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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

.Confessions of a Rookie Third World Missionary.

My family and I have now lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a little over a month. It has been everything and nothing like what we have expected, but slowly, surely it is becoming home. Here are a few things that I have experienced, learned, and observed along the way.
  • ·      The weather is absolutely perfect. I have always been one to embrace season changes, and I become as excited as my children over snow days. However, to have this consistent, warm weather every day, to see the sun shining warmly in my bedroom window every morning at 6 AM is amazing. We are experiencing Ethiopia’s summer – their dry season. There has not been a hint of rain since we arrived. Of course I will miss the snow days and the magic they bring to the holidays (Elvis Presley Christmas music playing in my kitchen is helping some), but to be tanned and warm at the end of November is pretty lovely.
  • ·        Nothing is easy here. I prepared for this and expected it, but honestly there is no real preparation for living it. Every menial task takes at least three times as long. Sometimes that is due to power outages or water outages, sometimes it is due to lack of convenience products, appliances, and sometimes I just have no explanation for why everything takes so long and is is so hard. It just is. Traveling is hard. Shopping is hard. Cooking is hard. Cleaning is hard. Communicating is hard. Life really is harder, BUT, even though we are probably still in the honeymoon period, I dare say it really is sweeter. Accomplishing any task is so fulfilling and rewarding. I fall into bed so happy when I know that I have washed, dried, folded and put away a basket of laundry AND cooked a good, safe meal for my family. I am sleeping better than I have in years, because I am so exhausted. Life here is difficult. It is hard. It is rewarding. It is worth it.
  • ·        Now I say nothing is easy here, but to be completely honest, I make things harder on myself (big, fat surprise to those of you who know me – snark, snark). The majority of Americans that we know (missionaries included) have hired domestic staff. There are so many reasons for this; one is respect for the culture and to give back to the culture and economy by hiring Ethiopians. Another reason is because, as I mentioned, everything takes three times as long, and in order for most people to come and do what they are called to do or hired to do, they have to have help with the day-to-day tasks, or else there is just literally not enough hours in the day. But my first priority mission field is my husband, my children, and my home, so right now that is where I pour all of myself into. Because of this. we have not hired a full domestic staff, however, we have hired a part time housekeeper that will help me with some of the cleaning, and we plan to hire a nanny for Jamesy. Once I start homeschooling again (we are still on our summer break) we may have to reevaluate and hire additional staff – specifically a cook. This is hard for me to let go of, though, and I am really praying through what God is asking of me as we live here. And so, right now I do a lot of the stuff that staff would typically do for foreigners living here.
  • ·        The city has really been built up since we were here two years ago.  There are stoplights and traffic signs and things are becoming more modern. Police (or “traffic” as most people here refer to them as) are everywhere. They seem to be quick to {try to} pull people over, but I am learning that most people just duck their head, avoid eye-contact and drive on! It is pretty wild to see. Driving in general is wild and crazy. I am really proud of my husband for getting his license and driving all over the city. I, on the other hand, have no plans {ever} to get my license {shudder}.
  • ·        Produce here is plentiful and cheap. We load up on produce every week and really love the availability of so many fresh fruits and veggies. Being from upstate NY, there are only a few months of the year that we were able to have access to fresh produce. Most of the time, it was shipped in from other climates and sub-par. Most of the produce (save watermelons, but perhaps we got a bad one) taste better here, too. The oranges are actually not orange, but greenish, yellow and they are so sweet and juicy! It is time-consuming, but for our safety, all of our produce has to be very carefully sanitized before consuming or really even handling too much. With the amount of produce we purchase, this is an all-afternoon task for me, but once done, we really enjoy grabbing fruits to snack on, and I love the abundance of veggies to cook with.
  • ·        Hyenas are very, very loud. I never knew the noise that hyenas made, but every night around midnight they travel to our neighborhood and howl and yelp for about an hour. It is quite an experience to hear, and because we live in the mountains, the echoes are eerie. One of these nights, we are going to take a spot light, go onto one of our balconies and try to shine it on the pack of hyenas to see them.
  • ·        Spiders are everywhere. Every. Where. Every night I check my bed for them. They are huge and gross. I have bites all over my body, and I am trying to just pretend they are normal mosquito bites. And I found a HUGE mouse (maybe rat) on my stove burner. Enough said.
  • ·        My children are awesome. I already knew this, but seeing the way they have acclimated to a new culture and to so much change is amazing. They are resilient and strong and encourage me every single day. They are doing so great and loving so big. I am so proud of all of them.
  • ·        We could not just land in Ethiopia and immediately begin our mission work. This has probably been one of the toughest things. However, the government is really cracking down, and we must follow all of the laws, so that we do not ever have to fear being permanently banished from this country. So we plug along, working towards our NGO status, then work and residency permits. Thankfully, we found out today, we are here on the right visas to do this and should not have to leave the country for two years as originally planned. This whole process goes back to what I said about everything takes T-I-M-E. But in the in-between God is already giving us opportunities to build relationships and love big on people – we don’t need a work permit to do that, and I believe that even during this space and time God has plans for our family .So we forge ahead learning how to just live life here and sharing the love and mercy of Jesus with whomever it is that God places in our path on a given day. We are living life on mission, and I could not love that more – every day is truly an adventure!
  • ·        God is here in this city. He is working and moving and His Kingdom is being built. He didn’t need us to move here to accomplish His work, yet He invited us in. I am truly thankful and excited to see what is ahead!

There is so much more that I could write, but for now this will do.

Wifi is pretty sketchy, but I am hoping to get this to publish. Thank you for your continued support, prayer, and encouragement – we feel it!


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