Living out our dream

Emily and I are slowly but surely adjusting to life here in Peru. We are truly blessed to have such a privilege where we can uproot ourselves and have an amazing experience of being lay missionaries in Peru, South America. Many people have told us that it is amazing we have chosen to “suspend” our lives so that we can “give” to others less fortunate. The truth is we feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be living in Peru. [Read more…]

A bed is a bed if it is a bed to you

I had a beautiful and powerful time in Dadim last fall when I stayed and worked for two months on the emergency feeding program during the drought. Upon returning back to Awassa ‘city’ I was very happy to be re-united with Mark and to be back at Bushulo clinic with my patients and co-workers, but in some ways it was a difficult adjustment as a part of me longed for the people of Dadim. There is something magical about the pastoralists, their lifestyle and the rugged terrain of their lands that really draws one in.

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Our family grows by 1

We are so happy to share with you that last week we became the mommy and daddy of baby Emebet!  She is a 7 month old girl with intense eyes and a beautiful set of dimples from Northern Ethiopia. She is absolutely wonderful!

After finishing our adoption application some months ago, to our great joy we met little Emebet for the first time on April 30th (the feast day of Our Lady of Africa). The name Emebet, pronounced Emma-bet in Amharic language means “special lady” or “honoured woman”, a name they often use for Mary the Mother of Jesus.  We have decided to keep it for our special little lady.

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A bunch of bananas

A bunch of bananas, some flour, sugar, a couple of eggs, oil, a little bit of baking soda and baking powder, a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. With these simple ingredients and an oven, I made a loaf of banana bread, here known as “pastel de plátano,” and with it began the start of something beautiful that I never intended nor predicted. I simply made it because I thought it would be something fun to do and be a nice treat to share with the neighbors.

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The desert

To me as a Catholic, Lent is a time to reflect and pray just as Jesus did in the desert 40 days before His death. It is a time for self-reflection and to gently strip away some of the things that separate us from God to create a more intimate relationship. As I recently heard one of the Comboni Fathers here in Trujillo say, in prayer and in fasting we have to look at our intentions. Fasting during lent is not about prayer and fasting with the intention, for example, of losing weight, but whatever it is that we do, no matter how big or small, we must do it with the intention of it bringing us closer to God.

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Mourning and healing

The traditions of mourning the death of a loved one are some of the most different to us coming from a western culture.  Funerals are significant occasions in Ethiopia that involve the entire community. A white tent pitched alongside a house or the street is a sure sign of a family in mourning. When a person dies, mourners gather at the deceased’s home to comfort the family. The mourning tent will remain up for more than a week and during that time the family is never alone. Friends and relatives (and distant relatives and acquaintances) will come by each day to speak and offer their condolences but mostly to sit in silence with the family.  A typical funeral may be attended by thousands of people.

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How are you?

One morning this week, after daily Mass, I was hurrying to get back to the house in time to finish getting ready for work. Instead of giving individual greetings to each member of the community as I normally do, I said a general good morning to everyone. Later in the morning, Br. Luigi teasingly told me that he was mad at me because I hadn’t said good morning to him. I realized that because I hadn’t greeted him separately, I had not in fact actually greeted him. Whereas in America a communal greeting is perfectly acceptable, here it is not sufficient and in some situations may even be considered rude.
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Filled with small graces

My first Christmas in Ethiopia has been filled with small graces. In truth, I had been feeling melancholy for most of the month of December. Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7 not December 25. But more significant to me is that Christmas is considered a minor feast in Ethiopia. There are no special traditions, decorations or even special hymns for Christmas. So I had really been praying to just get through December.

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The littlest missionary

Many azungu (white people) return to their home countries to have babies and the fact that we didn’t has been a source of much surprise and joy to every Malawian we encounter. Malawians express great pride in our son Seth being born here. People in our village have claimed him as their own, calling him Mwana wa Malawi (Malawian baby) and Mwana wathu (our baby). We even have had more than one person joke with us that when we return to the States we will have to leave him with them.

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Retreating in Malawi

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to lead a retreat for our Catholic student group at the college. We decided to center the retreat on one of our favorite themes: Theology of the Body. Theology of the Body is based on a series of lectures given by Blessed John Paul II at his Wednesday Papal Audiences. Through these lectures he developed a beautiful theology of how our bodies reveal to us the truth of God’s intimate relationship with us. We in turn are able to imitate God’s loving relationship in how we relate to and share our love with others.

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