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!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Sheep Butcher and Right Versus Wrong

 Happy Thanksgiving! This is not a Thanksgiving post as it’s been written and sitting here for awhile. I’ve been waiting to get pictures from Jon’s phone…the pictures I have are incomplete but at night time, when I finally sit down to blog, my brain feels…umm…tired. See, I can’t even think of a more creative way to say it right now. This post also makes me so sad as we were with Meteku and now he is gone…This is still hard. 

Onto the old post from October 15th. :)

On Saturday, we were visited by Challie’s dad. He wanted to invite us for their house for lunch on Sunday. We were supposed to be there at 11:00 am. In Awi culture the more important the event, the more last minute the invitation. If we invite for something very early, it’s shows we have little value on the event itself. 

Our family was thankful for the invitation, thankful to praise God together for a successful surgery for Challie and that his leg is healing! We arrived around 11:20 because we hadn’t planned enough time for the long hike to get to their hut.

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(this whole hike was especially funny as Whitney forgot to change out of her slippers until it was too late and she wore little slippers the entire time.) Meteku is in the background here, in the maroon scarf.

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Miss T was hauled along by Jon and Zelalem. Tiger prefers to be in a carrier. 

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The end of the hike near Challie’s house.

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Warm greetings were shared and then a wonderful time with the entire family, including extended family. We were served injera (our staple bread) with cabbage stew, boiled potatoes and spicy seasoning. Then the coffee ceremony started, we were around 2 hours in and normally, this is when we farewell and hike home.

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Whitney had taken the kids out to pet the sheep outside near the barn and while they were out, the sheep was untied and then brought into the house.  It quickly dawned on me that the party was just getting started because that sheep was to be the main course. In Awi culture, meat is eaten around 3 holidays a year unless you are invited to a wedding or a momentous special occasion where it is also served.

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 If you have had the opportunity to have your meat butchered in front of you, you know that from the start of the butcher to the meat being served is several hours if everyone works quickly. Inside, I had this inner-conflict as I didn’t know how I would keep four kids going for several more hours and I definitely didn’t bring enough water (and had forgotten the toilet paper). I was fighting my Amy cultural value of efficiency. In my home, if guests come, I try to have everything as ready as possible before they arrive as to not make anyone wait. If I continued to keep on that lens, the sheep being killed in front of my eyes was extremely rude and I might even go so far as to say it was wrong.

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Meteku and Challie chop the meat into pieces.

I whisper-freaked-out to Jon and then thought about this phrase from pre-field training, “Different isn’t wrong. Different is different. Wrong is wrong”.  This phrase has been unparalleled as it has helped me through many different situations. We learned to take any “twangs” where we would label “weird” or “wrong” to the Bible. In God’s Scripture, that is the only place where we discern “right versus wrong”.

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Challie’s family, from their perspective, were giving us the highest honor they could bestow to thank us for our involvement in their lives and it was lavish and far outside what they can afford. Culturally, to sit for a day and be served dish after dish, share coffee, homemade beer and conversation while we do nothing but sit was thanking us.

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And it was beautiful…and hard. The kids rocked the whole scene (as did Whitney) and we were so proud of them. We made it back to our house, honored and filthy and stuffed and flea-bitten around 5 pm. We had to cancel a dinner we were supposed to host as well as friends who were driving by and were going to stop for tea. The change in plans were all okay.

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On Monday, as I reflected back on the whole day, God brought to mind how I would have missed the blessing of the whole event if I had not stopped to consider how another’s worldview, another’s life experience was different from mine but not rude, not wrong. As a human, my tendency is to devalue someone else’s experience as illegitimate if I don’t have a shelf to put it on or a similar experience with which I can compare it.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Once Again...

Thanks for your prayers on behalf of Meteku’s family.

I just found this picture from Graham’s camera and it made me laugh. It’s from an traditional restaurant in Ethiopia. Little Miss T’s face is perfect and the food is amazing looking. Have you tried Ethiopian food yet? It’s a fun one. 

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There has been another hard situation and we know your prayers change things. A man who works at the Woodmizer sawmill came. His wife has disappeared. She had a mental break about a month ago and has been leaving in the night. She left for longer this time, leaving her three children, 6, 4 and 5 months. Praise God, there is formula available in town and I had a bottle to give but please pray with us that the mother is healed and returns to her family. My heart breaks for these kiddos and her husband. There is not much available in country in terms of mental health. 


This is not the mother or babies but just a sweet picture of our neighbor girls, Habte wearing her little sister, Helen.

Thanks for loving us and our neighbors. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Now There Is No Meteku

Hey! I started this post earlier in the week. It is possible to do life without a phone and I just have to be a bit more creative to still communicate. It’s also been a bit fun as it pushes me to use our big camera instead of my mediocre camera phone. Yesterday we dropped the Schrocks off in Bahir Dar. What a great time we had with them. I have so much to write about, girls’ birthday, Field Days, North Team Retreat, hut visits, bit by bit maybe I will catch up. 

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Whitney is safely back in the USA.

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I love this sweet shot of she and Tiger on an in-country flight. He slept the entire time.

And just because Little Miss T found her groove and now crawls, scoots and wiggles all over the place…

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We arrived safely back to our Blueberry house (our Injibara home) on Friday night. It’s always fun to see our home through the fresh eyes of visitors. After the sun went down, a neighbor came to tell us the sad news that Meteku was hit on the road and it didn’t look good for him. Meteku, a man with whom we have shared countless cups of tea and coffee, a man who we have grieved with over his 13 year-old-daughter who had a long illness and just passed away. 

He’s the uncle of Challie and has gone with us to Bahir Dar and came to us with countless messages on behalf of Challie’s family as Meteku’s house is closer to us than Challie’s house. We moaned and groaned and prayed for more time for Meteku. God’s plans are not ours but He is always good. Meteku didn’t survive the night. 

Entering into the beautiful hillside where his funeral was held by the Orthodox church, my heart was captured by the beauty, the way the sun shone on the green grass and the bright yellow meskel flowers. The sea of white movement as everyone wears their white gabis and ornately decorated horses lined the perimeter. We drew nearer into this valley of grief and the sounds washed over me, the distant chanting of the priest, the beat of the drum, the wailing and groaning of pain. We waited our turn to be drawn into the circle where we walked and cried and when we were near a family member, we came in, shaking, crying and hugging. The family is marked as they hold items of Meteku’s up, a sword, a whip, his wife held his jacket. There are loud cries of “my brother” or “my husband” and tears run down cheeks, unchecked by normal cultural standards of “don’t cry”. One more kept yelling, “Now there is no Meteku”. 

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I stepped back with Debbie and we watched the scene from a hill and prayed for this beautiful scene, yet with so much darkness and lack of hope. I groaned with the throng but I am still crying out to God on behalf of the Awi.  

Thanks for joining us in prayer. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Silence On Our End

We just said goodbye to Whitney. She flies through the night. This “year of the girl” as I’ve recently dubbed it is incredibly full of blessing as we are blessed by young women who sacrifice and serve on behalf of our family, it’s also hard as it brings more goodbyes to people who are folded into our family. 

Our family just returned from our North Team Retreat and it was a beautiful, hard time for gritty honesty and prayer. Trent and Heidi Schrock have been here with two sons and I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 days as time has flown and we so look forward to showing them our world in Injibara starting tomorrow. (Prayers for safe and uneventful travel appreciated!)

There won’t be much communication from here as my phone has died and 97% of access I have to internet is through my phone as well as almost any pictures, so until we can find a solution to that, it will be quiet.

Thank you for your prayers, we are incredibly humbled by them.


Amy (for the crew)