There is very little that life in the U.S. shares in common with life in Ethiopia. This makes it difficult to prepare our family for our life once we return to Ethiopia at the end of this year. However, we may be more prepared than not… You see, I have noticed something about my wife that is so cool. She really tries hard to keep us connected with aspects of life in Ethiopia.
Karyn’s attempts are subtle, but when I look back over the past few years, I see a very clear pattern of her efforts.
Ethiopian food – this is a big one. Food in Ethiopia is vastly different from what we typically consume here in the U.S.
In fact, Ethiopian food looks so different from what we typically eat that many Americans don’t even recognize it as food at first. For example, here's a shot of Karyn's chosen birthday meal last year from our favorite Ethiopian restaurant...
Karyn has intentionally put us in front of Ethiopian food over the past few years. From going to Ethiopian restaurants to cooking up Ethiopian dishes in our home, she is always helping to recreate that love for the food that we all shared (even our two oldest kiddos, Jack and Mac) while living in Ethiopia in 2009 and 2010.
Running – If there is one thing that’s true about Karyn it is that she LOVES TO RUN. I think her fondness of running only increased after living in Ethiopia… The land of amazing runners.
Her dedication to running over the past few years has often perplexed me – I’d much rather eat some Ben and Jerry’s and watch The Biggest Looser – but I think I get it now… it’s another way she stays connected with something that is very Ethiopian.
She even gets our kids involved...
Karyn came up with the concept for the Run Your Street 5K, which takes her love for running and matches it up with an actual race that our beneficiaries participate in each June on the streets of Addis Ababa. I know she would love it if you would register to run this virtual 5K!
Hospitality – Okay, you may think you’re hospitable, but unless you’re Ethiopian, you don’t know the true meaning of that word.
Guests are the most cherished and honored people in Ethiopia.
Ethiopians love to be together, to have guests over to their homes (even if their homes are nothing more than a 1-room mud hut), to feed their guests mass quantities of food (even if they REALLY cannot eat another bite), and to sit around a coffee ceremony to enjoy each other.
Hospitality is a beautiful part of Ethiopian culture and one that doesn’t come naturally to Karyn or me. You see, Karyn does love people and even guests, but she has this ingrained sense that she MUST be prepared (clean house, meal planned, kids presentable, etc…) before guests come (I know y’all can relate).
That is so not Ethiopian!
For Ethiopians, guests are welcome no matter what. I have loved how Karyn has stretched herself to not always have to have everything in order… She does love to have a tidy house, but she continues to push into having guests over – house tidy or not.
Ready or not, here we come. Our family is set to return to Ethiopia in November where we will serve alongside the amazing men and women who rescue children from the streets everyday. I am so blessed to have a wife who has tried so hard to get our family ready for this big transition.
Sharing life and ministry with Karyn makes the journey just a little easier than it would be otherwise!