Friday, 25 February 2011

Day Two

     My poor stomach. I am starving. I just finished bran muffin number two, after an apple, two pieces of banana bread, half a peanut butter cup, two chocolate cookies, a ham sandwich, and purple cabbage with hummus. That would all be fine and good if my digestive system was up and running, but it's not. It's still trying to recover from Ethiopia, which meant that 3:30 this morning found me in the bathroom. I know I should be sitting around eating saltine crackers and drinking Sprite, but my body is trying to make up for all the sugar it didn't get in Ethiopia. Aside from the four tablespoons of sugar they put in their coffee, Ethiopians generally don't eat very many sweet things. Hence my peanut butter cup baking spree yesterday afternoon. Thankfully, this same thing happened last year, so I'm fairly sure I don't have a tapeworm. But wow! I'm hungry.
     Alright, onto day two!
     Unlike the previous day, day two started with a bang. At eight o'clock, our team headed over to MAKBC (it was probably a little less than half a mile walk from the guest house) for their staff devotions. One of our church's pastor's, Kenny Stokes, was on the trip, and after we were introduced to everyone and they sang, he shared on how the Bible (and only the Bible) creates and sustains spiritual life. The devotions were supposed to last for an hour, but in traditional African style, it lasted for two. After our time at the church was over, we drove to a slum where our team divided into groups of two and headed off with a translator, a guide, and a church leader to visit five different homes. Armed with only a cheery yellow bag full of Ethiopian food staples and complete faith in our guide, Mike K. and I set off for our five homes. I didn't take any pictures of these "homes" (if you could call them that) because Mike was taking video and it was a bad area of the city, and I didn't write down any of the names, so I don't remember each home individually. However, all of them had several things in common. First, the size. Each house was the size of my bedroom. And that's an optimistic estimate. Secondly, they were all dark. As soon as you walked in, there was absolutely no source of light besides the sunlight steaming in through the open hole where a door would normally be. Thirdly, the building material. The houses were all made of mud mixed with straw and animal waste, then crudely painted over with yellowed, cracked plaster. I have no idea what happens to those houses when it rains, but I can't even imagine. But everyone was SO gracious. The moment we were close enough, the couple stuck out their hands and vigorously shook our's. At several houses, they offered us food. Always, the man or woman made sure that we had the best seats before they themselves usually squatted on the ground. Even though the houses all kind of blend together, there is one house that will forever be brilliantly burned in my memory. Mike K. was asking the woman who owned the house (through our translator) if there was anything we could pray for her. And as these rich (at least, according to her standards), white Americans sat in her dirt-floor shack and watched her baby eat a rock, she asked for one thing - to accept Jesus. Suddenly, she and Addisu, the church leader, started going back and forth in rapid Amharic until Addisu jumped up. "She wants to accept Jesus right now!" Mike and I stared at each other, speechless. Before we even had time to think of what to say, the woman was kneeling on the ground as Addisu stood over her and her baby continued chewing on the rock. Addisu prayed something in Amharic, and she repeated. Mike and I just sat there in complete awe, wiped the tears from our eyes, and prayed in a different language to the same God. After she and Addisu had finished praying, we all jumped up and hugged, laughed, smiled, and shook hands even more. All too soon, it was time to go. The woman and our guide had started chatting in Amharic, trying to figure out a time for the woman to come to MAKBC so we had to pull her out, and then we were off. As we walked away, Mike and I hardly noticed that the path was covered in the garbage, or that it was hot, or that our feet hurt. We just kept smiling and smiling.
Wow, I had forgotten how busy this day was! I'll try to sum it up here. That afternoon, we visited our first orphanage. While all the adults met with the founder, Hannah, and talked with her, Elise and I stayed outside and played with the twenty-some kids in the courtyard. Elise played volleyball with the boys and all the girls eagerly taught me several Ethiopian hand games. I was horrible and uncoordinated, but they were very eager and gracious. We stayed for three hours, and it really just flew by. At the end, we handed out candy to all the kids, including the teenagers, which was really embarrassing, but that's another story. That night, all the church leaders from MAKBC came over to our guest house where we had supper and talked together. At the end, in true Bethlehem Baptist form, we gave them all John Piper books. They loved them. So that's day two!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Photos from Day One

Our beautiful guest house - it served us SO well

Elise and I before heading out

A common sight along the road

A group of school boys who caught us looking at them - SO cute!

Mazada! My God-sent assurance that I was supposed to be in Ethiopia

A back road off the beaten path

Day One

Hello to all of my fabulous, amazing blog readers {who could definitely comment just a little bit more. :)} Ahem. So I was checking my stats again today and apparently I have blog readers in the Philippines, Australia, Bolivia, Denmark, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Qatar.


It could be that that's just a glitch in my stat reader, or maybe it's just people accidentally finding this blog, or maybe it's some creepy guy with no life, orrrrrrr maybe I really do have readers in all of those countries! And if that's the case, then that is very cool. Possibly the coolest thing that's happened to me this week. I would say this month, but sorry, it can't compete with Ethiopia... Anywho, if you blog readers from all those countries are real, then I'd like to extend a big welcome to y'all! Thanks for reading, you guys! Especially you in Qatar. How can you even read this?

Anywho, back to why you're here! It's time to start the long, kind of painful, but super joyful process of blogging about each day! When I say Day One, I mean our first day of ministry. Monday and Tuesday were spent traveling (we arrived in Ethiopia around 9:30 pm) so Day One means Wednesday, the 9th. Here we go:

There are two ways I could tell you about this trip. One would be to tell you all the happy parts, and not share some of my struggles with sin. The other way is to be almost completely transparent and humbly tell you the truth. And I've decided to go with the latter. So that means that I have to tell that when I woke up on Wednesday morning, I did not want to be in Ethiopia. My excitement, motivation, and giddiness from last year were gone. Here's what I wrote in my journal that morning:
     Dear God, I really need you right now. As I was in the bathroom, I dutifully did not flush my toilet paper, didn't drink the water, and left my glasses on. I felt something and when I examined my heart I realized that I don't really want to deal with that stuff. Last year, I was so excited that I didn't care, but now, something's different. It's a really frightening realization, Lord. I feel different - I feel indifferent. Oh God, please help me... What kind of mess did you send to Ethiopia??? Why is my heart in this condition? It shouldn't be, but it is. Help me, Father. You want me here. I can be assured of that. My family wants me here. I want me to be here. God, infuse me with a fresh excitement. It's a new day (without any flying!) and I'm back. I'm back! May the beauty of that sink in. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10. Thank you. Thank you for everything. You love me and you want me here!" 
 By the time breakfast was done, my heart was back to normal. There wasn't one thing that suddenly made it better, it was just that after breakfast I was like, "Hey! I'm excited!" And that was the end of that. "I love you, O LORD, my strength... I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." 
After breakfast, we had a couple hours of free time to get settled and unpack, so I did just that. Around 10:30, we walked down the road to Mekenesia Addis Kidan Baptist Churchh (MAKBC) to meet (for some, the first, for others, the second!) the church leaders and hear about their ministry. It was really, really neat to see everyone that I'd met last year again. Two of the guys are now happily married, and one with a baby girl on the way! After touring the church's compound, we went back for lunch, and then went back to the offices of Hope In View. Hope In View does a lot of things in Ethiopia, and one of them is partnering with local churches to do child sponsorship. Last year, the executive directors accompanied our team as we met with churches and interviewed kids for sponsorships. We met the Ethiopian side of Hope In View, heard about their work, and got to play with the kids. That's when I met Mazada and wrote this post (conveniently also about day one). After an afternoon spent at HIV's office, we headed back to our guest house for a relaxing evening of supper, team devotions, and an early bedtime.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Blog Links

Hello Again!
Here are two fabulous blogs from fellow team members about Ethiopia. The first is from Elise W., the other teenage girl on the team. Her blog is
The second is from Dave E., who was our team photographer. He has already posted around 50 pictures that are amazing. His blog can be found at Enjoy!

A Few Hours Helped Me to See

Ah, wow, God is so good. And I'm sorry to be such a complainer. Today I was reading my Bible and praying and God helped me see through the lie. I DO love Ethiopia and I DID have a great time on the trip and I DID experience everything. Being happy that I'm home doesn't change any of that. So, don't worry about me - God's got me. And be looking for photos and stories from our first day tomorrow!

Being Home

     First, let me start by saying that I just checked my blog stats, and I had over seventy hits while I was gone. Wow. Thank you so much for reading this and for caring! I have so much to share and so many pictures to post and so many thanks to make. Those will all be coming in abundance soon, but before I can do that, I kind of need to throw up my emotions on this blog. Be warned: this post will not be for those with little patience or tolerance for ramblings and run on sentences. 
     I don't know if you remember, but last year, this time was really hard. I wasn't ready to leave Ethiopia and for the first two weeks of being home, I struggled everyday with depression and with wondering why I wasn't in Ethiopia. When I woke up, I'd calculate what time it was in Ethiopia and try to figure out what my friends were doing. Every time I tried to do school or talk to friends or clean my room, a little voice would say, "You're going back to your normal life... you're going to forget Ethiopia." I was so paranoid of forgetting Ethiopia that I wouldn't let myself slide back into my life. God was so faithful and so near during that time, however, and after about two weeks, it started to get better. It's bittersweet to read my journal for those two weeks - I was so devastated yet God was so good. Here's what I wrote in my journal (last year) on my first day home,
"What to say? It's been a rough, ROUGH past two days. I just can't believe that it's over. All of a sudden, it'll just kind of spill over me that the trip is done. And I can't get myself back to normal. First of all, I'm exhausted, and secondly, I feel like I'm betraying Ethiopia and my trip if I started a normal life. How can I unpack and run up and down the driveway when I know that Ethiopia is out there right now? I've been crying almost nonstop since I got home. I cried when Grace handed me my YEAH stuff because I just don't care anymore. I cried when Zeke asked me to wrestle him because after spending two weeks in Africa, I can't wrestle. And I cried when Mom asked me how I was doing because I feel so hopeless, devastated, and unable. It's like I'm homesick - but for Ethiopia."
      So if that was how I felt last year, this year has been quite different. When it came time to leave Ethiopia this time, I was sad, and I could have stayed longer, but I felt done. Emotionally, I was drained. Physically, I was tired. And spiritually, I was ready to get back to an English speaking church. I feel like God used me more on this trip, so it seems kind of weird that I wouldn't be as sad to leave. I think though, that this trip was much more emotionally deep than last year, and as a result, I was (am) just exhausted. I felt done. I still love Ethiopia but I felt done. Last year, for whatever reason, I didn't. But this time, I did, and now, honestly, I'm not too heartbroken to be home. Which is weird, and kind of hard for me to say. I actually wish I could tell you that I've been crying non-stop and that I am begging God to take me back ASAP. That seems like what my reaction should be. The truth is that, yes, I'm sad, and that, yes, I've cried since being home, and that, yes!, I loved the trip, and that I'd love to go back, but also that I was ready to come home, and that I felt done, and that I'm glad to be home.
     However, with a minimal-tear-shedding re-entry comes a load of pain. If last year, Satan was trying to get me to despair, this year he's trying to make me doubt. If last year he was saying, "You weren't ready to come home. You should still be in Ethiopia. You can't do anything at home," then this year he's saying, "You're not sad to be done in Ethiopia. That means you don't love Ethiopia. That means that you're not called there. You don't care and you weren't meant to be on that trip. You spent two weeks in Ethiopia and you don't even care." And that's almost worse than the despair.
     So please, please, PLEASE pray. Pray that God would continue to affirm that I was supposed to be on that trip, and that God would break my heart for Ethiopia, and that I would not forget what I saw. Pray that I would be sad. I don't want to feel nothing. I want to be heartbroken. I want it to feel real. It doesn't really, right now. So please pray. Thank you for everything - and be watching for more from me.

Monday, 21 February 2011


Forty-nine hours, twenty-nine minutes, and two seconds. That's how long it took us from the moment our plane left Ethiopian soil  to the moment it touched Minnesotan soil. Because of the predicted snowstorm in Minneapolis yesterday, our flight was canceled. After a rough, rough two-three hours of waiting and waiting and waiting, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that KLM had booked us all on a flight today (Monday; at that time - tomorrow) at 2:40 and they would put us up in a hotel and pay for all our meals. Although it was at first a bitter disappointment to find out we had to wait another day to see our families, our layover soon turned into, at least for me, a tremendous blessing. First of all, I got in twelve hours of sleep at the amazingly soft beds (especially compared to what we were sleeping on!) on Sunday night. It was SO nice to have a full night's rest under my belt for the nine hour flight to Minneapolis. I have no idea how I would have managed to do it all in one trip. Secondly, it gave a nice break between Ethiopia and home. Instead of going from doing ministry work everyday for two weeks in Ethiopia to waking up to normal life, we all had a two-day "in-between" where we weren't in Ethiopia but we weren't home yet. It's hard to explain, but that was the biggest blessing. It helped soften the blow of not being in Ethiopia. And lastly, it tripled my desire to see my family. There's nothing like having to wait 30 hours extra to see your family to strengthen your longing! Looking  back on it, God was SO good. I honestly can say that I wouldn't have it any other way.
Anyways, I'm home, I'm safe, I'm thankful, I'm blessed, and I'm exhausted. Look for more blogs coming soon!

Sunday, 20 February 2011


We got a call from Emma at 7:20 this morning. They are stuck in Amsterdam but do have a hotel and paid-for meals. It sounded like things in Amsterdam had been pretty busy, and they felt fortunate to get on a flight that leaves tomorrow (Monday). They are scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis at 4:40 p.m.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Parents Who Are Behind

Emma has been able both to email and call. From all accounts, it seems like she's doing great. She's met a lot of fascinating people and has been with a lot of the friends she met last year. She has asked Joel and me to keep her blog up to date and of course we have done a fairly terrible job.

However, now that it is 11:17 p.m. I thought I would update a little.

Elise and I started to make a list of weird things that have happened to us on this trip, and here's what we've gotten so far:
  1. Ate raw sugar cane
  2. went to the bathroom in a hole (three times)
  3. got brayed at and chased by a donkey (thankfully it was on a leash)
  4. saw hippos
  5. saw ostriches
  6. got hit on a by a random dude with a gold cross necklace on
  7. got splashed by random shirtless dudes with tight shorts
  8. feed monkeys
  9. stepped in flamingo poop
  10. got offered "spice" (marijuana)

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bieber Fever

Dear Justin Bieber,
     I've always known how famous you are, but I didn't realize just how famous until last night. My missions team and I were walking down a dark road in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as all the little Ethiopian kids were coming home from school. There was a group of four elementary school girls walking towards us singing loudly and swinging their hands back and forth. When they saw us, a big group of white people, they stopped singing to wave and practice their English. After we passed by, they picked up their song again, and this time I recognized the strains of music:
"Baby, baby, baby, oooh!"
     Congratulations, Justin.
Emma Button

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Mekdes !!

Fikre !!

Hi Mom and Dad!
Have you gotten my email about Sami as well as the pictures? I just wanted to check because you haven't emailed back!!!! :) But I understand if life is just too busy to email your eldest daughter in Africa who just found your friends' longlost Ethiopian friend. :) Just kidding just kidding.
This morning was INCREDIBLE. Elise and I taught at the MAKBC and Gulele Church children's school. Alemnesh and Fikardo had told me that Fikre Addis would be at the MAKBC and Mekdes would be at Gulele. However, when we got to MAKBC, I scanned the room and there was no Fikre Addis. As more and more kids kept coming in, there was still no Fikre Addis. I found the Ivy's sponsor boy, so I was able to give him their gift, but it was kind of bittersweet because I couldn't find our girl. Finally, after all the coloring pages had been handed out and everyone was happily coloring (btw, we had 128 crayons - we gave one to each kid and STILL didn't have enough) I asked Fikardu if he could check for Fikre Addis. He bustled into the sanctuary, called out her name, and sure enough - there coloring on the pew with her mom was Fikre Addis!!! Fikardo grabbed her up and kind of surprised her - he wanted me to give her the presents in private, so we all went to this office. Poor girl, she was pretty quiet at first. But after I talked to her for a while, she totally warmed up. Her mom said that they've been receiving food and school supplies and medicine and clothes. She also said that her and Fikre Addis's health have been good. She wanted me to tell you thank you. After our interview, we all went out to this courtyard, where Mrs. Fikre Addis chatted with her friend and I played with F.A. She was so sweet. She loved the presents and put on the necklace and bracelet right away. There were a bunch of kids all gathered around me, so whenever I pulled out my camera to take a picture of F.A. a mob of kids surrounded me trying to get me to take their picture. That was kind of annoying, but I still managed to get some really good ones of F.A. as well as spend some time with her. She is SO adorable, and so small.
I have to go, but I'll email about Mekdes later as well as send pictures.
Feel free to email! :) Soon!

We Found Sami!!

Hi Mom and Dad and the Rxxx family!
I just got back from the market where... we found Sami! I was able to talk to him for about 15 minutes, find out information about him, and give him all the pictures and money.
Finding him was miraculous - I prayed the entire way to the market. None of the Ethiopians with our team thought I would find him, so I was dreading this hour long fruitless search. We drove a ways through the market until our driver randomly pulled over by a row of stalls. There were two boys standing by the road, so Addisu and Binyam (our Ethiopian friends/translators) showed them the pictures and asked if they knew Sami. "Sami?" they asked. "Oh yeah, he's right over there!" Sure enough, standing fifteen feet away was Sami! They called him over and he came and sat in our van to talk. I kind of felt like we were kidnapping him. :) Poor boy, one minute everything's normal at the market, and the next he's in a van full of white people with this strange blonde girl asking him questions. Anyway, here's what I found out:
His full name Samuel Hxxxx Sxxxxx Kxxxx and his mother's name is Amit Hxxx. He doesn't know anything about his father. He is fifteen years old and has three younger brothers and an older sister who lives in the countryside. He works in the market (as you know) selling gum and shining shoes because his mother doesn't have a job. He's the supporter of the family with the money he makes from the market (by the way, I just gave him the 200 birr you stuck in the envelope). He said that his mother and his health are good, neither of them has HIV. His phone number is (0112) xxxxx. He doesn't have an address, but if you want to send him something, you can send it to Fikardu Exxxx at Mekenesia Church who will contact Sami and give it to him. His email is He says it would be best if you email  him before sending something, and he'll give you all the sending information.
The name of his school is Exxxx Bxxxxx but he stopped attending in January because he cannot afford it anymore. He attends a protestant church called Biza International Church (I don't know if this matters, but it's by the airport) but he's the only Christian in his family and the only one who attends this church.
That's what I found out. At first he was kind of bewildered, but as we pulled away, he pulled out the pictures and showed everyone around. He was so excited. I have a lot of pictures, but I don't have time right now to upload them and send them. I'll try to do it by tomorrow night!

Emma Button

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Day One

Today was our first official "ministry" day in Ethiopia and it was great. Our morning was really laidback and relaxed, so I had time to email my family, unpack, and do devotions. At 10, we went to Mekenesia Addis Kidan Baptist Church (MAKBC) and met the staff and listened as they told us the vision of MAKBC. After lunch, we had another free time, so I was able to journal and read. At 2, we went back to MAKBC to meet the sponsor kids we interviewed last year. I was hoping that the girl my family sponsors, Fikre Addis, would be there but her family was gone today. It sounds like the staff at MAKBC are going to try to set up a time for me to meet her. After we listened to the sponsorship progam (called Hope in View) staff tell us about their program, we went outside to talk to the kids. Right away, out of the blue, this little girl with big brown eyes and a shaved head attached herself to me. At first I didn't really notice - she just touched my camera and held my hand. But soon she got braver and started grinning shyly at me and kissing my hand. I started asking her about herself and found out she was five years old and named Mazaduh. We started a game where she tried to hit my hands and I pretended that it hurt really bad. She loved it. So we chased around the courtyard for a while until it turned into tickling. Then it turned into "let's braid Emma's hair" which then turned into me just holding her. It was the most darling thing ever. I would say that she's the cutest little girl I've ever met, but then I remembered Lizzie. And Sadie. And Fikre Addis. And Mekdes. They're all the cutest girls I've ever met.
That encounter was so special to me because I had been struggling with not really feeling like a part of the team. I felt like there were others more godly, more brave, more funny than I was and that I didn't really need to be here. But God let that girl single me out for no apparent reason to show me that He loves me and He wants me on this trip. Not because I have accomplishments to boast of, but because God has given me certain gifts and strengths to benefit this team. I'm so thankful that God cares enough about me to make sure I know I'm wanted. He is so good. Until my next post, enjoy these pictures (as small as they may be), and know that I am wanted in Ethiopia.

I am here. Right where I should be.

We made it!!!! After twenty hours of traveling, our eight-person team made it safely to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All of our luggage made it, and customs was a breeze. Everyone's a little groggy and tired today but it's going to be a calm day. Any minute now we'll head over to Mekenesia church to meet everyone and talk. This afternoon, we'll meet up with our sponsor kids and see how we're doing. I'm hoping to meet my family's sponsor - Fikre Addis this afternoon and my sponsor - Mekdes, sometime later.
The weather here is perfect - it's sunny, without a cloud in the sky, and a small breeze every now and then. Other than being a little tired, I feel perfect.
Once something actually happens here, I'll try to blog a little more. Thanks for praying and continue to pray that God will use us!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bon Voyage! (Or maybe I should say dehina walu!)

That is a picture of me being happy and un-stressed the day before I leave because... everything is packed! My weekend was crazy with an early-Valentine's Day party that Grace and I threw, so a lot of my packing had to be done Saturday night and Sunday morning. My parents let me stay home from church, so I was able to have the house to myself as I did my devotions, cleaned my room, and finished packing. This afternoon I was free to tromp around outside, eat way too much kettle corn, and beat Eli in battleship. 
A big thank you to all of you who have called, emailed, texted, or sent me a note saying that you're thinking of me and praying. It's been a huge blessing! Also, a big welcome to anyone who's reading this because my grandparents told you about it. :) 
Tonight I'm planning on finishing up my psychology reading (I have my first exam the morning after I get home... not quite sure how that's going to work yet), watching the Super Bowl until I get sick of it, and enjoying my family. Tomorrow I don't need to be at the airport until 12:30, so I'm going to try to go to the gym tomorrow morning and get all exercised-out before my EIGHTEEN HOURS OF FLYING. That's not even counting the layover time in Amsterdam or the brutal time waiting for visas in the Ethiopian airport. Yay. Prayer would be nice. As would efficient Ethiopian government officials. One can dream...
Well, may the next time you hear from me be in Ethiopia!!! Until then... selam lenante yehun!