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.

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It’s definitely a learned skill.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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J also tried. Not bad for a first time. 

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Proud of their creation

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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”. 

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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.

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

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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. 

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J got her turn. 

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Eliza rode too.

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

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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. 

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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!

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ouch

I can’t quite do this right now. My emotions are at such a dichotomy. When I noticed we had internet, I sat down to write about how amazing today has been. Neighbors poured in with love, food and congratulations over the two new additions to our family and our return. As everything spun and things slowly pulled in, I noticed I was tagged in a photo on Facebook by my mom. We were well celebrated. Our babies were kissed, squeezed and loved on in so many ways. My e-mail hasn’t come in nor any of my messengers. As the internet connected on my phone, I noticed my mom tagged me in a photo on Facebook. It was this photo.

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This is from Memorial Day. My sister and I with my Grandpa Beer. It’s the last time I am going to see him on this earth as it was captioned that he has passed from this earth. Ouch. The feels are deep and the legacy of each of my grandparents are profound and leave a spiritual heritage that I can’t put to words. He met both of our babies and I’m so glad. 

I haven’t started to cry yet. It’s hard to swallow and my eyes feel hot but I need to wait until the kids sleep as we’ll need to process it together in the morning. We can’t go back for this funeral. This is the  second grandparent who has passed while we’ve been in Ethiopia and I feel so FAR away. 

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Here’s one of my favorite photos of Grandpa and my girls, doing what he loved and was so amazing at. Going out to the barn, saddling up his ponies and loving us and our children by sharing it with us.

The older I have gotten, the more I marvel at my grandparents. Each of them. During our young summers, something I always looked forward to was spending a week with Grandpa and Grandma. It was full of cookie baking, pony rides, cousins on the trampoline and Sweet Corn Charlies. We had to be a huge hassle but Grandpa and Grandma made us feel like we were the most important business in the world. 

As we are in Ethiopia and over and over explaining adoption, all of my grandparents have been so near to my heart as I’ve found if we start the story with, “Actually, did you know I am an adopted child?” Then I start and tell them of my father, Ron, how he died 2 weeks before I was born. We continue into how God brought my mother a new husband and I more fully realize how unselfish everywhere in my families, there were people who blessed us in ways I can never thank them enough for. My sister and I were adopted, to become full daughters of our new father, Mike. We remained fully involved in our biological family as well. I realize adoption for me was celebrated and I felt spoiled as my siblings and I were the only set of kids I knew with a full three sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. 

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How thankful I am that Grandpa is with Jesus tonight. Wow. How thankful I am for our families.

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I love this photo with Grandpa and Grandma. I’m holding a scratchy kitten because I wasn’t going to let it down after grandma ran around the barn trying to catch it for my girls to see and I was worried she may have stumbled to snag it again if I let it go. :)

My heart is sad, grieving for grandma, my family and myself and the hole he leaves. Though, because of Jesus, we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.