Monday, November 30, 2015

Reasons To Be Thankful

Our Thanksgiving, as aforementioned was joyful but anti-climatic. 

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After Jon got home from work, we had a bonfire and learned about the Thanksgiving story.

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We all were in particularly jovial moods. So, even when our dog ate our cookies (that were out to be the base of our s'mores). Besides Daddy. “He was so mad his head almost popped off!” Which was a funny overstatement. When our wads of mini marshmallows that had melted in a chunk slipped off into the fire and we didn’t get to eat them, The Not-So-Littles just laughed

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And the rain started. Not-So-Little-J raised her hands in the air and sincerely yelled, “Best Thanksgiving Ever!” A complete miracle.

On Friday, we had our Thanksgiving party. The power was out and came back on…

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When it did, this little one was so delighted by the light bulbs. He would yell with delight when we switched the lights.

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And all of these faces are a few for which we are very thankful.

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Thank the Lord for my dear friend, Yeshi. She is expecting and we are thrilled!

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Discovering this little toy, a stuffed horse that moves on it’s own! 

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I know, go ahead and scream he’s so cute.

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Climbing the olive tree, one of the girls’ favorite pastimes.

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A game of frisbee


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And volleyball, disturbed only be the biting ants. 

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The crew watching volleyball, trying to escape the biting ants.

We have so many reasons to be thankful. God is so good in giving us community.

Friday, November 27, 2015

1,142 Donkeys

We had our Ethiopian-style Thanksgiving today. So great, pictures to come. Thanks to those who prayed for us and others living away from family and home culture.

On the drive from Addis Ababa to Injibara, a friend challenged the girls to count the donkeys en route. The girls fizzled out around 300 and rejoined the game from about 720-850. 

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I, on the other hand, was quite consumed counting donkeys. We saw a few herds, but most came in twos or threes and I counted 1,142 donkeys. I even missed some in far off pastures or when my family had the nerve to ask me something. “Mama, I am hungry, can I have lunch?” “Wait a second! I’m busy!” Ya know, I didn’t want to miss one. At night, when I closed my eyes before bed. I saw donkeys under heavy loads. 

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The drive is astounding in beauty.

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The seas of red are hot peppers drying in the sun, and it will be hand mixed with other spices to create berbere, a staple spice here. Though the views are phenomenal, I am not sad today we are not driving.  We get to stay put a whole three weeks. ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Truly Full Of Thanks

Thanksgiving, the day, will be a bit anti-climatic for us this year. I lay awake, thinking about it, it seems that trying to recreate an American holiday here feels a bit flat. So much can be reproduced but there are dear faces in our minds that can’t be replaced. 

Thankfully, God has given us many dear faces here. The original Thanksgiving was about the American Indians welcoming and blessing the Pilgrims and then mutual celebration. In light of this, tomorrow, we’ve invited five of the families who have blessed us (the pilgrims who weren’t going to survive the winter) to do a meal. There will be no turkey but plates piled high with injera, shiro, vegetable stew and flowing pots of coffee. (It’s fasting time for Ethiopian Orthodox and though we would love to bless with meat, I AM SO GLAD I DON’T HAVE ANY BUTCHERING TO DO!) 

I did bring a small frozen turkey breast back to Ethiopia. We will eat it on Monday night when a Canadian family comes through. Canadians don’t have the same Thanksgiving date as Americans but they have agreed to be thankful with us.

A few exceptional reasons for which we praise God:

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This. All summer I prayed God would give the girls friends in Addis Ababa as well as Injibara. Yesterday in the pasture, there was so much love and fun to be had, Thank you, Lord!

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And this. Another kid at the guest house in Addis Ababa, who happens to be a boy and also happens to love to play prince to these two princesses. He has also proclaimed he will marry them both. They are okay with this as they could always be together. Jon and I are less okay with it but think we can talk sense into the situation, at least by the time they are teens. 

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In another huge praise, Not-So-Little-A has decided it is time she learns Amharic. The girls have seemed to have had a mental wall to learning the language and after pushing, pleading and prodding, we backed off until it was girl initiated!  Now, onto language learning.


Psalm 136, is amazing in it’s entirety. Here are the beginning 4 verses to whet our appetites.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 

Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. 

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; 

to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever. "

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 23, 2015

On The Road Again...

Hey! We leave tomorrow for Injibara. We would appreciate prayers for a safe and uneventful journey. 

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 Does it seem like all we do is travel around? That is how it feels to us too. 

We are stable though, praise God. I can’t tell you enough how much your prayers mean. We wrapped up our meetings, went to church, got our groceries, ate at restaurants and the girls had time to run around with friends. 

Hopefully the next time we will talk to you, it will be from the blueberry house. 


A throwback from our first trip up north that resulted in an accident that has left residual trauma in our hearts. Hey, if our girls didn’t get some terrible disease from playing in this truck, we can make it through anything, right? ha!


Friday, November 20, 2015

North Team

After a week of meetings, (Jon has had two weeks), we’re kind of done and may run away screaming if someone rings the bell for another one. 

There are currently three families with kids on the team and the girls had days of running around, having a blast. 

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After a swim, I found these four playing tick-tack-toe on dry legs. 

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We were staying on a crater lake, beautiful but deep and murky so when Mama was calling the shots, the girls had to wear life jackets.

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The girls’ birthdays were celebrated as well as one other little girl who has a birthday soon.

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One night we went driving, looking for hyenas. We drove into a pack of 50+. Hyenas are creepy animals and I wasn’t sad to leave them behind. Especially when one did a cackle, laugh. Yuck.

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One teammate planned a crazy run around game that had us frantically completing childhood games as one big team. This is a picture of “steam roller” that we had to do for 30 meters, which is actually TOO FAR in scratchy grass.

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Painting faces and singing “Old Macdonald”

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Our team leaders, not the game creators though

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Building pyramids of at least 10

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Treeing monkeys

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One of our tasks was also to do one hundred jumps into the lake. 

Such a time of sharing, refreshment and prayer. We are so thankful for people whom God allows us to fellowship.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Master Tree Growers

Hey! Hey! I am back!  I found another temporary solution for photos, hoping this one can last a bit longer. :)

We have been back for a month and in a completely, non-complaining way, it feels like we time traveled because we haven’t been in the USA for at least a year. It would be an understatement to say we’ve been on the go, but it has all been good and worthwhile busy!

Right now, our family is south of Addis Ababa for some meetings (Yes, we live in the North, long story :)). I had some time to slip away today and organize my thoughts a bit. 

Master Tree Growers training was amazing. I mentioned it in a previous post, but God blessed it in mighty ways which I cannot detail here but thank you for all your prayers.

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All the trainees and the trainers (Kinfe from Mekele, Ethiopia, Joy from Uganda, John from Australia and Tafera from the 5 F’s project). Jon and Mark were participants.

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All attendees received a hat and they were worn with much pride. 

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Mark, at their new house (the mud house in the background, almost dry enough to move in) explaining what plants they have put on the land and why.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pure Michigan

Here are a few posts I had backlogged that already had pictures loaded:

Does anyone use Mars Edit as a blogger platform that could help me with some diagnostic questions?

Our Flashback to a few summer memories.

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Borrowing bikes for the summer was one of the best choices we made this home assignment. The girls LOVED them and near the end of summer, bravely decided we could remove the training wheels.

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And they did it! We about couldn’t get them off the bikes after this. 

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Four-wheeler rides

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and cousin’s birthday parties

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paddle boat rides

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Trips to the big lake

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Packing in last memories together

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And tea parties at child table sets in public spaces because grandparents who won’t see their grandkids for awhile to to great lengths.


Our time in the US was sweet. 


Monday, November 2, 2015

She Came To Sit With Us

I am back, but again, can’t get pictures into a post!  I am sorry and as I get our tech department (Jon) to look at it, we will have to move forward with pictureless posts. Please hang in there with me. I have beautiful ones!

I’d be remiss to not take a second to acknowledge this guy, without whom his three girls would all fall apart. 

It’s his birthday (or it was when I wrote it…last week) and I admire him so much. So glad God gave me you, Jonny!


Interestingly, we have had a few days and hosted guests since this and we are in a very different spot now then when I wrote it and I can’t say I am sad about it! Two couples from our home church were our first set of guest and we traded them for another set, two instructors from an organization based in Australia called “Beyond Subsistence”. They are currently doing a training for 35 local farmers called “Master Tree Growers” but this will get its own post. People here are hungry for knowledge and since the week-long training is by invitation only, we do have some disappointed friends who could not attend. For the attendees, we are so blessed and encouraged by the thirst to learn. 

Okay, whew, onto the original post:

Thanks for all your encouragement. Our giddy kind of died down and we had two very bummed kids on about Saturday.

We’ve been trying to give plenty of room to grieve. Do you know that grief is that antidote to depression? (At least that is what they told us at MTI). I read a blog post by a friend, Rebecca, that talked of “Grief” with a capital “G” and as a female. She wrote how Grief comes to sit with her and in times of transition, she is a welcome friend. It’s a process but I am beginning to invite her in with open arms. Not to wallow but instead of stuffing, using cliches, or minimize real emotion, we sit with her awhile and experience her cleansing, sometimes through hot tears and other times through times of pouring out prayers.

She has moved on since then in all the busy but I know she will come again and it will surprise us.  When I recognize her with my girls, Jon or myself, we are efforting an openness to do the hard work of Grief.

I know we will have times of sorrow and I do ask God that they would be short. :)

A friend, Peggy, sent an article to me that was very insightful. When we are uprooted and make serious efforts at rerooting, “Everywhere is home and nowhere is home.” While we are so thankful for our many places God has put in our hearts, we also yearn for Heaven, a place of unending worship and uninterrupted communion with God, but also as a place of no goodbyes and no need for our earthly friend, Grief. 

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