Thursday, December 28, 2017

Travel and Pictures

We travel today to Addis Ababa, which will give us the weekend before a week long conference. We have enjoyed a few days break in Bahir Dar and enjoyed each other (and wifi) while we were here.

Here are a few pictures I’ve never shared.  

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The babies sharing a bowl of gooseberries. Tiger has really gotten into pulling Miss T’s hair or pinching her chubby cheeks so we can’t let them alone for a second. She holds her own with toys though. 

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Here are the girls on the morning we got our sweet little puppy. Tomoca is a great addition to the family and so much healthier after her medicines! She does nip, I think we have five teethers right now. The girls classify themselves as teething as they are losing teeth and gaining new ones. :)

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The babies love the puppy. When she whines outside of the door, they imitate her sounds and ask for the “puppy” or “Mona!”

And this…so much glorious imperfection (My favorite being Miss T’s overall buttons being completely undone)

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so much glorious imperfection (My favorite being Miss T’s overall buttons being completely undone) 

And because I have so much to catch up on in the past, I’m going to try and include a throwback picture or two in each post. 

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Field Days in the city, once again, such a blast to cheer on our team and our girls, who practiced this year and enjoyed it more than ever before. They did the best in their three-legged race event. Probably the practice and the twin advantage. :)

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Here’s our future track and field star. :) An asset to any team, little Tiger is coordinated. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Story of Christmas As Told By Puppets

Though this won’t be seen for awhile, I’m writing two days before Christmas and hope to go to a location on Christmas day with wifi. Currently, the babies are sleeping, the rest are curled up watching a Christmas movie. The days are warm and sunny here but we are getting frost. Jon’s pretending it’s snow so we can have a white Christmas. Our house does feel chilly in the mornings too! Jon dreams of installing a fireplace, which sounds cozy right about now. I now spend our evenings and mornings in sweatshirts and blankets.

We are gearing up to be away from our home starting on Christmas day for 2 1/2 weeks. Time at meetings, time resting, time celebrating with friends, time to restock supplies…making meals takes extra creativity right now as many of my basic ingredients are gone. Leaving home always is a mixed bag, so many good things we do while away, but unsettling for the kids and I as all routines are thrown off. Not having any internet has been a challenge, like no internet to the point we can’t pull in e-mails but we continue to pray for peace in the country and an opening of communication lines. 

Our Advent season has been beautiful as we have slowed and taken the time for the season to soak in, in all of it’s shining glory. It’s so different to celebrate here from the USA, some things we miss dearly, while other things are so poignant here…most of the kids in our area are shepherd children, who were born in mud houses, some probably in the presence of animals. It has been a special time of making gifts for family, assembling gift bags for the orphanage and kids in prison. We don’t have the “hustle and bustle” and I miss it at the same time, never before have we been able to so fully embrace the season in our own ways. 

Teammates, a family from Canada and a family from Belgium prepared a beautiful puppet show about the true meaning of Christmas and God opened doors for three showings in our area. The first at a local orphanage.

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There are 48 kids at the orphanage. 15 babies not attendance. 

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But we did get to meet the newest member at the orphanage (where they are very well-loved by Catholic nuns from Latin America and a sweet Ethiopian staff). This baby had been there 4 days. Yes, if adoption were being allowed to foreigners, we would probably grow the family again because MELT MY HEART. 

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Passing out bananas at the end.

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We had two showings in our compound. At starting time, there were five shepherd boys, we waited a bit and by the end of the first showing, there were around 30 people. In the intermission between shows, the first five shepherd boys ran out the gate, gathering their friends.  More people entered and the second show was beautiful as well. We pray what was proclaimed takes root!

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The front row’s faces when the puppets made their first appearance. God has been so faithful in so many open doors. 

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I love this picture more though, the delight and disbelief by the men sitting in the back. 

and one last prayer request:

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8-year-old Aburich has a bone infection. After hospital visits, the family had opted against surgery and it is looking better with antibiotics. We are thankful for this but have also seen that deep bone infections do need surgery to fully heal the leg. Please pray for wisdom and open doors that this little girl can return to school and live a normal life. Bone infections left untreated most likely will result in leg amputation.


Monday, December 18, 2017

The Many Expressions of Tiger and T

Our first morning with the puppy, all four of the kids were intrigued but scared as she has a strong puppy desire to lick, nip and chew.  It turns out our puppy could not be sweeter or more laid-back with kids, but also, really, really sick. There is a vet in town who has given her shots the last 3 days, we hope she is on the mend!

Anyhow, Jon turned the camera from the puppy to babies as these two sat chumming in their jimmies and while trying to get a smile, here are some of the shots captured.

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A bit confused about the smiling part.

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Starting to warm up for the camera

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I love this one, especially because it shows the elusive teeth I can hardly ever capture in a photo!

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And then the snuggle. These two melt me! 

Currently, we are without internet unless we can hit a working wifi spot in our nearby town. (Timing power and wifi network isn’t easy). We are safe but please pray with us for peace in the country and wisdom as we move forward. 

Also, this Saturday, friends from another city are coming to visit and to do a drama about the true meaning of Christmas. Pray for this with us and the hearers are open and receptive. Please pray for protection and a distraction free time. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tie-Dye Coloring

Western Christmas is quickly approaching (Ethiopian Christmas is January 7-it looks nothing like our Christmas). We love the kids in our pasture and have such a desire for them to know about the significance of the baby in a manger. Pray with us for open doors and opportunities and soft and understanding hearts. 

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A few girls came over to color. This is an easy way to bless and one many of you have contributed to by sending crayons and coloring books. The pictures that are colored are then used as wall coverings on the mud walls of their homes. 

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I was so impressed by little Bete and the way she caught on to try and stay within the lines, though she has maybe held a crayon twice in her life. 

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The coloring style usually is usually a bit of a tie-dye approach. I think there may be a lack of understanding of the object being colored (though this wolf could be identified as a hyena). It’s a bright addition to any wall. :)

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Crack me up. It seems Miss T’s face is saying, “Wait, I thought I wasn’t supposed to put these in my mouth?”.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Because I Needed More Things To Keep Alive

As you can’t hear my spoken tone, let me just say the title is sarcastic. :) We’ve added three animals to the crew AND…

The girls are 8. 8. E.I.G.H.T.

How did this happen!?

We see in them a need for consistent friendships. They work on relationships here and have some sweet little “pasture friends”.

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We are all thankful for these relationships but also recognize that it doesn’t fill them up like a friend from a more similar background would. This has so many dynamics but I’ll leave it here for today.

Enter Jon’s idea of getting animals. These sheep actually are very low work for us and managed mainly by our guards. The guards love having sheep and say this makes us “rich”. It also provides the kids with creatures to love and care for. 

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Bitti and Benji and two shepherd girls. For the first week, afternoons involved a bit of this. Now I push them to get out and watch the sheep. They’ve decided it’s…boring because “the sheep don’t do anything!” We have had some good lessons on shepherding and empathizing with the neighbor kids who spend a whole day tending the flock in the pasture. 

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Speaking of friends, these four are buds. 

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This was a special day…dressed in their “gardening outfits” they planted flowers.

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The same week we added sheep, we also added…

A Puppy! I was overwhelmed as Wendu dropped off the shivering bundle of fur. I have enough children to focus on right now. We made the puppy promise to the girls the day our dear dog died. What parents will do to alleviate grief! ;)

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Tiger loves the sheep. Just not this close. 

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He cracks me up.

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He must feel this is a safe distance.

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Miss T on the other hand is a bit more like…”Why are you putting me beside this fluffy thing and how are you going to fix it?”

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These babies are reminding me of twins now!

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Here’s Miss T, so happy she climbed up the wall and Tiger claps for her. He legitimately celebrates her accomplishments.

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 He can’t quite handle the temptation of laying on her while she crawls by…it is like an open invitation to hug her.

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Miss T has been busy, in one day, saying three words in context! “Hewwoo” (hello) while putting something to her ears, in the above photo, calculators, “Up” and “Mama”.

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And there are those two teeth she had to fight for..

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And then sweet Tiger, watches a process one or two times before trying it himself! My current favorite phrase of Tiger’s is used when his hands emerge from his shirt sleeves and he greets his fingers with a “Hey guys!”

Thanks for your prayers, Asmarich is still sick but can walk on her own now!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Darkness Cannot Overcome It

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:5&9

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Preparing for Christmas in more than just decoration, lights and gifts, God has graciously been working in our hearts to take time and marvel at the miracle of Christmas. Peripherally, situations feel like the darknesses is darker than the light can penetrate. This season, my heart is raised upward in hope and awe when I think of God becoming flesh, baby Jesus, Light of the World, lying in a manger. (On a side note, it is also making me want another baby…this only last for about 3 seconds and then my thinking brain takes over my feeling brain. :) ).

The ache for our neighbors to have this hope is tangible. I think of Simeon again and again this year, yearning, waiting, spirit groaning to see the Messiah and his response upon seeing Him, becoming my prayer for the Awi “for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Luke 2:30-32

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I think of Asmarich lying in a tight ball in the corner of the dark hut, shaking and tiny as sickness overwhelms her body, Betelehem, her 5-year-old daughter, curled up beside her.

Meteku’s widow, two surviving children, two in the grave, trying to do the work of she and her husband, no man around in a culture where he’s necessary for life.

The 6 and 4 year-old girls, with no mama as she hasn’t returned home, the baby, who, praise God is growing on the formula, but doesn’t have his mother’s arms. I think of the woman, alone and unable to return to her right mind.

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Heavy situations around me are a list longer than I could write, BUT, there is GOD. There is the Light of the World. There is Hope. Will you continue to pray with us over these situations? 

We have hope! Because Light has come into this broken, crumbling world and He is healing us in our broken places.

We live in a pastoral community, where are neighbors are looked down on, they are “just farmers”. Countryside people, “just shepherds”. Shepherds who know what the cold of a long night watch feels like, shepherds who watch their flock as a way of life from early childhood. 

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And the angels shone in heavenly array to THEM, The lowliest, maybe the people who needed hope the most. 

Oh come let us adore Him! 


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving, Old Turkey and All

 Ah, finally, our dry season is in full swing. We are enjoying the sunny days (though the nights are COLD), the blooming of the Meskel flowers and our little corner of the earth. 

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Holidays bring us joy but American holidays bring mixed emotion as no one around us is celebrating and we scrape together the remnants we can find to truly celebrate. The girls are missing our families and church family so much as go into this year’s holiday season. 

On Thanksgiving this year, we were thankful for the abundance of food and relationships God has given us here. Friends like family. 

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We were hosted by Mark and Debbie and we graciously offered the small turkey breast that has been sitting in our freezer for over two years. The 11 months we were gone, power was regularly cut but, it was TURKEY and it was at the bottom of the deep freeze, so we sniffed it, inspected it and Mark cooked the turkey and the stuffing over the fire. The smell was delicious and we said an extra blessing over it before we dug in. 

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We all agreed we are extra thankful for a feast in Ethiopia because it’s not available everyday.

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These babies think Yeshi is pretty great…which fits well with us because we do too.

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We overlooked Mt Zerehee

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And sang songs praising our King. (Eliza is back! She arrived on Tuesday and is with us until mid-February.) She is a very talented violinist.

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And Little Miss T was waving on purpose for the picture. 

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Jon has a “joy journal” in which he writes 5 things he is thankful for from the day before every morning. I am challenged to start one as well as taking a moment to be thankful each morning changes my perspective for the day. Here is Tiger and his “cheese” face that he makes every time he sees the camera. 

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So thankful for Mark and Debbie, who God has given us to walk beside us in this season of our life.

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And our crew, messy and imperfect but beyond thankful for each member!

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 We wrapped up the day with an American football game in our front yard. 

May the beginning of your December be blessed!