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Christen was going to go but wasn’t feeling great so she stayed back. After we heard about the hike, we were both glad we stayed back. They had to scale large areas. One spot they guessed was 50 feet.

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If I would have been there, my fun mantra may have stopped things. “GUYS, WE HAVE NO EMERGENCY ROOM”.

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When they got to the top, they called us but we couldn’t see them. I asked how it was. Jon responded, “Umm. Insane"

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As all three of the men knew they could be seriously injured, this group of shepherd kids joined them, like it was no big deal.

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Scaling, up, up, up

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The walking sticks were a must on the way up. (I am heavily featuring you, Chad, because you hardly ever are on the blog. ;))

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Can you believe this?  Yeah, me neither.

Chad on far left, Feysil in center, shepherd kids on right

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The men were thankful for the shepherd kids on the way back, who guided them. All three resorted to sliding down on the slippery grass. The kids took their walking sticks, they couldn’t believe how slow Jon, Chad and Feysil were.

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That is where they climbed. They did it. If you come during dry season, I am sure you can talk Jon and Feysil into doing it. Feysil said he will never do it during rainy season again. :)



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Maximizing the Swingset

How cute is this?

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We have a swing set in our yard and I love to see it being used. I laughed when I saw the double up on each swing.  

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And in other not cute news:


You may have heard about the Ebola epidemic that has surfaced in West Africa. If not, go to BBC news for a reliable, international news source. Pray with us for a miracle. That the Ebola virus can be contained and eradicated. It is a very deadly disease and one doctor, Kent, working at the SIM clinic in Liberia as well as an SIM missionary, Nancy, have been infected. Ebola has a 90% fatality rate. I don’t have the internet to link up multiple new sources on this but please, please cry out to God for the many already deceased victims families as well as for Dr. Kent and Mrs. Nancy’s health and their families. We live in East Africa, so this is a long way from Ethiopia but serious preventative measures need to be put in place if this is not to spread.  

Internet Update:

Our internet is still really difficult, but we have had a decent ability to Instagram. If you are interested, you can follow me at jonyamy and Jon at gerstjon. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014


Our neighbor is prepping his field through multiple plowings, so fascinating to watch.

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Solomon follows his father and breaks up dirt clods and picks up rocks.

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His daughter, Werknish, does the same, directly behind the plow.

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Our house, right behind the field.

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This path has about only a 2 foot opening because of the stinging nettles (and, OH, they sting). Yeshuas yelled out to me, “Come on in, Amy!” It took me about 3 minutes to try and figure out the best entrance procedure. I knew even the horses went through so I squatted down and tried to make it through without touching scraping leaves. Not successful. I didn’t complain though, just to Jon later. ;)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chad and Christen, Try #710

This morning, my patience feels plentiful so I thought it would be a great idea to use it all up and try to post more pictures of Chad and Chris’ time. 

I have figured out that with my 1-2 minutes of internet, if I close all other programs, I can sometimes get a post up within 10 cycles of logging on, getting kicked off, etc. (okay, I am on try 12. I just erased a picture and am giving it three more goes. Isn’t it great I am making sure you all know my hardship?  ;)

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Don’t they look good with two kids?


The girls were having so much fun in this picture. ;)

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Chris entertaining the girls and a neighbor friend while I was otherwise occupied.

Pasture Life Rhythms


Our family is settling into the slower swing of the countryside. Life still feels full, just so different than life in a city. 

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When we moved to Addis Ababa, I wasn’t sure how I would function in such a populated area. We ended up really liking Addis but it is refreshing to be surrounded by so much of God’s beauty.


How are you adjusting in Injibara?

This isn’t easy to gauge for me, but I think well. The girls did amazing for our first 10 days and then we had Chad and Christen. Since then, the newness has worn off and the visitors are gone.  The girls are doing well, but seem sad.They ask multiple times a day to go to “America”. This sounds so depressing but they are really thriving in other ways. Little J and Little A initiated wanting to speak more Amharic during lunches. They love to hike and are (by my expectations/compared to last summer,) crazy adventurous. I do notice they are craving English interaction. I am really hoping this can be filled with the many people who speak Amharic, but love them so much. As the girls gain more language (which is not something that Jon and I can force-trust me, we tried) they will be more comfortable. 

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What are you doing during your days?

Jon is working on the 5 F’s project (Fruit, Forage and Forestry for Farm Families). Right now, it is about 10-12 hour days as they are delivering seedlings. He was previously working partial days and spending time around the house, painting, rewiring, fixing, hanging curtains, fixing and fixing. :) 

I am homeschooling the girls. That is usually about 2 hours in the morning. We daily try to spend time outside with the kids around us. I am working with some English conversation classes and praying what the future is for this as students are eagerly waiting. I am really excited about teaching. The girls and I also spend some time each day “crafting”. They love it and sometimes I do. :)

Jon and I are both trying to daily study Amharic. I have had more time than Jon for this. 

How are your teammates?

Mark and Debbie bless us, literally, everyday. They are having some incredible challenges since they have returned and have shown us how brightly they shine, even when “bumped”. (This is from a lesson we learned at MTI, when plans are changed or we are bumped, what spills out of us in discomfort, injustice, fatigue, etc). You can pray for them.

Do people remember you from last summer?

Yes, we are so thankful for our bumbling time last summer. Although we enjoy it much more with communication abilities. And we remember them and can now connect families, neighbors, etc, etc.

How is the heat?

Umm. Yes, we live in Ethiopia, which is on the continent of Africa, but both the continent as well as Ethiopia, the country, has a wide variety of climates. We are now northern highlanders and due to rainy season (our winter) and the high altitude, things aren’t real warm around here. If the sun is out, the altitude makes it intense and it is beautiful.

Okay, your turn, what questions do you have for us?



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Somedays More Than Others...

I feel like we are little house on the prarie.

The jumpers and pigtails might have something to do with that.

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We are still having internet issues. I have a backlog of blog posts when it works again. (I am thinking optimistically ;)).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Market Day and The Amazing Egg Carton

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Market day. Saturday…the day I love and dread. Chad took a few pictures on the sly while he was there.

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My mom sent me a few egg cartons as normal procedure is to bring a plastic bag and then putting dirt or straw between the eggs and then navigating thousands of people and livestock, guarding a plastic sack very carefully. I pulled out egg cartons and explained how it worked (one egg in each hole). A small crowd gathered and they exclaimed, “Wow, what an amazing system. That is beautiful. Amazing."

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Christen takes it all in with a smile

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One Minute Bursts

As you may have noticed, internet has not been easy to come by for us. I am currently getting it a few times a day in one to two minute spurts. It sometimes pulls in e-mail or sends a few. 

This morning, after the day had started, I paused long enough to sip coffee and just let myself feel sad that our visitors were again an ocean away. My cousin, Matt, was married yesterday and a good friend, Jenna, was married on Saturday. I drink my coffee with loads of sugar so the heartache was more bitter than my brew.  The joy is deep too, sometimes I think the sadness also can acutely deepen the momentum that we feel in the spot we live now.  I looked out at the mountain, towering over huts and beloved shepherd kids and I smiled and could move from my frozen spot.  

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You will still get pictures of Chad and Christen’s trip, it may just come in one photo bursts, to go along with our one-minute burst of internet



Friday, July 11, 2014

The Nile River and The Chocolate Waterfall

Hiking along the Nile River with Chad and Chris was so fun…a little hard to get to, but nothing our minibus and driver, Jon, couldn’t handle. 

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The Nile with the girls hiking in frilly dresses. Why? Because we don’t have much opportunity to dress up and we were in a different state. 


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Our boat driver on the Nile

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I spy a crocodile!

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 Our boat trip

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Our first glimpse of the Blue Nile Falls

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Crossing an amazing suspension bridge over a cavern. According to the girls, “Hey, this bounces!"

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Clearing off the bridge to make room for the donkeys and their loads

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The falls was smaller than normal but still amazing…besides the brown color.

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A mountainside sing-a-long

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Chad and Jon hiked down until I could handle it no longer and called them back. Here, there is a mantra going through my mind in the face of anything slightly dangerous, “There is no emergency room”. I am really fun like that.

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Soaking in the spray

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This is well after the dramamine I had administered for the bumpy ride in the van took effect. Good thing Uncle Chad and Daddy were willing to haul them on their shoulders

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J was in a drug-induced exhaustion/state of general mischievousness.

Chad and Christen fly out tonight. We have loved each minute with them.

I am not sure when we will have internet again, so we will do our best to post pictures of their time with us in Injibara!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

High Maintenance Guests

These two leave tomorrow. :(

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We’ve had so much fun.

It’s been awesome and while we are thankful for a million reasons, we were unexpectedly thankful as Chad and Chris are very high maintenance guests and by high maintenance, I mean incredibly flexible and spent so much time helping us with maintenance. The house that we have been graciously given is amazing and we are so thankful for every part of it. 

However, just as with all houses, they age and need a little love. Chad and Jon spent time fixing multiple issues and Chad and Christen flexed with our nearly camp out experience. They had a truly “unplugged” experience as we have had no opportunity to connect. We are in a city with wifi right now!

Without going into too much detail, they experienced lack of power, water, functioning septic system, internet and cell phone coverage. There may have been a need to poop in a bucket. 

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Notice they are laughing in the rain, you can’t see they are covered in umm…septic fluid. If Chad wasn’t here, I don’t think Jon could have been laughing.

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And then there were some serious electric issues. As in, the men spent some significant amount of time rewiring and learning as they went. 

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When there is no hardware, the men learned to do things in very creative ways.

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Trying to hook up the washing machine with Feysil...

We are making progress!  

And now tomorrow we say goodbye again, it makes my stomach hurt thinking about it but we are unbelievable thankful for their time with us. 

More fun pictures to come!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Which Country Do We Choose?

Happy fourth!  We have come a loooooonnnngggg way from our first American Independence Day in Ethiopia, check out last year in the archives (July 2013), sorry, our internet isn’t fast enough to link…actually, it’s been non-existent.

Our holiday was so different because in large part because we had friends to celebrate with as well as the blessing of a few of you who sent us red, white and blue decor. 

Chad and Christen have graciously dove into many cultural experiences, so cultural we haven’t been able to take pictures. Ha!  We try to be sensitive where we snap photos.

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It was an amazing, busy day.

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Hurrying down the mountain before the rain

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We ended the night with a celebration in a hut, decorated in red, white and blue with Chad and Christen, our teammates, Mark and Debbie, and our family. 

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Playing soccer in the orchard.

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Mark grilled us hamburgers.

The night started with a army ant attack. Army ants are unique in the sneaky fact that they are unnoticed as they creep all over your entire body and then using their giant chompers to latch on to your skin, in every very inconvenient place. I mean, from my head to my feet, my entire body, as in, Christen and Jada and Adia stood guard and shouted encouragement while I…well, it wasn’t fun or an experience I ever want to repeat. Though it was very memorable.

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Eating hamburgers and macaroni and cheese with glow sticks! Thanks Aunt Susie, they were a perfect firework replacement. I know the photo is blurry, but I wanted you to see our glow.

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What I didn’t expect about today was how much The Littles felt like celebrating USA history required choosing of sides. Like we had to choose which was better, where we truly belonged. I tried to explain we can be in Ethiopia and appreciate American culture but they were vexed and were very loyal to America (even though this morning they didn’t remember what our flag looked like). :)

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 Then we Fourth of July caroled (of course Jon’s idea) until the girls were so tired they could no longer function.

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Happy fourth!