Do you remember the last time you visited a water park and rode down one of the huge inner-tube slides? You start off by standing in line for a long, long time, and then, when it’s finally your turn, you place your tube right at the start of the slide and sit down. Almost immediately you realize how debilitated you’ve made yourself. Your feet can barely splash in the water like a baby, and your arms only reach about a foot outside of your tube. You’re so helpless that you’re dependent on a life-guard to give you a shove down the slide. Continue reading
There’s something about grace that can’t be communicated. I can tell you what happened, I can tell you what I thought or how I felt, but there’s an intangible quality to God’s grace that leaves it in the moment it happened. Maybe that’s why it’s said His mercies are new every morning. They can’t be carried over, piled up, or hoarded. They arrive at the perfect moment, tailored to our exact needs. And for that moment, we get a glimpse: this is Holy Ground. He is right here with me. And then we gather up our strength – the strength He gave us – and move on to the next moment, and we need Him there too.
Yesterday was a hard day, the culmination of a hard month, maybe a hard year. And I hit a moment Continue reading
Now we’ve been here 17 days, and we haven’t wasted any time. Last week Casey and I began our language studies. We’re meeting for 2 hours every weekday with a phenomenal language helper named Wuleta. After only a week, we already love her dearly. We’re starting out focusing on vocabulary comprehension, some verbs and tenses, and greetings. It’s overwhelming how much we’ve covered in only six days. Every day during our lesson, Wuleta makes recordings for us to review during the evening. After only 2 hours of study, my brain is absolutely fried. I usually end up taking a nap in the afternoon. Language learning is an exhausting business. A friend reminded me today that learning a new language and being in a new culture makes our brains become hyper-vigilant, just like trauma-victims. This wears us out and makes us more irritable with each other. We all need extra sleep and quiet time.
Right now I’m sitting at our dining table in our house in Addis. The windows are open with a nice breeze stirring the curtains. I can hear the kids playing volleyball outside with Casey and our guard. It seems almost picture-perfect, but, ah, the paradox.
Yesterday I couldn’t stop crying. Tears were rolling down my cheeks almost the entire day as I tried to sort out our kitchen. The simplest tasks, like washing dishes, are overwhelming and confusing. Washing a load of towels took me the entire morning. We have a washing machine, but it’s “semi-automatic,” meaning I have to initiate every step and then hang the clothes out to dry. We went to the grocery store and spent $70 on what felt like only a few things. Groceries are expensive here, and calculating prices in birr confuses me. Right now, 100 birr is about $5. I know that eventually I will learn to “think in birr,” but right now I keep trying to do the math so I can know if an item is really worth the price. It’s exhausting.
We haven’t slept through the night yet, so we’re all grumpy and tired. It’s hard to watch my kids mourn what we’ve left behind; we’ve had everything from tantrums to pouting to weeping to just plain meanness. We’re all at our worst right now. Add to that the language barrier and the culture gap, and we feel completely disoriented.
This is just really, really hard. But there’ve been many blessings too. I know so many are praying for us, and we’ve had a kind friend reach out to us here in Addis. She’s been so encouraging and is taking me out tomorrow to give me some shopping tips. I have to believe that things are going to get better. In fact, that’s why I’m blogging this. I want to be honest about our experience, and I want to look back someday and think, “Wow, that was really hard, but God brought us through it.”
Thank you for all the prayers.
One of the most important things we learned during our time at MTI was the concept of “Paradox.” I know this is going to be a foundational part of our transition and adjustment in our new home, but I also think that it’s a concept all Christians should understand and embrace.
Here’s the cliff notes: for every transition, adventure, or new phase of life a pair of ducks come along. The “Yay Duck” represents all the good and exciting aspects of the new journey, and the “Yuck Duck” represents all the hard, challenging, or just plain sad parts of the journey. But here’s the catch: the ducks swim together, always. You can’t have one without the other; they’re partners. So what do you have when you have a pair-of-ducks? Continue reading