Short-term Update 1

Shaking off jet lag

The twelve of us are safe and sound in Addis Ababa. Arriving early in the morning, we fought to stay awake and embraced our new time zone. Consequently, most of us were mumbling nonsense and bumping into walls by dinner time. For the next 48 hours we will be staying in the capital acclimating to the altitude, gathering last minutes supplies, and fine-tuning our children’s program.

Please pray for our 2-hr journey on Monday to Sodere for the SIM Conference. Also pray that everyone will continue to remain healthy.

Our Hearts Still Beat Ethiopia

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 11.49.15 AMWe are going back to Ethiopia! (Just for the Christmas break.) Many thanks to all who have invested in our ministry over the years. December 24 – January 3, we will lead a team of 12 from Community Fellowship Church to serve SIM and we would like you to partner with us.

Our Purpose: Every two years, all of the members of SIM, meet together for a Spiritual Life Conference to draw closer to God and each other. SIM families are from all over the world. They are involved in ministries such as leadership development, teaching, church-planting, and medical work in the city and countryside. We will serve these families by providing a top-notch children’s program during the conference. Our hope is that they return to their ministry work completely refreshed.DSC_0761

Some Details: We are raising $6,000 to cover airfare, living expenses, and supplies for the children’s program. We have invested some of our own money toward the fundraising goal and hope you will join us as partners. In fact, the Craig girls have been doing odd jobs, including sweaty yard work for friends to raise money for the trip.

Our Excitement: Having attended these conferences in the past, we can attest to their

value. Our teaDSC_0769m is prepared to provide an excellent children’s program filled with games, songs, artwork, Scripture, and fun! Our girls loved participating in the past programs and they are ready to give back by planning and helping with this year’s experience.

Join our team: Financial support and prayer support are essential for this trip. As a supporter, you’ll go with us to make a difference in the lives of SIM families and numerous Ethiopians. We’ll keep you updated every step of the way. Thank you so much for considering this opportunity. Click here to join our team     DSC_0740  IMG_1477

What a YEAR!


We have three things to tell you…

1. The girls have adjusted to life in the US (see pics below).

Lauren, Anna, and Sarah had great years at their schools. It was not without tears from time to time, as they continue to miss close friendships in Ethiopia, but God’s protective hand has been on their hearts. Emily’s job has been fantastic and Jason’s year at seminary was a gift from God.

2. PLEASE PRAY. Jason is returning to Ethiopia tomorrow.

He will teach a brand new modular class at Evangelical Theological College called “Leadership Development in Youth Ministry.” He will be there for two and a half weeks reconnecting with students and eating injera b’wat. The girls are super annoyed that they cannot come on this trip. Please pray for meaningful conversations and safe traveling.

3. Christmas in Ethiopia!

We are currently forming a short-term team to join us in Ethiopia over Christmas break. We will function as support staff for SIM’s Spiritual Life Conference, a gathering of more than 200 mission staff from all over Ethiopia. We will run a VBS style program for elementary age kids—Ethiopians, Americans, Aussies, Koreans, and  variety of Europeans. The five-day conference will be held about two hours south of Addis Ababa at an old government hotel in the countryside. Let us know if you are interested!

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Our Plan to Return Stateside

family treeby: Emily

As we begin the last week of school, we are confronted with mixed emotions.  We soon leave the place we have grown to love and called home for three years.  Jason and I are leaving meaningful jobs and our whole family has already begun saying goodbye to friends from all over the world.

But know that God has provided for our future in amazing ways!

  • I will be starting a new job as a reading specialist at an elementary school in Lititz, PA at the end of August.  I am excited to serve in a new school community.
  • Jason will be completing a Masters of Divinity and hopes to pursue doctoral work in the area of youth ministry.
  • Best part = we get to return to the home and community we have missed over these past years.

We are finishing well!  Over the past two months, we have spent time with people who have been significant to us during our time in Ethiopia.  Our girls have had multiple parties most weekends to celebrate birthdays and farewells.  Since January, we have been packing occasional suitcases and sending them back with visitors. We are being intentional to enjoy every day.

Although we will soon board a plane, we are not finished with Ethiopia. We have been invited to continue as “associates” with SIM and keep our support account open for future ministry. Jason plans to continue teaching ETC’s youth ministry courses in modular format over the summers.  Also, Bingham Academy is interested in having me to lead future professional development if my teaching schedule permits. Please pray as we return and adjust to life in the United States.


samrawitLast Friday, we visited our Compassion child!  In the morning, we picked up our guide who seemed pleasantly surprised with Jason’s Amharic.  I caught pieces of their conversation, and they both took turns translating for me.  Since many roads in the city are under construction, Jason traversed the confusing roundabouts, side streets, and random obstacles in order to reach to the project.  When we arrived, our guide led us through a corrugated metal gate where the little girl was standing next to her father.  She smiled timidly, wearing a clean, white traditional dress and a blue scarf.  I wanted to wrap her in my arms and ask her to tell me all about her life, but instead, I gently extended my hand and greeted her in Amharic.  The girls followed and then Jason as we shook hands and smiled at each other.

We started sponsoring her in honor of my Grandma Betty, just over six years ago. We chose a girl in Addis Ababa who was in the age range of our oldest girls so that they could identify with her. When we first moved to Addis, I assumed we could just stop by the Compassion office and visit since we lived in the country. I later learned, however, that it is actually a 6-8 week process to plan a visit. The organization runs background checks on all of the adults and sets up all of the details of the visit. It protects the children and makes sense.

After the director of the program showed us around and explained the ways children receive aid, we went to visit her family’s home, where her mother was waiting to serve us coffee. She seemed to relax as we entered her home, a small, one-room house with mud walls on the edge of a eucalyptus forest. Divided in half by a sheet, one side of the house contained bedding and the other a set of chairs squeezed together. When we sat down, our girls eagerly gave her gifts: a backpack filled with their own treasures, art supplies, notebooks, headbands, clothes, and a sparkly ruler. Her eyes lit up and her mother grinned as she pulled a raincoat out of the bag. We gifted her parents with coffee, sugar, and teff, a grain used for making injera. Her father put his hand over his heart and thanked us.

Sarah began to get antsy. After riding in a car for more than an hour and listening to the director share details about the project, she needed to run. Anna suggested a game of tag. Jason explained the game to the little girl and for the next fifteen minutes, the girls chased each other under the laundry line, over rocks, and around a few trees in the yard. I even joined them. Later, Jason taught them how to whistle with a eucalyptus gum nut which looks a little like an acorn cap. Lauren caught on before our translator, which made him even more determined to whistle. Eventually, he got it.

We ended our visit by taking the family out for lunch. The little girl’s parents sat on either side of her. Her mother let her order her own orange soda and her father fed her some of the best pieces of meat from the plate. It brought me such joy know that this little girl is loved by her parents, by us, and by God. God has been generous with us and it has been amazing to play a small role in showing His love to this little girl and her family. Compassion is a wonderful organization that uses resources well.

Our life update is coming soon…

For now, a few recent pics will tell our story . . .

  fried fish                  

Fried Tilapia at Hawassa’s Fish Market (S.Ethiopia)           Lauren’s 4x400m relay

   training-Jason            Photo0132

Youth worker training for a local church              Sign of the Month- Awesome

       anna giraffe2              em sheraton small

Anna the giraffe, school musical               Emily interviewing for a teaching job

faith sale         350x500_mc

                   Nice Deal (Only $13)                                  Jason on his daily commute

       sarah olaf          

Sarah, one of the numerous singing Olafs                     Traffic jam, literally.


                                         Jason and Sarah dancing with the Dorzi

    american girls              she still likes me

American Girl Dolls return to the homeland.                      She still likes me

Mental Tug-of-War

the path

Emily and I share a common conviction that exercising inside our compound can be boring. We do what we can to make it through a workout. Music helps somewhat, but if we are lost in a thought then- the laps really tick away. It’s easy to think about on the tasks at hand– lesson plans, staff meetings, Bible studies, laundry, grocery lists, etc. Recently though, with pendulum-like oscillation, our minds have begun wandering between two worlds. Now, as we run the narrow loop, thoughts of our future in the U.S. compete with the to-do lists of our current reality.

Back and forth. Disconsolate thoughts of leaving Addis Ababa are interrupted by the excitement of a new possibility. Reminders of the mundane, such grading papers somehow spark thoughts of seminary application deadlines or the next car we should buy. Some days our brains hurt.

We know the summer will bring change; we’re just a bit fuzzy on the details. This is what we know today:

I have thrived in the challenge of developing new youth ministry courses, researching adolescence in the developing world, and mentoring young men. I am hungry to learn more, so I have applied to a few seminaries. Simply put, I hope to prepare a new generation of youth ministry leaders by teaching on the college level (both in the U.S. and Ethiopia). We’ll maintain an affiliation with SIM, and ETC has invited me to teach modular courses in the summers. I pray that God will direct my path toward M.Div. and doctoral programs.

Emily is searching for a full-time job as a reading specialist. Leading professional development, coaching teachers, and supporting students have both energized Emily and catalyzed vision for her future. Although teaching positions are a rarity and difficult to secure from thousands of miles away, we are maximizing the resources at hand and trusting God to provide. Emily’s next job will determine our next zip code, so please pray for our discernment.

Cliché as it may sound; the journey is just as significant as the destination, so we will do our best to embrace the mental tug-of-war. Ephesians 2:10 keeps us grounded, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has a good plan, so we need not worry.


CFC team 2014Thank you CFC team! 

Keith, Jill,  Dan, and Heather were gifts to the young families at our Spiritual Life Conference this past January.  As a children’s ministry team, they wrangled little ones from all over the world.  One parent commented, “I cannot remember the last time I was able to listen to a pastor uninterrupted.” Armed with toys, games, and a ridiculous amount of craft supplies, the team easily won the loyalty of the youngest SIMers. There’s nothing like seeing a grown man dressed as Moses darting from his classroom to chase down a 3-year-old escapee.

Field Day Funny

For the third year in a row, Jason ran the daddy/daughter race with all three girls.  He hoisted Lauren onto his back and Anna and Sarah clung to his sides.  As he lumbered down the straightaway, Lauren’s ever-tightening grip eventually choked him out.  Jason stumbled to the ground just before the finish line.  Giggling, the girls tugged on his hands and pulled him to the end. 

Musings of a Husband and Father

dec 2013 mailchimp headerEmily does not know that I am writing this update. In recent months she has been the lead writer and primary filter for any of my stories. Apparently I am not as funny nor as seemly as I think I am. (She has vetoed some hilarious content- ask me about it later).

Editorial disagreements notwithstanding, I have taken it upon myself to hijack this newsletter for the sole purposes of demonstrating how the ladies in my life are growing and thriving in Ethiopia. Emily would not approve of such attention, but I cannot contain my joy.

What follows are not systematic lists nor are they exclusive traits– merely biased fragments from an thankful insider.


  • Steam rolling out of the bathroom and the smell of the morning’s brew, she is the first to greet a new day.
  • Gripping the trucker-like wheel of our 27-year-old diesel-clacking van brimming with neighborhood children, she leans into the crazy adventure of another drive to school.
  • Planning the success of others in her Bingham Academy room, she stretches the meaning of the word  “part-time.”
  • Circle after circle on evening walks– the reports of anonymous children, growing as readers leap into our conversations.
  • Rarely finishing a movie because there is always baking, walking, visiting, planning, and of course READING to be done.
  • Responding to stress she reaches for her Bible more often than her Kleenex.
  • Quick claps and a bright bounce at the lighting of a Yankee Candle or the sound of a James Taylor Christmas song.
  • My sole complaint is the pace at which she exercises. I can barely keep up with this high-altitude runner.

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Pr 31:29

PRAY FOR EMILY: That she finishes strong at Bingham Academy. Also that she is able to find a Reading Specialist position near Lancaster, PA for next year.



  • an organizational genius, she has everything in it’s proper place–one of the few who can itemize our craft closet.
  • peering at her purple watch, she announces the time– we must not be late.
  • with the confidence of a leader she is the first to go in, out, up, down, and through just about anything (unless that “through” is the shower curtain. Her sisters should have that honor first).
  • an aspiring baker, one of my dress shirts has been cut, sewn, and repurposed into a homemade apron.
  • her “why” questions are not whiny requests but inquiries of a girl hungry to know more.
  • belting out worship songs on Sunday morning with the best of them.
  • quick to pray, eager to obey, and unashamed of her faith.
  • never too cool for a hug and still at home in my lap.

 “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” Ps 96:1


  • an explosion of creativity- a trail of markers, glue, scrap paper, string, tape, and beads lead us to her current workspace.
  • a blossoming sense of humor and ever quickening wit keep dinner from being boring.
  • the inventor of backyard mint perfume.
  • like her older sister the “why” questions are meaningful and at times heart-wrenching – “Why is that beggar a beggar?”
  • part-time choreographer and impromptu play producer we are frequently treated to her latest creation.
  • a climber of all things tall from trees to daddies.
  • quick to remind us if we have forgotten a bedside prayer or good night kiss.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Is 46:10


  • Morning till night, from pillow to pillow, she explodes through her day in high gear.
  • neither dining room chairs, nor bathtubs, nor the blankets on the bed can contain her.
  • there need not be music for one to dance.
  • contorting her face to elastic shapes of impossibility, her emotions are evident to all.
  • running back to the house for spare change, a bread run is quickly redefined as an opportunity to love others.
  • there need not be a reason for one to skip and hop.
  • liberal with her candy, she is the year round Santa of the neighborhood.
  • “Who will pray for dinner?” I ask. “Ooooh- Me Me Me” she exclaims.

“The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Ze. 3:17

Pray for the Girls: That they grow into young women who love God and others with excellence. For their transition back to the States and all it involves this coming summer.