Monday, September 17, 2018

Full Contact New Year 2011

For some reason, this post is reluctant to publish and so time has passed. However, this does let me add a few updates. Ethiopia once again is experiencing significant unrest. At this point, it is in the capital city and suburbs. We are safe and in a quiet spot as the ethnic groups involved are not affected in our area. However, please join in praying for peace in the country and that the unrest quickly de-escalates. Anger and revenge are natural human responses and sometimes seem more infectious than love! God is doing so much in this country through the new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy. Please pray for him and his family as well as they have brought reforms at a dizzying speed but all have followed his vision that he calls Ethiopia towards, “Peace, Love, Unity and Forgiveness”. These recent days are going to need much of the above to bring healing. We rejoice to know God is on His throne.

I’ve explained how Ethiopia has it’s own calendar, right? So we are just entering Ethiopian Year 2011.

 Our Ethiopian New Year started with an army ant infestation in the kitchen, catching 8 rats within a 48-hour period and sitting in a hut as a sheep was butchered 3 feet away.

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Our toddlers, ready to celebrate. I’ll begin with a sweet picture to offset the following gross photo.

As we start our Ethiopian year 2011, I’m optimistic. However, all of these rat babies (those pictured below are babies) are a little disheartening. Especially because I think the adult rats are too smart for the traps. Don’t worry visitors, we are resolving this quickly, proceed with your plans. (UPDATED TO SAY WE HAVE 10 CAUGHT) Although the girls and I alternate between wanting them all killed immediately and then feeling sorry we are killing off a family. A’s comment yesterday when I said we had caught another one but we really needed to catch the adult ones was, “Don’t worry Mom, the Mama rat will probably give up soon in despair at what we’ve done to her family.” I replied, “A, they are in our house, we have to get rid of them.” Then at night, before we turned off the lights, I’m all, “Hey, Jon…do you think we can do this without killing the rats? The mom must be devastated. I know animals can feel sad, did I tell you about the grieving Orca mom?” Jon looks at me like he is unsure if any sanity remains and asks, “Ok, let’s save them, would you like them to sleep in our bed?”

Umm. Good point, no please run your rat trap line. 

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Okay. Back to precious.

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With three back-to-back invites, I was concerned how the toddlers would hold up.

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Three little cuties, jumping on the bed!

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For the first time, I took along some balloons for all the kids in the house. A total hit. There were about 10 kids and 15 balloons and it occupied the toddlers.

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Miss T’s face, covered in spicy stew.

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We laughed at how Miss T and Tiger are growing up so Ethiopian. They beg for gulps of coffee and “meat!”. This worked out well for me as we were served much sheep. 

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And one path to a neighbor’s house.

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I decided to not buy the girls imported rainbows when I can buy pairs in the market for $1.50. Turns out there is a reason, because they have holes. The Blumes left us one pair and the girls justifiably argue over who gets the non-holey pair. It’s almost the end of rainy season. We can make it. :)

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At our third house, we had been gone since lunch and we were ready to take our exit around 5:15 when the sheep was dragged in and butchered right there. When you see a live sheep at a party, you know you will still be there awhile.  

 While on our swampy trails, I reminded the girls they probably wouldn’t get chances like this often if we didn’t have such great neighbors because I would not hike through creeks with four kids just for fun. We are so blessed by our community, who overlook our slip-n-slide style and invite us anyway. 

And we were still eating meat that was butchered on Tuesday on Sunday. Praise God we are all healthy today. :)

And in another overdue update, do you remember the power line situation? The morning after you started praying, two electric company employees arrived at our gate. After they assessed the situation, it seems our power pole was a bit too much to fix and so they instead used a band aid solution down the line and assured us that one strong pole can hold up twenty. Jon feels like it gives us another year of the pole not falling. Thanks for praying!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Changing the Narrative

Happy Ethiopian New Year! It is now 2011! We start invites today at lunch time, honored to be invited out, not so excited about all the meat. :)

When we first moved to Awi Land, I was educated by a person who had lived here. As she informed me that Awi mothers do not name their babies for several years because they do not love them and they are afraid of the babies dying and did not want to get attached, I accepted it as a sad, backwards reality. As time passed, I had the opportunity to know Awi mothers. Watching them with their infants and toddlers this narrative no longer fit because I saw mothers, who like women across the planet, deeply loved their children.  We asked questions and learned the interesting fact that the babies are not named, because of love. Because of the belief that naming a child draws attention to the precious baby in the spiritual realm and brings unwanted opening to spiritual darkness. The more beautiful the baby is, the more the baby is hidden out of fear someone else will curse the child .  

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Some of the ways I interacted with or thought of my community make me cringe. It’s been years of having my cultural biases and assumptions challenged and stripped away. I am sure in five more years, I will look at my now-self and feel the same way. It’s one of the best and hardest parts of walking with Christ, the painful, beautiful process of sanctification. 

Much of my sanctification has come through challenge to ideas I cling to as absolute.  God uses many avenues for stripping us bare. He has repeatedly pushed me into uncomfortable spaces where I hear voices different than those I choose to surround myself with and I am learning the precious, fragile beauty of learning the “other” story, hearing the “other” voice. Recently, Ethiopia has initiated a peace with Eritrea. For the Ethiopian person who has had relationship and life-on-life time with an Eritrean, their reaction towards the peace treaty is one of joy. This is in contrast to an Ethiopian person who hasn’t had any relationship with an Eritrean and has heard negative stereotypes (stereotypes are rooted in truth but are never the complete story). Their reaction will most likely be fear and anger as Eritreans can be portrayed as heartless, warmongers. When the “other” story is absent, there’s no voice to challenge these assumptions and stereotypes. And in this space is fertile ground for Satan to grow fear, prejudice and cold-heartedness. 

Reading books that challenge my inclinations and give different narratives aren’t always easy. I have a list of some of the most influential and paradigm shifting for me but the most challenging book I read, is God’s Word, the Holy Bible.

Forgive. Love. Submit. Live Justly.  Choose joy. Dead in sin when Jesus loved me and died for me anyway. Turn the other cheek. And this is not even a start.

It’s a full-length mirror for me to gaze into and see my weakness but God’s strength. Jesus challenged the narratives of the religious people with His counter-culture self, scandalizing all who knew the law. The parable of the Good Samaritan is one example of Jesus offering a different narrative. To the Jews of the day, the Samaritans were a despised group, and the Jews would go days journey out of the way to make sure they didn’t have to cross Samaritan land or interact with a Samaritan. Then with a scandalizing character casting, Jesus passes over the priest and the Pharisee as his hero, but the human-scum, the hated, a Samaritan. And the Samaritan does what the religious people were expected to do. He loved the man in front of him, not as a hated enemy, but as a person of inherent worth. 

I would love to hear stories of things that have shifted your paradigm? What has God used for you? Relationships? Books? What else?