Thursday, June 30, 2011

Togehter Again

Apparently I'm too tired to spell correctly and too lazy to fix it. Did you even catch that I mis-spelled that?

A little over a year ago I travelled to Ethiopia with a group of 9 other families. I would have never imagined that we would connect so well. In just a few days we'll be getting together with 4 other families. I seriously am giddy about it.

S & M: I love you dearly. And I'm thankful that I manage to connect with you every few months.

M: We really don't live that far from each other. After all, I'm only 35 miles from your state's border with mine. I'm super excited to see you and the rest of your crew.

K: Oh my word. I'm so giddy to see you again. I just read your blog and I laughed. You crack me up. Loved your comment to M in the email you sent last night. And the food you're going to cook, I guess I'll be trying something new

J&S: Seriously, can't you both move closer to the midwest so we can get together eaiser? That or become super wealthy, buy a jet and come hang out every few months. I miss you ladies. A lot.

Oh, this weekend is going to be fun. Hopefully my maid shows up before you do. But if she doesn't, know that it's because she, which is me, is busy working on a few other big things which you'll hear about when you're here. K? K.

you, you, you

Missing my FOVC friends - both the Ethiopians and the ferenge.
Last trip, the kids were taught the sign language sign for "I love you".  They all knew it this time.  Even kids in town knew it.  So, we were bombarded with greetings of "you, you, you" followed by "I love you" and the sign.  Too sweet.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Did any of you read Jo's blog that I linked to last time. She's a great story teller. Me, well I thought I was half decent until I read Jo's stuff. I guess I tend to be more factual with specific details instead of making it a story. I thought about doing the story thing for this post but honestly I don't have the time or energy to be that creative. While I type this, I really, really should be working on a resume and application that needs to be done before my travel buddies arrive on Saturday.

One of the things I love and appreciate about Ethiopia is the culture. I've found similar cultures before. Commonly called warm climate culture, they valued relationships over their task list. I love it and I find it annoying. Tonight while washing the dishes I was thinking about this. And I think their culture might be a little more biblically based. Do you know the story in the bible of Mary and Martha at Jesus' feet? It's a story I've struggled with as long as I've known it. Found in Mark chapter 10, the take home message of this story, in my opinion, is that relationships (especially with Christ) are more important than the task list. That's hard for a person like me to swallow. After all, I have a task list in my journal of all the things I hoped to accomplish. But in this Ethiopian culture, they are choosing relationships over the task list.

So, we had lots of ceremonies. Lots of officials who came to thanks us for coming. Lots of precious moments where the children entertained us with skits and songs. Lots of coffee served. Lots of traditional dancing and singing. And even lots of waiting for those things to happen. But you know what else occurred in that time? Lots of relationship building. And it was beautiful. Building relationships is important no matter what culture you're in.

As somewhat of an outsider to FOVC, it was great to see how the Ethiopian government was so supportive of the work FOVC is doing. That was certainly evident by the many officials who came to thank us. Who, in a poor part of the country, brought books for the private school who educates the orphans but also some children from the community.

If I remember right, they were math books and hygeine books. I might be wrong on that detail but none the less, the support was obvious. And it wasn't just the government officials. The local priest met us our first night for supper and then joined us Sunday after his mass was finished and spent the day with us.

Of course, all these ceremonies take time. The children did so well patiently waiting for all the big people type of business. When it came time for them to get involved, they did that too. Below are some of the older children dancing for us. Some are in uniforms while others are in a traditional shirt. Their dancing was amazing. Some of us willingly danced with them while others were drug out in the middle to shake their thang!

And when it came time for more formal gift giving, the children took part. The teachers have amazing control of the students. They have been taught well. The children thanked each person for coming and presented us with a traditional scarf. The two little girls who gave us scarves were adorable.

Though my task list didn't get done and though I didn't think we needed all those official thank you's, I did love that time. It was wonderful for them to be thankful and share their gratitude but really, I'm so thankful that I got to play a part in the team. I got to see God working through FOVC. I was blessed by my new friendships - both the Ethiopians and the ferenge. As you can see below, the pictures tell a story, but the videos give such a bigger glimpse. The one below is of the kids singing "bah, bah black sheep" even though they're not proficient english speakers. Thanks kids. You are so sweet!

Monday, June 27, 2011


So, I got through two updates.  More are coming.  I promise.  I'll try to have them up before I start giving details of the next trip.  But lately, lately I just haven't had the physical time or emotional energy.  I might have said it before but it was a difficult trip in several ways so it's hard to share all the good things without the bad things coming to mind.  I don't want to be all negative but I also don't want to come across like it was all fine and dandy.  And honeslty, I don't have it figured out yet.  When you combine that with a busy personal life, the blog posts are rolling through my mind but not making it to the computer.  Sorry.  Bear with me.  I have lots of amazingly cool things to share and I hope to capture it.  For now though, my dear friend Jo puts things together very well.  And she's sharing about the trip here:

Friday, June 24, 2011

FOVC: Welcome

The FOVC welcome was crazy and wonderful and so community oriented. I have one picture to show you. But even if I had 20, it wouldn't do justice to the actual welcome. Steve has a video. It's posted on the FOVC site here. It gives you a better idea but it doesn't do justice either. Let me try to explain to you what I experienced.

We pulled into Shanto. We knew they were waiting for us. At one end of town was the open air market. As soon as the landcruisers pulled in, people began leaving the market and gathering around our vehicles. Eventually we were told to go ahead and get out of the vehicle and to take only our camera. We were met by a large number of villagers. The elders dressed in traditional attire, were dancing and singing the traditional dance. It took us almost an hour I'm guessing to walk down the road to the compound. Not because it was a long walk but because we were surrounded by curious onlookers. Like, worse than the shopping mall on Christmas Eve. Like worse than the football stadium right after the game ends. I'm a people person so I loved it. Being surrounded by tons of people I didn't know didn't make me uneasy at all. What really touched my heart was that as I walked I had one child holding my left hand and not sharing with others while I had 4 different children holding my right hand. And when we came to a mucky puddle, rather than let go of my hand and walk in front of or behind me through the dry spot, the children would wade through the puddle so they could keep holding my hand. I wondered what they were thinking as I tried to let go and let them go ahead of me. I'm not even sure what I was thinking.

When we finally reached the FOVC compound, we were greeted by this group of children and their teachers at the front gate. They were singing a song, in English, for us while proudly holding up their signs. It was warm. They were hot and been waiting a while so I'm sure they were as glad as we were that we were finally there!

One of the coolest parts of all this was when Jo locked eyes with her sponsored child and they ran for each other. Their embrace was one of long lost friends. What I didn't know then was that when Jo left in January, Ayelech was quite upset. Jo assured her that she would come back and said to look for her. Well looking she was and she found her and it was precious. When they hugged, Ayelech said "my mummy, you've come back". Yes, indeed she did Ayelech.

Of course, there was one sweet boy that was holding a sign with our names on it. We made sure to track him down and Julie grabbed a picture of us. This was the beginning of many little buddies that we would come to know.

Below is a picture of some of the town elders who were dancing, singing and playing their instruments. These people danced us all the way down the road and then continued after we greeted the children at the compound gate. They must have burned a lot of calories that day doing the "hand drying" (as we called it) dance.

Just a few of my friends are below. Really, I don't think I really knew any of these kids yet except the one to my immediate right. She stuck close to me all week. Love that sweet child. What was even better was that she asked about Ingrid shortly after I got to know her a little. How cool is that!!! She was asking about Ingrid, one of 4 people I know from last January's team of 28. I had brought her a little photo book from Ingrid and was so glad to be loving on her for my friend. As the week progressed, my little buddy would rarely leave my side.

Coming up next: come on, do you seriously think I have a plan of action for these posts? I think I'm saving the crops for last, just so you know. Other posts will be Judah's birthmom, livestock, medical, and who knows what else...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FOVC: Journey

So, I think I've decided to do topical posts rather than daily updates. Here's the first installment.

This photo above captures much of our journey. And a journey it was. Literally and figuratively. In 12 days time, I spent approximately 88 hours, or 3 and 2/3 days, travelling. That's a lot of sitting. The following are some pictures, and maybe some stories mixed in, of our travels in Ethiopia.

The above photo was a typical scene: people travelling along side the road, livestock travelling along-side and across the road all while the driver speeds down the center at 80mph. Even though there were lines painted on this road, drivers had no regard for the lines and would even pass on a hill going around a corner. Crazy driving to say the least. So much so that one driver earned the name Speedy because of his crazier than normal driving.

The picture below speaks of travelling to the South for me. I first saw the picture on Bethany Hutchison's blog. Then on our first trip to Ethiopia, this hill stuck out like a sore thumb as we passed it. Of course when we saw it on this trip, I once again asked Ryan to grab the camera. I had no clue we were headed the same route as our trip to Durame until I saw this beautiful landmark.

If you live in my world or better yet, work in my world, this picture grabs your attention on many levels. What I want to point out to you here is the chocolatey-brown river in the center of the photo. Could you imagine your nearby river looking like this? How about if it was your drinking water. Getting drinking water is a daily journey for most Ethiopian's in the rural country-side. They travel for hours, carrying jugs to get dirty water like you see below to use for the day. The next day is a repeat. What I wish I had a picture of was the last day on our way out of town. It had just rained. A lot. Water was running down the side of the road through a ditch. Women were huddled over the draining water scooping it up. In their hands. In their storage jugs. Washing their face. Dirty, parasite filled water. Out of the road ditch. So sad. It makes me sick. But not as sick as it makes them. I wish I had that picture so you could see why we need to help them provide clean water.

The reason I waited to post was so that I could take the time to write detailed, accurate posts. But now that I'm sitting on the couch, I don't dare get my lazy butt up and grab my journal to get the name of this next place. We stopped twice on our drive down to Soddo. Once was at an open air national museum called Melka Kuntere. On a beauitful location we saw soils profiles and information, as well as digs for human bones. The second place we stopped is the next two pictures. It's a site of really, really old burial sites. Ancient would be the word I was looking for. Anyway, these ancient burials were of soldiers. The back side of the stones were carved. The swords indicated how many they'd killed. The circles indicated if they if they were male or female. We even had a tour guide.

PS, when we took our missions leader training in February, one of the important things we learned was to entertain your host when they want to show off their pride and joy places. So, while we struggled with just wanting to get to FOVC and getting work accomplished, we also knew the value of seeing the things our host's wanted to show us.

So this next picture didn't load big enough. Seriously blogger, you're driving this tired, grumpy lady crazy. Anyway, this picture shows how the ground is tilled up. It's old school. But it works. Plowing with this method is quite the journey for the oxen and the man. It takes me hours and steps to get this field prepared for a crop to be planted.

This next picture is one of my favorite. If I could have only stepped into this woman's life a little more, I would have been speechless I'm sure. As we pulled along side the road for a quick break, locals began to gather around us. As I turned my head to the hill side, I watched a middle aged woman rush down the hillside. I wondered what was going through her mind. Did she want to see the ferenge (white people)? Did she think we had something to give her? Never-the-less, she hustled down the hillside and as she got to the bottom, she made sure to wipe the mud off her feet before she greeted us. The least we could do for her was to take her picture. Imagine her surprise, having never seen herself before, when she saw a picture of herself on my camera. I couldn't leave without taking a picture of this sweet woman on a journey, along with about 20 other curious locals.
For the most part I did just fine. We may have drove in style while in Ethiopia but because of my easy car sickness, I made sure I rode in the center, and most uncomfortable seat, so I wouldn't get sick. Though my team offerred to change, I preferred the discomfort of the seat over sickness. On our flight home, after a 4-hour drive from the country-side, I believe God had pity on my hind end (and my husband) by leaving an open seat next to me. Being emotionally and physically wiped out, and a little help from a muscle relaxer, I spread out in those two seats and crashed.

This concludes my first installment of the posts about my trip to Ethiopia with FOVC. More are coming. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. But I guarantee I have lots more pictures and stories to share!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Detailed Et Maps

My friend Denise Ward (who was a veterinary missionary in Et) gave me a link to some detailed maps of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, I still can't find Damot Pulasa on there Sharon. Take a look at the link but know that it's a BIG file. I saved it, will remove the amharic pages and then maybe post some individual maps...

If it takes you to the ifpri homepage, just navigate to the country of ethiopia in the top bar and then go down to a May 2007 publication. And if you're interested in agriculture things like me, you might read the whole document. This 108 page document titled "Ethiopian Rural Economy" talks about crop production, access to clean water, livestock, etc. Don't be overwhelmed, for each map/graph in English, there's a subsequent map/graph in Amharic. And really, the first 17 pages explain all their processes. So, if you do the math, that should really only be 37 pages of reading... I might just start tonight. Then again I have four loads of laundry to fold, 4 more to wash and blogs posts to write about my trip... wishful thinking...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beginning of Et posts

Not knowing where to begin regarding our recent trip to Ethiopia with FOVC, I thought I'd update my sidebar. Unfortunately I can't even do that. Guess I'll write a post then...

Okay, I think I'll start with a general over view of our trip and then do follow up posts to break down specifics that will surprise you, encourage you, and make you thankful for the richness in your life.

We left home on Monday the 30th of May. Met up with Ingrid from Reaching His Kids for a short visit where we got some awesome pics and gifts to take to FOVC. Our hotel was in the middle of no-where with only one option of a place to eat. Guess we're not having a nice meal out before heading to Ethiopia.

Tuesday morning we were on the shuttle by 4am. Waited in the Minneapolis airport for 3 hours. There was no one down in our neck of the airport as we waited. Except one security guard who walked through. Left a little before 8am and flew to DC. Met up with some familiar faces I now call friends. Jumped on a big fancy new plane together. Unfortunately the entertainment (tv's, USB ports) didn't work on our section of the plane. We also missed the message that was supposed to inform us to get up and ask if you wanted something to drink. It was a long flight. Twelve hours later it was now Wednesday morning in Addis and we finally landed. One annoying little mishap occured with customs and all the meds Ryan took into the country. Two hours and $45 later, we were leaving the airport.

Thursday morning we drove to Soddo, Ethiopia where we stayed in a hotel. Though we were eager to get to Shanto and get work done, we stopped at two places on the way. One was a cool open air and outdoor museum and the other was the Ethiopian version of Stone Henge. Both were interesting and a good break for the hind end. We arrived at the hotel and checked in. That went well but the "well" dried up quickly. We walked over to the government building to meet with the local rotary. There was some confusion and that meeting didn't occur but that allowed us time to go for a walk with Desalegn, the director, and about half of our team. It was good to get a tiny taste of Ethiopian culture. Supper at the neigboring restaraunt before we headed back to our hotel.

Friday was our first day in Shanto. A wonderful welcome followed by lots of ceremony. Honestly, at this point, it all gets a little fuzzy as to when what happens. Thanks to pictures, I have a clue when things happened. But, basically, each day that we were there we were welcomed and had some sorts of welcome ceremony. Amazing traditional singing and dancing, coffee ceremony, skits, etc. Then down to business. Lunch at 130 or 2 which was a welcome break from chasing kids around. We did this for 4 days and accomplished LOTS of things because of God's hand in it all. On the 5th day, Tuesday, we left Shanto/Soddo and went to the other two villages that FOVC has reached into. It was a hike to get there. After those two visits we arrived at Sabana Lodge on Lake Langano for a chance to decompress as a team. The next morning some team members headed back to Addis to catch their flight while the rest of us decided to stay one more night. It was actually cheaper. Without giving too much detail and not wanting to belittle the situation, I'll share that our last night was hell on earth for some on our team. And hell on earth for everyone on our team the next morning.

On Thursday part of the remaining team began our journey home. A 4-hour drive back to Addis Ababa, then relaxed a few hours before heading to the airport. Really early is better than last minute chaos. We know from experience. We began our 17 hour flight home. I slept through the landing and hanging out on the tarmac in Italy. With that long of a flight, Thursday turned to Friday. Eventually we landed in DC. It is so good to here "welcome to the United States!" Had a brief run-in with customs again and then gathered as a team for lunch/breakfast. Though it was only 6 of us, it was great to gather one last time. We left DC and flew to Minneapolis, got our bags, grabbed the shuttle ride to our van, and headed HOME. So, so good to be going home.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

still journeying

This past week I've:
-  met with some people who wanted to hear about our trip
-  rambled to some close friends about the not-so-pretty parts of our trip
-  Had a filling in a tooth.  I hate cavities!
-  facilitated our missions meeting at the church
-  Ordered thank you's for our Ethiopia trip and Father's Day cards for the dad's on my list.
-  Attended a presentation for one of our church sponsored missionaries and went to supper with him, the missions committee and my family
-  Sat on the couch and did nothing even though I really should have been cleaning
-  Hosted my in-laws and their friend, Kathy, in our home for supper.  Thank you honey for doing ALL the food prep.
-  Worked all week.  Boy did that suck the first day back.
-  Weeded the garden mostly until I was tired of getting bit by bugs.  At least I don't have to worry about malaria here.
-  Presented to some people in our church about our Ethiopia trip.  (that's a whole 'nother ramble)
-  Addressed and filled out all the thank you cards.  Except the few I left for Ryan.
-  Edited our pictures from the trip
-  Prepared a presentation on the trip for a work meeting.  Not quite done with that one.
-  Hosted my favoritist FIL for the evening.
-  Read Tom Sawyer to Scott.  A few chapters that is.
-  Drooled over other team members pics
Now I'm ready to crash if only the bug bites would quit itching.
Next on my list:
-  Begin blogging about the trip
-  Pull weeds in the flower beds

SNNPR zones and woredas map

Yesterday I was online looking for a map to do a quick geography lesson for our Ethiopia presentation. I didn't know that I'd find such a detailed map. In fact, so detailed that I've been able to get a real close idea of where several friend's ET kids are from. Isn't that worth sharing? I thought so! I found it works best if you save it and then zoom into your zone to see the details.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I know, I know, I haven't posted about our trip yet.  Seriously, I have been busy.  With life.  For now, you'll just have to enjoy a picture of my handsome teddy bear, I mean macho, husband.
I would love to be blogging but I have company coming and a crazy, not guest friendly, house.  And two presentations to prepare.  And a photo book to create.  More from me next week... unless I share bits and pieces here and there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

thank you's

I just ordered my Ethiopia trip thank you's off of shutterfly.  I hope I'm not dissapointed since I ordered so many!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Still working on editing photos.  Did I mention we took approximately 5,000 pictures while we were gone?  Some are posted to facebook already.  Lots more need edited.  I already started working on designing thank you's.  We'll see how they turn out.  I also need to work on the presentation for Saturday for the community, the one for Tuesday at our area all staff meeting, and gather a few to show my coworkers.  Oh, and I better get my agenda ready for tomorrow night's missions meeting...
and of course another sneak peak at a photo.  One that's not yet on FB.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

getting there

Well, I'm home.  Settled back in.  Kinda.  Between laundry and catching up on kisses from Bethany, I've got a lot swirling around in my head.  I managed to edit some pictures and load them to facebook.  I have about 4 days worth of pictures left to do.  But for now I'm tired and my crazy neck muscle drama is going crazy.  guess I shouldn't have played on the trampoline with the kids.  I leave you with this one picture for now.  I hope it serves as a reminder to you that we all travel a different road.  For some it's much more difficult with others.  May you be encouraged to carry another's burden as you journey down life's road.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Met Them

One of the goals of my trip to Ethiopia was to meet Judah's birth mom and brothers.  I knew that we would be in the general area of Judah's mom.  I didn't know if that would mean a 2 hour drive down a dirt road or what.  What I didn't know is that she was a 20 minute drive from where we were staying in Soddo.  On Sunday, Tuto went out on his motorbike with the information and a picture in his hand to find Ms. A.  Four hours later after my hopes were slim, he arrived at Shanto and gave us all a thumbs up.  Who knew such a simple gesture would make me cry!
On Monday morning, our driver took us back to Ms. A in his landcruiser.  My emotions were overwhelming as I watched the local village people break branches along the foot path so the "ferenge" could get through in the landcruiser.  While one woman walked along the path that led us to Ms. A, I was overcome with how wonderful the people of Ethiopia are. 
We did meet Judah's birth mom for a second time.  And we met the brothers.  And I'm so, so thankful.  In addition to that, my friend, Dr. Jo went along with us to check on our birthmom who said she'd been very sick.  Jo happily reported that mom and boys were well and then proceeded to treat 30+ people for MMR.
Thank you FOVC staff, Dr. Jo, and Guillermo (our driver) for blessing us in such an incredible way!!!
For the other AP's reading, there was no involvement of Holt for this meeting.  They didn't have the staff available.  We did not take her anything except the one picture of Judah.  She had received the letters and pictures we sent in the past.  Great news. 
More from me later...

in DC

Welcome to the United States.  Oh, how I love those words!  We're in DC and just had lunch for breakfast.  Thanks to the wonder worker Dr. Jo, I slept well about half of the flight!  In just a little bit, we'll be loading for our last flight.  We'll land in Minneapolis, then pray that our shuttle guy and luggage find us quickly, then start the 4 hour drive home... oh, I'm eager to be there.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

home stretch

Just wanted to share with everyone that we're on the home stretch of our trip.  After a bad start to the morning, we just arrived back in Addis Ababa, where we'll fly out from.  It was an amazing but difficult few weeks.

Please continue to pray for our team.  That everyone will arrive in Addis safely and then return safely.  Pray for God to bring Shalom to our team!

from the guest house where the kind lady lets me sneak on her computer...