Sunday, August 17, 2014

The One Where We Go To A Party With An Invitation

If you missed the previous graduation party post, scroll down and you can catch up. :)

Thanks for those who prayed for our safe travels, we are in Addis Ababa now, stocking up on supplies, going to meetings and then attending a conference.

Onto the second party:

We made it to the next house and realized the two graduates knew each other, they were first cousins.

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Cutting the round bread is reserved for the person of honor so graduate #1 came over with his cousin to cut the bread. A progressing party.

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With the boys’ grandfather.

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Coffee and pictures later, we were ready to go.

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Home again, home again. :)

 Ready for the next party.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Crashing The Party

When I think graduation party, the first word I associate is “cake”. 

We had three graduation parties one on weekend. Two we were invited to and one, we had an obligatory detour. On an extremely muddy path, we were pulled into an obvious party. We sat down in the dark hut and after our eyes adjusted, realized we recognized no one, not even the graduate. Our culture here is so hospitable, no one was annoyed that we were there.

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Plates were brought and injera was served to us. Some food (which we couldn’t see) was dished up on plates and we started eating. I really, really like to be able to see what is going in my mouth. Being the very sweet mother I am, I gorsha’ed (put a bite in her mouth) Little A first. After she wasn’t repulsed and I realized what I had done, I felt really bad and then ate myself. We are still unsure of what it was, but it was tasty. (Side note, Injera and anything served on it is eaten with our hands)

Then we recognized Elsabet and her dad.

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We ate as quickly as we could and offered to take pictures for the family to remember the graduation.

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And then, we started taking pictures of everyone because we decided it could be our graduation gift to the graduate we didn’t know.

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Then, we were rescued by the mother of the graduate who had actually invited us. She came in, gave us a good exit and whisked us off on more slippery trails to her son’s party.

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The girls were coping well until about this point. :)  It is all about prep for them before we go somewhere, but as so often happens, our best, detailed plans often change and sometimes they flex and other times, they freak. This would fall into the latter category.  The paths were so muddy and Jon and I are not experienced enough to help them through without falling (especially me) and so the girls are often helped along by very loving, well-meaning people and often they take it in stride. Don’t worry, after this picture, we took her back the second we could. 

Stay tuned for graduation party #2. The one we were invited to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All Dressed Up

With somewhere to go!

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Jon has never officially needed to wear his “gabbie” before. It is worn by many Ethiopian people and is looped and draped a specific way for a specific purpose. Gabbies are worn for funerals, church services, weddings, etc, etc. Some men wear them everyday. It was like a rite of passage and would be as amusing to neighbors as a thirty-year old in the US not knowing how to fasten a tie. 

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Off to church and then a community meeting they went. 

Zelalum, our friend in the green, couldn’t go, he just got Jon dressed. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Seedling season is finished and we will be happy to have Jon around more. Jon worked with the 5 F’s project to deliver thousands and thousands of seedlings to neighboring communities, many very rural. Through stuck trucks, rainy days and thorny plants, they maintained an air of festivity.

The seedlings are grown by farmers (actually, mostly women), and include many native plant species. As the land heavily depends on it’s trees and they are rapidly disappearing, some species were nearing extinction. When Mark and Debbie, our team leaders, started the project over 14 years ago, they worked diligently to reproduce these plants that replenish the land and balance the climate and ecosystem and control the massive erosion problem.  When non-indigenous plants are introduced, they can take over the fauna with long term damage to their environment. 

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Many women work as day laborers and are hired. They work in rains and under heavy loads. Whenever we tagged along, it would surprise me how happy they worked. I am sure if I would have carried their loads, you would find me at the chiropractor.

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Hauling loads from the truck to a delivery point

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Loaded unto the truck in crates. (Great plan, Cheryl!)

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Jon drove our minibus to it’s capacity. Tafera, the project director, drove ahead with the seedlings and the truck. I have some good stuck in mud up to the back axles pictures I need to scrounge up. :)

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Many rural communities were very surprised to see a white face and what kid isn’t delighted by the camera phone?

Follow Jon on instagram: gerstjon

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One day, a local government sent a dump truck to load for their community.

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 Seedlings 2014, complete. :)  


Thursday, August 7, 2014


A longstanding prayer requests is that I could find areas of ministry. It has come fast and abundantly. I was asked by two girls if I could teach them English. After talking with their fathers, we started a small class (3 kids from each family). 

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We usually take a tea break. It gets spilled on me about 73% of the time. The things to learn are exciting and endless!  For example, there is a general held thought that the world is flat. 

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When it is nice, we have been meeting outside, if it is rainy, we move indoors but they are so distracted by being inside a concrete house. This day, I pulled out these to teach tall and short but they were so happy with them, our last 20 minutes, we just played.

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Practicing our A, B, C’s on the side of the house.

These classes have opened up doors. We are often being asked if we could take new students. Through this time, I am holding with two classes (one for youngers, one for olders) but we are prayerfully looking forward to what this should be. The lessons end with a story time and these have been a great way to teach additional material. 

As meeting inside can cause overstimulation and it is now the dreariest of rainy season, I am looking into renovating this structure. You would laugh at my vision for a finished project. I will keep you posted. :)

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 Thanks for praying through this with us!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jay and Lynnae (Doesn't It Just Sound Cute?)

When we left for Ethiopia, our plans were to return to the USA for the first time after 2 years. In June, we marked our first anniversary. Plans have changed, we heard some amazing news.

My brother, Jay (or Day-Day according to The Littles), is engaged! We don’t know Lynnae but have nothing but rave reviews and I have never heard Jay floating like he is now. :) Their wedding is set for late December 2014. GUESS WHO IS SPENDING CHRISTMAS 2014 in the US? 


Yep, we are. :) Lynnae, we can’t wait to meet you and Jsy, we are so glad we can return to celebrate God bringing you together.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Three-Legged Races

An attempt was made to teach three-legged races. It wasn’t entirely successful but brought lots of laughs.

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