Sunday, July 30, 2017

You Guys! He's Almost One!

We leave tomorrow for the North. Our family is so thankful/happy/sad/nervous/peaceful/uptight. Can you pray with us for safe and smooth travels tomorrow? Best case scenario, we arrive right at sunset (without time to stop for any dinner). Can you pray with us that we have a joyful reunion and also have power to be able to reacclimate, make dinner and settle in? I know we won’t get entirely unpacked for awhile, but we do need to be functional. :) Tomorrow sounds like a challenge. 

Because I don’t know what kind of internet we return to but I am not expecting great, here’s our recent photos. 

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Such a funny picture and not the best but this is A, euphoric that we were served chocolate donuts at the guesthouse. 

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Here are the babes and Eliza, who is unphased at having two babies. Yay! Tiger calls her A-ya. So sweet.

Jon and I had a chance to share at chapel and I think she was glad to see us come back as Miss T isn’t a great sleeper and was overtired and decided to scream the whole time. She had four kids, one screaming. 

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A daddy-daughter date, (while Tiger napped).

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Moving brings out the minimalist in me. I know this doesn’t look like it, Ha! Except for I am stocking up for a family of 6+1 and I vacillate between wanting nothing and wanting to set up a cozy home. Pictured here is our generator and then stuff for our Bahir Dar teammates. Moving isn’t my thing but I am grateful for the continual purging we do as we clean out and pack up. 

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A last hurrah at a burger joint, we think the best ones in Addis Ababa. 

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Packing empty barrels that will be part of an irrigation test at the 5 F’s project.

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And then today, we started celebrating this guy and his upcoming birthday. HOW IS HE ALMOST ONE?! How is it possible he has four teeth and takes a few steps, repeats so many words, uses sign, crawls and cruises everywhere? His favorite food is breastmilk, his favorite game is peek-a-boo and he loves to dance! He can’t stop his body from responding to a beat. He brings us indescribable joy. 

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We met friends after church for lunch somewhere we hoped we could get a cupcake, “Cupcake Delight”. On the way, I prepped the kiddos and myself we may not actually find cupcakes, but we did…and fajitas. :)

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Tiger didn’t quite know what to think about getting to dig into a cupcake. Miss T, on the other hand, wanted the whole thing in her mouth. She hasn’t started solid foods yet but thinks she needs it.

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Once he started, he was very serious and ate as quickly as he could for about 1/3 of it and then started smooshing it in his hands.

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So stinkin’ cute. He was trying to sneakily drop it off his tray. We also noticed that the American cultural tradition of letting a one-year old destroy a cake and eat as much of it as they want and make a giant mess wasn’t super connecting with the culture around us. We apologized and tipped well. :)

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And then he was a sugared-up life of the party. 

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And Miss T just wanted some coffee!

Prayer Points:

-Safe and joyful travel

-A warm welcome (especially for the girls) in Injibara. That we can give and receive. J and A feel so much love and acceptance in the USA and we saw here them go into an old community in Addis where we had a strange interactions. We were later invited back and all was peaceful but we witnessed J and A really feel crushed. 

 -We can all reacclimatize quickly, feel “at home” and have the language and opportunity to express God’s miracles and glory. 

Love To All!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

An Update With Grainy Pictures. :)

  We are less than one week out from returning to Injibara. We’ve progressed in many ways during our time in Addis Ababa and we thank God for each of these areas. Our girls are missing relationships in the USA something fierce and Jon and I are glad they are talking about it. God has also brought new relationships to them and the opportunities for friendship.

I haven’t done a great job with pictures lately as my phone fills up and I am too lazy/busy to make more room but I have plenty of grainy ones of the kiddos. It’s who you came to see anyways. ;)

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These two are quite the combo. They sincerely enjoy each other and light up in the other’s presence. It makes me excited for what’s to come. Tiger can support all of Miss T’s weight and crawls around with her on his back. 

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This guy is a lover. His latest faves are sitting in this bouncy seat (thanks Florek!) and wearing his hat. His language is exploding and though he doesn’t love meeting new adults, he has caught on to extend his hand when he’s greeted. So cute. He repeats words and has recently realized his love for dancing! We’ve always seen him respond to music but now, even when he is tired, he can’t help but moving to a beat.

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And this is Rahel, a gracious Godly woman who comes to our house for hair days. It takes about 4 hours a girl and she patiently loves on us all while braiding. We haven’t seen her in about a year and it was so wonderful as she was ecstatic that God has brought us two new babies. I feel like we get to experience the miracle of it over and over here as we slowly are seeing people who we haven’t seen in a long time and they exclaim of God’s goodness to our family. 

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When I asked the girls to smile for a picture so I could send a picture, this is the pose they chose. 

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The girls were invited over to play with this lovely little girl (who crosses her eyes as her go-to-pose). It was so sweet, she told her mom she thought she needed initial earrings in her ears so people could tell her apart from J and A.

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The sisters watching a cartoon together. Miss T is content when with people and her attention span is impressive. 

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And once again, these two. I watched Tiger do a cycle of comfort for Miss T. He would put his fingers in her mouth so she could suck on them.

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Then he pulled them out and would bounce her about 5 times before repeating the finger suck move. He did this cycle at least ten times. 

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He is such a full contact lover.

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He decided she needed her pacifier

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After a few attempts, he discovered it was easier to get it in his own mouth than his sister’s.

IMG 1892Here is where I intervened. Miss T is tough. It’s like she knows he means well. 

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Getting dressed intermission because they found each other’s hands and he held tight. 

I want to get more pictures of Eliza as she is incredibly helpful and blesses us in so many ways. She is currently wrapping up school with J and A while Miss T takes a long nap and Tiger is cleaning out the pantry. (It’s amazing how much more lenient I am with my second round of kids.)

Join us in praying:

-We are thinking destination! Pray for calm hearts and minds as we re-enter our Awi neighborhood and we would have the words to proclaim testimony of what God has done and as adoption isn’t understood, it could be understood as the miracle it is. We’ve had so many opportunities here to explain the Gospel as each believer needs to be adopted into God’s family and we become sons and daughters, heirs of Christ!

-Traveling mercies and safety

-And as we pack again, it’s a lot of work but also unsettling for the kids. 



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Cute Graduation

Every time we visit Lifesong Schools/Misgana Ministries in Ethiopia, we leave very blessed at the work God is doing there. We were able to attend a preschool graduation and the kids presented in Oromo, Amharic and English. 

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We traveled down with friends and the kids are so focused in this picture during the ceremony.

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And I’ve not seen many things cuter than this.

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A little drama 

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This little girl was top in her class. 

And that is the end of my brain capacity. I am ready for bed at 8:20 pm. ;)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Deep Breath

Jon went to Injibara and back and, praise God, our water is flowing through the pipes again! He also heard the power is only on occasionally and so we hope to buy a generator to take with us. 

It was an emotional weekend for us, actually, the biggest one yet. I pulled out a photo album of our family and our extended family. The girls looked through it and I thought it would be good, but it made them a BIG sad. It’s so hard to watch them hurting. They know we say our goodbyes to Raquel tonight and it all contributed to lots of tears. Jon and I are so glad they can process things with words but it is also heartbreaking. J is more of an internal processor while A is learning ways to say what she is feeling. I’m crying right now as I remember it. As tears slid down her cheeks, she said, “When I am sad, I just tell myself, ‘It’s okay, we are close, we can just get on a plane and visit people we miss’ but I know it’s not true! We are so far away!” So, we cried together and talked about the privilege our family has of being sent to another land but how this doesn’t take away the real hurt. 

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Raquel is a dear woman and has become a close friend to all of us! Oh, we’ll miss her!

All the girlies with Raquel hair.

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Ok, this next one kills me. :)

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Eliza arrived from Australia on Wednesday. We are so thankful Raquel and Eliza had time to overlap and we praise God for His provision for us. Right now, just keeping the family fed, clothed and stable and a somewhat clean space around has me at full capacity so I don’t quite know how we would be getting along without these young women who have sacrificed to bless us. 

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We met Eliza when she landed in Ethiopia and had talked with her on Skype before. Her family is long time supporters with other SIM Ethiopia friends. We are so glad she was willing to come without even knowing us!

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She is the second child of seven from a homeschool family and has a natural gift to connect with kids. 

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Our girls have finally expressed an interest in learning Amharic and we’ve hired a language helper for them for our few weeks while in Addis Ababa. They are easily embarrassed when they make a mistake and like to give up but we are praying they can get over that feeling and press forward onto language learning! Their teacher could not be more kind. 

And this guy, only days away from his first birthday. I don’t know how that happened. Time is going faster with my second set of babies. Two top teeth are threatening to come in and he has taken his first steps, cruising on everything and crawling around in the evenings, biting anyone’s ankle that’s exposed. It’s hilarious and tickles so much. It seems like he actually knows he is playing a game like he is an animal. He’s imitating words and in general, melting us all with his adorable self. IMG 0157 Thank you for praying for his eye. I took him to a clinic as he was quite miserable and then we walked to a nearby pharmacy for an eye drop. I put him down for a nap with intention to start the drop when he was rested and he woke up chipper with a non-oozy, non-red eye. We are so thankful! 

Another guest at the guesthouse said that Tiger can make money with his eyebrows and it’s true, his expressive eyebrows fit in perfect in Ethiopia. He can raise one at a time and even make them look like zig zags. 

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Miss T fell asleep in my arms and woke up with sleep lines that looked like whiskers. Her expression looks like she gets how funny it is. :)  She is a sweetie, lights up when someone smiles at her, is grabbing for everything, wants all food in her mouth (we’ve not started any solids yet) and if the room is quiet, she’s got a lot to say! We are loving see her little personality come through! 

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I love these babies!

Praising God for our village, here and all of you, loving and praying from overseas. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The "Adventure" Dock

On Saturday, while out of the city on Lake Ziway, we decided to go scouting for hippos. We had baby life jackets, snacks and the diaper bag and set out first thing. The skies were gloomy and I questioned my intelligence as to taking 4 kids out. We were reassured the boat had a cover and we would be fine.

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Before getting to the boat, we walked down a long jetty, eroded away by the rain.

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And then this dock.

At this point, I was ready to turn back, but we had made it this far, and our guide, after seeing me giving the dock a wary eye, helpfully said in English, “This part is a bit of an adventure”. We laughed, the girls seemed comfortable, the babies happy in the outdoors and pressed on.

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Out on the open seas. Well, just a lake, but a big one.

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And then we came across a pod of hippos. And our boat driver stopped the motor. This is after he had a very difficult time starting it close to shore. My tone escalated a bit and A calmly said, “Well, if Miss T gets eaten by a hippo, it will still have been a fun adventure but we will grieve”. 

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The motor started the and hippos were nonchalant about our presence. They are intriguing creatures. 

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A view of the dock on the way back. An adventure for sure. J’s leg slipped through and so she and A were scooped up by two men and carried the rest of the way. 

Prayer Points:

-Eliza, an STA (short term associate) who is joining our project and our family for the next 3 months arrived safely from Australia today. This is her first time abroad and we are so thankful for her courage to come! Pray for her orientation and acclimation (to this culture and our zoo-ey family). 

-Language study

-Safety, productivity and relationships among our neighbors for Jon, Michael and Jason, who will travel to Injibara on Friday to work on the house. 

-Tiger’s eye got a little scratch today and it is really bothering him. 


Sunday, July 9, 2017

For Tradition Sake

If you are a long time reader of the blog, you may remember my long time scramble to do some kind of celebrating of American holidays in an effort for creating stability and positive memories for our kiddos. The first year in Ethiopia, we tried to skip it but then…well, read about it here. It’s weird this holiday is such a big deal for us but it’s because I remember my desperate feeling that first summer where we were all like plants, pulled out of our pots, starting to wilt and looking for ways to root again. And…I also dyed rice because it was all we had. 

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I am about dying of the girls’ 3 year-old cuteness!

By the next year, I knew I had to be more intentional as even though I can’t execute a holiday exactly the way I experienced it, it’s so important and fun to celebrate holidays. Here’s a link to 2014 where we were blessed to hang out with teammates and family on the fourth. 2014 4th 0f July. This was the year the girls’ wanted to make everyone choose which country was better. Thanks to Erica and several others, we had decorations to pull out for the 4th!

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By summer of 2015, we were back in the states for a 4th with all the fun Jon remembers growing up. 

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2016, we are back in a hut, this time, the new one at our house, grilling burgers with teammates and friends. 

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Here we are, 2017. Living at SIM Headquarters (HQ). We are in a lovely, two bedroom apartment here, but it isn’t our home in the US or in Ethiopia. We were all still a bit tired but I saw it was July 3rd. All of our decorations are in Injibara but I am slowly learning that celebrating life isn’t what we have or where we are but taking joy in the little things and recreating what we can. We invited all the Americans around (4 couples) and ate Mexican food on a tiny veranda. (I know, why not burgers? It was what I had around and it is usually raining every afternoon/evening, so grilling was out) The girls spent the afternoon coloring flags and beading red, white and blue jewelry while Raquel and I made potatoes, meat, salsa and guacamole.  

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I want to be an intentional mom and a woman who can truly celebrate the little things. 

In other updates, we spent the weekend in Ziway, we had a few meetings, went to a Lifesong School graduation and enjoyed God’s beautiful creation. More pics to come of this trip. Our trip down took much longer than we thought because of a missed turn, busy roads and the dynamics of traveling with four children, but we made it and were so happy to crawl out of the van!

Prayer Points:

-Jon leaves on Friday to go up to Injibara and fix up our house. He especially needs wisdom on getting our water running again.

-Eliza, a young woman from Australia, flies in this week and will be with our family for the next three months. She is 19 and it is her first time abroad. Talk about diving in deep. Pray for her, her heart, her safety, her time with us.

-We are all so sad thinking about saying goodbye to Raquel, she has truly been God’s provision for us in this season.

-Babies sleep, last night Tiger slept for the first time all night! Miss T is waking up at least 3 times, I can usually nurse her and get her back to sleep. 

-We’ve resumed language study. It feels good to apply my brain in Amharic again but I also feel rusty! 

Thanks for loving us so well.