My Etsy Shop!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hurry Up And Wait Day

I don't have any great stories for today as today was filled with a lot of not doing anything other than waiting to do something. We spent the morning at the house while the church guys had a meeting. Since we had nothing really to do as we are at the mercy of the drivers showing up, we went and played with the monkey again (who I think peed on me, ew) and sat on the sidewalk drinking macchiatos that some street vendor kid brought us - a rough life here, I know. Although, just for the record, it is not like a French-style sidewalk cafe or anything, it was sitting on the dirt wall outside the dive bar across the crazy people and animal-filled road with clouds of diesel smoke trailing behind the cars and blue and white taxis whizzing by. Bisrat and Maste showed up and said they were here to go shopping with us so we weren't doing nothing while the meeting was going on so we thought we were in fact going to go. Apparently, I forgot I was in Ethiopia b/c we then sat around another hour just talking about leaving, then Biz and Maste went out of the room, we thought to call the driver. However, after awhile we realized they were totally gone and were nowhere to be found which is completely typical here. We looked around and asked some of the guys out front and they told us the guys were up at the cafe nearby eating lunch. Ack! Sometimes this place makes me crazy, how it is normal for people to just show up and disappear for hours.

Eventually, my American-ness finally took over and I felt restless to do something so I went in search of an internet cafe to try to figure out some blog posting/internet issues. Internet cafes here are basically small rooms like a hole in the wall in the middle of a row of shops. They have a couple computers and for me to use it for 30 minutes cost me about 25 cents. I wrestled with the internet for a bit and eventually got things figured out, only to turn around to Maste showing up in the internet cafe (apparently Bizi had gone back to the guest house - sure, why not...) Later we asked Maste how he found us and he said he just asked and the guys outside in the street (there are ALWAYS people out in the street) told him - he said "everyone knows who you are, you are obvious, firenge" hahaha. I guess we are. Finally, it seemed it was time to go and we hopped in the van, and decided to pick up Bisrat on the way. Another friend of mine from this summer, Tekabe, showed up and was very excited to see me - how fun! He hopped in the van as well and off Danielle and I went with our van full of ET guys, blaring hip hop music all the way down the road. We had a good laugh over our present circumstances vs. your typical image of missionaries. Well, our van pulled into a restaurant and we realized I guess we were stopping for lunch. We actually had a great time at lunch, we laughed and laughed together until our stomachs ached and I realized that these friends across the world are truly an amazing blessing in my life. They all love the Lord, too, and we just get along as if we are not living on completely different continents. We finished our lunch (I had something they call mixed juice - it has "juices" in layers, parfait-style, but they are really more like a pudding consistency-it was avocado, strawberry and mango and it is SO GOOD) and stopped at the bank to exchange some money and FINALLY headed out to shop. Or so we thought. A few guys had left the group and the rest of us went off in the van, only to pull over to the side and sit and wait because the other van with Cherrie and some of the church guys was "right behind us", which is Ethiopian for "sit there for 20 minutes...." Eventually was all met up and did some van switching and then we did actually go to shop, only 5 hours, yes 5 literal hours, after we thought we were going to go. We realized then that doing anything in Korah today for us wasn't going to happen so we figured we'd make the best of the day.

We asked if we could go to the Merkato, an experience neither of us have ever had here. It is a wild marketplace of shops here where you do NOT go by yourself if you are a white woman as there are a lot of thieves and it can get crazy and dangerous. Fortunately, our crew of body guards (the church guys are big and all muscle) got out of the van with us and we each got one who walked by our side and I held my bag slung across me with one hand on it the whole time. It looked like there were individual shops as there were doorways all along the busy street and we went up to one to get some scarves. This place was a festival of colors and textures! Jewel-toned cloths hanging form above, oriental carpets in large heaps, and people everywhere literally throwing brightly colored fabrics at us and calling out to us to buy. The room we were in was at least 15 feet high and the scarves and wraps were stacked to the ceiling! People sitting way up high (on what and how I do not know) clad in head and partial face coverings were calling down to us and unfurling their technicolored wares. The guys with us explained ALL of them were different sellers, in this very crowded room, and we needed to figure out which things we wanted and pay that seller. How in the world they keep track of inventory here is beyond my ability to understand-I have never seen anything like that in my life! It was fascinating and overwhelming and beautiful and a little scary all at the same time. We finished there and headed to an area of silver shops. Silver is very inexpensive here-they sell it by weight, a little less than $2US per gram. I was able to replace my Africa pendant that had gotten ruined for far less than I could at home so I was happy.

We spotted big, huge-muscled Berhanu walking down the sidewalk, hand in hand with a little girl from the street. It was so sweet, he walked and they chatted and he took her into a bakery and bought her something to eat. She came and hung out with us for a bit in one of the shops, not at all shy and aked me in English "what is your name?" She wanted to look at all the pictures of my family that I had in my bag and did not believe that I was the mother of a Habesha (Ethiopian) girl. She walked back with us to the van, holding onto her new love Berhanu, and there she got a special gift. Cherrie had bought her a tiny, delicate silver cross on a chain to wear under her clothes. When they gave it to her, Berhanu told her about Jesus and how He had died on the cross for her and that He loves her very much. Oh my gosh, it was such a sweet thing to watch, she was so beautiful with her radiant smile and new necklace shining against her dark skin. We helped her carefully tuck it under her clothes so she would not have it stolen and she hugged and kissed all of us goodbye. It broke my heart to think of her trust in us-we are not mean people and really enjoyed having her with us, but so easily she could have gone with someone who was not that way and it just brought tears to my eyes. These precious children are in such danger here of child trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, being sold to work, etc. It disgusts me to think of how common it is, too-she has a mother but her mother must work to keep them alive and so this little Hannah spends her days unsupervised on the streets. Oh Lord, protect that beautiful child....

We were absolutely wiped out by then because just simple shopping is such an ordeal so we just headed home. Some of us kicked a soccer ball around a bit and then introduced some of the guys to the movie Indiana Jones-Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was hilarious to watch them get into it, and also to watch them cringe and cover their eyes at the snakes. Some things are just the same across all cultures. What a strange day of doing a lot and nothing all at the same day. Tomorrow we have plans to be back in Korah either making beads (durn clay lady not showing up again!!!!Oh Ethiopia, you are killing me....) or going on more home visits. I hope we get to go see the babies again! That will be my last day to serve here in Korah and then I get on the plane late tomorrow night (Thursday) so I will probably not post for a bit. Sorry this post was full of mostly uninteresting details-I hope to have a great report of my last day in Korah to make up for it!


Today was an interesting day as it always is here, with plans being made as you go along. This morning was spent at the church in Korah where all of the guys on staff were treated by a chiropractor here from America. She not only treats backs/spines but does holistic medicine and acupuncture and was treating them for various ailments. I have to say I was pretty skeptical about the whole practice b/c it had a lot to do with "energy systems" in the body but it ended up being more interesting to watch than I felt like admitting and really did seem to work to help relieve some stress and help them feel better. I was, however, eventually getting bored watching so I went outside to wander around and when I was out there, the sweet little man who is the guard at the shelter came up to me. He was saying to a bunch of things I could not understand and pointing to his back and I nodded along, trying to understand what he meant and thinking he wanted to see the doctor. He turned around and pulled his jacket and shirt up and showed me his back, revealing a large hump on his back. I wasn't sure if it was a recent injury so I rubbed my hand across his back to see if he indicated pain and he did not. I pointed to the church building to ask if he wanted to go in - he smiled and so I took him into the church to the doctor and asked if she could look at him. It turns out when he was younger he had fallen off a horse and they told him it was not broken, but the doctor today felt there was no way it had NOT been broken and was very concerned. It had healed back poorly, which had caused the hump, and if left completely untreated would cause worsening problems over time. He got cracked and twisted like the others and then sent over to be a human pincusion all along his back. He is such a sweet man and seemed so happy to be being treated and I was so happy for him.

After a while, Danielle, myself and 2 of the guys walked up to the ALERT hospital, which is the original hospital where leprosy was treated and around which the Korah community has grown. It was, with gorgeous tropical flowers and plant all over with white-coated medical staff walking about. Everything here is sort of indoor/outdoor so it was not like a hospital back in the States, more of a large compound with many separate buildings/shelters that have various purposes. One of the best parts about the compound is the hand craft area. There are several different crafts that are handmade there, by the leprosy patients, some of whom have been there for over 40 years! We went into a tin-walled shelter that had a dirt floor and random cast-off chairs and piles of things to sit on. Inside there was a group of women who were spinning cotton fiber from fluffy wads into yarn on hand-held drop spindles-it was AMAZING!! Some only have parts of their hands and fingers and yet had incredible skill at working that spindle. Danielle got to sit with one woman who showed her how to spin and and D gave it a try as well. It was not easy at all and yet these women do this all day everyday and are so fast! The cotton yarn is then either woven into blankets or crocheted into stunning bed covers/table cloths/sweaters/etc. The crocheters were hard at work in the metal shack next door and we went in to sit with them and see their work. I watched in awe as these women, most with only shiny stumps where fingers once were and some with functioning eyesight in only one eye, deftly making lace items on the tiniest crochet hooks ever. They were so much fun, too! Just like knitting circles back home, they chatted and laughed and let us join in their conversation. They all asked to have their picture taken and gave beautiful smiles as I took their photo. I was just overwhelmed with their beauty, really and truly. Their smiles just lit up their faces, and they just giggled like girls. I really and truly loved the time with them. They told us next time they would make us coffee, today they were not prepared. So sweet!

We eventually said goodbye and walked up to the porch of a building where a very friendly old man wash working on a loom to weave straw mats. He was quite talkative and was happy to have his picture taken and show off his amazing work. He told us he has been doing that for 45 years!!! He wears leg braces and has lost parts of his feet and walks with the aid of crutches and if that is not enough, he does not have fingers-yes, for real. And there is no way I could weave a mat with the skill he did, it was mesmerizing to watch him take the fibrous strand and weave and twist it over and under, again and again. We went into the building into a room filled with giant weaving looms and were led to another sunlight-filled side room by a woman clad in a bright purple dress. In this room, she and another woman, who had had parts of her hands and face and legs brutally claimed by leprosy, wound the spun cotton yarn onto sections of bamboo sticks that served as bobbins. There were boxes of fully wound bobbins in various places and on the floor, small wooden wheels with a simple cranks with which the bobbins were wound. I had the privilege of being taught how to wind by the purple dress lady and sat on the floor, filling up a bobbin (after the 3rd try) and feeling quite pleased with myself, until I turned to see the other woman (the one with no fingers) whizzing along filling up bobbin after bobbin in the time it took me to do half of one. Show off ;).

We next visited the women who sew and hand-embroider the traditional clothing and textiles with the elaborate patterns made of colorful threads. They had ornate antique Singer foot pedal machines to make the items with the woven fabric (woven downstairs from the yarn spun on the drop spindles-this place is a full service operation, all done here and no machines-amazing) and then they are embroidered with the gorgeous patterns. These women were also very welcoming and asked us to eat with them, but we declined knowing it was their lunch, and left them to eat in peace. We ate there at the compound with the guys and then purchased some of the hand-made items in the store they have that sells them. What a fascinating place! It made my heart so full to spend the afternoon there!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing laundry outside in a tub and I spent the evening at the home of a family I know who lives here and who has a relative in my home town. They live in a very beautiful home on the other side of the city from where I am staying so it took the whole evening. They made an elaborate meal for me, which was very good for the most part, aside from a few traditional dishes I just cannot really get past, like the one with intestines and organs and assorted things in it. I ate some, and it was honestly not terrible, but finally the spicyness and the thought of what it was just rendered me unable to finish it. We ended the evening with a coffee ceremony and then Bisrat,who had come with me, took me to where he lives to show me his room. It was small, with just a bed and a mat on the floor where he prays and reads his Bible, and I got to meet the family who have the main house in the compound where he rents his room. They are very nice and like a family to Bizy.

We finally made it back to the house where I am staying and who was here when I got home? Maste! (a friend from my trip here this summer, just fyi if you didn't read then) What a nice surprise! We chatted a bit and then I went upstairs to hang out with Danielle and Alicia (who lives here) and I got to do something VERY fun. I got to.....HOLD A REAL LIVE MONKEY!! The guy who lives across the street had just gotten it today, it is some kind that only lives in Ethiopia and they call it a little baboon. Well, it is like a velcro monkey and it grabbed itself right onto me and snuggled onto me! It even made little squeaky monkey sounds!! At last, I got to not only see but HOLD a monkey on this trip. My little Things at home would have LOVED it!! (especially you, Thing 2!!) We took pictures and you can see them above along with shots from the rest of the day. At this point I have no idea what tomorrow holds but I am sure it will be different than whatever we plan since that has been the theme of the week thus far, haha. Please pray the clay will FINALLY get delivered so we can do the beads!! Whatever ends up happening, I am sure it will hold plenty of stories of God's amazing goodness and grace because those seem to be around every corner this trip.

Internet Issues

I have a post or 2 ready to upload but I am having some small internet
issues getting it loaded. Hopefully it will be fixed by the
afternoon!!! Thank you all for praying and reading along-please keep
the prayers coming!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

We had planned on being at Korah early for the bead making/training but then life in Ethiopia happened and our "plans" changed. The driver did not come until close to 11 am and since we cannot go anywhere w/o him, we were stuck at the house till he showed up. It was no big deal as we spent the time going to a couple of small stands across the street to buy bread and some necessary odds and ends. The bread here at the bakery stand is SO good-it is fresh and cost me one birr, or about 6 cents. Not sure if I can eat at Panera again, on principle, haha. We gathered up some supplies to take to the twins as were going to go visit them again today (yay!) and then just hung out until the driver came. We were off soon enough and made a stop at the bank for Cherrie to change money, only the bank was out of receipts so we could not do it. This meant we had to go to another bank so off we went to another bank - the whole process for poor Cherrie to simply exchange money took over an hour. Nothing is really simple or quick here, it is just a fact of life. It can be extremely frustrating to have to go all over the place, taking hours for what would be a 15 minute errand back home, but it is also just the way it is so you just have to roll with it. Danielle and I enjoyed rockin' out in the van with Surafael listening to Usher and Bob Marley full blast (always the way S plays music) while we waited for Cherrie in the second bank. We were visited here and there by beggars coming to the windows seeking a birr or 2, and we also learned about the woman going around writing what we thought were parking tickets. They are actually papers that tell what time you park there and then she will charge you 1 birr per hour and you take your paper to her and pay when you leave. She is like a human parking meter.

We finally arrived in Korah at about 12 noon and went to the twins' house to make another visit and bring some supplies. When we got there, they were again covered all up in the rag/blanket pile which the mom pulled back for us to see their faces. One was slurping at a bottle in his sleep and the other was trying to lick the side of the bottle, hoping for some, too so I asked if I could feed her. I was told yes and I went to unwrap her and was surprised to find her scrawny little bottom half completely devoid of clothing or diaper and her shirt was wet from laying on wet blankets. The last diaper had been used the day before so they were just lying on blankets, although the mom was very resourceful and had split a discarded diaper package wrapper and laid it under the blankets to sort of keep the bed underneath dry-ish (unsuccessfully). She came over to get the baby properly wrapped to hand to me and then I received a wet bundle, and promptly realized the little one was not wet just from urine when I put my hand right in a blob of, um, well, you know... Thank goodness we had brought diapers and wipes with us! I got her out of her soiled outfit and was amazed at the absolute tiny-ness of this human being in my hands - she was the length of my forearm and I could hold her body in one hand. She absolutely swam in the diaper I put on her, wrapping the velcro tapes completely criss-crossed across one another. Pastor (who is the sweetest, gentlest, quietest man in the world with a heart of gold) was with us from the church and he helped me get the little lady into some new clothes and I fed her a bottle. The babies still have not been named and I said I liked the name Sarah (they say "say-RAH" here) for her and Judah (they say "YOO-duh"), like a strong Lion, for the boy. Pastor and Berhanu began talking to the mother about naming them those names (which by the way, I was not at all trying to get her to name them that, just that is who they will be in my mind) and in the process got to talk about the meaning of the Lion of Judah and the story of Abraham and Sarah with the mother, who is Ethiopian Orthodox. What an unexpected blessing! We stayed a bit longer snuggling those sweet babies then it was time to say ciao and we headed out.

Danielle and I went with Pastor and Murad to visit and take pictures of the families of the kids at boarding school to send to them. We walked along the rocky, trash-strewn road literally right alongside a large herd of donkeys and I was surprised when the guys told me we were going to Netsanet's house! I had never been there, although I had met her grandmother this summer. We wound down through some alleys and across some rocks and back along a narrow path that went between some mud and tin homes and arrived at a doorway of a mud walled home and went inside. Sure enough, there was N's grandmother! We hugged and did the traditional kisses on alternating cheeks 3 or 4 times-they told her I was N's sponsor and she looked again and all the sudden recognition showed in her face and she got back up and came and hugged and kissed me multiple times again, talking Amharic a mile a minute. They told me she didn't recognize me at first b/c I was wearing different clothes from the last time she saw me and she was very excited to see me again. We talked with her for some time, I showed her photos on my camera of N that I had taken on Friday when we visited the school and then took her picture to send to N, along with a note that Pastor wrote as she dictated. We finished with Pastor praying as we all prayed along in our own language and then said multiple goodbyes that of course included lots of cheek kissing and hugging. We left but shortly past her house she caught up with me and walked up to the road with me holding my hand :)

We next went to the home of one of Danielle's sponsored boys and were treated there to a coffee ceremony! Yummmmmm. There is seriously nothing else like it. They too had photos shared and taken and wrote notes to their children at the school and then Danielle was asked to pray before we left. This mother was so smiley and jolly, really liked her. Soon enough we were on our way again, this time down another rocky path to Danielle's other sponsored child's home. Danielle was surprised to see that they had thankfully been moved out of the horrible, minscule living area they had been in before to a mud walled home with a dirt floor covered in the signature ragged old vinyl, painted white inside with furniture and even a tv! Murad explained that a humanitarian group had built her the home, kind of like ET version of Habitat for Humanity. We talked, shared photos and then Murad said it was a good opportunity to share the gospel if we wanted to! Heck yeah, we wanted to! I got to share with her that b/c Jesus died on the cross in our place, we now can come to God freely, with nothing between us and Him and that He loves her so very very much. She nodded and said (via Murad) "these are good words that you are saying" and then Pastor asked me if I would pray this time. What an amazing time in that house! God's unexpected blessings are always the best ones. We reluctantly left her home and headed to take a "taxi" (aka toyota van) to the coffee shop which is their standard meeting place (think "Friends" only with cows out in front and big comfy couches traded for small aluminum tables crammed close together). Here is a riddle for you: how many Ethiopians and Firengis (white people) can you fit in a taxi? NINETEEN. At least that is how many were in ours-and did I mention they have different philosophies about deodorant than Americans? It was pretty funny, and absolutely against about 15 laws in the US.

We spent the next hour at the coffee shop (me, D, Murad, Pastor, and Yiesmachew showed up at some point) just talking about our home visits, ET culture vs. American culture, language differences, politics and how they relate to the Bible, and several other minor topics :) It was such an interesting conversation and we laughed till our sides hurt and also learned a lot about each others' cultures. Eventually the driver with the rest of the group showed up by the sidewalk in the van, right next to the absolutely adorable little girl who was the "face" for her mother begging on the sidewalk. Parents will often have their children do the begging since people are more likely to give to children in need, which absolutely breaks my heart. I took some birr over to the mother rather than give it to the little girl, b/c I did not want her to think that she was only worth helping b/c she had a child nor reinforce the practice. I hate to see the children begging and it is so dangerous and so common here- yuck. The young mother partly hid her face shyly behind her shawl but I put my hand on her cheek and told her "beautiful" anyway, b/c she was and she needed to know it.

We left the coffee shop and went back to the house to get Cherrie and Sammy back for a meeting and we all got cleaned up from the day and made some plans for dinner at a pizza place. There was another 2 hour drive around the city while all 9 of us tagged along on a search for lithium batteries (did I mention simple errands don't exist here??) and were treated to the same Usher song from earlier about 6 times b/c the driver knew D and I liked to sing and dance to it and so he kept playing it for us, a lot. I maybe like to sing and dance to it a little less now ;) We went to an Italian place for dinner (ET was briefly occupied by Italy) and I ordered ravioli with marinara sauce and the server brought me a bowl of spaghetti with some sort of a meat sauce which caused a big ruckus when I asked about it - all the church guys were trying to straighten it out and then the poor manager got involved - ugh, my worst nightmare. I hate making an issue about food at restaurants, ask my hubby - finally Mr. Manager came over and asked me from the menu "did you order this?" pointing to the dish I ordered. I answered yes and he said "oh, ok, Yes. We do not have ravioli today. And we only have this kind of sauce. So, it's ok." Hahaha, I just love it here, how they just thought "yeah, this isn't at all what was ordered, but that's ok, I will just give them this anyway." Didn't bother me, the spaghetti was great :)

Anyway, I am home at last and ready for a good night's rest before a very busy day tomorrow-hopefully the clay will be delivered and we can do the bead-making. If for some reason it is put off until Wednesday, then tomorrow will be more home visits and a few other activities in Korah.
Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store on this Great Adventure!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I got to hold a miracle today.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny after a long night of orthodox prayers called throughout the city ALL night long, starting at midnight. I figured it must be a holy day for the orthodox church because that is usually the occasions on which they start the prayers at midnight. On the way to the church we were going to in Korah, Murad (one of the leader guys) confirmed that it was a day where they were honoring some man or saint or something in that religion. We got to the church and before we went in to the stick-framed building covered in green and orange tarp material that comprises the church, Berhanu gestured for us to come follow him. We went behind the building on the rocky, litter-strewn path to a little area where there were "homes". They were small spaces in the rocky dirt surrounded by rusted pieces of corrugated tin, lopsidedly placed here and there with pieces of life - dishes, blankets, plastic shards, mateless shoes, bottle caps - in piles in and around them. One had a cook fire smoldering in it and another had several chickens picking around in the dirt while an orange striped cat sat nearby, perhaps contemplating a chicken dinner. I was certain no one could, or rather SHOULD, be living in this place of dirt and trash and animals and rusted metal, but I knew they were. Sigh....We ducked into a short rectangular doorway into a very dark room. It took my eyes a minute to adjust to the extreme darkness and I saw a small woman stand up off of a filthy blanket-covered sleeping area. Flies buzzed around. There was an ancient, ragged piece of blue and white linoleum semi-covering the dirt floor, torn and ripped in many places, a large yellow water can in the middle of the floor, and another bed against the wall on the other side of the very tiny room. The whole space was maybe 30-40 sq feet? I was standing next to the other bed from the one the woman had been resting on and it had a pile of very dirty rags and blankets heaped on it. The back of my leg felt very warm and I turned to realize I was centimeters away from having my long skirt catch on fire as there was a small pot over coals on the floor behind me. I stepped away from it to the other side of the room, sat down on some sort of seat, watching a cloud of gnats and flies scatter out from under the seat as soon it was disturbed, and I mentally begged my face not to reveal my inner cringing at the bugs. It was then that I noticed 2 dark brown heads poking out of the top of the pile of rags and blankets on the bed across from me. There were twin babies under there!

Cherrie had told us about this woman who she had been taken to shortly after her twins were born and the babies were quite close to death when she found them. They were just a few pounds each as they had no food and the poor mother had not had any milk come in and could not nurse them. They had been taken to the clinic and Cherrie has helped find diapers and food for the babies and the mama. It is such a hard situation as clean water to make formula is not readily available and so bottled water must be obtained and to clean the bottles, the regular (unclean) water they use is collected and put into the big yellow can, then boiled over the hot coals, then used to clean each bottle, for 2 babies, multiple times a day, every day. It is like primitive camping with 2 newborns when you don't feel well, but way harder and way less fun and in horrible filthy conditions. Alone, with no husband to help. Every single day of your life. Heartbreaking. Cherrie assured the mother she was doing a very good job cleaning and taking care of the bottles and making the formula (which she really was!), and handed each of us a baby to hold-they were so tiny! They are 20 days old and smaller than any of my babies were when they were born. Oh they were so beautiful! Just amazing,as they are doing well and gaining weight and looking healthy-they have come so far even just in the last 2 weeks!! We had the privilege of feeding them each a tiny bottle. Danielle's little girl greedily sucked down her formula while my little guy got bored halfway through, sighed and went back to sleep. This little life in my hands and the one in Danielle's hands next to mine were nothing less than the hand of God performing an absolute miracle.

I looked around me at the squalor I was sitting in with the dirt walls and the flies and the ragged blankets and thought of the American nurseries all decorated to the nines, with all the bedding matching just so and elaborate murals on the walls, etc. I couldn't quite get my mind around the discrepancy. I choked back the tears welling up a couple of times. I couldn't stop the mama-worries that started churning in my mind at first. These babies were so fragile, life is so fragile-would they make it? They seem to be growing and healthy now, but then what? What about this tiny mother, can she do this by herself? How about when they are crawling, do they crawl on that floor? When they want to put everything in their mouths like toddlers do, then what? Oh sometimes it is so much for a heart to try to take in. All I could do was praise God that He has them in His hands, and all we can do is take the situation as it is right now and not try to predict the future. No, I don't mean that they are not working on a plan for helping this family (they are), I just mean that here, you have babies on the verge of death in front of you and just keeping them alive now is top priority over future crawling and toddling worries. I just honestly pray they live to be old enough for those issues to need to be addressed. It was soon time to leave after the babies were re-wrapped snugly in blankets and we said goodbyes-I hugged the mother and told her what all mamas need to know, that she WAS a good mother to her babies.

We picked out way back across the dirt and rocks and down the path back to the church where the worship music was rockin' out. The service was all in Amharic but I was told they were talking about the scripture Romans 12:1-2 about being living sacrifices for God. Various children would come in and out, sitting next to me and pinching and squeezing the skin on my arms. I think they are curious to see how white skin feels and behaves so I am always getting squeezing and pinched wherever I am here. All the freckles and spots on my arms really intrigue them, haha! The little girl who snuggled up next to me at one point in the service spent a good deal of time pushing the wrinkly skin on my knuckles up and down and then held her pinky up to mine in deep concentration, comparing the 2. She shrugged and decided to be satisfied sitting and holding my arm across her chest, like how one might carry a pumpkin in from the patch, while the service went on. I laughed to myself as here that is so normal and didn't phase me in the least, but I wonder what I would do if one of my children did that to a stranger at church at home? :)

Church was followed by lunch at a coffee shop. Danielle and I both ate the rice and vegetables, so familiar from my trip this summer since we ate some form of the same every day for lunch. It was amazingly delicious and that may have to do with the fact that it was not trail mix nor a slim jim, which have comprised most of my meals here thus far. The meal was finished off with delicious macchiatos, which I MUST figure out how to make at home b/c I love them beyond what is reasonable feelings for a cup of coffee. In my defense, they are not just a cup of coffee, people. They are like heaven in a tiny cup. We went back to the house where I had some time to talk with the various folks who live here at the house and then my brother Bisrat showed up in the doorway! He said his trademark phrase "I am very excited!" and we had a huge bear hug. We sat and talked and caught up on life for about 2 hours. I showed him my family pictures and he had a great laugh about Thing 3's chubby round cheeks and said "I really love her!" Haha, those chubby cheeks are hard not to love!! We made plans for him to maybe come to Korah to be with us for the bead-making if he could, and if not, to have dinner Tuesday. We talked about some ways maybe we could go visit some of the street children also, maybe at the end of the week, and share with them about how much they are LOVED by God and so special to Him and also maybe help them to find some food. I really hope we can work that out!!

The rest of today has been just like a Sunday evening at home, reading, doing not much in a relatively quiet (with the soccer match blaring from the bar across the street-the ET version of Pat and Chris on Sunday Night Football ;) ) house. Tomorrow, it is game on at Korah, all day! Please pray that God would use me however He most wants to use me for the rest of my time here. I hope your Sunday was as full of His mighty miracles, no matter what size package they came in, as mine was!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Relaxing Day

Well, today went as we planned yesterday. Not really a ministry day at all, just a fun time to relax and hang out after the long day at the school. I did wake up with the dawn call to prayer over the loud speakers throughout the city and thought "oh no, I will not go back to sleep now" but I was wrong. I went right back to sleep and woke up a little after 9 and then we just sort of lazed around and chit chatted most of the morning. We walked to the nearby stores and bought very necessary items like toilet paper ("soft" it is called here) and water, as well as some bananas and bread and some other snacks. We took our haul back up the hill to the house, which was steeper than I remembered, and rearranged our bags to get ready to go out to change money and then go watch the guys' football (soccer) match. We got in the car to go and some random person standing there (I really don't even know who it was) handed me his cell phone and said "it is Bisrat". What? How in the world do they all know where to call everyone all the time and who knows where who is? It is a mystery to me and always and forever will be, no matter how much I see it. I took the phone and sure enough, it WAS Bizy! We have plans to see each other tomorrow after church, woohoo! I started to go into detail of what time I thought church would be over and where we would be and he just said "yes, I will find you" and I remembered of course he would, haha. This place is unlike any other-I love it, just makes me laugh.

We headed out and stopped multiple times for the usual ins and outs of random people. When we got to the place to change money, I realized I had been in that very same market before on my last trip, which was amazing to me because I get completely turned around here and everything looks the same and so I don't really know where anything is. But, I found myself starting to be in familiar places and recognize where I had been before. It was fun to go into the "supermarket" (think 7-11 type store, not Kroger) with Cherrie and Danielle while Surafel got our money changed for us and look around at the things there, some familiar (hello, Pringles! I heart you!) and some I have no clue what they were. Soon enough we were off again and the money exchanged at the highest rate I have ever had here-16.75 birr to the dollar! Awesome! (well for me, not so much for their economy though) It is great to get your money in birr, you feel completely loaded with your giant wad of money-until you realize it is like 20 bucks, ha.

Anyway, after that we did some more crazy driving around the city, dropped off some things I had brought to an Ethiopian friend (who met us in the middle of the road-no joke, Surafel was on the phone, we just pulled over in the middle of driving and there he was in the car beind us and I met him on the side of the road-I told you, I will never ever understand how that works here), and stopped back by the house where we are staying for the guys to change shoes and clothes for the big game-of course Surafel had jumped out of the van somewhere before we even got to the house, and then showed up at the van later before we left. If you have not picked up on it, there is a lot of stopping and starting that is just part of life here. Off we zoomed again to the match, at last!

We walked through a cow pasture, with some cows with gigantic horns that gave me the stink eye (I was relived to see the tethers on their legs later) and got to the cleared area with their wooden stick-frame goals, rocks marking the corners of the playing area. The game was soon underway and those boys played hard! It was a lot of fun to watch them having such a good time-Cherrie told us the drivers get together teams and then they play each other. They did not have any of the bells and whistles of American soccer players but wow, they play soccer at a whole other level! We teased Cherrie about being such a soccer mom b/c she brought oranges and water for all the guys-some things are just the same no matter what continent you are on.

After the game we all went back to the house for some to rest and some to shower. Danielle and I had a great time just talking and Cherrie came up, too. We all get along very well which is really nice. Cherrie had remembered that it was one of the Yiesmachu's birthday tomorrow so we put together a plan to take the guys to dinner, then Kaldi's (Ethiopian Starbucks) and have cake and ice cream. Danielle had a shirt to give him for his birthday so we wrapped it up and took it to dinner with us. Well, they ate dinner at the 1st place we went, but us Americans did not partake in that meal. They were eating a unique dish to Ethiopia called kitfo which is a raw meat dish served with various fiery spices and a flat bread made out of the fermented roots of the false banana plant. Mmmmmm. Hence the reason I just had a Sprite. Those guys went to town on the dinner which for some reason afterwards made them VERY giggly and funny in the van and Cherrie said they always get like this after a kitfo dinner-it was hilarious. We pulled into Kaldi's and I realized it was the same one I had been to before on my first ever trip here (remember that Dawn and Tim and Pat? With the frapoocinos??) and we non-kitfo eaters had a yummy dinner with french fries and super delicious coffee and a birthday cake. The servers all came out singing happy birthday with candles all on the cake-the smile on Y's face was great!! These guys work so hard as the leaders of the church ministry in such a difficult place and it was really enjoyable to see them having so much fun. Tomorrow is church day so I am looking forward to that experience. Weekends here tend to be a little more laid back, just like at home, but Monday we will be hard at work in Korah helping the group learning to make clay beads to generate income-I cannot wait!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shashemane day

We did not get much sleep before this day started. We had gotten into Bole Airport a little early and got through immigration, baggage claim, and customs without incident (aside from when they searched Danielle's luggage and raised an eyebrow at Sammy's tattoo machine she had in there, haha). We waited a bit for Cherrie and the guys to get there but when they did it was so fun, Cherrie literally came running, arms flung wide and a big smile on her face, to greet us. What a great welcome to some tired travelers! We were thrilled to see them and quickly got loaded up in the van to head to the house where we are staying (btw, I think I am going to start loading my minivan Ethiopian-style in the carpool line, backpacks and lunchboxes piled up on the roof....)

We got back to the house and had a big unloading party, passing out all the goodies brought from the states. After unloading and getting settled in, Cherrie showed me how to use the internet and we all chatted and caught up some, having a hard time stopping but knowing we had only a few hours till we would get up and head out. Finally, we all turned in to get at least a few hours of sleep, which did not come easily for me. I usually am not too bothered by the sounds of Ethiopia (and they are many) but for some reason the street dogs having a massive fight outside my window coupled with someone hammering and firing up an electric saw (what? It was 2 am-what on earth were they doing??) made sleep pretty elusive. Not to mention the mosquito buzzing by my ear, causing me to smack the air and my head in vain every few minutes. Yes, it was as restful as it sounds ;) Eventually though I must have fallen asleep b/c I woke up to the noises of the guys all over the house and realized somehow my alarm had never gone off and it was almost 6:00. We all ran around like crazy people and I even got a shower in 5 minutes and we left close to 6:15. (Yay African time!)

It was once again confounding to me all the people walking walking walking everywhere in the streets. So many, of every age, walking all over the place. Where are they all going and what are they doing? Random dogs and goats here and there joined them in the streets and even a seemingly ownerless horse with one broken and casted leg. Ah, yup, I'm in Ethiopia alright! Of course we stopped once in the middle of somewhere while some people in our sardine can van got in and out and talked to some other people and then we were off again. That is always happening and I have no idea what they are doing and how/why they pick up people and drop off people in seemingly random places.

We drove for a few hours, seeing the beautiful African countryside. All the flattened Acacia trees make the olive and khaki horizon look just like God took His hand and put His palm down on the whole of Ethiopia when it got past a certain height. It was a sunny drive and we stopped at a small outdoor restaurant to eat before we arrived as we were told there was a good chance the food here would make us sick. Needless to say, I was ok with that decision and had a nice cold Mirinda (orange soda here). The guys all got some plate of strange cooked innards that we all said no thank you to and we shared a plate of french fries. We were on our way soon enough again and before we knew it, we arrived at Shashemane, pulling up the long tree lined drive and passing the church building and loads of gorgeous bright red poinsettias, which grow wild here. Trees overhead hung down long graceful arms that ended in red blossoms of some type and vibrant yellow canas graced the sides of all the walk ways. Absolutely beautiful!

We pulled up and got out and children started showing up from all over the place. It was so neat to see some familiar faces from this summer when I was here! We visited for awhile and I was escorted around the grounds by a group of boys who were trying to find the monkeys that live here to show me. We looked for those darn monkeys several times while here, by the way, and they never showed up. Hmmm, I began to have memories of snipe hunting as a child...But in the procees of looking for the possibly non-existent monkeys, I was shown the girls' dorm, dining hall, kitchen, and several avocado, mango and banana trees. Abandon all thoughts you have of a nice large commercial kitchen to serve a large boarding school-there were 3 cooks cooking in a shed-type building with no light. They cooked in large cauldrons over open fires and that building was smoky and stiflingly hot inside. They were so happy to see me and welcomed me into the room where I took a picture, exchanged hellos, and got out of the smoke-filled inferno.

We made our way back up the very steep stone staircase to the main drive and hung out some more-which was basically the theme of the day. I heard a bunch of yelling and voices behind me and I looked to see my Netsanet RUNNING toward me!! I dropped my bag and grabbed the video camera until she got right near me and then we just collapsed in a giggling hug. She looked great and healthy! We spent the rest of the day side by side. She is so sweet and gentle-spirited, very quiet but with a silly side, too. It was great to see her with a large group of friends. They all took me and showed me their beds and closets and I was blessed to meet and talk to the housemother for them. She was a sweet woman who I instantly connected with over the universal language of motherhood. She also brought up the monkey issue and said there had just been several playing in the yard out front of the girls' dorm but didn't know where they now were....likely story. (btw, I am typing this in the van on the death-defying drive home and just had to fix a large typo that was due to the slamming on of the brakes to avoid hitting a gigantic hyena running in front of us)

I was told by one of the workers at the school that there was a girl who had fallen and I looked over to see a crowd building in one area. I quickly went over and a girl had indeed fallen while running and had passed out and they were having trouble reviving her. I felt completely useless so I did the only thing I could do for her and prayed like mad. It was definitely scary and Berhanu (one of the guys from the Korah church) carried her all the way up the giant hill to the van where they quickly whisked her off to the hospital. That left me and Danielle there really on our own to just hang out with the kids. (Incidentally, the girl ended up ok and finally came to and just had some significant bruising, praise God!) Honestly, it was a long and very draining day, physically and emotionally.

It was great to see the children and visit with them, but they are very physically demanding in that they literally hang onto your arms and shirt and hands and pull you everywhere you go and we went all over the place-the school grounds are large and we walked all over them multiple times. They are also very hilly. Emotionally, there is the constant language issue where we sort of understand each other but never completely and it does get frustrating. So, that coupled with jet lag from traveling and sitting in the warm sun found me falling asleep sitting upright mid-afternoon while showing the kids videos on my camera. I guess my little cat nap of 2 minutes was enough to push me through to get up and get the kids to walk with me to a different part of the grounds.

At this point, another little buddy of mine from the summer had shown up and was very chatty-he knows English pretty well-and he came with us, too. There are a lot of avocado trees there and the children would point them out to me as we walked, as well as some other tree that had hard green fruits that I did not recognize. We went up the road and I heard from the kids "enjori, enjori" which I did actually know meant "strawberry". The girls ran over to me with a handful of some kind of berries (not strawberries, maybe mulberries or some form of not-ripe blackberries?) and gave them to me. They were SOUR, oh my goodness. We all had puckered up faces and I tried to discreetly toss the rest of mine into the grass. Rats, I was really hoping for a strawberry, haha. Anyway, somehow we all ended up in a pack of boys and so we talked a lot and then for some reason they all wanted me to give them American names and then write that name on their arm in pen. Well, there were a LOT of boys so chances are if I know you from home and you are a male, your name is written on some kid's arm in Ethiopia since I was too tired to think of more than about 3 names on my own.

Eventually, it was time to head toward the vans and we had to say our goodbyes. My sweet girl walked along the drive next to the van the entire time until we finally left the gates (which took some doing-you never really just leave here, it always includes a lot of stopping for some reason). But it gave me multiple chances to wave and say "ciao!" to her beautiful face. What a blessing to get to see her again! The ride home was long and bumpy and fairly scary as we whizzed around donkey carts and giant trucks alike. I slept a good bit of it and we arrived home safe and sound. I was glad when we talked with Cherrie about our plans for tomorrow. They are for Danielle and I to sleep late and not have any big plans for the morning and then the guys have a big soccer match (football) in the afternoon. Those are very good plans, I think :) I am fairly certain I left out a lot from today, but this is already really long and my bed is calling my name so I will end here. I have included some pictures above of the GORGEOUS grounds of the school!

ps-if you sent letters/packages with me for the kids, they are here but we didn't distribute them today because it was kind of a hectic day at the school but they WILL get to the children very soon!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Here

Departure day came with grey and rainy in Virginia. It was not an easy task to haul myself out of my warm, cozy bed to get up and face the rainy morning, knowing I had a long next 24 hours of travel ahead of me and would have to again say goodbye to the 5 people I love most in the world for 10 days. But, it had to be done and so I dragged myself through the morning, finishing up last minute details and leaving notes and surprises behind for the Things to make the time apart a little more fun and a little less traumatic. My sweet husband surprised me with a breakfast treat he picked up on the way home from his office mid-morning because he knows me well enough to know I would not eat lunch when it was time to leave as I would be too nervous. And he was right :). I was nervous about the travel, about leaving him and the kids, about the unknowns that awaited me on the other side of all the travel, and because I had one too-heavy suitcase that I could not find a good way to pare down-it was all things NEEDED in Ethiopia, none of it frivolous by any means, so I prayed like mad. And also maybe practiced my pleading eyes and dramatic speech that it was for poor children in Africa and were they REALLY going to deny these precious children?? Well, guess what? They never even weighed it!! Just checked it on through! AND they didn't weigh my carry-ons either, which I am sure were pushing (read: way over) the limit. Miracle #1 out of about 4 million I think I will experience on this trip. The goodbye was painful and tearful-I love my family so much and no matter how much we know this is where I should be right now, it still just really stinks to say good bye. My first leg of flying was great-sat next to a lady whose daughter is training to be a nurse practitioner in a missionary clinic in Tanzania! And her dad was with her-he is a retired minister of 65 years and has written several books since he has retired, one of which he gave me at the end of the flight, his own personal copy with all his notes and markings in it, because he wanted me to have it. It was all about how to live out faith in real life. Thanks, God. What a blessing! I had a bit of a layover till my next flight and spent it observing life in the international terminal-so funny! All the different people from all over the place coming through here-fascinating! My next leg of travel was to Amsterdam and while it was freezing on the plane, it was great because I had no one next to me and could stretch out some and even sleep a little! I just don't sleep well on planes and so this was a great thing. However, here are some very important observations from that flight: 1. People that have "priority boarding" b/c of miles clubs or whatever think they are very important and this makes me laugh-yes, mostly at them 2. International flights do not smell good-too many smells from too many types of bodies from all over the world. Bathrooms on international flights smell even worse. 3. There are a lot of movies and music from which one can select to entertain oneself on the flight-it is still a mystery to me why I chose Lady Gaga and had a hard time sitting still in my seat and not dancing to her weird music, which I have incidentally been singing in my head for the last 6 hours. 4. People snore in many varied, and LOUD, forms.

We arrived in Amsterdam a bit early and I found my gate pretty easily, another answered prayer because I was worried it would be tricky. I thought it was so funny that EVERYWHERE in this airport they sell tulip bulbs! (And also rubber versions of wooden clogs, haha) Hello, Holland!. I found the restroom to wash my face and such and realized that Europeans have no problems standing very close to you-very close. As in, I almost-washed-another-ladies'-face kind of close. God is really teaching me about letting go of my personal space issues, ;).

Danielle arrived shortly after my bonding time with the women in the bathroom and it was good to see a familiar face! We chatted easily, like we have always been friends, about our flights thus far and things in Addis. She is really sweet and easy going and fun so I think it will be great spending this time in Ethiopia with her! I have already stopped counting God's miracles and blessings on this trip because they are many! We boarded the plane bound for Addis shortly after her arrival and found it funny that we were in the same row on the plane, out of a LOT of seats! Funny, but not surprising. You see, God has orchestrated every bit of this crazy trip, down to details I never even considered. He is just so good!! I slept most of the flight to Khartoum (in Sudan, where we stopped to re-fuel), a HUGE miracle, and I am especially glad as we will get in late to Addis and then get up at 5 am to head to the boarding school to visit the kids from Korah. I cannot wait to see the fruit of the sponsorships and to be the eyes for the sponsors back home. I look forward to delivering lots of letters and little gifts from folks back in the States to the children and then sharing with you all about our visit. The next post should be all about that! Stay tuned and please keep praying-God hears the prayers of His people and it is so reassuring knowing we have an army of prayer warriors calling upon Him on our behalf. THANK YOU!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reassured and Headed Out!

Ok, packing my final bags, cooked and froze dinners for my family here, finished making the kids' costumes for Halloween so they are ready when I get back, baked and froze Thing 3's birthday cake to be served immediately upon return home (she will be 4 on the 28th-eek!! where did 4 years go???), laundry mostly caught up (is it ever REALLY??), jewelry orders caught up....hmm, I guess I better really go on this trip. I have to be honest, I was at the "freaking out, what was I thinking" point yesterday-really in a panic. I was just overwhelmed with the gravity of leaving the people I love most in the world, being very far away, missing all the daily bits of life that make up time. Not to mention I was having yet ANOTHER allergy spasm so I was sneezing uncontrollably and barely able to breathe in between sneezes. It was not my finest hour, at all. I fell into bed completely exhausted and miserably and if I am being truthful, afraid of what I had gotten myself into. I woke up very groggy from my allergy fog and sent Things 1 and 2 off to school with hugs and kisses, then curled up on the couch under a blanket with Things 3 and 4 and dozed some more while they watched tv, something I never ever do. I still felt sort of worried about things and wanted to avoid the real world. Well, God knows His children and I am blessed to be one. He knows that, just like my Things, some need a little more reassurance in certain situations than others, and some need a LOT more reassurance in certain situations. I am one of those. So, a friend called to ask me something about an email so I finally dragged myself to my computer and checked my inbox. In it I had an email from Cherrie who I am working with in Ethiopia-she said that next week they would be training Korah folks to make clay beads and I was going to be on the team doing that! Oh my word, what she did NOT know, is that I have been praying for about 2 months about teaching some of my jewelry making stuff to the people living there so that they could use it to generate income to make a living. I had not done anything about it b/c I wasn't really sure how to do it, but then go figure, God just up and took care of that for me!! How else could my playing with clay in my Etsy shop be missionary training??! Ha ha! (btw, my Etsy shop is set to "vacation mode" while I am in ET, it will be back up Nov 1st!) As a friend commented on my facebook post, I get to be doing what I love with a people that I love in Ethiopia! I got so excited again seeing that yes, God has indeed directed our steps to this trip and He knows my heart and has a purpose for me being there, even though it is hard to leave my family here. Also, that friend I mentioned who called about an email shared some of the most encouraging words to me about my trip, just really spoke to my heart. God is so good to reassure me over and over...and over!! Here are His words to me as He reassured me:

"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
If you would, could you please keep me and the folks I am working with in your prayers as we minister in Korah and Addis Ababa? And also, for my sweet family here? They are a blessing beyond measure and this next 10 days will be hard for all of us to be apart from each other, and my husband will be on mom AND dad duty while I am gone so, you know what to do....pray for him!! Ok,then with that I say ciao(how they say goodbye in Ethiopia-yes, really) and the next post will be from my travels!

Friday, October 8, 2010


Hey Y'all! It has come to my attention that some folks weren't sure exactly what I meant a couple of posts ago sooo, here is a little clarification. I am returning to Ethiopia in 11 days! Yes, for real :) I will be spending 8 days there, serving primarily in Korah with some friends distributing shoes for a TOMS shoe drop and also visiting the children at the boarding school who were sponsored through Project 61! Yahoo!! I cannot wait to go visit them and see them in their new place and see what they think of it and bring them some supplies and gifts. There are also several other ministry things in Addis I may get myself into once I get there-things like that have a way of happening, haha. I am SOOO excited to see my dear friend Bizi again, as well-he and I email/chat frequently and have some plans to maybe do some stuff with some of the street kiddos in the city. The whole trip sort of came from out of nowhere and feels a little bit crazy to be going back so soon, but I am really excited and beyond blessed to have the most amazing husband in the world who is the one who said "go!!" and even booked the ticket for me :) He is seriously the best, most supportive, understanding guy in the world and has the same passion for Ethiopia I do-this trip was a great fit for me and so he said go on, I'll catch the next one-did I mention he is AWESOME??? And by the way, his triathlon brought in over FIVE THOUSAND dollars for Korah! We were just blown away at how God got so many people excited about bringing water to our brothers and sisters in Africa-He is so GOOD!!! I will probably continue to be a bit scarce with the posts until I leave since life is a little nutso right now with the regular chaos of life here at Chez Things paired with getting ready to take off again, but I plan on blogging my adventures from there so I hope you all will come along with me!