I admit the first 6-9 months here in Ethiopia were tough for me.  Nathan was a less than 1 year old, I was trying to find my place in motherhood and new ministries, trying to support my husband who was stressed beyond belief and we were both battling a constant state of hunger, while trying to figure out how to cook over here.  But time went on and I figured some things out.  I learned that it wouldn’t kill my son to sit in the dirt (and he actually enjoyed it).  I began managing the incoming visitors.  I started to sit with the kitchen staff and help them chop onions while learning some Amharic words along the way.  My husband realized he was a capable surgeon (see previous post) and started taking on a few things with more grace and dependence from the Lord (because I wasn’t helping much).  And I learned how to cook the heck out of marinated meat, got an ice cream maker and a few bags of chocolate chips sent over.

One of the hugest blessings in my adjustment to Ethiopia was meeting people just like us.  It was at one of my lowest points when I met Joana Swart.  We were in Addis Ababa, debating whether we should go back home for a few weeks due to Paul’s grandmother’s declining health.  I was outside of SIM Headquarters playing with Nathan, when Joana introduced herself and her oldest Elsa.  We started talking and I realized she was another young mom, who had moved over here with her family…just when I was feeling so alone, God provided through this sweet fellowship.

A few months later, I began getting to know Tabby Cox, an Aggie and a vet, who lives in Southern Ethiopia.  Tabby and I had met before briefly, but once we had some more time together, it was so refreshing to talk to her. Tabby and her husband were pros at living over here and they have often been a source of advice and Godly encouragement. At the time we were both pregnant with our little girls…of course, due to the poor quality of our ultrasound, neither of knew they were girls who would be less than a month apart. Their son Jack, is the most well spoken, mature 4 year old I know.  I love talking to him and he and Nathan have tons of fun together.

And then when we were in Texas shortly after having Lydia, I met (for the third time) Allyson Smith.  Isn’t it funny how you meet some people several times briefly before you realize you should have been great friends all along?  I remember meeting Allyson briefly at a party where she lives in Langano, Ethiopia and hearing she was from Texas and wanting to talk to her more, but never getting the chance.  Well, God gave us another chance…We randomly ran into each other at a resort when my parents were here, but didn’t really have a chance to get to know each other then either.  And then, while at home in Texas in 2009, Paul and I went to visit The Village Church, and 2 rows in front of us…Paul says, “they look familiar, how do we know them?”  Me being in my Texas-mindset at the time say, “Baylor?”  And then Paul realizes they live in Ethiopia!  So he walks up to them saying, “Hey do you guys live at Lake Langano?”  Since then, we have both taken the 115 mile, but 4 hour trip down a bumpy road to visit each other and never want to leave.

I love all of these moms, so much and they have been such an encouragement to me.  It is a great support group of people who know what life is like over here.  Although all of them live in much more rural settings than we do, we can relate.  I have not been down south to visit the Cox’s and Swart’s, but we hope to in the next year.  The only regret we always have is not having more time together.  Of course, as young mothers, most of our conversations begin and end with, “Now what was I saying?”

SO…I say all of that to say…look at these adorable kids!  Can’t you just see them growing up together over here and loving it.  Loving their dirty feet, the Ethiopian faces, hearing Amharic and other tribal languages, seeing donkeys on a daily basis, taking long airplane rides, having their moms as their teachers!

Here are the kids from oldest to youngest...Elsa Swart, Jack Cox, Ezra Swart, Nathan, Lydia, Lilly Cox and Daisy Swart.

Allyson’s kids were in school at the time,  but they have 2 gorgeous girls and 1 crazy and loveable boy.

The moms and 3 precious girls. Joana and Daisy, Me and Lydie and Tabby and Lily. Can you see Lydia's dirty foot?!?

Allyson and me

Could these girls get any cuter?

To all the overseas moms, I have met:  you have no idea what an encouragement you are to me.  Knowing some who have gone before us and lived in stranger ways than I have and survived…you give me strength.  Knowing kids who have grown up on the mission field and turned out completely normal…you give me hope.  Seeing the faith that some have grown into while living outside of their comfort zone…you give me joy!

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