Daisy and Diana

Well, it was time to let Daisy go.  We are preparing to head home in a few months and we are working on selling off our possessions (once again) to make this major transition.  Our little 1969 Volks was our first casualty.  Daisy (named by the kids because of the 99 daisy stickers stuck to her that I did NOT put there), was a good little car.  She was our first venture at independence and freedom in Addis.  We loved her!  She wasn’t particularly reliable or comfortable, but she was easy to fix and we just opted to never take her out of town.  Daisy is one part of our Ethiopian journey that we will NEVER forget. :)  She is now residing with some other missionaries and they promptly removed all but one of her trademark daisies.  Here is a photo of the kids saying goodbye.

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And Diana.  Posting about Diana is SO long overdue, but I cannot mention Daisy without also talking about Diana.  I met Diana about two weeks after moving to Addis through a facebook group where people share the goings on of Addis with one another.  Diana has the gift of helps.  She is also incredibly knowledgeable and resourceful.  I don’t think there’s anything Diana cannot do.  Diana is a single woman who has lived in Addis for 6 years and has really figured out how to do life here.  Our adjustment to Addis and how quickly we found our footing is really due to Diana’s friendship with me.  She helped me figure out how to keep a house here, how to cook here, how to get around and helped me to make friends very quickly.  Diana is full of resources and information.  She has explored more of this city than I could ever hope to and she can tell me how to get just about anywhere with directions I can totally follow.  She has tried to make just about everything imaginable that you cannot buy here from car parts, to batteries, to wonderful food items.  Really, I don’t think there’s anything she can’t do.  She puts her mind to it, does some research (when the internet is working) and then gives it a try–whatever the task.  Diana convinced us to buy our Daisy when we were having trouble finding a car worth our missions $ and going stir crazy from the lack of independence.  When Daisy stalled out, Diana sucked on the fuel line on a busy street in Addis with a crowd of Ethiopians gathered at the spectacle to get the fuel flowing into the fuel pump again.  I really can’t even mention all the ways Diana has helped us during our time in Ethiopia, but I can state that we would not have had the same experience here had it not been for Diana and I truly believe it would have been MUCH more difficult.  Diana has become a fast friend and I can’t imagine doing life without her now!  She has been SUCH a blessing to me and to my family and we, in turn, have been able to be a blessing to other families and in helping get them settled here.  If you are lucky enough to have a different “Diana” in your life, you are blessed.  If you are lucky enough to know “my” Diana, you are doubly blessed!

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Addis Ababa Bible College

I have taught off and on at ABC since arriving in Ethiopia and I have really come to love the students there.  Chris is teaching there for the first time this semester and I am teaching again.  This time, instead of English, I am teaching Psychology and Christian Counseling–which is MUCH more up my alley.  I LOVE it.  I love my class, I love the discussion they generate and I love being with the students.

On Monday, as I sat in chapel listening to one of the 4th year students preach, I was reminded that these students are world changers.  This young man is from an area in Ethiopia where it is not particularly safe for me to go.  After his four years of training are complete in May, he is going back there to pastor a church.  He is going to unreached people groups, people I really can’t reach.  He is going to change that part of the world.  A missionary’s time invested in students like this could never be considered a waste.

I know that financial support for Bible colleges has dropped off as support for other areas have increased, but after living here I can honestly say that if you want your missions $ to go far and to make a huge, lifelong impact, Bible colleges are where it’s at.  Do not hesitate to send missionaries to do trainings at Bible colleges.  I have seen missionaries come and provide food, but that food gets eaten and there are more hungry people in this country than any one team could feed.  I have seen missionaries come and provide medical trainings but the medical needs in this country are still so great after a team leaves and even Chris has been so limited by the government here in what he can do with his medical degree that not much of an impact is really made.  These needs are great and I LOVE it when teams come to meet even one person’s needs, but if we want to talk about missions dollars going far…train up a pastor.  Or several dozen pastors.  Train them throughout the world, equip them to preach the Gospel.  They will start churches in areas foreigners can’t go.  They will preach in the native tongue of people that has never been learned by any foreigner.  They will become missionaries to places that would slam the door in my face.  They will change the world.

Just like any other area of life, there are fads in missions.  Bible colleges used to be the fad.  They aren’t anymore, but they should be.  If we want to reach unreached people groups, what better way than to train up one pastor from each of them and then set him loose to preach the Gospel in his native tongue?  Of course, that one man or woman has to receive the Gospel first and come to salvation and that may take a missionary living among them for that to be accomplished.  I would love to do just that in the future, honestly.  I just don’t want to see Bible colleges fall by the wayside as other “trends” come and go in missions.

Please pray for the students at ABC, that they would answer God’s calling in their lives to go to the tough places.  Please consider sending missions dollars to Bible colleges that have already been established throughout the world.  Please sincerely pray before cutting financial support to any missionary because they don’t fit your “ideal” any longer.  If you and/or your church want to reach unreached people groups, don’t cut support to missionaries that train up indigenous pastors.  When the missionaries leave, and they almost always do, the mission only continues if someone steps into their place.  That someone needs to be a local pastor who has been trained.

I love the students at ABC.  They are world changers.  How fortunate we have been to play a small role in their training.  I cannot wait to hear reports on the work they do throughout the world.  Knowing them has been one of my greatest blessings during our time in Ethiopia.

 

Ethiopia

As difficult as some bits of this adventure have been, I truly love Ethiopia.  It is such a beautiful country.  It is easy to forget that when you get caught up in the craziness of city life, but when you really look around and set frustration aside, it’s beauty leaves one awestruck–or at least that is how it leaves me.

This weekend, we took a trip to the Southern region of Ethiopia.  We spent 14 hours (total) driving on some not so lovely roads in our non-4wd vehicle, so my insides were a bit shaken up, but as I looked around me on the drive, I was reminded of Ethiopia’s beauty.  There are mountains and hills everywhere.  The dirt has such vibrant color to it and it changes with the regions.  There are forests of tall trees and amazing creatures that you can see.  On this trip, we saw some amazing birds and camels wandering around in the fields.  The planting work the farmers do is almost artistic.  The sun rising and setting over the mountains takes my breath away.  I think Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

I love driving past little towns and seeing mud buildings that have been painted, some with bright colors and some with artwork of the owners–even  some tukuls (huts) have painting on the outside of them.  I cannot imagine the work that goes into painting a mud wall.  I love seeing people greeting one another on the streets in such a warm and loving way.  I love the donkeys running through the street–and almost straight into our van–as we barrel down the “highway”.  Even the pants-less kids are adorable to me, so innocent and just full of life.

Yep, I think Ethiopia is a beautiful place.  I love it.  I will miss it with all my heart when we leave.  I will return, in one way, shape or form.  And, as we experience these sights I constantly think, “I cannot believe this is my life.”.  Amazing.  Pictures don’t really do it justice, but here are a few anyway.

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Life is hard, and then you die

In America, we kind of joke about this–mostly because life isn’t really all that hard.  I’m not saying Americans don’t experience difficult things or go through trials, but life is not that hard for the majority of people that I know in America, or at least it wasn’t for me.

In Ethiopia, no one laughs at this saying.  Literally, for Ethiopians, life is hard and then they die.  Life is hard.  Every day is hard–not for all Ethiopians, but for the majority.  Also, death is just not viewed in the same way here that it is in the US.  Chris and I had a first hand experience with this last week.

We were sitting outside and heard tires squealing and a loud pop!  It sounded like two cars collided and a tire maybe popped off one of them.  Chris didn’t really care too much, but my dad, Gavin and I decided to check out the commotion.  We got over to the accident and I could quickly tell that it wasn’t two cars that collided, it was one bus and one man.  I sent Gavin home to get Chris.  There just aren’t loads of medical professionals in this country, so I thought maybe he could help.  He joined me at the scene along with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Ethiopians.  None of the Ethiopians seemed to know what to do, so Chris took the man’s pulse.  It was clear that he was in agony.  He was unconscious, at best.  Chris began to examine the man for injuries as there was a large pool of blood on the road.  He determined that the blood was all coming from a large, open wound in the man’s head.  We sincerely believe the man was likely brain dead on impact, but his heart continued to beat for at least 20 minutes.  Some people wanted to move him, but there was no where to take the man and this could have just done more damage if his spine was injured, so he just laid in the street, slowly dying.  His breaths were agonized and he never blinked.  Chris continued to monitor his pulse and we asked many people to get the police to the scene.  I just cried out to Jesus for this man, knowing that there was little hope he was a born again believer.

It took the police around 30 minutes to arrive at the scene and by then, the man had expired.  Chris closed the man’s eyes and we just tried to keep people away from him–from stepping on his feet and hands.  When the police arrived, they asked me if the man was dead.  I confirmed that he was.  They checked his pockets for ID, there was none.  No one in the hundreds of people crowded around recognized him, so he was covered up and they made plans to transport him to a hospital.  At the last minute, a man came up and asked to see the man’s face.  He recognized him and headed to the man’s home to tell his family.  We later learned that this man left behind a wife and five children, the youngest just three years old.  He was also a Mslm.

I don’t know what happened in those 20-30 minutes while his heart remained beating and he had breath left in him between him and God.  I do know that God is a gracious God and loves each and every person.  I pray that the man met Him in those final moments and had one more chance to believe and accepted.  We are also praying for his family–for his young wife left to care for these five children and for their salvation, as well.  Please join us in praying for them.

Life is hard here and then people die.  It was very sobering to be a part of that process.  That would NEVER happen in the US, but everything is just so different here.  I am glad we were there with him to pray and to attempt to provide medical assistance.  Please continue to pray for his family and for the many, many Ethiopians that do not have hope beyond death.  Life is hard and then people die.  We are trying to give our neighbors a little more hope than this, an eternal hope, while we are here.

Kenya

Recently, we were able to visit Kenya for a little holiday vacation.  Most of the trip was a very generous gift from Chris’ dad.  It was a dream come true for me, as I’ve always wanted to go and the trip of a lifetime for our family.  We feel very privileged to have been able to experience a little bit more of Africa while living on this continent.

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Not what we expected

This missions journey has not been what we expected…at all.  Now, maybe you think we are fools for having any expectations, but we are human.  I assure you, our expectations were low.  Our goal was to come and be a blessing, plain and simple.  Maybe too simple.  We had a few other ideals–we didn’t want to be “lazy” missionaries, we didn’t want to live too comfortably, we wanted our kids to thrive, we wanted to have relationships with Ethiopians, etc…  But most of all we just wanted to come and be a blessing in some way.

Thinking back to our preparation for coming here, I laugh at myself a lot.  We thought it would be easy to find things to do, to fit into ministry that was happening here, to get to know people.  Nope.  Not easy.  Every bit of everything we do is a struggle and takes a lot of carefully calculated work.  There’s no chance to be “lazy” when even a simple task like grocery shopping takes a half a day, but who wants to spend all their time doing that?  Not me.

We spend more time trying to figure out how to make things work than we spend doing them.  We have had to let go of all previous expectations we had and attempt to not have any new ones.  Everything is a fine line.  I feel like I’m constantly trying to figure out the “right” way to do things.  We live on the edge–but not in an adventurous way.  Stress!  It takes the tiniest little faltering to push you over the edge.

I am tired of living on that edge.  I am weary from constantly trying to figure things out and make things fit or work.  This life is exhausting, to say the least.  We did NOT expect that.  Not all the time anyway.  Maybe after you spend years and years in another culture things just start to work out better or you don’t feel quite as drained from the differences, but after one year, we are not there yet.  Not even close.

Now, we have also had more incredible experiences than I ever dreamed possible.  We have made some amazing friends and I didn’t expect that either, our kids have excelled, our expectations have been blown in both directions, so we just say this experiences has not been what we expected, both in good and bad ways.  I’m sure we are not the first pie-eyed missionaries to feel that way and anyone who has been a missionary for years is now laughing at me, hysterically.  If you are considering becoming a missionary, please know that the experience will NOT be what you expected no matter what.

It is eye opening and life changing–we did expect that, just not in the form we got it.  This past year has been the best and worst of our lives.  We have learned a LOT, we have grown a lot, we have changed forever.  I can only hope and pray that somewhere along there we have been a blessing to someone in some way.  Most days, the actual ministry we do is so drowned out by all the struggle. It is easy to lose site of why we came here and what we wanted to accomplish and only focus on the struggle.  It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves and wonder what the purpose was in all of this.  Why did we give up so much to accomplish so little?  And then, we are reminded that we did it to follow God’s leading.  This is HIS master plan, we are just along for the ride.  If He chooses to use us to bless others along the way, we are fortunate.  Perhaps our expectation should just have been to continue to stay in God’s will and then this would have been exactly what we expected.  I do not doubt that He brought us here.  For what?  Only God truly knows. :)  And perhaps that is the way it should be.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say with all of this…maybe a few things:  This life is hard, this is not what we expected, we are tired, we are changed, we have been blessed and still hope to be a blessing.  Above all, God is good.  We know that and have been reminded of it often on this journey.  Also, we are ready for whatever God has next.  We still have no idea what that is, but we are ready.

Newsletters

I just realized I never posted our last newsletter and now we’ve got an even newer one.  Here are links to both.

Ethiopia Newsletter 14 — October

Ethiopia Newsletter 15 — December

Also, this experience is NOTHING like what I thought it would be.  I’m sure most missionaries would tell you that and some even warned us of that, but until you’re on the field, you cannot understand that statement.  So far, it has been one of the best and worst experiences of my life.  I’m so glad we decided to answer God’s call to go and I’m so glad His plan for us isn’t finished yet!

 

A time of rest

This past week, our boys had no school.  We still chose to work a few days, but Thurs/Fri was spent out of town at a lovely little resort.  We spent most of our time poolside and watching the monkeys.  It is trips like these that bring much needed refreshment to our weary selves and help us keep plodding on.  Thanking God for some much needed down time with fresh air and less stress.

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