The last month has been rough but good. We have really had to struggle with a wide range of emotions. We titled this blog “Discomfortable” because that is basically what we have been wrestling with – being in a constant state of uncomfortableness. Many of our crutches have been taken away and we have been forced into a deeper dependence on God…
The Comfort of Home
We have been in Ethiopia for four months now and we are finally moving into our house at the end of the week. Our family has been living out of suitcases since the end of August! Wait, let me clarify – we are moving back to Langano at the end of the week, but our house is not finished yet. We just got word today that our toilet works which is great news! But we were also told that there might not be a place for us to sleep until some of the construction materials are moved out of the house… and the kitchen isn’t finished. So we will see the situation when we get there. We may be camping for a week or so – seriously! The adventure just never seems to end! The crazy thing is that we seriously aren’t even stressed about it. We are just so ready to get into a routine back at Langano that we don’t even care about the living conditions. Hopefully within a month the house will be very livable… all 500 square feet of it (including the veranda which is half of the square footage)!
For someone who loves to nest, this has all been quite a challenge. In Flower Mound I took pride in my home and having everything neatly in its place. Well, that is basically impossible here and I am learning to change my expectations… but it’s been hard. I long for home. At the same time, I know we are called to be here in Ethiopia and we really want to pour our hearts into our work here. I have been begging God to make Ethiopia feel like home – I just want to feel that sense of comfort that comes from being “home”. Today I was praying and pleading with God to give me the feeling of “home” and it was like God said to me, “Let’s not worry about your home and your comfort. Why don’t you work on making your heart MY home?” Talk about convicting! I am so obsessed with my own comfort. It seems like every day I am reminded in new ways that IT’S NOT ABOUT ME AND MY COMFORT! Ugh – it’s so hard, but so good for me.
The Comfort of Health
It’s amazing how we take our good health for granted. Sure, our family has had its share of the flu and strep and all that fun stuff back in the states, but we have had the blessing of being very healthy overall.
Since being in Ethiopia we have been hit pretty hard with illness… and it doesn’t just last a few days. Between malaria and giardia and e.coli we have really been knocked down. It’s so frustrating! Some days when we are feeling so sick, we just want to give up on this whole thing. Many times I have laid in bed and closed my eyes and imagined that I was laying in my cozy bed in Flower Mound. Oh, the comfort of home when you are sick! I’m sure you can imagine the feeling I’m talking about. We find ourselves literally pleading with God for healing. We feel so helpless!
You could also be in prayer for Hannah. Something is just not right with her and I can’t quite figure out what is going on. Here is the problem – I know she probably needs some blood tests and a stool test, but everyone says you can’t trust the labs here. For example, I know a missionary here who was having problems, and after multiple tests they told her she was going to need a bowel resection. They evacuated her back to her home in Australia where they did the same tests again, and discovered she simply had a bad case of giardia – they treated it with the conventional medication and she is better! So, you can’t even rule things in or out here. It’s frustrating and as a mother I want to take good care of my daughter. Her issues aren’t bad enough to make us panic, but we would appreciate your prayers.
We tell you all of this not for sympathy, but so that you can get a little glimpse of the emotions we go through on a daily basis. We are learning to depend on God in new ways and we are so grateful for all the struggles. Truly. How else could our faith be strengthened?
Remember Genale who we talked about in a previous blog? We had her tested for TB and she was positive. She is now on TB meds and doing so much better! Thanks for your prayers.
The Comfort of Relationships
We have friends here, but it’s not the same. Not that we expected it would be the same. History is a huge part of friendships and we don’t have a lot of history here yet. The relationships will come with time. But as we are going through our struggles, we don’t have anyone we can run to.
I am so thankful I have Shane to talk to about things, but other than that, I don’t have my normal list of people that I can pick up the phone to call when I need a listening ear. It’s lonely. I realize now that pouring my heart out to God was way down on the list back home. Here I don’t have many other options! That sounds terrible, but it’s true – I had such a great support system that it minimized my need for a relationship with the Lord.
In situations when I need to talk to someone, I try to figure out who I can go to, and I pretty much always end up realizing I need to just talk to God. We’ve been having quite a few chats!
The Comfort of “Stuff”
Most of you know that we shipped many boxes of our “stuff” to Zambia last year in anticipation of moving there this past fall. Obviously, we ended up in Ethiopia. This past week Shane and I flew back to Zambia to go through our stuff and decide what to bring back to Ethiopia.
Well… much to our surprise, lots of our stuff had been “given” away. We were shocked and upset and felt unbelievably violated. The hardest part was the kids’ stuff. They were so excited to get back their stuffed animals and special things, and those were gone! Our hearts were just crushed for them.
In the midst of all the emotion we were also struggling with the ridiculousness of being upset about losing mere material things. After all of the struggling we see here in Ethiopia, our loss seems so petty, but it was still so painful to us! So many emotions were being pulled in so many directions. The whole book of Philippians has been a great comfort to us this week.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:12-13
It is amazing to me how sad we can be over the loss of “stuff”. Ridiculous, but very real. This is just yet another comfort that has been stripped away from us, making us weaker and weaker and more dependent on God than ever! We are so thankful God loves us enough to take us to these depths.
We only brought back a few suitcases of our stuff from Zambia. The rest that was still there we distributed to some families in Lusaka. It felt good to see where things were going and to see that they were going to people who had such great need.
A big huge thanks to our friend Megan who is a missionary in Lusaka. She helped us so much while we were there! Poor thing had to play therapist much of the week. We were torn by so many emotions. It was a blessing to get to spend time with her. It was Megan’s mom who was instrumental in our adoption of Moses.
This picture is worth a thousand words! This is one of Moses’ nannies from his orphanage looking at photos we brought of Moses and holding the baby who is now in Moses’ crib. We sponsor Moses’ crib (sort of like Compassion) and we get updates on each baby that comes through his crib. How amazing for this lovely woman to get to see the fruit of her labor while loving on another baby that is in the place Moses once was!
All in all, our trip to Zambia was a great confirmation that we are in the right place here in Ethiopia. It was wonderful to go back to Moses’ orphanage to let them know how he is doing. It was also great to reconnect with the Zambian culture that we love so much. Their passion is contagious. Even though we love Zambia, it was clear that we are supposed to be in Ethiopia for now. We are thankful for that.
Here’s a cool story! We went to some friends house for dinner last night. Earlier in the day Shane had told Corinne (the wife) quickly on the phone what had happened in Zambia, but no details – just that our stuff was gone and we were sad. Corinne was praying later that afternoon and God told her to give Mia the stuffed animals she had in her closet. Corinne couldn’t even remember that she had any stuffed animals. She went to her closet and then remembered she had brought 3 stuffed animals over to Ethiopia in a bag and she had no idea why she had brought them. Anyway, last night we were telling her the whole story and about how the saddest part was that Mia lost her animals. Well, Corinne just about fell over and then she told us the story. She gave the animals to Mia and told Mia what God had told her earlier in the afternoon, and that at the time she didn’t even know that Mia had lost her animals. It was soooo amazing! Mia just melted and was smiling so big. Corinne told Mia how much God must love her to take care of all the little details like that. How cool to think God loves us enough to send some extra stuffed animals to Ethiopia just for Mia!
The Comfort of Financial Stability
I don’t have to say much in this area because it basically speaks for itself. We have spent our whole lives working and providing for ourselves and now we are raising support as missionaries. Very humbling.
Some of you have asked how we are doing in regards to our support. Honestly, we have really debated about what to do or say about this area. Here’s the deal, quite a few of our supporters never transitioned their donations to our new organization. Some of our supporters have had to lower their monthly contributions due to unforeseen circumstances. We are about $750 below our monthly requirement right now and have been since December. So… that’s where we’re at. It’s an uncomfortable topic, but yet another area that God is using to stretch us WAY out of our comfort zone!
So now for the upbeat part of the blog!! Finally! Are you still reading after all that melodrama?
The Baylor team of Nurse Practitioners came this month (this is the same trip I came on last year!) and it was a super fun visit. They were such an amazing group. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and to catch up with old friends. Thanks to all of you who sent us some goodies in their bags. 🙂
An update on Tayiba and Challa (
Challa is the child with TB of the spine whose mother Tayiba was incredibly discouraged after the death of her husband and with Challa’s illness.) Challa is still receiving daily TB treatment at the clinic. Our relationship with this family has really grown. Out of everyone in the community we are probably closest to them. While the Baylor team was here I asked Tayiba if we could come to her hut for a visit. She was thrilled to have us and was an incredible hostess. It is was a highlight of our time here in Ethiopia so far. I have included lots of pictures from the visit because the whole day was just so awesome.
On the right is Tayiba and standing next to her is her husband’s second wife. Their husband died 4 months ago from malaria. These two women are left to survive together with their four kids. It is really interesting living in a polygamous culture and seeing how it all plays out.
We went into Taybia’s hut and sat on the family’s bed while they served us “chichubsa”, an Oromo meal of maize mixed with rancid butter, oil, and beri-beri (like chili powder). I seriously thought I was going to die. Then to top it all off, they served us all off the same spoon – the entire hut-full of people! The bites were huge and I was telling Tayiba ,“maybe a little smaller… I just ate lunch… I don’t want to eat it all… let’s save some for the children…”, but she just gave me these puppy dog eyes and was making motions like she was offended that I wasn’t eating. It was hilarious! I would finally convince myself to take one big bite and that then I would be done. I would choke down the huge bite and I was sure she would be happy and leave me alone after that but she kept coming back with more spoonfuls and we would go through all the same antics again. It was never ending! We were all laughing so hard – it was so stressful! The feeling was kind of like the feeling you get at Six Flags when you are riding on a roller coaster and you get to the top of the hill and the roller coaster is about to fly down the other side. Sheer fear and sheer exhilaration at the same time. In the moment you are just dying, but when it’s all over you realize it was really a blast! After we finished the chichubsa they did a coffee ceremony and served us salted coffee. Have mercy! I don’t even drink regular coffee. I think the girls from Baylor had a great time, too! What a fun memory. I am going to have Tayiba and her family over to our house once we get moved in and torture her with some American food. 🙂 We’ll let you know how it goes…
Challa helped wash coffee cups.
A friend of ours from home, Austin, had a birthday party and asked for donations for the Langano Clinic Kids’ Aid in lieu of gifts. He collected over $700! What a great idea and a super way to get others involved with the kids here in Ethiopia. $700 goes a LONG way here as far as medical care goes. His donation will help 3 kids get the surgery and medication they need! Thank you Austin.
This is one of the kids who is being helped by the money Austin raised. He has hydrocephaly and is headed to Addis for surgery to get a shunt placed.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog! We know it was long this time, but we really wanted to somehow convey some of the emotions we are going through right now. In our next update we hope to include some history on the Langano mission station along with pictures of our teammates. Until next time, we’ll leave you with this picture of Moses reading Curious George to a chicken…