Monday, July 30, 2018


As I flew around the house yesterday, throwing final items into suitcases and totes, there were several knocks at the door.

Sowunit died. A man with 7 kids. He had an excruciating tumor, about the size of 1/3 a volleyball protruding from his face when we met him, flat on his back, unable to eat or see from one eye because of the grotesque tumor. He came down to Addis, had multiple surgeries and spent months recovering before returning to his family. He had lost an eye but could eat again and then…he died. The family isn’t sure what happened. 

And then another neighbor came, one of our closest. He asked if we could give him a ride to get some folk rabies treatment. His dog had been bit by a stray dog. They had their dog tied for observation but then their dog bit his wife and daughter. Folk medicine is hard on the body and from what we have observed, ineffective. I told Jon if either of these dear women die of rabies, I think it will be my undoing. Last night as I lay in bed, I contemplated the life we live, full of paradox, beauty mixed with gritty pain. I sometimes wonder if it might leave me so broken there will be no fixing me.

I know God is Healer and I pray Him over these situations. Thank you for praying along our family and our neighbors.

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Tiger looking at books.

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Our house during rainy season. I love the bright flowers and the rusty water tank in the background, giving us water even when there is no power.

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A bag of potatoes, given by a friend. We are so humbled when our neighbors give from their hearts.

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We don’t need baby swings! Yikes. the first time I saw this I was nervous but Jon has taught both of the littles how to hold on tight. 

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Little Miss T, she thinks her sisters are the best thing to ever happen to her.

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Ultimate Frisbee in the pasture

Love to All! I am enjoying spotty wifi in Addis before we fly out for an overnight flight. I am on Instagram for the next month! Find me, username: jonyamy

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Astronaut King

The cliche proves true, time does fly, and Tiger is almost two. Because we have a month of travel ahead of us starting on Sunday (a conference, vacation, taking care of medical needs of the toddlers, education items for girls and Jon assistant teaching a (DML) Discipling Marketplace Leader Course), we celebrated our little guy early. 

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His big day started with a full Ethiopian outfit from Yeshi and as we put it on, Tiger knew he was something amazing. He was and wore it well. 

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King Tiger. Miss T sort of played along.

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We had a plan for an outer-space themed party but decided he looked too much like a king. So, King Tiger it was.

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The frosting is supposed to be red but turned out a bit pinkish, let’s just pretend you see red. 

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Lunch party!

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And another party at dinner because he only turns two once. :)

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And while I was distracted with pictures, Miss T took full advantage and crawled across the table.

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Everyone had a turn to blast into outer-space.

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A defies Gravity

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The shot the girls managed to get of our faces.

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Blast off!

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Thank you Lord, for our sweet Tiger! 


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Photo Joy Journal

In Ethiopian culture, bad news is held closely and alluded to, it is not given over the internet or even a phone call. If a university student gets a call to, “Come when you can, your mother is a little sick,” it would generally be understood as “Come immediately, your mother is on her death bed or has already died.” I read of a young Ethiopian woman, studying abroad. When she returned home, she learned her father had died months before. The intent isn’t to hide or complicate but out of mercy. Her family wanted her to focus on her studies and didn’t want her to face bad news so far away from them.  

As most of you are from the USA, this is only a bit of interesting culture but I don’t know how to write the following. Thank you for all the prayers for Huluhagarish and her baby. They won’t be going to Addis Ababa this week as he died two days ago. Instead of a long bus ride south today, she sits in her house, receiving mourners over a little life God gave and took away. We are praying God is known and glorified through this sad and hard. Prayers are not wasted. Continue with us to pray. 

Efforting a thankful attitude, here’s a list of little things, my photo joy-journal.

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Eggs and bananas available in our local market.

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Fresh produce from the market with a 20 kilo sack of floor behind it. 

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A sunny morning to through the clothes on the line. Cloth diapering in rainy season for two babies with no dryer…the struggle is real.

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Thank you Lord, for Jon! We would all fall apart without him.

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And then this. Our little collector, wanting to hold everything in doubles, screeching in frustration when she can’t hold it all

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And a nice bus driver who let Tiger climb aboard and play while his passengers were out.

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And this combo

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Picnics in the van when we can’t find a dry or unpopulated spot. Actually, picnicking with toddlers is more on my list of least favorite things but in hindsight, it seems sweet. Like the quote I read on traveling. Something along the lines of “Travel is only glamorous when it is a memory”.  :)

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Their little friendship. Miss T put out her hand, Tiger grabbled and as if he understands his role as protective, big brother, he took it and immediately led her off towards the horses, which is what she was dying to see.

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 The sweet kids in our pasture.

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Friends who journey alongside us. Ashenafi helps with our medical patients. He is an amazing evangelist and blessing from God. 

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And our THIRD-GRADERS! These beauties. 

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This is my view from the attic window as I work through a stack of “Thank-Yous”. When I look over the list of you, people who support us through prayer and finances, I can think of nothing more humbling. I have a reaction of falling into my knees in gratefulness and humility. How I would love if we could live, not in need, but instead, completely self-sufficient. However, it is not our reality and I am reminded how God’s strength is seen in our weakness, in our needs. We feel the magnitude of laboring together, as Christ Body, being many members, yet being one. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Gloom, The Green, The Visitors, The Baby and The Power Pole

My days smear together, I retain a foggy idea of the approximate date, give or take a few, but I consistently remember the day of the week because if I miss a Taco Tuesday, Friday Night Movie Night or putting on the Sabbath tablecloth for Sundays, our tradition-loving kiddos are scandalized. 

The rains have transformed brown to green but also the dry land into water. Visiting a friend this week, there is no avoiding the sloshing through deep waters, careful to avoid spots where my dry socks will be soaked by the water pouring over the top of my trusty rain boots. I am basically the queen of fashion in this season, when I traipse around, skirt tied up to show my leggings and high boots, my face hidden under a thick hood.

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Ugh. If this was all it brought, it would be hard to stay encouraged…

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But the green mountains make up for the gloom. 

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When the sun comes out, so do we! A game of Ultimate frisbee on our sunny Sunday morning at a high spot in the pasture. 

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We spent 2.5 days with visitors, friends from Michigan blessed us by coming and staying with us. Jon used Brian’s expertise and had him teach two days, one training in Addis Ababa, another in Injibara.

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We are so thankful for new friendships! (And in a much smaller category, these Mexican style Moo-moos that just keep giving. The girls got them for a gift at 4-years old and they hold their color and continue to be a favorite. So, FYI, if you are ever in Mexico and considering a purchase, this is the one to make! Besides, it brings joy to see our Ethiopian-Americans running around the countryside in traditional Mexican dress).

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We take the sweet with the hard and praise God.

Thanks for your prayers for Huluhagarish and her baby. The memories of the Addis Ababa journey and hospital were apparently too fresh, too difficult. She chose to not go last week. She knows her baby will die without a surgery, of infection. She said we can talk about it this week again. When she is home, she is warm. She is able to hold her little one. We gently repeat what the doctor has said. She’s smart, she knows her baby will die without the operations. She also knows the cost, physically, emotionally, and she can’t face it. We pray and step back, reminding her of her and her baby’s value in the eyes of God. Please pray God is glorified. 

We have another situation for prayer. The power line directly in our backyard, behind our house leans at a frightening angle. The live power lines are the only thing keeping it from crashing onto our house (and to any person or animal in our backyard). We have approached our power company many times with offers of hauling workers, paying replacement pole costs and labor but it doesn’t seem to be serious enough to motivate anyone out to fix it. Jon drove to Bahir Dar. It is the city about 2 hours north to appeal to a higher power. Will you please pray with us that the right person is motivated to fix it immediately and for protection for our family, friends and house. I don’t let my mind wander down the path of “What-ifs” when this line snaps but it has a very tragic possibility. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Wrapped Up

Rainy season stops for no one. June-September is our winter in the highlands, cool temperatures, daily rains and cloudy skies bring bright, green pastures, muddy trails, new plant growth and human bodies tightly wrapped in their fotas or a blanket/towel, capturing warmth against the rains. 

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Tiger, he doesn’t mind all the puddles. Neither does Miss T, though on this day, she was stuck on my back as she doesn’t have a pair of rain boots.

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Rainy season adds a challenge/adventure element to all getting out of the house.

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We wrapped up the girls’ 2nd grade year! (Shh…yes, I know it is July…they don’t know kids are supposed to be on break!) J and A thanked all their teachers in their graduation speeches they gave at their ceremony. ;) It’s been a year of others pouring into them and we are so thankful. Jon and I praise God for their growth and maturity in the past year.  3rd grade started the day after. Our school schedule is interrupted often so we take advantage of the rainy season and get a jump-start on the material.

The toddlers in the house have staged a coup not to have Mama available at their whim. Transition is usually chafing and as they switch to one nap a day and less time with me in the morning, I am feeling the discomfort but we press forward! I realized yesterday how little the toddlers have been away from me in their lives. I still nurse Miss T and she has never had a bottle, which brought me to the shocking conclusion that I am the only one who has ever put her to sleep. Our neighbors here nurse their children as long as they produce milk and it’s the norm in rural Ethiopia. 

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On Aubrey’s last day with us, we tricked the kiddos into looking and snapped that picture with every set of eyes in the same direction. We send Aubrey off with thankfulness and blessing and now I relearn how to do life without an extra set of arms. Thanks much, Aubrey!

We send off the young mother, and her baby (the child with spina bifida), back to Addis Ababa this week. Huluhagarish (mother) is nervous and sorrowful.The long and bumpy bus ride with a child with nerves exposed from his back is still too fresh in her memory. While the rain pounds down on her tin roof, she recounts to us the cold hospital waiting room, where she doesn’t leave. She is summoned in to see her baby in an incubator every few hours to nurse him. It is her only time she is able to be with the sweet boy and then she returns to the narrow, wooden bench, with hours to sit and worry. She wraps her body in her fota and shivers the night away, balled up and wishing things were different. Her brother goes with her and brings in food. We continue to pray that this time, the child will weigh 4 kilos or over and they can proceed with the surgeries. The doctors have given the child a 50% chance at life. Please keep praying for the comfort of both of them and God’s glory to be known. How we pray they can know God as the good Father He is.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

America! And A Healthy Baby Boy!

I’m sentimental, lately, exceedingly reflective and thankful. 

Today we celebrated America’s independence in the hut with teammates. We had a time of good food, pulling out all the stops for a picnic, American style. 

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Gratefulness for our country and the freedoms and beauty of America. Jon and I are so thankful for our godly heritage and for a country that allows religious liberty. We took time with teammates to pray gratitude, blessing and petition for our nation that God has abundantly blessed. 

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On the actual 4th of July, we can’t celebrate with a picnic as we are saying goodbye to dear Aubrey, sending her back to her family and hometown. (Insert a sad family) What a blessing she has been to our whole family! This marks the end of our time with a young women living and helping in our home. Now I will try to swing homeschooling while Yeshi watches the toddlers. Tiger and Miss T love Yeshi but as they have had very limited time without me, they are loyal to Mama to a point where they want to be in the same room as me, most of the time. 


And in news too good not to share, Asmarich and Meregeta have a healthy baby boy!

If you are a regular reader, you have prayed for this day to arrive. 

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When we saw them on the day of the birth, Meregeta, beaming, proclaimed, “This child is the answer to your prayers!” I shared with them the many who have prayed along with us, prayed for Asmarich during a life-threatening illness, a nearly catastrophic delivery and we marveled together at this little gift of God. There are some additional threatening complications, so please keep praying for the health of this mother and little one. 

Thanks for journeying alongside. Light a sparkler for us.