Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Dead Bird

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A little, good morning surprise, a large hawk, dead in our yard. In my shock, I missed the science lesson of it all. 

Not a problem, a little later on, as Little A was warned to not jump into a small pit because a dead hyena was discarded there, she said, “Oh, is that his head bone and his teeth?” We’ve got plenty of natural science lessons. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


For interest sake, the interspersed pictures our of a party we attended yesterday, the poses were cracking me up. Culturally, people try not to smile for photos unless they get too nervous and smile anyways...

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Two years draw to a close, our first term as SIM overseas workers in Ethiopia nears completion. A relatively short time, in which we have aged at least seven years, it’s been sweet, stretching and revealing. At times we’ve intimately felt the nearness, comfort and affirmation of God and other times, we wonder what in the world we’ve done. But it’s been good. So (in a completely non-cliche way) good. To leave home and learn how to live all over again. I think you would laugh if you saw us in a myriad of new situations, us trying to act nonchalant like we’ve been doing this all our lives, when inside our thoughts resound, “What?!?"

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The mother and father are flanking the women in the middle, who insisted on holding the baby in pictures. 

As we look to our first home assignment, we’ve taken cues from many fellow colleagues to hear about this time of amazing, this time of transition, this time of travel, this time of chaos, this time of the USA’s food abundance and our major goal for it is for Jon and I not to kill each other. Err.

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Just kidding, but we have heard horror stories of how if not managed well, we may very well go crazy. Add on top of this, my weak gift in organization and you know, we’ll need lots of grace. We’re overwhelmed (in the best way) with love and thankfulness, for you, our people. Those who have stood in the gap for us and the Awi people. The many who pray, give, laugh and cry with our stories. Our main goals are truly to refresh and connect with as many people as possible, while staying connected ourselves!

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Would you let us know if you want to catch up? If you are a quiet reader or if we don’t know you, we still love you and would be thrilled to hear from you, too. :) We are going to try to do get-togethers in different regions and we would love to have you join in the fun, because it will be fun (if I am not too impossibly awkward) and if we can swing it, this will involve much Ethiopian coffee. 

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Now, heads down, we press forward, there’s so much we want to do before our departure in June!



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And just because this woman needs her own side story:

Inside the mud houses are really dark as usually the only light is coming in through the door. She wanted her picture taken but when the red light flashed at her, pre-flash, she had such a shock that the whole room erupted into laughter and she didn’t calm down for a few minutes. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Change in View

Pulling into our house after our time in meetings in south Ethiopia, we gasped that we had a new neighbor. 12 days before, what had been a field was now abuzz with people who were finishing up a house!

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All it takes is two-three days to get the house framed and outside mud done.

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Can you spy the blue, block house?  That’s how close our houses are.

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Making food for the workers

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Our new neighbor, we haven’t gotten all the details yet, but it appears to be here and a young boy. She hasn’t moved in because the inner walls aren’t mudded yet.

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It’s the first time we have seen a younger and co-ed crowd of builders. 

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And here is our new view. Our dry season view, I am loving the perfect weather, but part of me can’t wait for the rains to bring back the green!  We are excited to get to know a new person. Talking to a countryside friend, he mentioned, “Yeah, you can tell she is a city person, look, she put in a back doors. People from here wouldn’t put in two doors.”  

Friday, March 20, 2015


Topics are swirling through my head but none that I know how to write about well. Here’s a post as scattered as my thoughts. :) For your daily dose of random...

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I don’t think I’ve told you, we installed two pools in our backyard. The Littles are delighted about this addition. I am thinking about making them underground, you know, because black totes add to our rustic charm. ;)

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Passion fruits are coming on and I can’t wait until they grow up over our fence as a cover, the pre-fruit flowers are exquisite.

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In our nearest big city market, I was buying fruit and had to snap a shot of the man, with no gear, high up on a pole (mid picture) fixing the electric lines with bare hands. 

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The Littles want a baby in the family. The father of little Hadassah, made their day by letting them walk this little sweetie all over HQ.

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The Littles helped grind our coffee after they roasted it at a friend’s house in a nearby town.

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We spent the night in our teammates one room house and the girls got their hair done. It is obviously not a favorite activity.

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The moments like these are sweet and refeshing. An unexpected opportunity to share together.

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Enjoying the watercolors and coloring pages you sent!

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Two neighbor girls, hauling water for the families.

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Our internet is intermittently much improved. The Littles skyped with their nana until we ran out of birr on our internet stick. We have to stack books on top of the printer to get a signal. We don’t care and have even been known to hold our computers, walking around the house, trying to get a signal. 

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Look at this sweet, little sassafras, leading a huge team through the grain.

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Her dad worked alongside, throwing up the wheat.

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Seriously, how sweet is she? 

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Meet the resident goat, his name translates, “Good Person”. I’ve sincerely tried talking the girls out of befriending it as it’s heading for butcher, it’s just grazing here until Ethiopian Easter. But they lead it around like a dog and take it food. This can only end badly. They are already nearly vegetarian.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Volleyball Dream

Much to Jon’s delight, our volleyball court is now fully functioning. 

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Sunday afternoons have been a fun time for young men to come and play. Girls don’t really play but maybe we can introduce it. ;)

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If only they stopped working. I was recently talking with a friend (male). He said, “Whew! A woman’s work, it’s never done and very difficult. The men, we have it easy, our work doesn’t cost us much.” I smiled and held my tongue. 

However, I’ve become a downer on something super exciting, we are playing volleyball and badminton here! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pollution Police

 North team meetings, ironically, happened in southern Ethiopia. 

Our crew went a day early for Jon to put on his landscape designer hat as the SIM retreat center, Babagayoa, sat vacant for almost a decade and has only recently been reopened. It’s a jungle but a very beautiful one.

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While Jon worked, the girls and I enjoyed the Lake Bishoftu. 

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Jon snuck in time for an adventure with the girls.

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I laid in the shade of a jacaranda for a long time and about 17 minutes before I got really worried, the triumphant canoe returned and the bottom of the boat was scattered with empty plastic bottles.

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I wish I could accurately describe the Little’s exuberance at their part in cleaning up the lake. Jon said as they passed the bottles, they told Jon to stop so they could pick them up. After he hesitated Little J challenged, “Daddy, just because we don’t want to, doesn’t mean it’s not our job to take care of the world” 

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And what’s a man to do in the faces of his green, little children but to paddle around and work against the pollution. This picture is taken as Jon did beats with the oars while the girls exuberantly danced and chanted, “No. more. po….llution! No. more. po…llution!”.

Little J yelled out in victory over the lake, arms up, “That’s for you, Babagayoa!"

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And then, among the papyrus reeds, what did they spy but, GASP, another plastic bottle. 

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When they could no longer hold onto Jon, they prayed on the shoreline that daddy would have the strength to get the bottle.

Oh my, green, spiritual children. 

We proceeded to leave them all in the bottom of the boat and the next day, another dad asked, “Hey, what’s all this trash doing in this boat?" and then he took them to the trash, making himself the true hero. :)


Thursday, March 12, 2015


Dear readers, you have clearly shown your generous spirits and your deep hearts to help those in need. I don’t often have the opportunity to make a requests on the behalf of a specific individual, but today, I do.

Demeke has been our good friend in Addis Ababa and though he writes minimal details to his life story below, there is much he doesn’t share, the parts where tears stream down my cheeks over what he has faced but also fill me with awe over God’s preservation and favor to this dear young man. We thank God for the chance to watch His work in Demeke’s life.

My name is Demeke Geremew. I am 18 years old and currently in 10th grade. 

I was born in a rural area of Ethiopia in a small town called Lumame. My family was very poor and could not provide for me; because of this, I had to leave school at the age of 10.  I made the long journey to the capital city of Addis Ababa to find work, even though I desperately desired to continue my education to make a better life for myself and my family.  Instead, I ended up homeless for many years. Even though I worked as a shoe shine boy, it was not enough to live on. It was a very had time for me being so young with so much responsibility.

I felt hopeless, but knew I had to make a decision-to give up, or to fight with all that was in me for a better life-I decided to choose the former-to fight the world and the circumstances that were against me. Just after I made that decision, several missionaries at the SIM missionary guesthouse noticed me- I became an employee of SIM: washing SIM’s cars, carrying luggage, etc. This was how Jesus came into my life. One of the missionaries gave me a Bible and I began to know God’s word. She spoke of God’s love, hope and peace, telling me that “God has a good plan for you”. I am beginning to see that. He has and is changing my life-I don’t know where I would be without Him. By God’s grace and through very hard work, I am not a fleet manager here at the SIM headquarters.

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At Demeke’s baptism last year

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Jon had the amazing chance to wrap him up in a towel and a hug afterwards...

I know the only way to physically better my life is to continue my education; I have struggled to reintegrate myself in the school system after many years of not being able to attend school. I work full time at SIM headquarters, and after I finish for the day, I go straight to night school. It has been very difficult, but God has given me strength to do so.

There is a boarding school in the USA that has accepted me after hearing my story; they want to help me, and also want me to help the school as a leader for those with drug addiction and other struggles. There are many troubled youth who go there who also have much to overcome. Because of my testimony, I have been involved in helping many others in need here in Ethiopia, and desire to do the same for the students in North America. The schooling is expensive, but they recently told me they will give me a 50% scholarship. I cannot afford the tuition, but I have witnessed God’s provision continuously and ask that you would consider supporting me in furthering my education for the Kingdom of God. I know I have incredible potential that God has given me to help redeem others for Christ, just as He redeemed me and changed my life. I desire to continue on to university, and will strive to attain scholarships to not only better my life, but to continue in ministry among those who are spiritually and physically in need just as I had been: in North America, Ethiopia, and wherever else God should call me. 

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Thank you, and God bless you for changing my life through education, and helping me to continue ministering among others in desperate need.

In Christ service, 


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Demeke’s family lives on the route we take from Addis to Injibara. We had the chance to watch him reunite with his mother after 5 years.


Thanks for taking the time to read Demeke’s story. If you are interested in learning more how to pray or give, please contact



Meet Adane, a good friend living south of Addis Ababa. His wife was out of town and as our host, he poured our coffee. After a fair amount of teasing about this, I had to take a picture of a man pouring the coffee as it was our first time seeing it. :)  

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The jebena is made of clay and the coffee grounds boil in it over the fire. 

Right now life feels crunchy, good but full. We go back to Injibara tomorrow and are excited to be in our community again. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Holiday Window

Somewhere along the way in a training, conversation or a book, I heard of this concept for families that often move should have something to signify that they are “home”. 

When that picture goes up or that candle is lit, etc, etc. The familiar object can bring deep comfort and belonging.

Too bad the piece the piece that has come the closest is an old window frame that weighs at least 35 pounds. 

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We inherited it from our dear Addis neighbors and the Littles and I try to keep it decorated for holidays, American and Ethiopian alike.

This square on our dining room wall keeps us looking for reasons to celebrate (and do crafts).  

It’s too cumbersome to become our “home” item, but until we move again (no plans in the near future, remember, I despise moving, so the last time I am ever moving was into our Blueberry house) we will decorate it and celebrate any moment worth remembering. :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Papyrus Boats

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They glide among the heron and know where all the hippos are.

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The fishermen on Lake Tana start early, some fishing alone, others in groups with large nets.

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The boats are made of papyrus reeds and it is slowly dying out, being replaced with larger vessels, less individuals eking out a living from this lake.

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The boats only last a few months, so others are always under construction. 

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With room with only one man to sit, their balance is incredible.

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 This country is on the edge of so much development in change. There are many positive steps forward ready to happen but, at times, at the collateral of culture and ancient practice.

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It’s hard, as an outsider to know what’s loss and what’s gain.

For now, I’ll deeply drink the present beauty.