Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Finally, I've Got Something To Say!

Answers to some frequently asked questions

Okay, what’s home assignment?

Home assignment: A time to refresh and connect, share what God is doing, restock. A four month window before we go back to Ethiopia. The term is confusing and we haven’t explained it well and I realize this when people ask about it, thinking that we are moving back to the US in a permanent capacity. 

Where are you living?

Amy’s Grandma has graciously allowed us to “base camp” at her house. It’s been amazing, and while we haven’t been here much, feels so comfortable to us as we lived with her for the 1.5 years previous to our departure.

What are you doing with your time? Is this like one big vacation?

Umm. Yes…No…

We do have time carved out to vacation with each of our families for vacation as well as Jon and I hope to do a one week get-a-way. We are traveling and on the road a lot of the time. This is an amazing time to connect with friends and family and the many people who hold us up as well as the Awi people as we journey in Ethiopia. While it’s so much of a good thing, it is exhausting. 

When we have internet connection, we are researching many things that we haven’t been able to while in ET. Our “down days” usually involve appointments to dentist, eye doctor, pediatrician and counselors.

Wait? You are seeing a counselor, why?

Okay, deep breath here. While our last two years have been amazing and rewarding and we have been so blessed to see God move in big ways, it’s also taken a toll. We expressed to our sending office, SIM USA, a desire for counseling and then they recommended a more serious path to make time for processing. We appreciated their confirmation in this. Getting really serious about counseling also felt unnecessary; however, the more mental space and processing time we have in the USA, removed from our normal lives, we realize more deeply how we have been changed in negative and positive ways. Everywhere in this fallen, broken world, there is pain and difficulty. There is also beauty and hope. Over the last two years, we’ve had a period when we’ve been less insulated from life’s suffering, sin and sorrow and in some ways, we’ve been crushed by it.  

We view counseling as an amazing tool God has provided to work through things. Using a figurative example of planes, we aren’t falling out of the sky, getting ready to crash into a mountain, but there are blinking, warning lights in our cockpit.

Feel free to ask more questions, those are the big ones I can think of tonight. 


And I can get only this picture to post. Enjoy our first game of “Red Rover”. 

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dropped Sails

Writing isn’t something in which I feel like I excel. I blog and hope you overlook the lack of skill because of the fun pictures and cute kids. Right now, the blog is a sailboat and I have dropped the ropes and we float along, short on direction. 

Jon and I talked about the digital footprint we are leaving for The Littles and about how they may feel about anyone being able to access their childhood business. We considered stopping the blog altogether but it’s too valuable for us. You love us, laughing and crying and wrestling with issues, alongside our family. Telling stories of others is complicated and I still need to learn how to share them and preserve the subject’s dignity. Far too often, the entire continent of Africa is lumped into one place with media only showing stories of war, famine and disease. There is suffering, there is difficulty but we know Ethiopia to also be a place of beauty and great hope. On the flip side, as westerners, we can romanticize life in poverty and it’s simplicity when it is full of complication. And I don’t know how to write about it. 

Please forgive the current lack of direction, I want to put the sails back up on this boat but need some clarity of where we want to sail. Thanks for sticking with us in the lull.

More vacation shots

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Early morning barefoot run

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Staring each other down, it’s how the West was won.

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Sweet family time

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Squishy babies

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Sweet family time

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Yard games 
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Boat time hang out


Hoping to get wind in the sails soon! 



Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Still here and wow, summer is sweet. 

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Little A leads a flying V into the lake.

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Little J relearning to skiIMG 0909

Visiting cousins and friends

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tubing with NanaIMG 1258

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enjoying the cool mornings and the quiet nights. 


Early morning boat run




Thursday, July 16, 2015


We’ve had weeks of connection and it has been sweet to have a summer in the Midwest with our families. July Fourth is very well-celebrated in Jon’s family and this year, we joined our loud voices into the party. Perspectives have changed for us and I felt more thankful this year for what America represents for it’s citizens. Though it seems on shifting sands, there are freedoms and opportunities that make me want to lay down and grasp two fistfuls of carpet like grass, inhaling a country I can’t appreciate enough for what God has given us. 

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Pretending to be a frog for a slow-to-let-you-close, sweet nephew
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Celebrating July 4th and America with enthusiasm
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A message of hope
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Afternoon wiffle ball
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Basking in the glow of fireworks
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Nothing quite like cousins. 
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or grandmas and aunts
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I never knew moving out of the country would increase my patriotism.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Gumuz

To start, here’s an open letter into my heart.  Ha!  Just kidding.  Whew, that would be dangerous ground. So, one more reason why blogging is slow, every attempt ends up dry or so chock full of varied musings, I delight in deleting. 

Before our friends returned to Canada and the USA for the summer, we traveled to the area where they live, among the Gumuz people. Where we live is rural, where they live would be considered “in the bush”.

Driving down from the highlands onto bumpy, dusty paths, our family commented often on how glad we are that we live on a main road. 

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Because our rainy season is longer and the weather cooler, we don’t deal with so much dust in our area.

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Ethiopia has over 80 languages and in a relatively small land space, incredibly diverse peoples and climates. It’s amazing to observe ways of doing life, completely different from other neighboring groups. Here is a town we drove through, in kilometers not far from where we live, but in way of life, so varied.

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Climbing trees with friends. 

(I had permission from all of the following people to take these pictures)

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Jon sat in at the men’s group after church

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I joined the women and children. The Gumuz people are amazing at song and I watched women teach a new song.

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A few boys who wanted their picture taken.

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A beautiful, young mama. While we were there, temps were around 110 degrees F, a shock to our high altitude systems.

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A morning hike, trying to beat the heat.IMG 9415

I walked with friends into a village to visit one of their friends. We were served a traditional drink that is their staple food. It was hard for me to stomach but very nutritive. I’ve learned to like a lot of things, so I am sure with time, I could learn this drink as well. Nearing the end of rainy season, the drink was almost the only food available. 

This woman and her daughter were people I had prayed for though I had never met them. Because of a cultural practice, the family owed a debt to another family that could be paid with cows. The family had no cows and so the daughter was to be payment so she could be a slave in another tribe. Understandably, her Mama was heartbroken and desperate. God intervened through the prayers and gifts of people and the debt was paid, so, at least for now, this eight-year old girl is safe. 

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This kind man welcomed us into his home and pulled up a stump for us. His tie showed his ingenuity. He spoke a little Amharic, so I could follow some of the conversation with him. Most of the other people only spoke Gumuz.

So glad to see God’s work here and watch our friends in their day-to-day life. The Gumuz people have been marginalized in a myriad of ways, so much hard, but amazing to see where light is piercing the darkness.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Dress Up Boxes and Curly Girls

Our week in a neighboring state was great, the Littles made so many friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t pull out my camera often but we met up or stayed with four other families with beautiful “curly girls”.

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Yay for cousins and dress up boxes!

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Finally we got the twins together!  We met the parents of these sweet twin girls (2 months older than The Littles) in Ethiopia, but the girls have never met, so fun to see them love hanging out!