Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mom, work and Merry Christmas!

Ahhh...back in Budapest for Christmas and New Years!  My Mom and Dad did make it over here to Europe...Mom is doing well!  She had surgery on December 6th and when they checked the nodes etc...the cancer had not spread!  So that was very good news:).  She is healing well from the surgery and by the time she returns in January she will meet again with doctors and probably do round(s) of radiation.  At this point; it does not look like chemo will be needed but that is up to the doctors etc.  Thank you for your prayers and asking how she is...see the picture to the side...good times with Mom in Krakow!

Bob/Co/Michael/Mom and Dad all came up to Krakow for 2 days.  They took the train, slept and ate in my 'loft' and we had a great time.  We went to the Christmas Market in Old Town Krakow that is just absolutely beautiful.  The whole Old Town Square is awesome just in itself...and then add the decorations, all the wonderful food smells cooking (my favorite being Oscypek...fried cheese with cranberry sauce on top), the various booths selling their wares, going through the old 'clothier' hall with such good stuff being sold AND to top it off a hansome cab ride to the restaurant for dinner! Amazing...loved the 'clip clop' sound of the horses going down the streets...oh - just sensory overload that night!  We also took a tour of the city the next day with the gal I met on my first day.  It was great to see her (Joanna) and make some plans to get together again to go to a concert in an old cathedral - repeat the sensory overload!

So - besides asking about my Mom...people have asked about my job.  I absolutely love living in the lofts above the coffee shop.  It is so convenient to run downstairs to not only do some work things but to have a latte! has been a bit slow for me since Poland requires anybody getting close to a kitchen or a coffee machine to pass a 'sanitary testing'.  It is not a written test so I hope I will do okay!  Its a go to the sanitary office 3 days in a row to leave 'samples'.  Then they tell you to come back at a certain time to meet with a doctor.  My first day I could meet with a doctor is December 30th....I will be out of town still so I will go when I return; probably on January 6th.  In the meantime I have been getting to know the employees and I love them!  Mostly university students and they are just amazing.  So good, helpful and willing to talk English:).  Admittedly, I did a little bit of accounting work as well, along with laundry for the shop:).  On Sundays the kitchen is not officially open so I have been learning the process of clean up, making basic coffees, what counter can have what items on it (ie no dirty dishes allowed on the counters where food is cut up/made).

All in all, January will be a more normal work month I think.  I start Polish language lessons on January month intensive classes starting at 9:30 a.m. three times a week.  I'm exxcited for that; to learn to read, pronounce etc.  It is bound to help!  The school is about a 5 minute walk from my loft which is very convenient.  Along with that I will be doing my shift work in the coffee shopp so I will learn lots there as well.  Also doing community outreach for the coffee shop - what does that look like?  Music, art, cooking, games, English, history, -  we can be creative with our special events at the shop!  We have business people in the buildings right around us as well as a University across the way so hopefully we can draw some folks in to Sweet Surrender:).

Robby arrives Christmas Eve and then our family will be complete in Budapest.  The rest of my family - my two sisters in Boise - have their families together as well.  David is home from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and Jess is back from her first semester in college....Keith and Phyllis are blessed.  Garrett  also came home from his first semester in college....Nate, Tanner and Kaylynn Marie are all on their Chrsitmas break now so Susan and Ken have a house full as well!

I trust your families are gathering at some point this Christmas season...may you enjoy your time and celebrate well!  What an amazing and blessed season - enjoy!  Life is good and I think it is appropriate to say; God is waaaayyy better:).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

ONE man....

The impact ONE person can have on other's lives has come 'alive' for me this week.  Lets just take a look at some folks relevant to my little world anyway.  Nelson Mandela, Oskar Schindler, Adolf Hitler and let me not forget; Jesus Christ.  Can anybody argue that these people have had amazing impact on others; much less our very own lives?

As I read the news and see the clips of so many people going to Africa to honor Mr. Mandela; it moves me to realize this ONE man lived 95 years and made such a huge difference.  It may have been a 'world' away for me but I do remember apartheid in the news and one of my favorite books is 'The Power of One'.  Life is real, it hurts and yet Mr. Mandela made it better for many.

I went through the Schindler Factory Museum this past Monday.  Mr. Schindler was a German spy and member of the Nazi party; generally speaking, not such a good man right?  And yet he came to Poland to work, took on a factory and earned a lot of money.  At some point; his heart was touched by the way people were treated so he used his German rank and his personal money to 'buy' people's lives.  Many people lived through that time period because of ONE man.

Adolf Hitler; yesterday (Saturday) I went with some friends to tour the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camps.  I have been fascinated by Hitler since a child; reading a book (The Hiding Place) of Corrie Ten Boom and her Dutch family hiding Jewish families.  For that they were sent to prison and all but Corrie were killed.  Also doing a report on Hitler in middle school; that made me wonder how, who, when, and why? Fifteen years ago my brother and I went through Auschwitz on our own; we took much time to read, view, hurt and ponder.   It was overwhelming and humbling. Information overload going with a guide yesterday but oh so hurtful,  overwhelming and humbling again. As we saw the huge piles of  personal items that were taken from the prisoners such as combs, shoes, suitcases, glasses, prosthetics; oh my gosh the list goes on;  that hurt.  As we walked through the gas chambers and saw the ovens of the crematorium; it hurt.  We stood on the platform by the railway that millions were on and determined 'fit' or 'unfit'.  That hurt.  We must never forget what ONE man was able to do; so much hurt and harm.

And last but in no way the least; Jesus Christ.  The fact that I am experiencing all these historical people during this Christmas is ironic.  This time or season of year is because of ONE man; being born to die really and yet that is not the end of the story!  He lives on and is impacting lives to this very day.  I have not been to Bethlehem where he was born or Golgotha where he was killed or even the empty grave where he laid for 3 days (yet) but I am sure that would be overwhelming and humbling as well.

I have great respect for each of these 4 men really; each one has touched my life in some way over my 49 years and specifically this past week.  But the ONE that continues to live and touch my life is Jesus and for that I am very thankful.  He is the ONE out of all I know that is worth having as an example.  I want to be more like Him!  Life is good, but God is waaaayyyy better.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Sounds from my apartment...
1.  Work being done upstairs...starts early and ends late :).  The awesome part of this is the building used to be a flour mill so the walls are brick, the wood is old and it is all very amazing!  Going down the stairs (I live on the 3rd floor) I can see the different equipment that used to be in the mill.  Right by the main entrance there are curly it would be curly staircases but they used to send the bags of flour down these wooden chutes...makes me want to send a bag of something down them now to see it go from top to bottom! (See picture to the side).
2.  At first I thought it was a plane (which I love) but it is the tram going over the bridge.  My building is near the Vistula River so when the tram goes over the bridge - I can hear it!  I love that.  I'm on that tram sometimes too...that would be #20 anyway:).  Takes me right into downtown and the beautiful Christmas market.
3.  Sirens...I have not gotten the pattern here.  I'm used to police sirens being one sound, ambulance/fire another sound etc.  I don't think it is that way here; but I enjoy the 'European' sound that goes high/low/high/low....that is my favorite.  Not that I want to hear them really...makes me stop and pause/pray each time...actually you know what it makes me think of almost every time?  The scene from when Princess Diana died.  That makes me sad....I'm a huge British Royal fan.  I'm going to have to give credit to that to my very first trip overseas.  Summer between my Junior/Senior year in high school...must have been 1981....the year Prince Charles/Princess Diana were married. was amazing:).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

From Krakow

So much!
It has been a while...Thanksgiving was awesome - on the Mediterranean!  I even was able to have some turkey...not like my Momma's but it was fairly tasty and appreciated!
Some funnies...
Well my first day in Poland, Bob and I were going to have dinner at my 'new' apartment.  So be it - and since I'm not a fantastic chef or anything I thought pasta with some sauce mixed with kielbasa would be excellent!  Throw a bit of a salad in there and viola...not bad right?  Well...we went to the store to get some items for the apartment and I picked up some pasta etc.  I forgot the pasta sauce so I went to the little store around the corner.  It's called 'Fresh Market' and it is pretty much your little convenience store; has a whole bunch of stuff in a small space but very convenient.  I found the pasta and some sauces next to it so I picked out one that looked good...not being able to read any labels.  Came home - started fixing it all and got ready to put the kielbaza in with the sauce...and there were some big old 'lumps' in the sauce!  Apparently, I had actually bought some soup with potatoes and veggies in it!  Ha:).  Just so you know - pasta with Polish soup and kielbasa is pretty tasty!  Don't take my word for it - check with Bob...he ate it and was happy too!
Actually - now that I think about it - maybe Bob wasn't real happy with the dinner - he took me out to a very cool restaurant the next night!  Ahhh it goes.  Best of both worlds I guess.

My apartment is furnished and one of the furnishings is a washing machine - which is awesome right?  Yes! to find out it is a washing machine AND dryer all in the same unit.  Not a stackable or just put your clothes in and a couple hours later they are clean AND dry.  Amazing don't you think?  I don't know how that technology works but it does.
Now...having said that - again, the washer has all the instructions in Polish and the writing/options on the actual machine are all in Polish.  So...I needed to do some wash and I do beleive I washed the clothes about 3 times before the dryer part was set right so the clothes would dry as well.  What a crack today I am attempting another load of washing/drying.  We shall see how this goes!  I'm praying my hot water bill will stay as low as possible but washing the same clothes 3 times before they dry may not be the most economical way to do that.

My Momma...I talked of her turkey earlier but now I must ask for prayers for her.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 days after I left the looks like she will have surgery once they have the results of the MRI back (Friday or Monday) and then she and Dad are scheduled to fly to Hungary on the 16th.  The doctors say she will be able to travel etc - treatment will come after she returns.  They were having a houseful of family for Thanksgiving so that put a little different outlook on the whole deal.  My dear sister Susan went over early and 'ran the house' (as I'm sure only Sue could do) and from all reports it went very well.  I think it is awesome Mom and Dad were surrounded by kids and grandkids at such a time...!!  Mom and Dad certainly have a peace about it all so I'm trusting it will go well.  I do hope they can come over to Europe for the holidays but worried that Mom will over-do it.

Today I started getting acquainted with people in the coffee shop.  Since they have a full kitchen and serve soups, salads, etc - I have to get certified by the Polish sanitary board which will take a few more days so I am doing what I can but it's pretty limited.  I can't even make coffee yet!  Tomorrow night is a conversational English 'class' at the coffee shop hosted by YWAM so I think I'll go check that out and see what happens there.

Oh one last story --- when I went to go get my SIM card for my phone the PLAY (one of the options for cell phone service here that was recommended to me) representative did not speak English.  So I walked across to the PLUS store (another service) and the lady in there said she would come with me and help.  She knew English.  Well....that was awesome!  She had just started at PLUS but before that she was a tour guide around Krakow.  So guess what Bob and I got to do the next day?...go for a tour!  A great start to get acquainted with the city AND to connect with a Polish person from the start!  She is awesome, young, engaged to be married in May and it was great to start to get to know her.  I plan on keeping that connection for sure!  My parents will enjoy a tour like that once they are here for a couple drive around in this over-sized golf cart.  It has heat and they provide cozy blankets and everything...very nice.  So....if you ever want to call me in number is +48 739 206 964 and I can get a tour for us as well!  (dialing from a cell phone in the US...most phones - hold the 'zero' down until the + appears) or from a landline...use 011 then add the 48 739...etc etc.
Okay - this has gone on long enough...too long probably...hope you are all well and enjoying the holidays.  Such a great time of year.  Life is good...God is much, much better and I am glad to have you along for this experience of my life!
Much love,

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

European Observations

It is difficult to imagine that I am actually over here for a while!  I still feel like I'm on vacation - I'm sure that will change with time but I am enjoying it here for sure!  Here are some 'reminders' that I have been going over as I go about my daily life here in Europe.

1.  Signs for restrooms?....Very American - look for 'WC' or 'Toilet' here.  By the way - I knew that WC stood for water closet but always thought it was old fashioned.  Not so much - the bathroom in many houses are literally that - the toilet is in its own room or closet - generally separate from the sink, shower etc.
2.  Metric everything!  I remember starting to learn this system in school, back in the day, remind me why America never converted?  Yes...I have new bookmarks and apps on my devices so I can convert.
3.  Dollars - another app I downloaded to convert.  Euro is popular of course...but Hungary uses their own currency (Forint), Poland uses their own currency (Zloty) and I'm still struggling with it a bit.
4.  Public transportation - really is amazing over here.  Kiev was amazing with its metro system and trams/buses etc.  Budapest is a smaller city but has a good system as well.  I will see Krakow's next week - apparently they don't have a metro but trams and buses run all over the city/greater Krakow.  I will learn!
5.  Road signs and round abouts - riding around with Bob a bit and it does take some adjusting!  Driving myself is probably not on my agenda here but reading/following signs and understanding where I am is definitely on my agenda so it is a learning curve.

Thanksgiving is coming - Bob, Colleen, Josh and I are headed to Turkey to celebrate there (appropriate don't you think?).  I am looking forward to that and I must say that I have much to be thankful for - not just this time of year but always.  Some points in my life it is much more obvious to me of the things to be thankful for and this is one of those points!  The changes and decisions and 'steps of faith' that have taken place in me and all around me over the past year have been awesome.  People that have encouraged and supported me in oh so many ways have been amazing.  So THANK YOU to each one!  My heart is full with thankfulness - life is good and God is waaayyy better :).

Much love.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What a great first day!...Budapest, Hungary

I left Sacramento on 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday, November 20th (that is 3:05 a.m. on the 21st  in Budapest).  Then I arrived Budapest at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 21st....which is 4:00 a.m. on Thursday in Sacramento.  So....not bad!  I flew to LA and then from LA to Paris...where I missed my connection but was able to get on the next flight out to Budapest which worked out great.  I was on an Airbus380 from LA to Paris and they have two levels - I was on the top level!  I love airplanes and that was just amazing to be up there!  A Boeing 747 only has first class in their top level but the Airbus has all classes up was great to be on the upper level:).  Easy flights...a couple movies, some sleep, some food and lots of water.  Good times.
I went to bed early - slept most of the night...I did wake up about 3:00 a.m. for about 1 1/2 hours but was able to go back to sleep.  Then we (Bob, Colleen and some friends from Kiev) went to a hot springs for several hours today.  The Turks occupied this area for a long time so they built these hot springs in beautiful buildings with inside and outside pools/saunas/steam rooms. was amazing!  Very relaxing - just the ticket after a long trip.    We took a tram and the metro to the hot springs so I got to see some really pretty places of Budapest....on the Danube River - beautiful architecture etc....can't wait to see it in the spring all in bloom!
Tonight was a performance of Beauty and the Beast at Josh's school (International Christian School of Budapest)...done by the Jr. High and it was quite well done!
So here I sit drinking tea and having some home made cookies...ready for another good night's sleep and hopefully I will be mostly over the jetlag.  We shall see.
Oh...I forgot - I was eating a yummy fudgesicle on the plane and my crown popped off.  I COULD NOT believe it.  The very first day I was gone...was not able to get into a dentist today so I look really scary right now....yikes!  I think superglue is in my life tomorrow - if it works, I'm good with it.
Life is good (even minus a tooth) and certainly God is better (He probably has all his teeth:)!!!.
Much love,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cross Cultural Orientation

Good stuff!  Had great leaders, met some amazing people and feel very close to ready to be going to Poland for 6 months!  Oklahoma City was a nice place to visit...pretty flat but I think I like it...the people sure are nice.
So here I am in the OKC airport ready to fly back to Sacramento for a crazy busy 1 1/2 days and then off to start my new job/chapter/adventure!  One thing I do know after this weekend...I have a LOT to learn.  Culture, language, getting around Krakow, working and living with new people...oh I am sooo excited!  I'm sure there will be days that I will look at my pictures of friends, family, and ache for familiar surroundings etc but that is a given.  Who doesn't have a bad day now and then - right?
Life is good...God is waaayyy better.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6 NLT)

Saturday, November 9, 2013


I must say that early in my life my Grandmother (Gram) and my parents  were amazing role models to follow for giving.  These amazing people in my life gave, gave and gave some more!

My Gram invited all her grandkids when they were 8 years old to her summer cabin in the 'UP' (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) for the entire summer!  We learned to fish, row boats, shoot a BB gun, and most importantly, to me anyway, we learned to water ski!  What an amazing many memories with cousins, Aunts, Uncles and most of all my Gram.  What an awesome role model.

My parents gave when they had nothing!  We learned it was important to get creative in our giving - it doesn't have to be in can be providing wood for those that needed it for their fireplaces to keep them warm in the winter or my personal favorite (feel the sarcasm here)weeding and taking care of the church grounds each week.  Maybe its taking a plate of cookies to somebody that is lonely and staying to chat for a while.  Whatever - giving was key to our 'being' all growing up.  My parents still give so much - they would tell you that it comes back to them ten/hundred/thousand fold...and I believe them.  It is a miracle.

Anyway - I'm talking of this because giving was such a central part of my growing up and I sooooo want to be a giver as well!  In the past several weeks however; people have been giving to me and that is quite a  humbling experience.  I'm still not reeeaaaal sure how to respond to each one but oh the fullness that it brings to my heart that people support and believe what is going on in my life is a good thing!  People coming to a get together on my last day of work - what an amazing shower of giving of their time and friendship!  Thank you all!

Certainly I have asked for monetary support; and I'm thankful for those that have and are giving - to ask was humbling but the fact that people respond is probably more humbling....thank you!

So as I sit here in my parents house enjoying a cozy fire and listening to my parents talking and planning about their houseful of family at Thanksgiving and their trip to Budapest and Krakow at Christmas; I am thankful.  They gave when I was growing up and that certainly has not stopped today!  I won't be here with them to celebrate Thanksgiving but am VERY thankful for them as role models to me in giving.

Thank you to you my friends and family that read this (all the way through...pretty long for me) and are sooooo encouraging to me.  I've had a few tears in the past week as I 'leave' my life as I know it but am ready to start this new chapter soon.  Thanks to my Gram, Mom and Dad for 'giving' and setting an example for this granddaughter/daughter.  Much love to all of you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Czesc - Polish word of the day :)

Wow...hard to believe I only have three days of work left at Pacific Coast!  This company has been so good to me...started in September 1986 and now it is October 2013 so 27 years!  A great company and amazing people to have worked with for that period of time.  Still surreal to me but I'm very excited and ready to head into this next 'season' of life.

The last blog entry I said there were decisions to be made...well - it has been a decision making month!  Let me tell has been awesome to see things work out and come together.  Ethiopia has not come together as previously thought or hoped for but that is still in process.  In the meantime my 'accountability team'  has affirmed and encouraged my desire to go work with my brother and sister-in-law in Poland!  Actually they live in Hungary but also work in Poland.  So that is the meaning of the greeting above...Czesc is 'hello' in Polish (pronounced tesh-ch).  So on November 20th I am headed to Hungary to stay with Bob, Coleen and Joshua for a bit and then the first week in December I will head up to Krakow, Poland.  I will be working in a coffee shop (Sweet Surrender is the name of it; close to the Schindler factory) and we are closed on Sunday because that is also where church is held!  Church planting/growth is the main goal through this community outreach at the coffee shop and hopefully teaching some conversational English on the side as well.

Yes...the climate and culture will not even be close to Ethiopia but I will actually be working with a team and learning a lot!  All in hopes to gain experience in this new calling of my life.  I am very thankful to MANY people...really - you all have been so amazing, name have been there!  So thank you for that - it certainly does help to know that people 'have my back' as it were.

I will be raising funds for this as well...letters are going out - and my home church (Fremont Presbyterian Church) has graciously offered to be my 'bank' as it were so all funds will go through there.  That allows people to get tax deductions and allows me to be accountable with donations!  If you feel so led - please feel free to send a donation to Fremont...5770 Carlson Drive/Sacramento, CA 95819.  Just put a note in there (not on the payment) that it is for me and/or Poland.  So - my calendar over the coming weeks/months is as follows:
November 1 - last day
November 6 - 12 --heading up to Oregon and Idaho to spend some time with my parents and sisters
November 15-17 - Okalahoma City for Cross Cultural Orientation Class
November 20 - fly to Budapest!
November 27 - Dec 1 - Turkey for area missionary meetings/gatherings
December - Krakow!
June 10 - current return flight date back to the states

Phew...there you have it.  So thank you once again and I will probably post more over the coming weeks...and definitely once I get to Poland!  Coffee shops are great for wireless connections...woo hoo! is good and I am a firm believer that God is way better.
Do widzenia (goodbye).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What am I doing?!...and where am I going?!

One month left until I am done at Pacific Coast Supply!  Crazy to think that I've been there for 27 years and a month from now - just gone!  Excited? - definitely!  A little nervous? - defintely!  But ready for this next part of my life - definitely!
So my official last month at work was great but I did end up in tears when I bought a paper.  It was 'Shriner Hospital' Day for our local paper so there were people selling the Sacramento Bee at various intersections around town.  Wait...backup.  I went to get gas (at Arco of course) and put in my first problem; the machine took it.  Second bill - rejected it like 3 times - yes, of course I kept trying.  Finally gave in and just got what gas I could with the first bill.  See where this is going?....yes!  Then I drove through an intersection that was selling those Shriner papers and I was able to buy one since I had some cash!
I am a Shriner kid...was in the Shriner hospital (Portland) for surgery on my hands waaaayyyy back in the day.  I really don't remember it but my older sister Susan was in there at the same time (and I believe more times than I) and I remeber the nurses taking us to get ice cream together :).  Crazy memory but there I was buying the paper and just burst into tears!  I guess it was just a snapshot of my life and all that has appened, where I've been, where I've come and even more importantly where I have yet to go!
Several amazing people in my life have asked where that may be...where am I going?  It looks like the housing arrangements in Maasha, Ethiopia are not in place for me to return there in November.  So - having said that and of course my last day at Pacific Coast Supply being November 1st...what to do?  I have a great team of people that have been working with me on my next steps - how/when/where/why etc and so we are working on some options.  Better to be in the mission field gaining experience than staying stateside and not following my heart - right?  YES!
So that means some decisions - I do have a couple places I could be by mid-November that are not Ethiopia.   Very exciting work going on around the world and I'm excited to be considered to possibly be a part of it - yes, it would be on a volunteer basis so I will need to raise support.  How long?...not sure, thinking 6 months to a year at this point so maybe both opportunities could be a reality before I make it to Ethioipia.
Long story short - would appreciate your thoughts and prayers...wisdom and clarity right now would be a great thing.  Life is very good - and God is still (even when writing this in America!) is still waaayyyy better.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Burgers and washers and traffic oh my!!!!

A little messed up time wise---3:30 a.m. here and I'm awake. 1:30 p.m. in Ethiopia right now. Oh well-it will take a while to adjust back. 

But what a great day and country!!!   I had my In-N-Out about 3 hours after landing,  I washed my clothes twice just for good measure---the sound of the washing machine was music to my ears!  And I drove into Sacramento at rush hour--traffic with no cows, goats, people on the road!  All three in a matter of hours...AMAZING. 

Great flights home---watched a few movies, napped and got VERY excited when the flight attendant handed me a toblerone chocolate bar!  I asked if I could have a diet coke with it and he said yes...would you like ice?  I got tears in my eyes I was so happy.  

Joyful to be picked up by Michael...and my parents are at my Aunts house so family time too:).  Book club last night-- fun to tell some stories and catch up with a few dear friends!  
All in all-'re-entry' is going well.  Lets see 10 re-entry observations:
1.  Efficiency
2.  Smooth roads and traffic flows--all lit up at night!
3.  Summer heat!  Means no rain- or mud- or jackets. 
4.  Appliances--washers, dryers, refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioning and fans
5.  Wireless...ease of access
6.  Indoor plumbing--everywhere!
7.  Ease of communication--not having to use hand motions and 'simple' English to be understood. 
8.  Greeting people---much less hugging and hand shaking. 
9.  Comfort level sitting here at night--doors open and not concerned of bugs, creatures or source of light. 
10.  Food--rumbles have calmed down quite a bit in the last 15 hours. 

Not sure about frequency of blogs going forward but thank you for your comments, emails and following!  I am excited to go back in November--- I will probablly post updates about that coming up. 

Life is good---I do enjoy it very much and God has proven to me through experiencing the last five weeks in Ethiopia that He is everywhere and again....waaaaaayyy better!
Hugs to you:)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Re-entry is a weird deal...
1.  Traffic/roads---so, so different.  And will I really be the one driving again soon?!  I do enjoy driving:)
2. Food---this is talked about by many, not just me. We all agree In-N-Out is the first stop. Ahhhh...a diet coke and cheeseburger with fries!  #2 with no onions please!
3.  Shopping---supermarkets!  One stop shopping like Wal-Mart or Target. Just the thought is a tad overwhelming. I remember my nephews coming to America from Ukraine and there was some concern when I immediately wanted to take them to Toys-R-Us...such excess!
4.  The speed of life. I do enjoy the quickness of my life and doing/getting things done quickly. But there is something to be said for this different, slower, pace of life as well. Lazinrss is not good but pace is an interesting dilemma really. 
5.  Cleanliness---rainy season brings mud and I'm a mess!  I truly cannot wait to put in a load of clothes...I may wash them twice for good measure.  I have not seen a washing machine here...all hand washing and air drying. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Showers and asking...

Showers...such a simple pleasure. But go a while without one and boy howdy!  I let the water wash over me and said 'sweet Georgia brown'---yes, I really did:). Thank The Lord for whoever invented them.  Not too common in the villages of Western Ethiopia:)
Having said that---I was torn in leaving Masha. Such a good time with people but Addis does have a few more amenities readily available!
Leaving---some people ask for things as we are leaving-not a lot but some. would be so easy to give 1,800 birr (approx $100) and they would do what they want and we would just leave. But that has proven to not help---in fact---it hurts!  Thankfully the church is very 'complete' here and they care for the mind, body and spirit. So various funds (medical, educational, small business) funds have been set up and people can go through those avenues to receive assistance.  In fact, if there is family etc that SHOULD be caring for that person...they will be approached to assist by appropriate folks. 
It's a fine line---so I found inviting people to a macchiotto or soda or a meal is very acceptable  and the cost is minimal (6 of us had a full meal the other night for 200 birr--$10.75). WOW...right?
So it goes, I trust when I return I can give much---appropriately--but much. That is what my heart enjoys...!  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Good times

We had a party!  All the Presbytery and translation families were invited...hosted by the forenjis:). Good times---Ethiopian ladies did the cooking which of course is better than my cooking!  Karen cooks well...but forenji food and this was traditional Ethiopian. It was excellent and I had talked of some games with kids so we were able to do that too. Three legged race---funny!  Of course we got adults involved---fairly competitive folks I must say. Our driver probably the most--he wanted to win!  We did a word match deal English word and a Shekka ( local language) word. Each person had a word taped to them and they had to find their I was shocked on this one.  Ethiopians are pretty quiet spoken for the most part but this group of 40-50 got pretty loud and chaotic!  It was awesome---Andualem (high school director) was with us as well and he did not like the chaos:)...forever a teacher I guess.  We were all outside and the rain stayed away...thank The Lord.   It rained later that night but not from 4-7 (10-1 Ethiopian time). Perfect. 
Anyway--the party was kind of a parting gift. Our last day in Masha is tomorrow (July 20).  Big market day (Saturday) so will need to make it to that. Sunday we fly from Gambela to Addis and then fly out of Addis Tuesday night.  About 22 hours later hopefully land in SFO!. I have only done the 2 day drive to and from Masha so I feel pretty spoiled flying--a new experience for me. 
Great trip-great people-beautiful country-and some plans rolling along for my return.  Life is good---God is definitely way better---proven over and over this trip:). 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Blog by candlelight today (July 16). The power was on and off the last few hours so here I am!
One of my students from 2007, Amanuel Haile, came to see us the other day.  He is working for the beer distributor here in Maasha and taking distance learning (online courses) for Accounting thru the University in Tepi. Yaaaay!   That is great news!  He gifted me today with a bottle of some kind of honey.  It is like a liquid and he said they use it to treat colds etc.  Hmmm...I will ask some more questions to other people to see if I can understand:). 

While we were in Tepi we saw the University and they are building a lot. I didn't see any of the students wearing jerseys or sweatshirts with 'TU' on them....and I wonder what the mascot is?!!!  That area is lower elevation and is known for their pineapple, warm weather and bugs (yes-I got mosquito bites!). So I think they should be named the Tepi Pinebugs!
Ok...not sure when I can post this...all is well and we head home in a week.    I still have 2 1/2 weeks off after I return and I think I'm okay with that!  Will be nice to catch up with family and friends. 

We are heading to a literacy class on Wednesday. Imagine--having your 'heart' language never written down before!  That is what people are going through here in Maasha---in the 'Shekka Zone' of Ethiopia. Spoken language only until about 12 years ago. Then Bible translation work was started by Wycliffe/SIL and the need for writing became fairly key to the whole deal. So now people are learning how to read in their 'heart' language. Amazing!  That, my friends and family, is GREAT stuff!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My return

Ok....I think it is official---I will be returning.  Training on computers...some have them here but don't really know how to use them or care for them. Then I will do English---meaning conversational most of leaders and nights/weekends at the local high school. It helps to know the Director!  And some work with kids/youth at the local churches ...sounds good to me!  
The housing---yet to be determined but getting estimates on a house to be built---very simple but with water/electricity and plumbing!  Amazing--I keep having dreams of people coming to visit---the estimate is for a six bedroom house!  
All the discussions have been very humbling--very kind words and encouragement. Again; life is good-even great BUT God s better!

We are in Tepi--better Internet connections---have a great weekend!  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Random thoughts

I opened a bank account today...Commercial Bank of Ethiopia!  I think that will help for when I return. When we are in Addis again I have to go to the head office but I have an account book and the whole deal. Kinda makes it real huh?! Excited!  

Last Sunday....drove to church as far as we could then had to walk about 30 minutes....MUD!!!!  This past Monday-invited for breakfast to our driver's home---MUD!!!
Guess what I did?  Yep---fell each time. First was going up an incline so that was embarrassing but today was going down an incline...I did the 'snow ski' move...fell on my side and popped back up. I felt so bad.  Dumb. 
Ahhh well so goes life--I'm thankful we were in Metu and I had a warm shower to clean up.  Now---unpacking the 'real' shoes/boots and we will see if that helps:).  

6-sadist (no...not the same)
8- cement 
10- asir

I like pillows, in to sleep with a LOT of pillows; building somewhat of a cocoon for myself:). As I lay here in my different kind of cocoon...mosquito net/tent thing...I was thinking how great life is. And as I've said in my past posts /blogs...God is better!  I lay here with no pillow...using a pair of pants and shirt for my pillow and I sleep like a baby:)!  I think that is awesome...those that camp may usually enjoy this life but I grew up in a camping family so when I left home I was happy to leave camping too. There are stages/seasons to life and I'm enjoying this one...camping more or less and definitely without my pillows! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ethiopian food...

Ethiopian food is not my favorite but I've been doing good!  I don't think I've offended anybody--I hope not:). 
Injera---with EVERY meal. The best I can explain I think is a cross between a pancake and a burrito. It is doughy like a pancake but thin like a burrito. Depending on who makes it--can be sour. I remember sour from last time for some reason but have not had sour so far this year. I'm okay with that!
Roll injera out partially on your plate---part of it stays rolled up and you put the meat; lentils, vegetables or what have you on the part that is rolled out. Typical---some cooked spinach, maybe potatoes cooked in some oil, and chunks of beef or lamb cooked in sauce---usually hot but they tame it down for us forenji type.  Sorry I can't seem to upload pictures to my blog:)! eat with your RIGHT hand.  Always--never with the left.  You tear a chunk of injera off, grab one or two items and pop it in your mouth. Voila---Ethiopian food. Washing hands before AND after the meal of course ( no towel or napkin-air dry).  
Now breakfast---they do serve porridge (oatmeal more or less) that I like a lot. We order eggs quite a bit too and usually have it as a sandwich or they do serve forks. One morning a plate came with no fork but bread showed up so we used that like injera. Good times. 
And by the way---usually at restaurants we do have pasta and rice as options---usually very popular items on my list:). 
That is my Ethiopian experience for now---this week we will be in Maasha and Tepi. Hope all goes well--Tepi trip last year did not go so well apparently so folks are a bit nervous. 
Gelatoma (Oromo for thank you...yes-new tribe=new word) for following!  It seems that people here want me to come back so that is good news!  Sounds like Metu may be the place---most 'live able' should we say. We will see how it all plays out---My heart is more Maasha:). 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

It's Sunday!

Well we went 'to the end of the earth' as the people in Begi called it.  Border of South Sudan and it was nice.  We saw two refugee camps and I am very sad to say we could not enter them. The one we thought we were going to; we did not have the correct papers. Maybe that is for the best but I must say I was disappointed. There are 10,000 refugees staying in the camp--- it is ran by the UN and the Ethiopian govt gives food.  Apparently a lot of the food comes from Anerica ultimately so it does not help the local economy. 
It had a gated entrance, barbed wire fence around a lot of it but it did look like some people could come and go. Apparently some do attend 3 different local churches.  Majority are Muslim but the local Pastors/congregations do go in and visit, give and put up tents. Most of the structures were tent like...white tarps that had UN on them. Some buildings were near the front--those had tin roofs etc and were offices apparently. 
In 2006 there was a Muslim uprising so a lot of Protestant churches were burned.  People died then and the situation is still fairly tenuous. 
So all in all an interesting trip....back in Nejo now, back to Metu tomorrow. Oh my gosh...I almost forgot---we saw some kind of cat (leopard/cheetah?) run across the road today!  AWESOME!  On the other side were baboons so we think it was being 
Happy Sinday to you all...I love Sunday:). Life is good, God is better:). 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th!

Traveling to a new area for me and it is just amazingly beautiful. We left Metu at about 9:00 and went 225 kilometers (140 miles) and we arrived in Nejo at 4:30. We stopped for lunch, fuel and Dave was sick the last part (not good...he is resting now hopefully) so about 6 hours travel time. The road for the first 150 kilometers (94 miles) was tough to travel. 
Cabin in Michigan: cut-across road
John Day area:  Canyon Mountain trail but a bit wider
California:  off road like where Coleman took me in the jeep to the zip line!
Sounds of Ethiopia:
1.  Dogs fighting/ barking/ howling at night, maybe over food?
2.  Horns honking---short honks talking to people and animals on the road. Long honks when fairly angry or they see somebody they know--a wave is added:)
3.  Rain on the metal roof...hail in Addis!
4.  Clapping in a restaurant---to get attention of servers etc
5.  Call to prayer--Mosque
6.  Kids choir practice--listened to them learn a new song--no music to learn off, just repeat and memorize. 
7.  Cows mooing, goats bleating (?)!
8.  Kids yelling 'forenji' or 'you' or 'hello' when we drive by them. 
Happy 4th of July to you all!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Time! took me two weeks to stop wearing my watch.  Probably should have been two days but...slow learner!
We were invited to be at Tesfaye's house at 10:00 ( or 4:00 Ethiopian time) and we got there about 10:30. We were served a cold soda and popcorn/snacks at 11:00.....Hmmm what would have happened if we were 15 minutes early like my parents are to everything?!!!  We will never know but there you have it!  Time is on a whole different level here:).

We arrived back in Metu this evening--we will meet with leaders here tomorrow ( some future planning for me--did some this morning as well!).  The accommodations here are nicer than Maasha--loved my shower!  Right now it is raining---metal roofs are the 'nice' roofs here-the sound of rain is like music to me---I love it!  Soothing...

Thursday (happy 4th if July!) we head to Begi- a two day trip I think. There is a Sudanese refugee camp we will visit. Could be a bit tough...but looking forward to it actually....think I can play and/or sing with kids maybe??!! Our church took an offering for this camp so it should be good.

Much love to all of you:)...PS--feeling good again--thanks for prayers!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

It has been a long time! I am in Maasha and the connection to the Internet has been difficult:). It is 1:00 a.m. Here and working so I thought I would try this from my phone.  Kinda slow!

Ok...Ethiopian calendar:  today July 1, 2013 to me and you---Ethiopians---it is June 14, 2005!  So imagine their Y2K issues...once in 'our' 2000 and then again for them.  Funny!

Time---6:00 am starts at 0:00...we will meet at 2:00 to walk to the Presbytery office...that is 8:00 am to you and me:). Awesome isn't it!? when we talk---we use both and so do the Ethiopians. Communication is tough enough-don't want to confuse time and dates too!

Here are some menu items that I thought you may like:

Beef meet balls
PanecakesFrench frizePiper steak (pepper)Rosted beafChicken cottlet

I've been talking to a lot of people about my return in November and they are very excited, encouraging and making lists!  Good stuff.  Makes me very grateful to all who are so supportive in this new venture for me. Thank you!

At this very moment I am awake because my stomach did not like something I ate started on some meds and would appreciate prayers to get better:)

Life moves slowly here but that is okay---we talked about that when I return...culture shock. As one American put it---being here for 6-8 months---the honeymoon is over!  Whole different story.   So on that note...I will try to post this!  Goodbye from Maasha!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Traveling along in a Range Rover

Traveling in Ethiopia is an adventure.  From 2005 when I first came here - the road Jima to  is VASTLY improved!  209 miles and it took us about 6 hours...we took a while getting out of Addis but then in the country you have to watch out for pot holes, people, cows, goats and we even saw baboons today!  I'm so bummed I did not get a picture...there were baby baboons which I had not seen before.  It was awesome.  At the time I was sitting in the front seat and had the window down so I saw them pretty close.  One jumped up on a road post and looked right at me so I said 'hello'...I'm quite sure he was happy that a 'forenji' (foreigner) acknowledged him.  At least this forenji was happy he looked at me!
The area is so beautiful - it is the rainy season so everything is green and lush.  Farmers were out plowing with their 1 or 2 oxen and corn was growing! There is a yellow flower that is everywhere that is just really pretty...yeah - sorry - no idea what it is.  My Aunt Sue would probably know though!   Oh wait - I did know the zinnias we saw tonight at dinner...I was somewhat proud of myself for that actually!  The have bougeonvilla (sp?) too which is just amazing.  Little kids came up to us and shook our hands on the way to dinner - they think that is quite the novel idea - getting to touch a white person.  Older kids and adults would like to as well but little kids are waaaayyyy cuter so I will shake their hands anytime!  Cutest smiles and giggles afterwards.
Habtamu found us at dinner...that was amazing.  He is Tesfaye's (graduate in Addis) brother and he is graduating from  University on Saturday.  That is huge - he has had a tough go of it so very glad he made it through.
We have electricity and warm showers so I am thankful...always keep the flashlight close by and suck it up when it has to be a cold shower :).  I've only had one so far this trip which is nice.  I"m sure it won't be the last.  Getting into my 'hotel' room was an adventure - no lights on in the hall and I kinda felt drunk or something searching around for the key hole.  Got it though so...there you have it.
Basically been here a far - so good!  I'm going to try to attach a map of Ethiopia so you can see where Addis is and then Jima.  Tomorrow we go to Metu and Maasha is our final destination which isn't even on the map but it is southwest of Metu about 50 miles.  That's it for now - thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


That is 'hello' in Amharic...I can handle that one :).  Amasaganallo = thank you...I have that one down too.  I'm sure there will be more - I have a lot of notes in my previous journals so I need to review again.
It is Saturday night and I was listening to the rain, lightning, thunder and then it turned into hail!  It was amazing and all I could think of was...the roofs are going to be ruined and this would be good business for Pacific Supply!  Sad....but I guess 27 years in the building industry kind of does that to me:).  Alas, metal roofs  for the most part here in Addis so the rain/hail is loud but damage will probably be minimal.  In the countryside where there are more of the grass hut type of houses; definitely getting wet there.
Today was graduation day!!....very nice ceremony and we were ushered right to the front considered to be 'special guests'.  Kind of embarrassing but on the other hand - kind of nice.  They turned a ceiling fan on for us and gave us water.  WOW...very nice. The people were packed in there for sure.   Seminary graduation - included graduates of Theology, music, leadership and development.  Interesting mix and this year was the first time they had graduates at the Masters level (Theology).  Tesfaye and Andinet (from Maasha) both got their bachelor's in Theology....very good!  14 of us went to 'Lucy's' for dinner afterwards and that was really nice.  If you come to Ethiopia - I will take you to that restaurant...let's see - about 80 birr for stir fry vegetables and rice.  80 birr divided by 18 = about $4!  Not a bad deal...oh - plus a macchiato for dessert which is about .35 cents.
Art is not feeling well so we will stay in Addis another day...hopefully he will feel better to travel.  It will take two days to get to Maasha and I can't wait!  So ready to be there and in a smaller town etc.  And ready to see more familiar faces - from teaching English 6 years ago...many students and Anduelum who assisted us in teaching and is now the principal at the school.
Dunowun (goodbye). :)
PS - it is now Monday morning but it seems to be the best time to get on this website to post!  Sorry for the old news - Art went to the doctor and got some meds so we hope to leave Tuesday now.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Macchiatos and some factoids :)

I looooovvvveee the macchiatos here in Ethiopia.  We have been in country for about what - about 36 hours (?) and already had 4 of them!  And no - they were not from Starbucks - I did see a few of those in Frankfurt but no Starbucks here in Ethiopia :).
Ethiopia - population approx. 80 million people.  The country is about the size of Texas.
Addis - population approx 3 milion is at 8,500 feet in elevation.  Really quite pretty and fairly clean as well.  Their cars and trucks do not pass any emission tests so the pollution from that is kinda nasty but oh well!  They just had a big 50 year celebration of the African Union so some new roads were put in and the city was 'spruced' up.  It looks nice.  It is the rainy season here now so it is muddy to walk around but the weather is not hot and for that I am thankful!  I actually wore my light fleece jacket - woo hoo!
SIM card purchased today - so that is kind of nice...called my Mom and Dad.  Trying to set it up as a hotspot but very slow so not sure how well that will work.  Speaking of purchasing things...hmmmm the exchange rate is 18.6 birr to 1 US Dollar.  So...when they tell me that something is 200 freaks me out thinking that is a lot but that is $10.64.  That's not bad!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


So...sitting at the gate waiting to get on the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft.  I think I will sleep well on this flight!  Since we arrive in the morning now - we will probably shower and try to stay up for the day to get our sleep pattern in sync with +10 hours from Sacramento :).
Frankfurt is a beautiful city!....took a tour - came back on the train and had a few moments of panic in the train station but...all is well.  Track 21 at 7:01 - easy enough...bought my ticket at the machine and the train came in, people got off and all the doors shut tight!  Looked at the sign and it said 'Bitte nichte einstagen'.  Now - I only took a semester of German but bitte = please and nichte = no so I knew something was up.  I asked at a little snack place and this 'kid' told me to go downstairs.  I knew it was train S8 or S9 so down I went and all the numbers were in the 100's!  So...I finally found a sign - had to keep going down.  Found train S8 departing in about 2 on and looked at the train map.  Thought I had about 5 stops before the airport....but at the 3rd stop a lot of people were getting off and I saw the sign that said 'Flugenhaven'....which some guy had told me was German for airport!  So I dashed off the train and was very glad to see signs to Terminal 1, B gates!   Frankfurt is in the center of Europe, center of Germany and they are quite proud of these two facts.  They are basically a transient city because of it - you can get anywhere from here.  They are also a huge financial center - for the Euro.  So...interesting, beautiful sites to see and I enjoy my day in Frankfurt. As I sit at the gate with Ethiopians - they are quite friendly, and I must say that aside from the 'kid' that told me to go downstairs - I wouldn't say Germans are that friendly or helpful :).  So it goes...since I have quite a bit of German in me....I better deal with it.


We left San Francisco over an hour late...loading baggage took a while so we missed our connecting flight in Frankfurt.  That means I get to see Frankfurt!  It is almost 2:00 p.m. here and hot!  My favorite :)....but our flight doesn't leave for Addis now until 10:00 p.m. and I'm excited!  We had McDonalds and the rest of the group decided to stay in the airport.  Hope I get some good pictures and adventures to share.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Leaving on a jet plane...

It's kinda crazy how much I love airports, airplanes and just pretty much anything associated with travel!  

So here I am...a happy girl sitting in the San Francisco airport - moments away from boarding.  Traveling to Frankfurt, Germany.  This leg is a 10 hour and 50 minute flight.  Then from there another flight into Addis Ababa which is 6 hours and 50 minutes.  So...the plan is to arrive at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night in Addis.  In time to crash!  

See you or talk to you tomorrow hopefully depending on internet access!  Here we gooooooooo!!!!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Malaria Monday....

Malaria is not a disease I want to brother got it at one point in his life and that was worrisome enough!  So - I will be taking anti-malaria meds on Monday for the next 10 weeks.  When I went to check on my shots etc - Africa is one of those countries that you pretty much need to get every known vaccine!  I already had Hep A and B series but had to get tetnus, typhoid, meningitis, and polio.  Crazy huh?  Yes...yellow fever as well but that was determined a while back that I could not get due to some other health issues. arm was sore for a few days but I should be pretty good while I'm away for this jaunt to Ethiopia :).

Oh - some of you have inquired about donating - you certainly may!  I just don't have it set up through here (yet-not sure if it will be prior to leaving next week).  If you so desire - send a check to the church (don't put my name on it) and then you will be able to have the donation be tax-deductible:
Fremont Presbyterian Church
5770 Carlson Drive
Sacramento, CA 95819
Check memo:  Ethiopia blog

Thanks for your encouragement - one week to go before taking off from San Francisco!  Woo hoo! :)
Psalm 91:1-2

Saturday, June 8, 2013

So it begins...Ethiopia

New blogger here.  Not sure what I'm doing but I have some amazing people in my life that seem interested in 'following' me during my adventures this summer.  The name of this blog (letusgive) may seem odd but hopefully it will become clear through my subsequent posts - to me as I write it and also to those that read!  Here we go...together!

Ethiopia...that is the place I am going for 5 weeks starting June 17th.  I cannot wait and I must admit I'm a bit nervous as well!  Have I been there before?  Yes...once in 2005 for 2 weeks and once in 2007 for 3 weeks.  The 3 week trip was to teach English to high school students.  I fell in love with their beautiful faces, smiles and ambition to learn.  I'm definitely looking forward to seeing them again!

This whole year has been a whirlwind so far but bottom line is - I'm preparing to leave Pacific Coast (having worked there for 27 years) and moving onto more mission oriented work - more or less a second career! 

Thanks to all my family and friends that have been so encouraging since I 'announced' all these changes in mid-April.  This trip is in preparation for a return in November for approximately 8 months.  I am not sure how much internet access I will have while in Ethiopia but I will keep you updated as much as possible.

Life is good, God is waaaayyy better. :)