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Birds as big as ponies…

Birds as big as ponies…

Ok. So here’s the lowdown on where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to. It’ll be a bit long, so good luck to you.

We hopped on a plane at 5:45 AM on January the 4th and landed in Addis at 8:30 PM on the 5th. Sandy got her visa easily, mine expires on Jan 14th, so I’m not sure how that will work yet, but they wouldn’t extend it at the airport. We exchanged cash, waited forever to get all the luggage and made our way towards the door. The attendant ushered me out but I waited for Sandy, who was pulled aside. This was my [big] mistake. they eventually pulled us both aside and thus began the customs game. We waited an hour, then counted all 187 shoes, then packed them back up and then [in disbelief] watched them cart them away to storage. We had to come back the next day with the Great Hope NGO license and TIN# (we only had an invitation letter) – then we would pay less for the shoes (hopefully). The guy who was counting with us and walking us through all this wanted a pair of shoes. I told him if he helped us I could help him, but he elected not to 😉

So our friends, Joe and Aki, who had been waiting 2 hrs, took us back to Amazing Grace guest house and I slept like a tiny little baby in my favorite bed.  We got up the next day, which was Christmas Eve, and picked up Sami Liben at Great Hope Church to go back to the airport with a license. We found out that they didn’t have the TIN# because they needed Sami’s ID to finish the process and he just got back from the States on Wednesday. Crud. But, I did feel luck to have Sami all to ourselves all day…which turned out to be ridiculous. I can’t begin to do it justice.

We went to the airport, walked back and forth to each office 3x, then they told us we had to provide proof of the TIN in progress and without it, we can’t have the shoes. Awesome. So, this led to a trip back to Great Hope Church to see if they had any paperwork/the newspaper where their NGO was announced (which we needed before we went to the government office to get proof of TIN in progress – ack). They didn’t. So we went to the printing press for Addis Ababa newspaper, went up 7 flights of stairs and searched through the last year’s pile of newspapers for an ad that was 1″ tall and 3″ wide. They didn’t know the approximate publish date, so it was seriously like looking for a needle in a haystack. I wish I could show you a picture, but there are no pictures allowed in government buildings (the government owns the press here).

Thankfully, Murad found the ad an hour later. We went down the stairs, across the street to the office, where they pulled us a paper from the archives. What originally seemed unlikely was now accomplished (thanks Aki, Murad and Sami), THEN we went to the gov. office across the city (Sandy has seen all of Addis in just two days) 🙂  When we got there, they were having a Christmas party. They shared some cookies and buna with Sami & Murad, gave them a sheet of paper to fill out and sent them on their way. We’ll go back next week. HA. $65 for a driver, about 100 miles driven around the city and our bags with shoes still sitting in customs awaiting an uncertain future. TIA.

I am thankful for Sandy’s easy-going attitude. That makes the shenanigans more fun, experiencing them together. Joe is always easy and fun to travel with and I just love Sami! I’m a lucky girl to have these friends.

Please pray our bags are release and for a small fee. Anything is possible!

We spent Saturday (Ethiopian Christmas) and Sunday in Awassa/Shashamene with the students from Korah who are at the boarding school there. It’s so fun to love on them and learn Amharic. We spent all day with Samuel and Yirgachew…Sami is Barnabas’ brother (from Bright Hope/Biruh Tesfa – some of you will remember him). He’s so sweets and easy to love. We visited their dorm room, which is shared by 7, and it was immaculate and decorated for Christmas. Freakin adorable. I love this age of kids – middle school. They are so affectionate and fun (here and the States). It’s good to be loved – I hope we felt as loved as we did.

It’s good to be back. The smells, the tastes…it brings the language back quickly. After 3 or 4 days I’m not far from where I left off in May, which is encouraging and something I really enjoy. Maybe fluency lies ahead somewhere.

This week we’ll try to get the shoes and meet with a few organization’s leaders around here – Tefera from CHI/Bright Hope is our first date 🙂 We’ll meet with a team from Illinois on Friday and make our way to Ziway to meet a couple in ministry there. Please pray for our continued good health, clear eyes, soft hearts and discretion in meetings and project visits.

Also, I saw a bird as big as a pony yesterday and we were almost hit by a camel. Love this place.

Jesus, you’re the one who saves us /
Constantly creates us into something new.



One of my favorite parts of being here (Ethiopia), and also the most difficult to remove myself from, is how we exist in community here.  I think we talk about this idea of “living in community” a lot, especially around church/christianity, but I don’t experience life like this at home as consistently as I do here.  Families here tend to live in the same compound for generations, so grandparents and parents are taking care of kids and grandkids and kids are taking care of parents and grandparents – forever. Not for a week or a month or a year.  We’re living together as a team in a 5 bedroom house and sharing an 11 passenger van between the 13 or 14 of us, so we’re in close proximity most of the time – very familial and community oriented.  Because we don’t have a TV or the internet, we spend our free time talking and getting to know each other.  We don’t have to schedule it and we don’t have to wait two weeks to sit down to a cup of coffee. We’re not too busy and life ends up being relationship-oriented. It’s real community, everywhere, especially among Christ followers, and I love it. Most of you probably think I’m a little off my rocker…that’s OK 😉
One way we’ve been getting to know the staff here at Amazing Grace Guest Home (AGGH), and how to use amharic numbers, has been with ping pong (table tennis)! Trecie, Joe, Yoseph, Tare and I went to Merkato last Tuesday to look for a few items before the rest of the team arrived.  Merkato is the largest market in Africa – it’s over an acre of mayhem. Yoseph (aka Yossi/Jossi) and Aki have pretty much refused to take me there with a team in the past – which now makes sense.  Walking with our team is already a little like herding cats. They love to wander into the road – where Bajaj fly by and assume people will sense them coming and move, like Ethiopians who have a 6th Bajaj/taxi sense. I can definitely see someone getting lost/something stolen.
So anyway, I couldn’t find anything I wanted (“My Toyota is Fantastic” sticker and a compact flash card), but there was one of everything else.  We wrapped up the unsuccessful shopping around 1 and turned our attention towards something much more fun – building a ping pong table.  We bought a big 4×8 piece of wood/particle board, some paddles, a net, a few ping pong balls, nails and some eucalyptus for building “saw horses” to put the table on.  It was an adventure and per usual, we were a spectacle with the wood flapping on top of Tare’s van.  We came back to AGGH and Joe, Lijalum, Yosi, Nati, Yasin, Tare and I built and decorated a ping pong table.  We’ve been playing every day since!  I’m going to create a tournament bracket – I’ll post the final results sometime in the next couple of weeks (because I know you care)- but I predict Lijalum comes out on top. He’s definitely the one to beat 🙂
Pray for team unity, flexibility and growth, please.  We’re here to learn and grow while working side-by-side with our Ethiopian friends and partners, not to “make a difference”, and that change of mentality takes time and guidance from the Holy Spirit!  Thanks for all your love and support on the journey!

Rampant Immapancy

Rampant Immapancy

Our team has heard it’s fair share of “why are you going to Africa right now” and isn’t all of Africa in upheaval?”  To be fair, sort of. However, in my experience (which is neither deep nor wide), people usually talk about Africa as “Africa”…not about individual countries within the continent – mostly because we don’t actually know how big it is!

I’ve encouraged our team to talk to their worried friends and family about this:  At the moment, Mexico is #3 on the list of places the US Government advises you NOT to travel to.  That being said, would you have a moral dilema visiting Texas? Unless you don’t like to sweat or hate accents, my guess is no. So let your fears be assuaged, Ethiopia is more than a hop, skip and a jump from Egypt/Libya and has been pretty stable for the last 5 years 😉