The Fruit of Waiting

So I’ve had a couple nifty things happen in the past two months from work I did way back in December and January while I agonized over the immigration issues.  I love to write (obviously) and had submitted a ton of articles around the topics of social justice and Christian living to different publications.  Last month and this month I had articles from that time published!  So I figured I would share the links as one article is an online magazine and the other is the blog of a magazine.

Both are on the topic of social justice, one focusing on the work being done by World Orphans, the other focusing on micro entrepreneurship as a way of fighting poverty and the resilience of women who can overcome any circumstance.

Enjoy!

 

https://rankandfilemag.com

http://consciousmagazine.co/a-look-at-world-orphan-care-in-ethiopia/

 

 

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A Little Late…

So I actually had this done way back in January and while I don’t feel it is totally necessary to share all my tats on social media (I only have two and yes they are both on Instagram), this one is actually very relevant to the theme of my blog.  The lion I used is actually from some of the original artwork in the books and the quote is, of course, from the scene where the dragon is undressed, when Aslan uses his excruciating claws to peel the scales from Eustace, turning him once again into a boy.

Because sanctification is painful, agonizing, and utterly beautiful in transformation, I had this odd, out of context, kind of melodramatic quote inked on my skin forever.

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With the description on Instagram

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In the midst of the needle

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My Husband Home

Okay, by now people are probably tired of seeing my lengthy Facebook posts of how happy I am to be in Ethiopia, so I decided to put it on my blog because it’s a lot easier for people to avoid my blog than for them to avoid my Facebook statuses.
Here is my most recent epiphany:
I have lived many places, and honestly, many of them felt like home. So while I expected lots of challenges moving here, I hoped that I would at least grow to love my life in Ethiopia.
What I did not anticipate was to suddenly find a hole in my heart being filled. It was a hole I didn’t know was there. I never knew I was missing a piece of me until I found it.
So my best analogy of this feeling is that I can only assume this is it must feel like to find the one person in all the world you commit yourself to marrying.
I’m sure there will be hard times (and there have been many already), but right now, I’m in love, and I am committed deeply and will choose to remain committed even when it grows agonizingly painful or tedious, even when it isn’t easy, even when one of my husband’s brothers steals my phone.
Everywhere I’ve lived before this, those places were boyfriends, but Ethiopia, this is my husband-home. This is where I am committed, devoted, in sickness (like right now) and in health, for better or for worse, for iPhone or no.
In essence, God is going to have to use a crane to pull me from here if He ever tells me to leave.
Ethiopia, I never want to leave you, and please don’t ever kick me out.

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An Outdated Overview of My First Week in Ethiopia

Here is an overview of my first week and a half in Ethiopia! I had written this initially to be a newsletter, but it was taking me so long getting the internet situation worked out that it became outdated. Nevertheless, I figured I would share it here on my blog.
It took a couple of days to get my phone completely sorted. I had the ability to call and text nearly right away, but it was going to cost a fortune so you can now find me on WhatsApp (I am happy to provide my new phone number for those interested) for easier communication.
I am set up in my room now, in a house that I share with six others. I live with a man and a woman from Uganda, and four women from Kenya.
My first full day here, myself and another new teacher had to get a few logistics sorted and, along with a teacher who has been here for five months, walked a couple miles to take care of it all. After that, we returned to our house at which point I decided to wander by myself for a few hours. In Ethiopia. In the summer. Right above the equator. Without sunscreen.
If you’ve known me for very long at all, then you know that even in the mildest of climates I have managed to get burned quite badly by that great big ball of fire in the sky. (If your skin fries during Scotland’s annual two days of summer, good luck in Ethiopia).
My favorite question I had that day came later in the evening when a housemate asked me with apparent confusion, “Why did your skin change colors?” and then having another explain to her that it’s because I have no melanin so now I might have cancer. I did my best to clarify that that is not how it works.
I attended the local International Evangelical Church on Sunday with some of my housemates, but am hoping to get in touch again with the local pastor who has a church here within the same denomination I attend in Washington. While the international church was nice, and very much what I expected, I was left with an intense pang for my home church, which had grown to be so much a part of my life over the past year of attending. The church here will be all in Amharic, so I won’t understand much, but I have quite a few sermons downloaded that I brought prior to leaving the U.S. Sadly, I do not have internet at my house here, so I can’t connect to my home church’s website to listen in once messages are posted.
I came during a perfect week for starting my teaching job. Monday and Tuesday were spent observing, as it is the end of the quarter here. I was able to see how Ethiopian teachers interact with students and how completely different it is to America! I remember kindergarten being all about ‘inside voices’ and coloring to waste time. Here, students are encouraged to be as loud as possible, particularly for the purpose of encouraging them to be confident with their English. When you have three sections of ten side-by-side classes filled with thirty kindergartners and open windows, you can imagine how loud it is! Most of the children initially had one of two responses upon seeing me the first time. One was wide eyed fear and the other fits of laughter.
Wednesday and Thursday were staff development days, so it has been a lot of training and getting to know the school! We had a four day weekend for Easter which was great for finishing my preparation for my first classes this week and continuing to get settled.
I have grown to dearly love my coworkers. It has been interesting learning more about them and the difference between their version of Ethiopia and the one I experienced last year when I visited.
Friday morning I was able to have coffee with Zelalem, one of the World Orphans staff members that I met while here last May/June. I have also heard from Mikey and we are likely to be meeting up soon. It was good to see a familiar face and hear from Zele’s perspective in terms of many questions that I had. I didn’t have anything overly insightful to say, but I’m hoping I will be able to contribute in any way needed over time and I have begun putting together some worksheets for business development that I hope will be of use. It was exciting to hear that this coming week they will be launching the second round of micro-loans to twenty more single parents as the first round was so successful and many people are now able to sustain themselves.
Saturday came around again and it was time to party! My Ugandan housemates invited me to join them for a party at the Ugandan ambassador’s home. It was actually pretty crazy and super fun! I learned that there is no such thing as an introvert when you are with East Africans and I was totally pushed out of my comfort zone, but by the end of the night, I was dancing and hugging like I was one of them. I ended up exchanging numbers with quite a few new friends and I will see many of them again next Saturday at an expo at the African Union.
From a more spiritual perspective, I continually find myself treating God with suspicion as opposed to gratitude. I expected to come here and face immense challenges, immediately isolate and feel depressed, and gradually come out of my shell and learn to live in this place so far removed from what I am used to.
But I haven’t felt that. And I keep waiting for it to happen, for culture shock to take hold, for the ache of everything I left behind, for the frustration of the language barrier and the lack of ease, not knowing where to buy a lamp for my dim room, having to walk three miles each way in a high altitude in the beating sun just to get some variety in my food.
And I keep holding God at bay with questions of, “Okay, when’s it going to happen? You’re tricking me, right? All this was just a joke and tomorrow I’ll wake up and find out that everything is miserable? It can’t be this easy.”
It’s true, I’ve only been here a week. And as time goes on, as I have time to rest up and settle in, the longing to see my friends and family and church will become overwhelming and I’ll realize this isn’t a vacation or a short-term gig keeping me from everyone I love back home. This is for real.
But so far, I have nothing but joy. I am at peace and it already feels like home (a very different home, but a good home). I stick out like a very red, peeling thumb, and I don’t speak more than a handful of words in the local language, but I feel like I belong here.
It is moments of realization of that fact that my suspicion gives way to that gratitude due to a God who didn’t have to give me this gift of living here, of fulfilling this dream that I’ve thought about for years and talked about from the seedling desire.
So I suppose now that I’m here, all I can do is look to Him and say, “You’re right, it is good.”
Thank you for reading this excessively long overview of my first week!

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My Days are Written

It was never so easy for me to trust God’s plan for my life.  I love to be in control, I love to make plans and I’m pretty dedicated to the ones I think are in line with what I want.  My goals are always right in front of me and I’ve spent more than three years pursuing this one in one level or another.

When I first began to study Reformed Theology, a little bit of the peace that I had never quite grasped began to fall into place.  Slowly, more and more peace and more and more trust became a part of my life.  I knew that God’s plans and purposes are bigger than mine and I was finally giving my fears and anxieties over to Him.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of forgetting how to trust Him, or rather rejecting the peace He has so graciously and continually offered to me.  I have been impatient, ungraceful, and selfish.  These are always my natural instincts, but I have excused them with a victim mentality because I’ve been so distraught that the beautiful door God was opening for me to go to Ethiopia has been stalled.  It has been painful and somewhere along the way, I began to feel resentment.

Last weekend, as I was hoping to be boarding a plane, I instead attended the Mission Connexion conference in Portland.  It was truly amazing and I’m super grateful to my awesome, gorgeous, and always patient friend for opening the door for me to attend.  The break out sessions I attended were mostly in regards to Business as Mission in areas of poverty, as that is my passion.

Unfortunately I have truly seen a divide between BaM being done well and being done very poorly.  So I have studied non-stop from branding to products to models of development, and I’ve pretty much come to my conclusions about how I am going into this to ensure that I do the least amount of damage possible and encourage amazing people with great potential to be the impact in their communities, knowing full well that I can’t be the one to do it in a culture that is brand new to me.

Basically, that’s much of what we were told by these men who’ve had 30-40 years doing this very thing.  So it was pretty much confirmation for this very insecure girl that she has her head on right.

Additionally, at the conference they kept saying stuff like, “If God is calling you, say yes!” And I’m sitting there like…I did.

It’s hard wondering why I’m so delayed in this move when I feel that I’ve grasped an understanding of this once murky BaM thing and I’ve also been all too excited about my YES and getting on a plane to GO.

And yet, I know full well that God has me sitting in my swanky bedroom in Washington for a reason.  I have no idea what that reason is, but I know it’s there.

So now that I’ve rambled all of that, I’m just going to throw out some helpful verses that I’ve memorized or want to memorize that could be useful for anyone else feeling frustrated or stuck right now, because Heaven knows my words are dust, but His Word stands forever.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” -Ephesians 1:11 (I really really really really really love this one)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” -Romans 8:28-29

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”   -Psalm 139:16

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Oh the Wait

Today should be a day for frantic packing, panicked hyperventilation, and anxious crying.  Today was supposed to be a day for long goodbyes, suitcases on and off the scale, painful decisions of what books to read on the flight.  Today was supposed to be a day of an empty bedroom, triple checking for my passport, and probably a lot of drinking.

Today was busy.  But other than this spectacular bottle of Accumulation, none of the above has taken place.

This Saturday was the day I planned to hop a flight, go to Canada for a week to spend with my dad, then hop another flight to have a few fun days in Nairobi, then one last flight to land in Addis Ababa on February 3rd for a weekend of settling into my brand new life as a kindergarten English teacher at a private school and a volunteer with World Orphans in whatever capacity they wanted me.

But life doesn’t ever go the way we plan and that’s okay.  At this point, I am still going to have the opportunity to do all of that.  The painful matter of ‘when’ is another story.

Thanks to a fantastically-timed policy change at the immigration office that has led to a dispute with the education department, I am in limbo.  I won’t be leaving Saturday.

I might be leaving the next Saturday.

Or the next.

Or the next.

I really have no idea.

I’m not the only person affected by this, by the way.  There is at least one other teacher who is in the same boat at my school alone.

It has been a hard couple of weeks, trying to emotionally prepare for the pain that I will feel all day Saturday.  One of my nearest and dearest and most exquisite of friends is going to a missions conference in Portland so I hopped on board!  The best way I can plan for the day is to stay busy and go to all of the panels about business as mission and working in areas of poverty in a way that encourages the dignity those people deserve.  And of course to be reminded that God is in control, God is in control, God is in control.

This blog post isn’t an attempt to be wise or insightful (as I often try and fail to be), but rather just to give an update as to why I haven’t written on this blog in so long and where I am at now.

Which is here.

In my room.

With a beer and cheesy potatoes.

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Prayers for Bishoftu

I have tried not to post too much regarding this issue for a couple of reasons.  One is that I will not have my business visa for moving for another couple of months and I don’t want to post anything that may jeopardize my ability to gain residency in Ethiopia.  The second is that I don’t want people to worry about my safety in moving to this country that I love.

But after the events of today, Sunday, it is hard to not say anything.  Please note that everything I say here is taken from what I have found on the internet.  I’m sure there are some details that aren’t exact, but I’m doing my best with the info I have at hand.

You see, a few years back, the government in Ethiopia wanted to expand Addis Ababa, the capital.  They were going to be taking land from the Oromo people group in order to do this.  While the plans did not go through, it did lead to a series of protests by the Oromo people, pointing out the significant marginalization in how they have been treated.

These protests have been generally quite peaceful.  However, the Ethiopian government has chosen not to allow these protests and has repeatedly responded through open gunfire.

Today, at a festival in Bishoftu, a city about half an hour outside of Addis Ababa, such a protest occurred.  While the government has reported that between 52-58 people died as a result of the stampede, video footage and estimates from the Oromo people have stated upwards of 300 deaths resulting from the stampede and gunfire.  (According to reports today, we’ll see what tomorrow’s news says)

It frustrates me to know that I live in a country where we can bash any politician we want publicly on Facebook (and I’m not innocent of this, goodness knows I’ve expressed dislike for my leaders) and yet in the country that is my future home, people are literally dying for the chance to have a voice.

The thing about Ethiopia that I loved most was the hospitality.  I loved how generous and welcoming everyone was, how they greeted us with so much love.  I am sad that they are not treated the same by those in power.

It is impossible for me to know what life is like as a member of the Oromo people group.  I have never lived in a position of fearing for my life at the hands of the government.  I have never been subject to leadership that has Amnesty International raising voices about how it treats its own people.  So while I cannot pretend to understand what they are going through, I can say that my heart breaks for these beautiful, wonderful people.

My prayer today is for peace, for wisdom in the leadership of Ethiopia.  I pray that they will know our merciful God, that they will respond with open ears and a willingness to love the Ethiopian people regardless of Oromo or Amhara or Tigrayen, or any of the more than eighty ethnic groups that reside in this beautiful country.  I pray, and will continue to pray for reconciliation between the government and the people, between tribes and people groups.  And I pray for the safety of the friends I made during my brief stay this past summer.

Lastly, I pray for the people in Bishoftu this night who are going into a new day without people that they loved who were alive yesterday.

I am thankful that we have a God who hears our prayers and that even in the wake of these awful things, He will still be glorified.  He hears the mourning of loss, He knows the pain and suffering of those who died and those who lost loved ones.  He is closer than ever and He loves them deeply.  He loves the victims and the perpetrators, He loves His people, no matter the tribe or nation.

 

*Please contact your local government officials about House Resolution 861, titled “Supporting Respect for Human Rights and Encouraging Inclusive Governance in Ethiopia”and make sure they are aware of this issue!

 

Abatachin hoy besemay yemitnor sime yiqedes

Mengisthi timta feqadih besemay inde honech indehu bemdr tihun

Yeilet injerachinin zare siten

Ina yebedelunin yiqir indeminil bedalachininim yiqir bilen

Wede fetenam atagiban kekifu adinen inji

Mengist yante nat ina hail misganam lezelalemu

Amen

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