Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Anti-climatic Dungeons

After it was discovered the castles didn’t have furniture, chandeliers and beautifully dressed princesses coming down grand stair ways, the girls fixated on how cool the dungeons were going to be.

Unfortunately for all of the world and us in the moment, the dungeon was a structure that had been bombed out, so it was open a few stone walls, with grass growing. It also wasn’t the true dungeon in that it was just a holding cell before judgement.

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There were no chains. No dank caverns down spooky stairways.  The “real” dungeon was on another location.  We had been touring just about long enough that the girls were feeling hungry and tired and this realization brought a disappointment that we couldn’t go on. We tried to find other things to distract ourselves.

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We found the lion cages then.  Until 1991, ceremonial lions were kept here. It alleviated our disappointments for a bit.

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We toured a building used as the banquet hall.

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Then, our brilliant tour guide took us around to another structure, the lion cages from another side. He called it the dungeon and let the kids in.

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Here are the kids and their dungeon faces, chained to the walls, so stinkin’ happy we finally found something dungeony.

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To wrap up Gondar, we would highly recommend it if you want to see amazing castles. If you happen to be obsessed with dungeons, maybe try a castle in Europe. 


Monday, June 27, 2016

Castles of Gondar

Finally, some castles! In the center of the city of Gondar is a large-walled compound where many emperors lived.  The main castle was the residence but almost every subsequent emperor had a structure built. The only castles are not just in Gondar but in the surrounding areas.  Gondar is also known for a famous bath that many Ethiopian Orthodox Christians visit on Timket.  

Given our constraints of time and seven kids, we only toured a few sights, the main castles in the city being first on our list.  The history here is amazing.

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Our group, in front of the main castle of residence.

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The yellowish-toned castle here in the background was less spectacular, the tour guide explained because the emperor was very religious and didn’t want to spend money on a castle. The whole compound was bombed by the Italians and this castle sustained the worse damage so has been refinished.

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Castles bring out a touch of drama in the whole family.

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As J continues to model her princess drama…

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Or here, where the girls are fainting into Jon’s arms. 

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A roof, never restored after the bombing.

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The girls were a bit disappointed the castles weren’t furnished. :) We didn’t get to go far inside the castles, just the main floor.

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Up Next…dungeons!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Castles and Dungeons

Hey, it’s Tuesday and it’s June 21st?!  

You know the times when you look ahead at a season on your calendar and you take a deep breath to calm down because it is going to be a whirlwind?  Yeah, we are in such a season right now.  Life is full and abundant.  I get tired and think I can’t go on and God gives me refreshment in the busy.

June is a gorgeous time in the highlands, the weather is cooling, we have hard rains nearly every day but the clouds share the day with a beautiful sunshine. It’s not yet so muddy that hiking is slogging through mud that sucks off your shoes.  Plants burst forth, everything is green, the farmers are plowing, the kids are wrapping up school in time for rainy season.  The animals look fuller,coats a little shinier in the golden sun off the hills.

We’ve been a little (well, a lot) low on the modern convenience area, and with hosting on at least a weekly basis, the lack of power, running water from my faucets and no phone service has proven a test to my being content in all circumstance. My prayer is that my joy is not lost in something so small and I don’t let it stress me.  BUT…somedays, I am really grouchy about it.

On the bright side, the day a social worker flew in to do our home study, we picked her up at the airport and our teammates Mark and Debbie and their daughter Anna had watched the girls and had our house spotless. We arrived home to freshly backed bread and full power. The home study for our next adoption went so well and we can check out that part of the process.

Yesterday our family arrived home from a weekend in Gondar, an ancient and mystical city. Instead of writing all about it, I am sending you to Wikipedia and I’ll just add pictures and commentary (but you’ll have to wait on our castle pictures as the internet and I are not on the same page lately).  We went with friends on a vision trip to Northern Ethiopia.  The weather was cool, perfect for exploring castles but of course, when the kids saw the hotel had a pool, they also wanted to swim.  I am so thankful for a daddy who braves the icy waters and lets me sit on the edge of the pool in my sweatshirt. 

First, we hung around here and did our mandatory tours around our home. :)

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The kids, minus the littlest at the 5 F’s Project

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To the top of the small mountain near us.

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On a walk, Joe undertook a dangerous balance beam.

After a few days around here, we loaded into our minibus.

Come back soon for the castles!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Do You Notice A Pattern? (And Instas)

Today’s post is a mash-up of too many things.  I know you just care about my opinion on each of these. ;)

First, Orlando, it’s just too much.  My prayer is, as a worldwide church of Christ, in the face of fear and horror, we can stand firm, move forward courageously and be the Church, the hands of feet of Christ, even to those we differ from.  I am again reminded that we, of all people, do not need to cower in fear as we live and love counter-culturally. God is the same today He has been since before the world. 

A quote I was blessed to see this morning in regards on the terror in Orlando:

“What a horrific act of evil. Christians, your Muslim friends and neighbors woke up this morning wondering how they will be viewed. Love them……Also consider the fear and pain this will have in the LGBT community.  Let’s be the people of God in this heinous and awful violence”. -Matt Chandler

And another favorite quote, “Courage, Dear heart”-C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

Onto the lighter stuff. While I was at the Village Medical Course in March and Jon ran around with the girls, they were invited to a birthday party involving go-carts about 1.5 hours outside of Addis. He told me about it on the phone and let’s just say I felt a bit…skeptical.

I saw these pics on a friends’ camera.  I hadn’t seen them yet, do you notice anything in common in each of them?

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I am fairly confident Daddy had more fun than any of the kids.  :)  

Speaking of Jon, such a funny day.  We miss social cues around here for holidays.  For example, you walk into Meijer and three months before a holiday, you see signs or reminders of the upcoming event.

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Well, on Sunday, I got up, gave Jon his Father’s Day gift, made themed pancakes and the girls made him cards when he said, “Umm…I don’t think it is really Father’s Day.”  I was convinced until we looked it up and nope, it wasn’t Father’s Day. I guess it’s better early than never. It kind of worked out.  

Babe, you deserve celebrated every day.


Recent instagrams/life’s little moments

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Love these goofy girls, always in the middle of an imaginary game. We take our play SERIOUSLY around here. Don’t try and interrupt it.

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A very brave little friend came to stay with us for three days.

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So much to do, so little time.

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Here are the girls, looking like intimidating badminton foes. Now, we just have to work on connecting racket to birdie.

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Here is J, not joking but thinking this method may improve her game.

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J and Desse, just hanging out.

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Salem, 3-year-old neighbor, washing her extra dress in a mud puddle.

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Little Yenewerk, in the purple, always finding a way to make life work out well for her.

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This is from Jada’s storyboard, about a Mama and daddy bear who are adopting.  This picture is the “Mama bear with piles of paperwork”.

Ha! I didn’t think I was this obvious. So excited about adoption, not about unending e-mailed paperwork with sketchy internet connection.


Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Perfect Mud Recipes

If you remember our hut, we wanted mud benches around the side, in a circle, so it has seating capacity for around 30. 

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Women from the community offered their expertise. The floor was dug up and ready to mix. 

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The dirt was built up and then bamboo woven to hold back the dirt and a layer of straw.

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Assessing strength and packing in mud…

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In the middle, a pit was dug and water added, which was then ready to mix.

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It gets mixed by hand or rather, by foot.

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At a certain point of proper mixing it was time for the next ingredient.

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More straw.  They women all knew how much to add.

I don’t have pictures of the next process, but the mud, after totally mixed was flung onto the benches, the front and top. They are still in the drying process. 

It’s so amazing to watch a skill set that is at mastery level and I wouldn’t have the first clue where to start.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Not my favorite thing to post about…goodbyes. 

It’s not everyday we are blessed with a deep friendship. It’s not everyday we are blessed with mature mentors.  And when mentors are the friends you can learn from and safely share your unedited thoughts, well, when those come around, it is clearly a gift of God. We’ve had both in our Canadian “neighbors” only living three hours from where we live in Injibara.

After one last “hurrah” weekend, we sent them on their way. After living twenty years here, Canada is much more a foreign land to them.

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Four little peas in a pod having a millipede funeral.

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On a hike

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Waiting for the password

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Joel, found what he thought was a coffin in the rocks.  We all mourned him.

(I am just realize in looking through these pictures that funeral was a game that was played multiple times over two days.  It seems maybe our kids were processing in their own style.)

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We know it isn’t goodbye forever but we don’t know where in the world we will meet next. 

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Yes, rainy season has started…

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Their kids have taught our girls so much about life, exploring, seizing the moment, and pushing through, even when they feel shy.

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My favorite picture of the weekend, these men wren’t going to let a little rain ruin their girls’ hopes for marshmallow roasting. 

We bless you and send you on with thankful hearts that our paths crossed in Northwest Ethiopia for these three years.