Tuesday, August 29, 2017

a Good Ache, Cause For Prayers and Praise

Thanks for your sympathy to the last post. Believe me, I am not some super-woman, this is an answer to your prayers! You just didn’t know you were praying for me to be able to laugh through a night as described in the previous post. The next day, Eliza, Jon and I cleaned up and J and A loved the story of it all. :) 

My heart is groaning lately, I have felt the sting of death, watched people in pain and just got off the phone with a mother in anguish over her baby’s pain. As we interact here and the girls and I are studying the Middle East, I feel face-to-face with the reality of millions living and dying without the Gospel. Speaking of prayer and your support, here are some specifics. Thanks for those who have reached out for specific updates. 

A soft-spirited man who works at the Woodmizer lost his 13-year-old daughter a month ago. We had taken this sweet girl to a clinic in Bahir Dar before and Mark and Debbie had been involved with her as well for years before as she had a chronic illness. Her father now wears the black hat of grief and his brown eyes are full of sadness. Please pray for Meteku and his family.

Hayamanot, the boy with dog bites pictured with Jon two posts previous is on the mend and Jon gave him his 3rd rabies vaccine shot today. Only two more left! 

I talked with Frehiwot today, the young mother of the child who we were able to send to Addis Ababa for surgery. The 1.5 month old baby had a successful surgery and the family is thankful and joy-filled but as we talked on the phone, a woman who previously didn’t discuss prayer, begged me to pray for the baby and their 10-hour bumpy bus trip tomorrow as the baby still seems to be in a much pain and isn’t nursing well because of it. I assured her we would be praying and I didn’t know how to describe to her that a village of blog friends would also be praying. 

And, our dog and only family pet is sick, sick. She has been stability for our family and we would miss her much but it looks like she may not make it through the night. 

Our friend Yeshi once told me, “Amy, death is so far from Americans, but for Ethiopians, it is near.” It all makes me yearn for heaven.  

To be clear, because of your generous support of our family, that is how we are able to financially come alongside many of these friends, neighbors and medical cases, so thank you for allowing us the means to help. 


 We love you all and are so thankful for you. (Oh, and also, #functionoverfashion, please be gracious. ;))


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Carnivorous Ants

If there were to be a horror movie about little insects, last night, we lived it.If you are someone who is going to visit us someday, don’t worry, this won’t happen to you. :)  I think I’ve mentioned before about the army ants here. Not mighty in size but in pincer strength, they do not lack! The first time I was bit by one, I shrieked, grabbed it and in the pulling off, it drew blood. Since then, I have had some big lessons on what to do if in a conflict with these little warriors that literally can eat animals down to the bone. 

Lesson 1: If it’s a random straggler, isolate it in your clothing. If you happened to step near a mound or in their path, get somewhere you can take off your clothes and do it immediately. (Thanks, Debbie)

Lesson 2: If your child starts to shriek inexplicably, without question, strip them down and find the ants (Thanks, J and A). 

Lesson 3: If you see them, get away, don’t stop to watch (Thanks, Life experience)

Lesson 4: Soap and water can stop their route but doesn’t harm them (Thanks to an Ethiopian friend in Addis)

Lesson 5: Fleet is sold in the country, a powerful insecticide, sprayed from an aerosol can, terrible for humans but kills ants, makes everything sprayed sticky (Thanks everyone)

When the babies are outside, I am very conscious about this threat and like to keep them off of the grass and on a blanket so a march of ants would be visible, the army ants also prefer the grass. Onto last night. Remember, we are living in a concrete house in rural Ethiopia and are in general, very comfortable. I share this because it’s a great story and I’m laughing about it now. This has never happened to us before and I don’t think will happen again. 

Miss T is still in our bedroom until she sleeps through the night. (The oldest three started to sleep through the night at 10 months, so she has 5 months left.) Her crib is at the foot of the bed and directly in front of our bathroom door. I was putting her back in her crib in the pitch dark when I felt a pain on my foot. I rubbed it off and suddenly really had to go to the bathroom. As I am going, I start feeling pinpricks on my feet and legs. I reach over and turn on the light switch.

ANTS. ARMY ANTS. So many in places the floor was not visible. I lifted my legs and called out, “Joooonnn. Get the fleet!” When I stood up, I realized I had been standing in the ants, so following my own lesson, ripped off my clothes, grabbed Miss T out of her bed and ran where we could sit on the couch. Miss T was clear, none on her and hanging out with Mama at night is what she wants to do anyway, so she was great, I was a bit cold. Jon started to spray Fleet and realized the ants were everywhere. Pouring out of the drains in the bathtub, sink, kitchen, behind outlets, tub. He checked the other bedrooms and the kids were sleeping peacefully with no ants.

He sprayed and sprayed but also ended up with ants in the pants, we were something to behold.

As we started to get a handle on the ants and I was trying to keep Miss T under a blanket tent because of fumes. And then came the SPIDERS.

They started coming out of the woodwork. Jon’s theory was they wanted to eat the thousands of dying ants, my theory was they were trying to escape the fumes. Mark, had a theory today that the spiders weren’t killed by the fumes but were trying to escape the ants. No matter which theory is correct, it doesn’t change the onslaught of spiders, not killed by the fumes but fully active. 

Because we had the lights on cleaning, it happened to be a night that these termite bugs, about 1/4 of an inch big but with propeller styled wings were dying and when they are dying, they are attracted to light and run into the windows, come in under doors and then spin to their death, losing their wings in the process. So, there were termites spinning to their deaths all over, losing their papery wings. They don’t gross me out, only add to the chaos. Then, other insects started to fall from the ceiling, crawl out from behind everywhere, because they were dying of the fumes. 

Jon went outside around the perimeter of the house and found multiple places the ants were climbing up the walls to get in (I need to research how the queen ant sets her course). He of course used Fleet again and I was still on the couch, trying to keep Miss T in a tent to not breathe the fumes. Over 2 hours later, we tried to go back to bed. I was on the couch for awhile with baby girl as the fumes were the worst in our bedroom. Jon had done a thorough search of her crib, blankets and mattress and did not find any ants. This is just the mercy of God I found them when I did, before they were in bed with Miss T. Then, we hear our dog. Barking, yelping ants, all over her. 

Jon went back outside, helped the dog.  He entered the house, not knowing the termites had used his exit as an entry into the house and were in his clothes. As soon as he laid back down in bed, he realized he was squishing “something big and juicy”. We shone a flashlight and realized he had termites on his clothes. And then the dog started yipping again.

We went back to sleep around 3:30 am. This morning, we woke up to a war zone. Bedding to wash, thousands of dead ants in a sea of squished spiders and other various insects, Fleet smell and stick everywhere.

So today has been a mop, sweep, scrub kind of Saturday.  I am totally fine to never have it happen again and statistically think we maybe got this out of the way for the rest of our lives. :) 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Bike On The Fence and Other News

It’s hard to know where to start and stop with this post, life has been beautiful and full. I’ll give the abbreviated snapshot.

The baby we mentioned earlier in a prayer request is with her mom and dad in Addis Ababa at the CURE Hospital. They have an appointment scheduled for a surgery for the sweet baby girl on Monday morning. Please pray with us for the doctors, the baby and her parents. I can’t stop thinking about the baby! Pray especially for the anesthesia to have no negative effects as the baby is only one month old.

We’ve continued to have a stream of visitors through the gate. We have popular babies.


Tiger loves other kids. This picture is him trying to make friends with five-year-old Nigoos, who was a little unsure of so much contact.

We have also had some significant drama involving a robbery of a bike (everything is being settled). Jon said if he were to be in a courtroom, he would want an Awi man on his side. 

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After a week of sleuthing by some employees, the bike was hanging over the fence one morning. Such a long story but this cracked us up.

A neighbor boy was badly bitten by a dog (rabies is always a possibility). Jon went with the mom, dad and child on Tuesday to Bahir Dar to try to find a rabies treatment medicine. Praise God, after a day in hospitals, they found it and instead of the 16 shots in the stomach we helped a family with before, this is only a five-shot series in the shoulder. Hallelujah!

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The father has been to Bahir Dar before and enjoyed showing his wife and son the sights. 

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While the father and mother waited at a clinic for an appointment for the mother (trying to maximize time in the city), Jon and Hayamanot went to a barbershop. I love the cuts. 

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An early morning chat, looking through pictures with Imabet. There were several questions about the previous post on the injera-making session with Imabet, it is very sour, Significantly more than a typical sour dough. For me, I love it with the stews but its not my preference to eat it by itself.

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And, we have two very cute babies.

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Both love to do things that make us laugh and they tolerated this mask.

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Jon’s been able to get some trials started at the project and done some farmer visits. The woman pictured is a new employee at the 5 F’s and she has amazing initiative.

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There have been some hikes to farmer’s homes who have done various trials. Eliza has been able to accompany and on this hike, the girls were able to go too, though it got so muddy on the paths, they were carried as it was impassable. 

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The girls set up a photo shoot with their baby dolls and asked me to photograph. So adorable these two girls and all their ideas.

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Speaking of the twins and their ideas. :)



Hiking up the hill with Eliza

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J had a sore eye, it wasn’t an injury that really needed any attention, so I kept about my business. Soon, she was walking around with injera taped to her eye. A home remedy at it’s finest. 

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A Canadian family living in Bahir Dar came to visit us for a day and help with the house wiring and generator, thank you Funks!

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Happy babies in the morning. They are both really sweet kiddos. Miss T has had really challenging nights. Like, really bad. If I told you, you would chastise me for letting her be in bad habits but in the night when I am so tired, I DON’T CARE, in my groggy state I just do whatever it takes so she will sleep and I can too.

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On mornings with power, the kiddos congregate on this rug by the heater while I shower and Jon makes breakfast.

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Shepherd boys playing Mancala with false coffee beans. The board is a series of holes etched into the rock on the mountain top. Amazingly resourceful and funny because…


Our first week back, Jon and the girls were up and played the same board…with sheep turds.


A cool cave to climb through.


Our family is back and we praise God we are feeling settled. He has been gracious.Thank you for your life-giving prayers.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Injera Making

Injera is the staple food for many Ethiopians (though Ethiopians are widely varied in climate and culture from people group to people group). However, in the Awi area and most of the highlands, injera is the food. It’s a fermented flat bread, usually cooked over a fire and has a sour taste that compliments the spicy stews. It’s made from teff, a super-grain grown here. This would be what most people eat in our area at every single meal. 

We eat with our right hands, no utensils, using the injera as the vehicle to get the stews into our mouths. Our family usually eats it for lunches. The stews are vegan in the countryside unless it is one of the three meat holidays or a celebration big enough to have a sheep butchered. We love the food and are the verdict is still out for Tiger and what he thinks about the sour and the spicy. I’ve talked to parents here and they have assured me that just introducing a little at a time and not forcing it, he will become accustomed to it and eventually love it. :) 

Imabet made injera the other day and had J, A and Eliza over to watch the process.


It’s definitely a learned skill.


The women would make up a batch for about three days at a time. The injera batter has to sit for a few days as well to ferment.


Many women use a gourd to pour out their batter but these plastic pitchers have been introduced, designed with a nod to the gourd, in the local market and are also being used. The black round item is a clay pan used specifically for this reason.


The women pour it perfectly, so it all fills in, bubbles up and has no holes.


As A found out, it’s not quite as easy as it looks!


J also tried. Not bad for a first time. 


Proud of their creation


We are thankful for neighbors like Imabet who take time to teach Ethiopian culture and tradition to our family! And thanks to Eliza, who does a wonderful job documenting through pictures!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Love Cannot Look Away

When the girls were two, strapped into the front of my grocery cart, there was an interaction that left me deeply feeling the pain that my children would be hated by some because of the color of their skin. I blinked back my tears and tried to focus on food choices but I remember my heart’s cry, “There only babies and you don’t even know them!”.

As I saw the news unfold from Charlottesville, my response was shock at the absurdity of the whole thing. To point out that unless someone was born American Indian, crossed over from a Canadian first nation tribe or walked up from a Latin American nation, each of the men who were screaming at others to “get back on a boat” had ancestors who arrived on USA soil by boat. Also, Hitler as hero?!

Then came fear about what this kind of public display means for a family like mine, means for every person of color in the USA, every Jew, every immigrant. And then just loads of sorrow. 

I don’t write today because I have something poignant to say. Other great writers and theologians have written. I only write today because as I pray about this, I know I cannot be silent. I also know words without action are empty, so writing brings heaps of accountability. 

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” -MLK Jr. 

Because we are human, we are fallen and in each of our hearts, we harbor prejudice. It’s easy to condemn the actions of those white supremacist in Charlottesville and I know many in attendance are atheist, denying the Creator and as Christians, we cry out, “That is wrong! There is no room for this kind of hate!” As we watch people revive a Nazi salute, in angry consternation, we must stand and reject history repeating itself. We stand against racism * in all it’s forms just as we stand against abortion, God has created each person and bequeathed them with a soul.

Can we take it a step further? For most of us, it’s not overt but let us not kid ourselves we are free from racism*. There is talk about being “color-blind” as some gold standard of arriving in our struggle against prejudice. Let me propose that God didn’t create us to be color blind because we can’t be. He created us to see color and appreciate the mosaic of life and the beauty of differences He has delighted in, knitting us together in our mother’s wombs. The story of racial prejudice plays out repeatedly in the Bible and we see Jesus (a not lily-white Middle Eastern, Jew) interact in very counterculture ways, breaking social norms to intentionally minister to Samaritans, a group the Jews hated. Strategically, in His parable of the “Good Samaritan”, He chose the most hated protagonist to show up the holy men and be the hero. 

It seems the polarization in the USA, not just along racial* lines, is running deeper and more divisive by the day. It’s not as bad as it’s ever been as we can look back on our history at our Civil War, an incredibly tumultuous division in our nation. Yet, I’m sitting up at 3:04 am, heart heavy and praying, “What’s to be done?” I shouldn’t be shocked. The roots are there and often glossed over though felt in thousands of little ways. May God use such a disgusting display for good and may the church be roused as we can’t ignore the ugliness of the sin of supremacy. It’s my prayer for my family today, “God, may we see evil for evil and truth for truth and may we not be deceived!" We can let our hearts be moved and not stand quietly by or ignore the sin issues in our own hearts in regards to not loving others as ourselves. 

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11

An article was posted from the Preemptive Love Coalition (I recommend it in its entirety) contained the following excerpt:

"When hate is loud, love cannot be silent. Love cannot look away. Because the frontline aren’t just ‘over there.’ The frontline are where we live, and it’s time we show up to wage peace where others wage war.”

Finally, a poem written by German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoller. 

(many versions have been translated, this is the one displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. There are versions that involve communist, sick incurables, Catholics…fascinating )

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionist, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.”


*I am using racism/racial here to be clearly understood but I don’t like the word. The Bible clearly lays out that human beings are ONE race, every human that has ever been born, a descendant of Adam and Eve. Here’s a great sermon on this, “Table of Nations, Are There Many Races or One?” by Voddie Baucham

Friday, August 11, 2017

Welcomed-Baby Style

It’s been less than two weeks since our arrival here. Our neighbors gave us a day before we were welcomed, Ethiopian baby style.

Day two began a parade of invites and visitors. In Ethiopian culture, the first 10 days of baby’s birth, mother stays in bed with baby (she is actually watched by other women to make sure she doesn’t overdo it) while her family prepares food and coffee around the clock to greet the visitors, in order to celebrate the baby. 

Since we have had two babies and no one has had a chance to celebrate them, we were honored by warm hugs, cheek kisses and gifts of boiled potatoes, glass-bottled soda, round bread loaves, spicy stews, precious sugar rations, sour injera and more steaming coffee than we can drink. It’s been busy and such a joy as almost each day since we’ve been back has seen more visitors. 

And these two babies God has gifted us in the past year, they are loved and we proclaim the miracle of them both at every turn. Tiger’s name in Amharic is Ta-mare and literally translates as “Miracle”. Miss T’s Amharic name is Tesfa and its literal translation is “hope”. 

Tiger is fed by everyone as he cruises around the room and Miss T is passed around as long as she can handle. I couldn’t quite narrow down the pictures any further. 










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Our neighbors are great and we are so thankful for this welcome. 

Prayer Point: We met a sweet new baby on her 17th day of life born with some problems with her feet and one of her hands. She is the sweetest little baby and her mom couldn’t be more in love with her baby or more concerned about her. Thanks to the many children our teammates have helped to get medical help and the relationship SIM has with the CURE Hospital in Addis Ababa, an appointment has been arranged for the mother, father and baby to go to Addis for an initial assessment next Friday. Please pray for this family as it will be their first time in a city and they hope their baby will grow and be able to walk. My baby hormones are apparently still in full force as I can’t stop gushing over this sweet little girl and get so distracted by her when she’s in the room. :)  Her grandmother sat on our couch and despaired how difficult it will be to care for a child here with physical handicaps and asked, “What hope will she have?” Pray with us that surgery can be done and most importantly, the family (and little girl) can find true hope in our Savior.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Goodbying Grandpa From Awi Land

Monday morning. We are about a day ahead but I woke knowing I will be missing Grandpa’s funeral today. Thank you all for your prayers and kind condolences. 

We ate breakfast and I looked out the window and saw our neighbor bringing his horse in the gate. Jon had talked with him about sometime showing his horse in full Awi costume to our kids. In Awi culture, horses are dressed up beautifully for festivals, celebrations and funerals.  Our family sees them the most when it’s a funeral day and men from all over the zone saddle up to show their respect to the deceased and they clip clop past our house. Zelelam had no idea that today is Grandpa’s funeral and that my girls call that set of Great-Grandparents, “Pony Grandpa and Pony Grandma”. 


But there he rode, up to our front door.

In Awi culture, men ride the horses, they aren’t for children or women. In our years or living here, my girls have never been offered a chance to ride a horse.


This morning, it was offered, “Who wants to ride?”


And I was too in the moment to do anything but smile but as I type this out, it’s with tears streaming as I realize this was God’s provision for me this morning. 


J got her turn. 


Eliza rode too.


Tiger was so interested from afar, not so much in the riding experience.



Miss T is too little to be scared. Both babies are still in their pjs, ready to go down for early morning naps. They wake up before the sun. 


We tried for both babies. Only a good idea in theory.

My cousin, Angie, wrote me an e-mail to share a few more memories of Grandpa. I loved them and here they are for memories’ sake and any cousins who may be reading along.

...I can easily picture his huge fingers tightening the latches on the pony cart or putting on a bridle and hear his 'click' as he talked to the horses

...remember playing mini-golf with him at the holidome, he was always ready for a game with a grandkid

...him singing 'It isn't any trouble just to S-m-i-l-e

...remember how they would give us quarters to play the arcade games at the hotel?  We were talking about that recently and my mom laughed and said that that was a stretch for Grandpa because that was a frivolous way to spend money for him - anything for the grandkids (…or grandma!  Ha, ha! She did have him wrapped around her finger.)

...Juicy-Juice from the can, Grandmas cookies those oatmealish ones, granny mix, sleepovers, the Farming Game (that the 'older' kids played), Judge, Charades on the trampoline, hickory nuts under that big tree by the swing, cracking nuts with Grandpa, sailing little boats in the air conditioning river

...his smile, so genuine

...his quiet tolerance and smirk over us loud, dramatic, giggly girls

...I could keep going, but something I can't put words to is the confident and sure, yet friendly and gentle man he was.  So solid in his faith, so sure in his action

...never any excuse over the circumstances that life had brought him, always pressing forward.  A quiet encourager.  I held him in high esteem, even as a kid.

Thanks, Ang!


I am taking this unexpected 30 minutes of horse-filled goodies as God’s answer to prayer as I  goodbye Grandpa from Awi land.