This week marks a very special milestone for our family, one that most of us never thought would come, but now that it is here we can see that there will likely be many more like it.

It has been five years since we got all crazy and sold everything we owned to move to Ethiopia.

Five years.

Yeah, wow. Just wow.

It is incredible to look back at pictures of when we first arrived here and see how young our kids were, to see the look of excitement and anticipation on our faces.   Little did we know that this was not just an adventure like we thought, but the start of a whole new life that would change us in so many ways we hardly resemble the people we were when we took this crazy leap.

Today, in celebration of the last five years and all that God has done in our lives we asked our kids to tell us a bit about the unexpected twists in this journey. We wanted to know from each member of our family what experiences they have had in Ethiopia that they never thought they would have in their life.    I found pictures of each of us from our first week in Ethiopia, and then we took some now as well.


First the kids.


Nickoli’s top 5 things he thought he would never do.

  1. Kill a goat with a small knife and his bare hands.
  2. Get used to being called “baby” every day on the street, even when you are 13 years old.
  3. Learn that there is no end to how much fun you can have with Legos
  4. Find out just how long you can keep using a computer with a cracked screen.  (Hint: its years not months)
  5. Learn that hail falling from the sky in Africa can be just as fun as snow anywhere else in the world.



Luella’s top 5 things she thought she would never do.

  1. Watch the movie Annie thousands of times because it is the only DVD that your parent’s brought from America.
  2. Get locked in 100’s of bathrooms. (No joke here, Luella has a knack for getting locked in bathrooms.  Locked doors, lost keys, crow bars, climbing out through the roof and every sort of trick imaginable has been used in getting her out.  The joke is, if its been more than 4 minutes, then we better go check because Luella is probably locked in the bathroom.
  3. Get to watch a baby chick hatch.
  4. Learn that when someone says “Tea with Milk” what they really mean is “Milk with Tea”
  5. That even if your roof only keeps out half of the rain, you are still blessed.


Ruth’s top 5 things she thought she would never do.

  1. Get good at using squatty potty’s, even the really nasty ones.
  2. Get a chance to run around barefoot in a tribal village and hold a newborn baby goat.
  3. Learn that when a live bird flies in your house, it’s not a big deal.  It will probably happen again tomorrow.
  4. Ride a horse on a beach bareback, and then do it again and again for hours until my legs almost fell off.
  5. Learn that kids can drink espresso too.  (Because every adult wants to serve some to you when you visit their house)



Everly’s top 5 things she thought she would never do.

  1. Get a chance to play with really really big bugs
  2.  Learn to sleep anywhere.  Literally.  Under the seat on an airplane, on the beach, in the back of a bouncing car, under a chair in a long church service…
  3. Almost get eaten by a baboon and live to tell about it.
  4. Learn that no matter how many times the power goes out it is still fun to scream at the top of your lungs.
  5. Make friends with people from all over the world.


Before I let Jessie go, I have to explain the picture that I chose for her when we just arrived in Ethiopia.  I love this picture, it was taken in the middle of one of our two day long car rides, the ones where we loaded our kids up into a dusty old land cruiser and slowly made our way across Ethiopia.  Ruth is loosing it here, which was not uncommon for one or more of our kids to be having a hard time at about half way through the journey, but Jessie, she is as calm as can be.  That is my girl, strong, calm, collected, and determined.  She always sees the big picture, and always has hear head about her.  I love Jessie so much, and as we look back on this last five years I cannot help but be thankful for her, most women would have been tossed aside and could not handle this, not Jessie.  The term strong woman does not even begin to cover what I have seen in Jessie.

Jessie’s s top 5 things she thought she would never do.

  1. Find out that it is possible to jump start a van with no battery while it is being pushed backwards up out of a pothole by ten guys who you recruited from the sidewalk nearby.
  2. Know all to well what the true smell of a rotten egg is like.
  3.  Learning to roast coffee beans over hot coals, and learning to wait hours for your coffee to be done in the morning because it takes so long to make coffee that way.
  4. Finding out that it is indeed possible to take a complete shower and wash your hair with only one liter of water.
  5. Learn that passion fruit is the best fruit in the world.



Levi’s top 5 things he thought he would never do.

  1. Willingly sit for hours on end in a meeting where you don’t understand a word that is being said, only to come back the next day and do it again.
  2. Learn that so many of the things that you thought were concrete facts of life, are actually just part of your home culture.
  3. Eat chunks of raw meat on several occasions because you wanted the people who invited you to know that you care about them.
  4. Actually feel like I am getting good at doing life in Ethiopia.
  5. Learn that when you think you know something, usually that means you don’t know anything at all.