Thy Kingdom Come…

One family's journey crossing cultures in pursuit of the kingdom of God

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Identity

I wish I had a profound post to share about identity.   So much of our time in Ethiopia has been asking questions about who we are, what we are about, how do we do was we feel God has called us to do?  As we are transitioning away from Ethiopia and back to the US, we will still be asking ourselves those questions – who are we know, how have we changed, what is next for us?

Unfortunately, this post is not prompted by those profound questions of life.   I am writing this to let you know that I am not trying to rent apartments in New York City or have I ever.   Someone, it seems, has taken on my identity to try to scam people out of deposit money while promising them apartments in NYC.   ITS NOT ME!!  Please don’t give any money to anybody who claims to be me online.    As evident from this blog, my online activity is minimal at best and I don’t have any apartments to rent.

Thanks to those people who figured it out and let me know.   I haven’t been scammed out of any money and I hope you haven’t either.

Jon

Separation

Oil pastel by Grace

Me and Daddy Sometimes Apart – Oil pastel by Grace

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Me and Daddy Sometimes Apart – Oil pastel by Grace

The art may speak for itself but I will add a bit of context.

The travel required, mostly of Jon and very occasionally of me, has been one of the unexpected and quite challenging aspects of living and working cross-culturally.  I’m not talking about the scheduled home assignments when we uproot and travel together, but the frequent conferences, educational meetings, and government inspections that take Jon out of Addis or, most frequently, out of Ethiopia.  If you add to this the fact that Jon has still been expected to be at the hospital immediately prior to and upon return, often taking call the week before or after (yes, in a state of jet lag), this has resulted in 1-3 weeks per month of physical separation.  The remaining 1-3 weeks are characterized by exhaustion and emotional separation.

Some families seem to take it in stride.  Real? A facade? I’m not sure, but for us it has torn us apart and for Grace, especially, it has been one aspect of life here that has become unbearable.

This is something that is somewhat unique to the medical profession and yet other cross-cultural workers struggle with the same work-life balance.  As the art clearly communicates, it’s something we need to work on figuring out better.

Home, a Song by Grace (Home, pt. 5)

It’s been almost two years since I write about the idea of “home” and yet, it continues to be a theme that we question and seek and yet remains elusive.  Grace, especially, has been struggling with this concept, as evidenced in a song she wrote recently.

Home

Until I am 18

I will never be

in the USA

living permanently.

Chorus:

I want my home

I want my home

 I love my home

My home is

not my home

My home is

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Chorus:

I want my home

I want my home

I love my home

I miss Olivia

I miss shopping

I miss McDonalds

I miss Chick-fil-A

I miss my old church, Intown

Chorus:

I want my home

I want my home

I love my home

I’ll miss Tendayi

I’ll miss Sishu

I’ll miss “home”

Chorus:

I want my home

I want my home

I love my home

But I’m 9 years old

9 more years

How will I wait?

Chorus:

I want my home

I want my home

I love my home

I am Grace Pollock

of Atlanta, Georgia, USA

not Grace Pollock

of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa

Transition to Grade 12

“I have to go yell at some grade 11 students,” the other teacher called out as she left my room abruptly one morning. As she did so, five or six of my grade 12 students looked alarmed.

“What did we do?” asked one with concern in her voice. I had to remind them that they were not in grade 11 any more and they weren’t in trouble!

There were several comical, yet serious moments during that first week of school during which it sunk in for some of them that they were now in their final year of high school, the oldest and “wisest” group of students in the school who were getting ready to face the “real” world, heading off to university studies, military service, and jobs.

A Visit from Grandma Nea Nea and Papa

We’ve been blessed with another visit from Grandma Nea Nea and Papa.  The pictures tell the story.

Mom did a "Paint no More" party with Grace's class.  She read the book and the kids got to paint Grace and their teacher!

Mom did a “Paint no More” party with Grace’s class. She read the book and the kids got to paint Grace and their teacher!

 

Thanks to Mrs. Flippence, Grace's teacher this past year, for being a good sport!

Thanks to Mrs. Flippence, Grace’s teacher this past year, for being a good sport!

 

Mom went to Hannah's class for their 100 day party. That is, 100 days of school in 2014 since they weren't ready to count to 100 before Christmas!

Mom went to Hannah’s class for their 100 day party. That is, 100 days of school in 2014 since they weren’t ready to count to 100 before Christmas!

I don’t seem to have pictures, but Dad went to all of the elementary classes to do fire safety lessons.  These were a big hit, especially the ones in which he lit fires and put them out!  After that we heard, both around school and outside of school, “Hi Mr. Al.”

And, of course, playing "Three Billy Goats Gruff," under the bridge on the playground.

And, of course, playing “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” under the bridge on the playground.

 

And underdogs.

And underdogs.

 

And trips to the little souk down the road from our house for "chippies" for tea time (our version of morning snack time).

And trips to the little souk down the road from our house for “chippies” for tea time (our version of morning snack time).

 

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Finishing Well

My Spanish classes had an interesting end to the school year. We talked about Holy Week in Spanish speaking countries and the practice of making alfombras de serrín (sawdust carpets) in Guatemala and other Central American countries. We then made our own!

My 9th grade class made first on with symbols from Holy Week.

My 9th grade class made first on with symbols from Holy Week.

 

We had extra sawdust, so they made one the "right" way, in the walkway where everyone passes through.

We had extra sawdust, so they made one the “right” way, in the walkway where everyone passes through.

 

My other Spanish classes didn't want to be left out.

My other Spanish classes didn’t want to be left out.

 

Together, they made a huge alfombra de serrín that said "Congratulations" in Bingham school colors and we put it out for graduation.

Together, they made a huge alfombra de serrín that said “Congratulations” in Bingham school colors and we put it out for graduation.

 

Not to be left out, my 6th grade class had a competition with the remaining colored sawdust.

Not to be left out, my 6th grade class had a competition with the remaining colored sawdust.

 

Divided into 3 groups, they were given a bowl of three different colors and one class period.  They were told to use that to see what they could come up with.

Divided into 3 groups, they were given a bowl of three different colors and one class period. They were told to use that to see who could come up with the best design.

 

There three were the results.  I had lollipops to get rid of, so I just gave them all one.

There three were the results. I had lollipops to get rid of, so I just gave them all one.

Addis-wide Elementary Track Meet

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Grace won the ball throw!  And Bingham won the track meet…by one point!

Field Day 2014

Each year, the athletic department at Bingham Academy hosts a two-day community event.  Field Day is a school-wide track and field meet in which all students compete in track races and field events (long jump, high jump, discus, javelin throw, etc.).  Even the KG students do bean bag races, obstacle courses, sprints, and the ball throw.  There are even races for the parents and younger siblings to participate in.  Parents, alumni and the 40+ home school families are invited to attend and participate.

This was our second Field Day and both years I have been impressed by the balance of competitiveness and camaraderie the students exhibit.  They run, jump and throw hard, pushing themselves against one another and then give each other hugs and high fives afterwards.

This year Grace competed in the three-legged race, sack race and the ball throw.  Placing 2nd in the ball throw placed her high enough to represent Bingham at the Addis-wide elementary track meet between 5 of the main international schools in Addis.

Hannah competed in Field Day also.  Her “events” were the bean bag carry, sack race, and obstacle course.  I think she could have also won the pouting contest for her reaction when she realized she wouldn’t get first place in her race.  A new aspect of her personality manifested itself!

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Inconvenience and suffering

Many of you have followed closely our water saga since we returned to Addis.   We are happy that our new tank system has allowed us to have water most days since we put it in.  It is nice to be able to take showers, wash our hands and flush the toilets.  Well, it has mostly been nice to flush the toilets.  Earlier this month, we were hosting our good friend, who is also a Professor at Johns Hopkins University.  You know, he is sort of a big deal.  We had a really nice visit, but we noticed while he was here that there was only a single bathroom that was working.  The other bathrooms flooded every time that we flushed the toilets, so we were very careful about how we used the facilities during that time.  One morning while he was here, he was in the upstairs bathroom getting ready and was in the shower.   I was downstairs in the kitchen getting breakfast and heard some water running.   I walked out of the kitchen and saw, and smelled, sewer water streaming down the stairs and forming a pool of sewage in our entryway.  We investigated and the sewer water was coming out of the toilet running out of the bathroom, down the hall, careening down the stairs and nearly running out the front door.   We were able to get everything mopped up and bleach.   That night we went out to dinner, because honestly we weren’t ready to eat in our house again for a while and we had to use the bathroom someplace, and when we got back, again the whole house was flooded with sewer water.   The next day, I was taking our guest along with the girls to Soddo so that he could visit our residents down there.   Bekah was headed to her trip to Northern Ethiopia with the eight-grade class from Bingham.  We hadn’t packed yet for our respective trips, so our guest insisted on cleaning up while we got the girls packed and ready for bed.  We couldn’t find our rubber gloves so our friend, the Johns Hopkins professor, put plastic bags on his hands to mop up the mess.

 

We were able to arrange for the plumbers from Bingham Academy to come and look at the plumbing in our house.  They were able to locate the problem and determined it was due to an obstruction in the sewer line causing a backup that overflowed every time we added any water into the drainage system.   This was due both to a design flaw in the system and a little gift from one of the girls.  It seems that one of them had flushed a pair of their underwear down the toilet at some point and that was causing the back up.   The Bingham plumbers were able to get the pipes cleaned out and repaired allowing the free flow of water again but not without one more insult.  The blockage had caused a build up of pressure and when the obstruction was removed, it exploded all over one of the plumbers.   This happens to me from time to time in the operating room when I am operating on an intestinal obstruction.   They told us that the blockage had probably been there for some time but we hadn’t noticed because we hadn’t really had any water for more than a month.

 

We are finally back to normal (for Addis) water situation.   We are grateful for all of your prayers and words of encouragement.   Sometimes it feels as if we have made a great sacrifice to be here, but honestly we have it pretty good here.  I am occasionally reminded that things like water shortages and sewer backups are pretty trivial.  This week I talked to one of the graduates of our training program, who has been facing real difficulties.  He has recently had his life threatened for standing up and doing the right thing.  He has been serving his community faithfully for several years, working night and day and yet some feel threatened by his honesty and integrity and hired some thugs to try and kill him.   Praise God they were unsuccessful and he was unharmed.  Whenever we face situations that are uncomfortable or inconvenient, I am reminded that the difficulties that we face are nothing compared to what our residents will face when they are out in practice.   Please pray for Dr. H as he struggles to figure out what to do next.   Pray for his safety and his continued witness for the Gospel.

Would you rather have…

Would You Rather Have…

Would you rather have a nice bathroom without water or an old, outdated bathroom with water?  This may seem like a nonsense kind of question, but you wouldn’t believe the number of times we walk into a pretty nice looking bathroom here, but, when you turn on the tap to wash your hands, no water comes out and then you take a deep breath and the smell reveals the fact that if you used the toilet you wouldn’t be able to flush it… because the 5 people before you weren’t able to flush either.  The same is true for the bathrooms at our house.  They look relatively nice, but I found myself in ours today wishing for an old, outdated (but clean!) bathroom with nice, hot running water.

Forgive me; I guess these are the questions that come to mind when one is without a constant reliable water supply!

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