The Water Side of Life

Early Monday morning Ben took off for the Kenya border town of Moyale- a hefty days drive away.  Right now Water is Life has a lot of projects going on in the Borena region.  Ben seems to be down there all the time these days, checking up on the drilling efforts and problem solving with our team there.  This week he’s introducing some visitors from the U.S to the projects and doing some reporting for donors that have been supporting our work there.

I live vicariously through Ben’s photos these days.  Although I don’t miss staying at shady hotels, I do miss being out in the field and seeing the impact that clean water has on the lives of the people we’re working for.

Now Ben has been saying he’s going to write a post about what is going on with the water side of our lives, but 3 ½ years in and it still hasn’t happened, so until he gets around to it, here are some photos from his trips to Borena…

Collecting water

The ‘hood

The drilling in progress…

Clean water!

 As hard as parts of this job have been, it’s been really awesome to see the progress that’s being made. Ben would have numbers and budgets and data to confirm the progress, but I just look at these pictures and see these faces and I’m pretty convinced.


Traveling Mercies

If you ask me what my biggest fear is living over here in Ethiopia, I would hands-down, without a doubt tell you that it’s driving on the roads here.  These roads are treacherous. We’ve all too often passed mangled cars and even bodies on the side of the road on our many trips around the country.  Not to mention our river incident and out donkey run-in.  It terrifies me to think of what could happen.  Terrifies me.

That’s why, on Monday my heart stopped beating when I got a call from a very shaken Ben.  He was telling me that he hard been in a wreck on their way down to the Kenya border where we are helping with the on-going famine.  The truck had flipped and he was bleeding from a wound on his head.

I’m standing there.  Phone in hand.  Baby on my hip.  Quizzing him for signs of a concussion.  Thinking, is this really happening?

I’m not gonna lie.  My mind raced to images of me as a single mom, Elaine growing up without a dad.  I know, I know, it seems dramatic.  But really that’s where I went.  Not because the accident was that bad, but because those images so easily could have been the ending to this story.

I pictured Ben sitting on the side of the road- his Carolina blue shirt turning State red, boxers plastered on his head to stop the bleeding- so full of relief.  God’s hand of protection was all over Ben and our co-worker, Paulos, who was driving the car.  I could go on and on about how God perfectly orchestrated the events surrounding the accident- the people that helped Ben, my parents being in the same time zone for my tearful calls, sound medical advice, and the list goes on.

Thankfully this story ends well.  Ben made it home the next day (after a white knuckle drive back with co-workers:), he was able to avoid stitches (this guy will do  anything to avoid needles) and go the glue and steri-strips route for the cut on his head (which is healing beautifully!), and other than being very sore and a little bruised, he’s no worse for wear.  Praise the Lord.

So Ben has another scar with a story to tell and I have another reason to pray like crazy every time he leaves the house.

Someone else was pretty excited to have him home:)

Back to reality

Ben and I had one day together in Awassa before he flew the coup and headed down to the Kenya border for work. Selfishly I hated to see him go. Ever since Elaine was born I’ve been surrounded by family that loved to hold and love on Elaine. I was spoiled. Big time. Then, all of a sudden I was alone…with a baby…in Ethiopia. It was a little bit of a shock to my system. But thankfully, I am surrounded by awesome people here in Awassa who took me in for meals and tea and and rides and offered hot showers and kept me company and loved on Elaine and listened to me gripe about being home alone. What would I do without them? I do not know. I am blessed abundantly.

On Sunday we were invited over to our worker’s home for her daughters birthday celebration. Somehow Elaine turned into the guest of honor. Not sure how the birthday girl felt about that. But bring a white baby out here in Awassa and she’s sure to steal the scene.

Elaine with the matriarch of the family

LemLem and the Birthday girl, Saron

In other news, Elaine is adjusting to the temperature change by rebelling against clothing.  This is her preferred attire and napping position.

Exhibit A & B

Ben is home for the moment and heads out again on Wednesday.  Actually he’s in the field right now and technically isn’t at home, but he’s close by if I need him.  I’ll let him tell you more about his trip down south later.  WiLi is doing work down in the areas hit hard by the current famine that’s going on right now.  More on that later.  I can’t do the stories justice.

That’s all for now.


49 hours later…

Exactly 49 hours after we left for the airport (the first time) in Charlotte we were FINALLY back in our home in Awassa, Ethiopia.

packing up all the essentials

ready to go

It’s now Monday evening (but who knows when I’ll post this…our internet is out of commission) and our bags are unpacked, Elaine is sleeping, dinner’s ready and I feel at peace…even if it’s just for a moment.

Getting here was rough.  I don’t think there is any way to make traveling around the world with a new little baby easy.  It didn’t help that we had a 12 hour delay right off the bat.  But it all worked out and we somehow arrived in Addis in one piece, minus our luggage.  C’est la vie.

 lots of airport hang time

so excited for her first flight

Elaine was a trooper through the whole trip.  Well besides the part when we sat down on the first 9+ hour flight and she screamed like crazy.  Maybe it was because they made her wear a seat belt, a very tiny seatbelt.   Or maybe it’s because they changed our tickets to US Air and those flight attendants are not very pleasant.  She cried enough to scare the other passengers  and then promptly fell asleep and slept the whole flight…in my arms.  That is a long flight…even longer when you’re holding a baby.  We may or may not have put her on the ground between our feet for a little bit.  Desperation.

elaine and her first passport

After a long layover in Frankfurt we boarded the final leg of the trip to Addis.  We flew Lufthansa and they were like a breath of fresh air after the first airlines.  Elaine had her own little bed and could sleep without the fear of me dropping her as I dozed (well that was my fear at least).  And the flight attendant brought her little toys and Ben some stronger drinks to make the trip more bearable:)  She slept all the way to Addis and even through immigration and customs.

Our bags didn’t arrive, but Elaine’s bag of extra diapers and clothes arrived so we were good to go.  Ben and I didn’t even mind that we had to wear the same clothes again- well maybe we minded a little.  Our rule of always packing a spare set of clothes in our carryon was overruled as we crammed in Elaine’s essentials.  But we did sneak in some clean underwear- score!  One thing that didn’t arrive was Elaine’s carseat base.  After it was ingrained in my head in the US that it was illegal to drive with a baby not in a properly installed car seat, I felt strange, and somewhat criminal, driving through Addis with her on my lap.  Welcome to Africa.

We finally arrived back at the guest house.  Took showers (they had water.  Hallelujah!) and fell into bed.  All three of us slept through the night, minus the few times I woke up to see if Elaine was still breathing- I did not expect her to sleep that well at all!

Early the next morning we hopped in the van, picked up our luggage that had arrived on another flight in record time, and started the very last leg of our trip to Awassa.

Elaine enjoyed the scenery for sure:)

We were greeted at our home in Awassa by our co-workers and friends and a beautifully prepared feast of Doro Watt (traditional Ethiopian food).   So, so good.  How many people are welcomed home with a coffee ceremony in their living room?  We are blessed for sure.

Elaine experiencing her first coffee ceremony with LemLem

So now we’re home and the reality of it all is setting in.  On Tuesday Ben leaves for Addis and begins two weeks of traveling.  I’m not too excited about being left alone here with Elaine.  I’m thankful for good friends here that I’ve been missing, but they sure can’t replace a husband.

exhausted babe

Oh, I almost forgot…Mactintosh!  He was mucho excited to have us back home.  He really isn’t that interested in Elaine.  He’s sniffed her diaper and licked her head and peaced out.   When she cried he hid under the bed.   I think it’ll be a while before I leave them alone together.  He’s now an outside dog…other than when we let him inside.  Um, ok, maybe he’s sleeping at my feet as I write this:)  I’m such a sucker when he looks at me with those puppy dog eyes.

(cute outfit courtesy of Auntie Sherri:)

Ok, I made it through a whole post without complaining about the water situation, but I just have to say….I MISS AMERICAN SHOWERS!  The four drips (yes, I counted them this morning) of lukewarm water that come out of our showerhead just don’t cut it.  We have got to get that fixed.  Ok, I’m done.

Love from the motherland,


Back in America

I’m back!  And have been for quite some time now.  It’s taken me longer than I expected to transition to life on this side of the globe.  After a long, long uneventful flight I arrived back in North Carolina.  My parents and the nice humidity greeted me at the airport- hello summertime!  These past few weeks I’ve been lying low, getting doctor stuff sorted out, making baby preparations, and adjusting to life in the land of plenty.

Ben is still in Ethiopia hosting a group from Mercer University.  He’ll wrap things up and fly out on the 20th.  I can’t wait!  We’ve been able to keep in touch by skype (thank the Lord for skype!) and it sounds like he’s been keeping busy entertaining a team of 16.  I was able to meet the team briefly and do a quick orientation the morning before I flew out.  They spent the first week in Langano drilling a well using the hand percussion method (hard work!) and now they are in Awassa working at a local orphanage there.  Minus a snake bite, a spider bite, and a few minor illnesses it seems to be going really well.  Obviously my standards of “going really well” are different than some.  But really, I think everyone is having a good time.

The other night I called Ben and this is how the conversation went..

Ben:  Hey, I can’t talk.  We’re out hyena hunting and got stuck in the mud right outside the prison.

Me:  (laughing) Ok, love you. Bye

I was laughing because all of a sudden it hit me how different are lives are right now.  I spent the day shopping with my mom…and he spent the evening stuck in the mud with hyenas and a truck full of college kids.  After two years of being by each others sides literally 24 hrs a day, it’s fascinating to watch his life happen from a distance.  But don’t get me wrong- I’m ready for that gap between up to be closed up just a bit.

Coming back to America without Ben has been harder than I thought it would be.  I thought that after so many years of returning to the States after living in Africa this reverse culture shock thing would be less pronounced.  I thought I would gracefully glide back into this culture like a good TCK (third culture kid).  But no.  Not this time.  I’ve been amazed by how different and simple our life back in Ethiopia is.  I was completely overwhelmed by the consumerism of America…and how easily I get sucked up into it all.  I spent my first days back in the shower.  Seriously, if you were looking for me, chances are I was taking a shower.  It felt so good!  I felt like I hadn’t really been clean for months.  It was heavenly.  I was amazed by things like being able to drink out of the tap, clean public bathrooms (important as a pregnant lady:), smooth roads (also important at this stage), clean streets, how easy food preparation is here.  I was telling my mom that it is hard to believe that we are even the same species- Ethiopians and Americans.  Our standards and ways of living are so mind-bogglingly different.  I feel like these 2 places are worlds apart.  And as much as I love the comfort and convenience of American life (and believe me I do!), I find myself missing the simplicity of life in Ethiopia.  Not missing it enough to return to it right now- I am loving being ‘home’.  But missing it enough to crave the slow pace of life and try to somehow incorporate it into the buzz of life here.  It’s all a balancing act I suppose.  And a reminder that we will never be truly at home here or in Ethiopia…and the thought of heaven just seems sweeter and sweeter.

Fit for Flight

Two doctor visits, 1 shot in the butt, a load of paperwork later, and I’m officially fit for flight.  Now I just have to survive a looooong plane ride beginning tonight and ending ten zillion hours later.  Prayers would be appreciated.  For a safe and uneventful flight (that I don’t have to use the emergency medicine they gave me if I feel like I’m going into labor mid-flight- yikes!), for Ben as he heads to Kenya tomorrow, and for both of us as we start the countdown to when we see each other again- June 21!  I’m not too excited about it- and just a wee bit emotional about the whole thing.  But I am looking forward to what’s waiting on the other side!

Here goes nothing!

Taylors in Town

Right now we’re enjoying a visit from Ben’s mom and dad (actually, by the time I post this, we’ll be enjoying the tail end of the visit).  They arrived safe and sound- with all their luggage last week and we’ve been keeping them busy!

This is their very first taste of Africa and we’re hoping to give them a little glimpse into what life is like over here.  We spent a little bit of time in Addis running some errands and then we headed down to Awassa.  Ben and I were SO ready to get home.  We’re still tuckered out from the craziness that was October.  I came down with a lovely cold right in the middle of their visit, but they have been taking good care of me.  My wonderful mother-in-law even brought me Pumpkin Spice Latte- well, the mix to make it.  It tastes like a North Carolina autumn day- perfect.

We had a great overnight at Aregash Lodge, complete with the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, hyenas, and all.  Tomorrow we head back to Addis to do some shopping and send them off.  We’ve so enjoyed our time with them.  Hate to see them leave so soon!

Until next time…