Monday, February 22, 2016

Mama and Baby Care

After all the excitement over Yeshi’s birth, Laura asked a few questions about what is common prenatal care and post follow up. 

It can’t be overstated that Ethiopia is a VERY diverse country. Even within the same people group, there are different practices based on if the mother is from the city (i.e. Addis Ababa or some other big city, in our area Bahir Dar), town (i.e. Injibara) the countryside near the main road (where we live) or people who live deep in the countryside. 

We live among the Awi or Agew people who have become very close in culture to the Amhara people. 

In our context, countryside but near the main road, women would typically not visit a clinic while they are pregnant. The pregnancy is kept secret as long as possible and when it can no longer be secret, the woman stays near home and you don’t address or call attention to the pregnancy. There is much belief in a spiritual “evil eye” or “Buda” that has influenced many of the traditions among our friends. 

This sweet 10 month-old and his mama.

IMG 0378

In our immediate area, women have their babies in their homes surrounding by other women of the family. There is now a push along the main road to get woman in labor to the clinic in town.  Among the younger women, this seems to be happening, although when talking to a father of six, when I asked if his wife went into a clinic, it made him laugh at how preposterous that would have been. Along the main road area, If things go poorly, they definitely try to go into a clinic. Most public transport will not pick up a women who is obviously in labor, so this leaves a few options,

Option 1) Call the ambulance. Yes, we have an ambulance. It is a Landcruiser with a red cross on the side. It’s main purpose is to transport people to clinics, though I am unsure if anyone medical is on board. However, the ambulance could be very far or already occupied and to this point, it has not proved super-consistent.

Option 2) hire a local bajaj, these are small three-wheeled, covered motorcyclish things.

SAM0023 copy

(Photo Cred to Samantha)

Option 3) If we or our teammates are here, we can give rides to women in labor. This has been a service our teammates, Mark and Debbie have provided for the community and we continue with them. 

We have had women arrive in distress on litters, carried for hours on the shoulders of four men. This would be an example of a troubled deep countryside labor.

As I understand it, the women in labor often don’t make a sound. When someone does, she is told to stop. Women here are little, beautiful and TOUGH.

SAM0111 copy

(Photo Cred to Samantha)

A friend of our family remembers, as a toddler that his mother was sweating, preparing items and seemed tense. She didn’t make a sound as she boiled water, got a razor and then he heard nothing until his baby brother was born on the dirt floor and cried. His mother was alone as labor came suddenly on a market day and no one was around. He watched her cut the umbilical cord and he had a sibling. It was the first he knew of it. 

SAM0295 copy

(Photo Cred to Samantha)

A mother from town may have a follow-up appointment but more likely is told, “Come back if you or the baby is sick”. A woman from the countryside would only go back to the clinic if someone was extremely unwell. 



This family is obviously of a younger generation as they both smiled for pictures and the husband sat close to his wife, even putting his arm around her in the presence of others. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Prayed For and Loved

I’ve had stages in life where God seems to remain silent to my pleas that He provide me with real friendships. Other times, life seems abundant in authentic and beautiful friendships. 

Moving to rural Ethiopia, I worried I would be lonely, wondered how I would ever make friends. God has provided through many amazing women. 

Yeshi and I met through a friend of a friend and I am unbelievably thankful God brought the miracle of friendship into my life. 

DSC 0600 copy

Thank you to all who contributed to a baby-shower-in-a-box. Yeshi was overcome with emotion and joy. Everyone in the room was. The body of Christ extended so beautifully to love someone so generously only few of you have met. 

On Wednesday, God blessed Desalgn and Yeshi with a beautiful baby boy.

IMG 7937

(This picture is a baby doll, we are still a bit afraid the baby may break. :))

IMG 7935

He couldn’t be more perfect and we cried with joy and relief as to his safe delivery and I realized as she spent the long day in labor, we couldn’t focus on anything else, it was like a new nephew was coming.

IMG 7936

A perfect little one, designed by God.

Sweet baby, you have been prayed for and you are loved.

Cultural side note: In our area, it is common to keep the baby hidden and away from eyes and cameras until they are older and there are different religious ceremonies.  Also, children are usually named later. He does have a name and it is perfect but for respect of cultural practice, I won’t write it in a public space yet. :) 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

End of Trip Vacation

Okay, last post from my parents’ visit. There’s too many great pictures to stop now. We went to Bahir Dar to spend a few uninterrupted days of quality time.

IMG 1433  1

Airports, those in between Addis and Bahir Dar.

IMG 0119  1

A short boat trip on the Nile

IMG 0099

Maybe the girls’ most fun day of school to date.

IMG 0176  1

Blue Nile Falls, it’s small right now because it’s dry season but still impressive.

IMG 0224

Standing as close as we can in order to cool down.

IMG 0247

Dad experiences his first bajaj ride. He kind of wants one for the farm.

IMG 0265

Jon’s camera on his phone doesn’t work well, but his back camera does, so he is mastering selfie shots. 

IMG 0238

Early morning boat trip into the bright sunshine, looking for hippos and visiting a monastery on an island. The original structure is over 900 years old.

IMG 0258

Getting closer

IMG 0249

A hippo water spotting

IMG 0291

Can you see the hippos here? I think I count nine though they blend in with the rocks. (you can see their spines)

IMG 0286

A fisherman in Lake Tana shows us his catch and also how he has fish ready and scaled in the boat.

We are so glad Bahir Dar is only a few hours from our house, one of our favorite spots in Ethiopia. 


Monday, February 8, 2016

From Farm to Farm

There is very little magical about airports when it’s time to say goodbye. My parents are safely on US soil again and our family has felt your prayers, leaving us so grateful for the visit, the time of grief is passing. 

The girls were heartbroken, it’s interesting to watch all four members of our family handle grief differently. Remember my post on Grief being our friend?  It’s always a rough visit from her though. As our hearts are enmeshed in multiple places, I realize Grief cannot be avoided as saying “hello” to one group means saying “goodbye” to another. Thank you, God, you have given us people who love us and who we love that it hurts to part. Some seasons are so sweet in community or relationship and fellowship that I taste a morsel of what heaven will be like. I can make it my idol, wanting that nearness in relationships here and now and acutely feeling the sacrifice of not having it. The yearning for heaven grows in our hearts, when people from every tribe, tongue and nation stand around the throne of God in worship and we never have to say leave. 

At our recent Spiritual Life Conference, to a large group of very nomadic people, people who live on the edge, pushing into new frontiers, people who could be characterized by adventure and courage, I posed the following “Would You Rather” question during a light-hearted game: 

“Would you rather move the rest of your life, never spending more than one night in one place OR would you rather never again leave the five-mile radius of your home?” 

I expected a mix of answers from this large, international group, characterized by airports and moves but as we looked out, nearly 100%, if given the choice, chose to never again leave the 5 mile radius of their homes. Some eyes were tear-filled but there seemed a palpable groaning in the silence for a time of no more goodbyes.

Whew, I didn’t expect to end up here and it isn’t because of the one goodbye we just experienced, but the process of goodbyes, the knowledge of friends here moving on, the life full of joy but so insecure in the future. May our roots be deep in Christ, all else is shifting sand.

Another smattering of pictures…

IMG 0058

Always a farmer…

IMG 9898

And farmer’s wife

IMG 1385

Learning how to plow without a John Deere

IMG 1458  1

Walking to a hut. I don’t know how many rounds of coffee we were served but we were blessed by our community’s gracious hospitality they extended to my parents.

IMG 1541

These cuties at one of our house visits.

IMG 1550

After being served lunch and coffee, they gave us the gift of two of their cabbages. 

IMG 9910

A “salem no” shoulder bump hug. 

IMG 9925


IMG 1627

Through a comical set of circumstances, while Mom, Dad and I were in the market, these three boys carried our purchased items.  (Notice my new egg cartons.  After 1.5 years, my others were in shreds).

IMG 1600

Forging different trails

IMG 1481  1

Putting in a new staircase up to our attic

IMG 0169

Talking “farm” with Woodmizer guys (local sawmill brought in by 5 F’s project to support landless youth).

IMG 1438  1

Fixing electric issues

IMG 1601

Admiring our neighbor’s handiwork

IMG 1521  1

School in the hammock

IMG 1575

Hiking through the “Little Red Riding Hood Woods”.

IMG 0220  1

Tafera’s family (our project director).

IMG 1649

Fun at Yeshi’s…

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Abundance is the best word I can use to describe the time with my parents. I am not referring to stuff that they brought (although they literally only brought a few outfits for themselves and packed the rest with goodies-picture dad’s carryon stuffed with a few shirts and underwear, a six pound block of cheddar, string cheese, leman’s mints and granola bars).

Our community has warmly welcomed them as well and our time in Injibara was full of hut visits and rounds of coffee. 

I didn’t do a great job of documenting through pictures as I don’t often take out our big camera and our phone cameras don’t work well in dark houses.  We are in Bahir Dar now for a few days before we say goodbye to our parents and take them to the airport. Every family member who has come to visit seems to make us more human to the area we are in, less like alien beings who beamed in from some other planet, more like flesh and blood.

Photos from a few hikes…

IMG 0026

IMG 0037

J and A with a little friend (who is at least 8, maybe 9).

IMG 0051

The girls’ friends went on a hike with us, so special they could meet the other set of grandparents.

IMG 0061

Strong girls. It doesn’t make my feat of carrying my dad on my back so impressive. :)

IMG 0062

Hiking through other houses, yelling for permission to pass at the gate as we blazed some new trails on accident.

IMG 0075

Mom had a little attached friend, Yenewerk.

IMG 7866

Two of the homes we visited required us to cross this hazardous bridge to everyone’s delight but Mama (and maybe Nana).

IMG 7858

Showing Nana and Papa how to roast, grind and boil coffee. Which they saw on at least a daily basis.

IMG 7853

So happy to show their bamboo house.

IMG 9945

Playing Doctor and nurse with a willing patient

IMG 9951

Working together in the kitchen

IMG 9956

Mom did a week’s worth of school for the girls, which was a win for everyone, especially ME! Dad did other needed jobs around the house when Jon didn’t have him busy running around the countryside. 

IMG 9969

One of the only homes we take pictures in because they are so used to us and our foreign ways of picture taking. :)

IMG 9971

Meal time with Yeshua’s family.

IMG 9991

Walking across the pasture…

IMG 9973  1

Friends and Prayer Warriors, you are so dear to us.  We are unbelievably humbled by they way you remember us and the Awi people in prayer. Thank you for praying for our time with visitors, they have been answered and we see God doing so many things here.  Please continue to pray with us for the hearts of the Awi. 

Now the goodbye is on the horizon, they always make my stomach hurt and my eyes a little watery but each goodbye is especially hard for the girls.