We’ve been asked a lot of questions on our journey. I think some of them are questions that many people wonder, but are maybe afraid to ask. So…
1. What is the worst part about itineration (fund raising)?
This is a tough one. There are lots of parts about itineration that are rough. Asking for money isn’t terribly fun. Cold calling pastors is uncomfortable. Fortunately, you’re calling people with (mostly) like hearts who want to support you and will if they can, but it’s still awkward. The travel isn’t so bad if you don’t mind driving. All the fast food probably isn’t great for the waistline, but it’s all melted off now. Honestly, I think the worst part of itineration is the loneliness. Most of our friends were from our home church. Once you start itinerating, if you’re lucky, you can’t go to your home church anymore. You lose that connection. I remember visiting many churches that would be talking about a great upcoming outreach and I’d be excited about it and want to join in, but it wasn’t “our church” and was usually too far away for us to return for the event anyway. Week after week, we’d meet great people and we even formed some great friendships out of that, but we poured our hearts out and shared our life stories as well as our passion and vision for life in Ethiopia with people and then never saw most of them again. We missed friendships. Once we sold our house and moved it was even worse. So, that’s a long answer to a short question and may not be the answer most people expect. But, it’s our answer. Loneliness was a HUGE part of itineration that we were not expecting.
2. What will you be doing in Ethiopia?
Well, we know what was proposed to us. Chris would be doing some kind of medical outreach and I would be teaching, mostly English, at the Bible college. However, we were also told that this could change every three months (or so) and that we shouldn’t get uptight with that. Well, it’s already changed! We will learn more this week and we are super excited about the opportunities we’ve heard about, but we really do have to be flexible. We will both have opportunities to teach at the Bible college, more than just English. We will also have the opportunity to work with an incredible NGO that works with the poorest of the poor in Addis to provide aide and education.
3. What’s the weather like in Ethiopia?
Most people think “Africa hot”. Fortunately for us, Addis does NOT qualify for that term. It’s like 70-80 and really sunny here all the time. Nights get down to 50-60 and are fairly breezy. Truthfully, it is lovely weather. It is dry season right now and it is VERY dry. Everything is covered in dust/dirt, but the weather is lovely. We cannot complain about that. Three months of the year (summer in the US), is our rainy season. I don’t really know what that will be like exactly because we haven’t experienced it yet and everyone I ask gives me a drastically different answer. I do know most ferenge (foreigners) leave for the rainy season if they can. We won’t be so lucky, so we’ll fill you in late August. We did all bring rain boots and the best description I’ve been given is…if you can get over how you look from the knee down, you’ll be just fine! One friend did point out that the silver lining is that there won’t be anymore dust in rainy season. Yes, I suppose that will be a benefit.
4. How will you stand being away from all of your loved ones for so long?
This one is tough. When you’re still at home and seeing them whenever you want, you can’t really answer this question. Now that we’re here, and the missing them is real, I can see that it is a sacrifice. I’m not sure I would have admitted that before. It’s hard. When you have a bad day and just want to talk to someone who “gets you”, it’s a bummer and just makes that bad day a little bit worse. Fortunately, there are things like Skype and Magicjack that make it so much easier to stay in touch, but it’s just not quite the same. Still, my answer is this…when you dedicate your life to following Chris wherever He leads you–WHEREVER–you have to give up thinking in an earthly minded way. You have to think in a heavenly minded way. Yes, this journey has made our life on earth a bit more difficult, it has forced us to sacrifice things, it has stretched us WAY beyond our comfort zone some days, but this life is temporary. Eternal life awaits us. Fortunately for me, I know where nearly everyone I love will spend their eternity and it will be with me in heaven. So, if I keep that as my focus, it’s not so tough. Unfortunately for most people we come into contact with, they don’t have that same reassurance or comfort. I can’t stay geographically close to my family for this moment in time just so I have that comfort when I know that so many people have their eternity in question. If I can impact just a few of them so that they can have the same reassurances I have, then the tough days and the missing family are all worth it. So, that’s how we do it. We focus on the bigger picture. Not every day, trust me, but most days. (Also, my parents are coming to visit in approximately 310 days–that helps).
5. Do you miss your stuff?
We made it no secret that we sold our lovely, comfortable, spacious home and piled into a tiny, not really suitable for long term living cottage for the 7 months before we left. We also made it no secret that we sold 75% of our stuff to fit in that cottage and to prepare for a life overseas. Do we miss it? Sometimes. I didn’t when we were still in the States, but I do now that we’re here. Well, I don’t really miss any of our stuff. I miss the ability to have stuff. How lame is that? We have a 2 foot tall Christmas tree. It’s what fit in our luggage. I wish we had a 6 foot tree, but they are ridiculously expensive here, so unless I can find one at a moving away sale, it’s a 2 foot tree for us. I miss being able to just go get what I want at Wal-mart. Yep, I said it, I miss Wal-mart. It’s convenient and cheap. I miss that. Almost nothing is convenient OR cheap in this country. I don’t know how most Ethiopians get by day to day. Our budget is small by US standards, but it is ENORMOUS compared to most of our neighbors. I miss silly things. Last night, I had a dream where my family got to go home for just a week. We packed only 5 suitcases to take home, so we could bring an extra 5 with us when we came back. In my dream, I shopped at Wal-mart for peanut butter and Nutella. That is all. I don’t even like Nutella. I miss my kitchen stuff and I have some coming soon with a dear friend, but I am learning to survive without it. It is amazing what you really don’t need when you put your mind to it. So yes, I miss stuff, but I have also realized that I don’t need it to get by and there’s something really freeing about that.
That’s the end of my list for now. If you have questions you want to ask, ask. Leave a comment or shoot us an email. Itineration was lonely, but so is starting over in a country where you don’t speak the same language is 95% (or more) of the people. We’d love to hear from you! Sincerely. firstname.lastname@example.org