Monday, February 8, 2016

From Farm to Farm

There is very little magical about airports when it’s time to say goodbye. My parents are safely on US soil again and our family has felt your prayers, leaving us so grateful for the visit, the time of grief is passing. 

The girls were heartbroken, it’s interesting to watch all four members of our family handle grief differently. Remember my post on Grief being our friend?  It’s always a rough visit from her though. As our hearts are enmeshed in multiple places, I realize Grief cannot be avoided as saying “hello” to one group means saying “goodbye” to another. Thank you, God, you have given us people who love us and who we love that it hurts to part. Some seasons are so sweet in community or relationship and fellowship that I taste a morsel of what heaven will be like. I can make it my idol, wanting that nearness in relationships here and now and acutely feeling the sacrifice of not having it. The yearning for heaven grows in our hearts, when people from every tribe, tongue and nation stand around the throne of God in worship and we never have to say leave. 

At our recent Spiritual Life Conference, to a large group of very nomadic people, people who live on the edge, pushing into new frontiers, people who could be characterized by adventure and courage, I posed the following “Would You Rather” question during a light-hearted game: 

“Would you rather move the rest of your life, never spending more than one night in one place OR would you rather never again leave the five-mile radius of your home?” 

I expected a mix of answers from this large, international group, characterized by airports and moves but as we looked out, nearly 100%, if given the choice, chose to never again leave the 5 mile radius of their homes. Some eyes were tear-filled but there seemed a palpable groaning in the silence for a time of no more goodbyes.

Whew, I didn’t expect to end up here and it isn’t because of the one goodbye we just experienced, but the process of goodbyes, the knowledge of friends here moving on, the life full of joy but so insecure in the future. May our roots be deep in Christ, all else is shifting sand.

Another smattering of pictures…

IMG 0058

Always a farmer…

IMG 9898

And farmer’s wife

IMG 1385

Learning how to plow without a John Deere

IMG 1458  1

Walking to a hut. I don’t know how many rounds of coffee we were served but we were blessed by our community’s gracious hospitality they extended to my parents.

IMG 1541

These cuties at one of our house visits.

IMG 1550

After being served lunch and coffee, they gave us the gift of two of their cabbages. 

IMG 9910

A “salem no” shoulder bump hug. 

IMG 9925


IMG 1627

Through a comical set of circumstances, while Mom, Dad and I were in the market, these three boys carried our purchased items.  (Notice my new egg cartons.  After 1.5 years, my others were in shreds).

IMG 1600

Forging different trails

IMG 1481  1

Putting in a new staircase up to our attic

IMG 0169

Talking “farm” with Woodmizer guys (local sawmill brought in by 5 F’s project to support landless youth).

IMG 1438  1

Fixing electric issues

IMG 1601

Admiring our neighbor’s handiwork

IMG 1521  1

School in the hammock

IMG 1575

Hiking through the “Little Red Riding Hood Woods”.

IMG 0220  1

Tafera’s family (our project director).

IMG 1649

Fun at Yeshi’s…

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Abundance is the best word I can use to describe the time with my parents. I am not referring to stuff that they brought (although they literally only brought a few outfits for themselves and packed the rest with goodies-picture dad’s carryon stuffed with a few shirts and underwear, a six pound block of cheddar, string cheese, leman’s mints and granola bars).

Our community has warmly welcomed them as well and our time in Injibara was full of hut visits and rounds of coffee. 

I didn’t do a great job of documenting through pictures as I don’t often take out our big camera and our phone cameras don’t work well in dark houses.  We are in Bahir Dar now for a few days before we say goodbye to our parents and take them to the airport. Every family member who has come to visit seems to make us more human to the area we are in, less like alien beings who beamed in from some other planet, more like flesh and blood.

Photos from a few hikes…

IMG 0026

IMG 0037

J and A with a little friend (who is at least 8, maybe 9).

IMG 0051

The girls’ friends went on a hike with us, so special they could meet the other set of grandparents.

IMG 0061

Strong girls. It doesn’t make my feat of carrying my dad on my back so impressive. :)

IMG 0062

Hiking through other houses, yelling for permission to pass at the gate as we blazed some new trails on accident.

IMG 0075

Mom had a little attached friend, Yenewerk.

IMG 7866

Two of the homes we visited required us to cross this hazardous bridge to everyone’s delight but Mama (and maybe Nana).

IMG 7858

Showing Nana and Papa how to roast, grind and boil coffee. Which they saw on at least a daily basis.

IMG 7853

So happy to show their bamboo house.

IMG 9945

Playing Doctor and nurse with a willing patient

IMG 9951

Working together in the kitchen

IMG 9956

Mom did a week’s worth of school for the girls, which was a win for everyone, especially ME! Dad did other needed jobs around the house when Jon didn’t have him busy running around the countryside. 

IMG 9969

One of the only homes we take pictures in because they are so used to us and our foreign ways of picture taking. :)

IMG 9971

Meal time with Yeshua’s family.

IMG 9991

Walking across the pasture…

IMG 9973  1

Friends and Prayer Warriors, you are so dear to us.  We are unbelievably humbled by they way you remember us and the Awi people in prayer. Thank you for praying for our time with visitors, they have been answered and we see God doing so many things here.  Please continue to pray with us for the hearts of the Awi. 

Now the goodbye is on the horizon, they always make my stomach hurt and my eyes a little watery but each goodbye is especially hard for the girls. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

On Your Mark, Get Set...

After a day of naps, conversations and opening seemingly non-ending totes filled with presents, it was time to introduce Papa and Nana to Field Days!  This went about 150% better than last year. 

IMG 7806

We hadn’t thought through how wonderful it would be to introduce our parents to so many in our Addis community. It was such a blessing!

IMG 7797

The girls chose to do every race they could, here is the beanbag race. Field Days are two solid days of festivity and community.

IMG 5816

Getting ready for the 3-legged race.  We could have probably practiced this one a bit more, hilarious.

IMG 5822

Coming into Daddy’s arms at the finish line. 

IMG 5726

Cheering on friends (and moms who ran alongside).

IMG 5833

Jon and girls took a 2nd in their heat for Daddy Daughter race.

IMG 5841

And because, my dad was there, we also joined the daddy daughter race in a fun twist. It was 50 meters, how hard could it be?

IMG 5846

My dad was an amazing sport and at 25 meters I was questioning my abilities. 

IMG 5850

Friends ran by us, daughter is 13 and they started late.

IMG 5851

They smoked us. 

12541034 756618617813936 6433496901802719376 n

A field day we will all remember. :)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Can We Ever See Too Many Decorated Horses?

Written a few days ago, Yes, my parents had wonderful flights here, we are having fun in Addis Ababa at Field Days until Monday…


It’s been a whirlwind of cultural learning around our house the past two weeks.  

After Christmas, we were invited into many huts to celebrate, eat meat and drink coffee.  The following week, there was another holiday, this time not a meat holiday, but with much festivity, piles of injera and cup upon cup of steaming coffee. 

At the Ethiopian Orthodox church, we went to witness a local holiday when the priests bring out a replica of the Ark of the Covenant

IMG 5594

It was the first time the girls and I were invited into the church compound, completely fascinating. I was encouraged to take pictures by those with me.

IMG 5603

Many of the priests wait

IMG 5622

As the processional left the church with much flair, we went to watch Awi horses race across the pasture.

IMG 5639

It was the first time I noticed the horses’ saddles were all embroidered with  lion.  The tradition and symbolism in our culture is rich and in so many ways, points to beautiful truths of the Word.

IMG 5646

One of the riders, decked out in lion mane

IMG 5649

We went home, exhausted. overstimulated and too full, but incredibly thankful for the ways our community is letting us be a part of their lives.