Spicy Thanksgiving

Spicy Thanksgiving

By: Emily
This time of year makes me sentimental.  I have to admit there have been some teary evenings when I start thinking of family and friends in the U.S. and all of the holiday traditions we have built with our girls over the past ten years.  Christmas music makes me so happy and can cause me to cry in an instant.  A few days ago, Jason bought me a wild and crazy two-foot Christmas tree with blinking lights, gaudy golden bows, and shiny red bells.  It made me smile.  Decorating for Christmas took less than an hour, but the girls were ecstatic as they unpacked a few favorite ornaments.

Although we miss friends and family, God has provided us with an amazing community in Addis Ababa.  We celebrated Thanksgiving twice with people from all over the world.  On Thursday, we shared a meal with Bingham Academy teachers and families, complete with paper turkeys and a football game projected on the wall. While sitting with families from the U.S., Germany, and Australia, we explained our Thanksgiving traditions.  They were perplexed by the green Jell-O salad, but were happy to share in the celebration.  During our Saturday neighborhood party, my girls ran around in shorts, playing with their friends on the field.  Jason helped to grill chickens over a coal fire pit with some veteran missionaries and I finished an apple pie and mashed potatoes just in time for an outdoor meal with over 100 new friends.

The tables were beautifully decorated with pumpkins, scarves, and Ethiopian peppers for color.  You may remember that Sarah loves sweet, red peppers. Well, just before dessert, Sarah decided to indulge in part of our centerpiece. As you can imagine this set off alarms in her mouth and eyes. She wiped her tears with her “peppery” hands and then came wailing to us:  “My eyes are spicy!  My eyes are spicy!”  After a shower to flush out her eyes and pouring some salt on her tongue, she was fine. I never considered warning my children about centerpieces.

God is so good and we are thankful.  We are grateful for our home, our jobs, our friends, and family.  We are amazed by the opportunity to serve in Ethiopia and we appreciate everyone who has helped us to get here.


By: Jason
This weekend I had the privilege to speak to over 150 Young Life volunteers and staff at their 2011 Leadership Retreat, just outside of Addis Ababa. I spoke about self-leadership and the redemptive power of Jesus through the lens of Peter’s life. The Peter of Acts 3 is an unshakable leader who listens to the prompting of God, heals a crippled beggar, and then uses the opportunity to share the gospel with all those at the Temple. Although Peter’s life prior to this was marked with fear, selfishness, and false motives, Jesus did not abandon the one he chose. Peter was restored on the beach in John 21 and the guilt wall that separated him from Jesus was knocked down. An encouragement for us all.

Flat-tire hero

Jason is my hero

By Emily:
It was a Tuesday morning. I was driving ten children to school in our van when the rear left wheel began to thump and pedestrians were pointing at my tire.  I was finally used to dodging donkeys, people and taxis and I could confidently drive to school, church and the grocery stores.  Since we had previously experienced two flat tires while Jason was driving, I even took lessons in tire changing the prior Saturday.  Here I was, though, in a busy traffic circle with my children, our neighbor’s children and no other adults.  A bit disconcerted, I called Jason who told me he was getting ready for language school and may not be able to get a ride out to meet us.  I thought I might be on my own, so I proceeded to pop the trunk and get started.  Anna and the first grade boys were thrilled to watch as I removed the spare from the undercarriage.  Lauren read stories to a few children and Sarah sang to the rest.  I placed the jack, put rocks behind the back tires, and started to loosen the screw-thing-a-majiggers.  They were tight, and as traffic was encroached closer and closer to my backside, I decided to wait for help.  My hero husband and our neighbor came to the rescue and before long we were on our way to school.

Living in Addis Ababa is full of new challenges.  For example, in September, we were without water for five days and had to bathe in rainwater collected from our gutters.  Two weeks ago, we were all covered in fleabites and had to spray our house.  Not only that, but it is impossible to find candy corn or gummi bears ANYWHERE!!! Haha.  The rewards, however, far outweigh theses nuisances.  Jason and I both love our jobs, our girls are having a blast playing outside with their friends, and we are meeting some amazing individuals from all over the world.

I am thankful for the opportunity to put my reading degree to use.  I work with small groups of children from kindergarten through third grade.  One of my third grade students has only been speaking English for four months.  He is enthusiastic about speaking and he is already reading on a first grade level. Two of my kindergartners, after two weeks of reading nursery rhymes and rhyming stories can now produce their own rhymes!  My first and second graders are enjoying rich literature and learning a variety of decoding strategies.  Bingham Academy is a fantastic place to work and the staff are positive and encouraging.

Last Tuesday, we had a special science themed day and I was given the job of teaching states of matter with each class.  We made ice cream in Ziploc bags and watched milk, sugar, and vanilla change from a liquid to a solid.  I made sure we read the recipe together so the children could learn a new vocabulary word.  We shook the ice cream bag “vigorously” and the results were delicious.  I’ve included the recipe in case you want to make it at home. 

Thank you to those of you who are on our prayer and financial support teams~  We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with you as servants in Addis Ababa!


Instant Ice Cream

1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 TBSP sugar
12 ice cubes
2 TBSP course salt

  •  Pour milk into a small leak-proof Ziploc bag.  Add vanilla and sugar.  Seal Bag.
  • Place ice cubes in larger Ziploc bag.  Sprinkle salt on ice.  Put small bag into larger bag.  Vigorously shake bag.  Within 10 minutes, ice crystals will form in milk mixture.
  • Once it reaches consistency of soft-serve ice cream, scoop the ice milk into bowl and serve immediately.
  • Makes 2 half-cup serving.

Happy New Year in September!!!

Cue the Fireworks

This morning we awoke to the celebratory sound of cannons marking the first day of 2004. Ethiopia uses an amalgamation of the ancient Coptic and Julian calendars giving them twelve 30 day months and a thirteenth month of 5 or 6 days. All week the streets have been bustling with excitement as people negotiate the sheep or chicken for their New Year’s meal, and purchase clothing for their children as well as last minute decorations.

The week also marks our first 40 days in Ethiopia. Emily spent her first weeks testing homeschool students and advising parents who are preparing to spend the majority of their school year in the rural expanses of Ethiopia. She is thoroughly enjoying her role as a Reading Specialist.

I have 2 classes totaling over 60 students with a wide range of ages and English competency. Some are nearly fluent, while others jokingly complain that if I had a British accent I would be much more easily understood. As I contemplate the task to better equip these men and women for ministry, I am both humbled and honored by this opportunity.

Emily and I have been reminded that the challenges we face in adapting to a new culture and pace of life are minimal compared to some around us. Pray for those families living in the isolation of the bush, who have the additional burden of raising a family with minimal infrastructure. Also pray for college students who have recently moved to Addis Ababa from the countryside. One of my students, who I’ll call, “John,” is from the newly formed South Sudan and struggling to acquire the residence permit necessary to attend classes.

Recently our breakfast table devotions have been focusing on a broad promise repeated throughout numerous Psalms: “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

What a Shift!

The New Place

We are in “adjustment mode” as we settle into our new home, process the information fire hydrant that has been sprayed on us over the past 2 weeks, and get used to the new sights and sounds of Addis Ababa. Warm welcomes abound and we are desperately trying to attach names to new faces.

SHELTER: We have been in our house for a little over a week and absolutely love it!  We inherited beautiful gardens and our backyard is adorned with a small tookel (hut-like veranda). Four families have children close to our girls’ ages, and we are told at the start of the school year there will be 37 kids in our our little “village compound.” A soccer field, small playground, basketball court, and short running trail help to make this a warm environment.

FOOD: Preparing food is much more labor intensive. We have to bleach our vegetables and fruit, and filter our drinking water. Some nicer stores offer familiar items such as bacon, Oreos, cereal, Nutella, Gatorade, cake mixes, root beer, but most of these goodies are 2 or 3 times the cost. Yesterday we saw a small turkey in an international grocery for $82.  Most groceries are smaller than an American convenience store, so it’s normal to go to a couple of stores to complete the list.

TRANSPORTATION: We are also glad to see the roads have improved. Fewer sheep and donkeys clutter the traffic roundabouts, but driving still somewhat like an obstacle course. Our new ride is a ’87 diesel Toyota Hiace van. It has been in the SIM family for all it’s life and well-maintained. Emily likes that it sits up high and has seatbelts, the girls like having their own space, and I like shifting on the column and being  flagged down by pedestrians waiting for a taxi.

WORK: Last week, Emily and the girls spent most of their days at Bingham Academy. The girls played in the gym, made crafts, visited their classrooms, while Emily attended school meetings as well as language and cultural sessions. I have attended meetings at the college, sifted through course materials, and fired numerous questions at seasoned teachers. School begins on the 22nd for me and 23rd for Emily. Your prayers are much appreciated!

 Humorous Moments 

1. Arriving in Ethiopia at 8am, we decided to force ourselves onto the new time schedule. After a long, whiny battle Sarah fell asleep on her tea cup at dinner. See pic.
2. If we lose power in the evenings, our giddy daughters run through the house with their new headlamps like crazy explorers.
3. Our courteous taxi driver last week passed around his last remaining window crank so we could get some fresh air while touring the city.
4. There is a flea-ridden mutt on the compound named Sarah who comes whenever I call my youngest in from the playground.
5. I have taught my girls a new term when referring to the “intestinal issues” associated with traveling, stress, new foods, etc. Our new idiom is much less embarrassing in public places. Code word: Scooby-Doos.


 Can I Get an Amen? 

  • We are dealing with the stress of transition with grace. Emily is still happy to be married to me.
  • We are healthy.
  • The Lord has surrounded us with numerous caring families who have gone out of their way to make us feel at home.
  • After five years of bringing teams to Ethiopia, I have longed for that “someday” when I could be here with my family. It’s hard to believe that “someday” is now. I am so thankful for all who have partnered with us through prayer and financial support.

Updated prayer requests are here.

Should We Pack a Cheese Grater?

Should We Pack a Cheese Grater?

22 days until we depart from Washington, D.C. to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This has been no less than an awe inspiring journey for my family. However, in the heat of a Lancaster, PA July, I implore you to please help me (Jason). Many of you are familiar with the  challenges unique to moving from one’s home. We need to dust-off, box-up, throw-out, and deconstruct the contents of our home of the past 9 years. While doing this we must sift through those contents and decide which items “make the cut” for Ethiopia and which are bound for storage.

Here is my current dilemma: Emily wants to take our entire house to Ethiopia. For the past 3 months, I have heard innumerable versions of this sentence, “Oh Jason, we definitely need to pack __________” (recent phrases have been “garlic press,” “37 Yankee Candles,” and “every children’s book ever written”). The kind folks at Ethiopian Airlines have given us an allowance of 10 suitcases and 5 carry-on bags so we can transport “must have” items such as laptops, hard-to find toiletries, and shoes for three daughters, whose feet explode through anything that covers them.

I am resigned to the fact that the women in my life are slowly nudging all my clothes from the suitcase to the basement floor. I am prepared to wear my entire wardrobe on the plane and make my own underwear out of burlap, but I must take a stand on certain items. Is a cheese grater more important than my socks? We are curious to know your opinion as we attempt to settle this dispute.

. . .

Emily’s rebuttal
Regarding the matter of packing for Ethiopia:  Friends, my husband is a wonderful weaver of tall tales. I do not own 37 Yankee Candles, nor did I ever say i “neeeeded” a garlic press. He is exaggerating to make the point that it is quite a challenge to pack ahead for two years.  Jason should be thrilled I am planning for the welfare of our precious children and should quit messing around on the computer and get back to painting… In addition, I think you will agree that grated cheese tastes much better than cheese slices.

. . .

God is so good. We have found wonderful renters for our home, a location to store our stuff, and even have the grandparents watching our girls for the next few days. Now we work. Emily is boxing up framed pictures and prepping the hallways for paint as I write this update. As you may already know, we have been appointed as missionary staff with the SIM organization, and will be serving as teachers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 2 years. Emily is already preparing for her role as a reading specialist at Bingham Academy and I am beginning my planning for the Academic English and Youth Ministry courses I will be teaching at Evangelical Theological College. More on our vision and story can be found HERE.

Ethiopian Craig’s Benefit Concert 

The concert was a wild success. We want to thank the handful of folks who planned, the dozens who served, and the hundreds who joined us for an an amazing outdoor event. We were able to raise $5000. The music was amazing, the food was perfect, and the shirts sold out in about 45 minutes. The throwing line for the dunk tank, however, was far too close.


Can I Get an Amen? 

  • 100% of our support, both one-time and monthly has been promised by over 100 partners. (Additional gifts will be used to benefit our students in the classrooms).

  • Our house is rented.
  • 2 of 3 vehicles have been sold.
  • We have finished both of our jobs at Calvary preschool and Community Fellowship Church.
  • We have received our housing assignment in Ethiopia. We will be living in a quaint SIM residence compound with several other families in southern Addis.
  • We have had wonderful quality time over the past 4 weeks with friends and family.

Updated prayer requests are here

One-Way Tickets…Row 25

One-Way Tickets…Row 25

We are EXCITED! SIM has given us the green light to reserve our airfare, trusting that we will reach our support goal by August 2. This is a huge landmark for our family and is indeed worth celebrating. Our departure budget has been met and our monthly support budget has rocketed to 80%. Thank you to our growing number of partners!

With one laptop in two laps, Emily and I carefully navigated the Ethiopian Airlines website yesterday afternoon. We double-checked passport numbers, expiration dates, birth dates, departure dates, names of our kids, favorite colors, etc. We even entertained the idea reliving our initial flight to Addis Ababa 11 years ago by requesting a 10-row buffer from our daughters. That way we could spare ourselves from the “She’s touching me!” moments.

After careful deliberation, however, we realized that our sweet peace would come at the expense of fellow passengers and flight attendants. Moreover, we cannot shake the possibility that our youngest, left unencumbered, might storm the cockpit looking for candy.

Emily is already preparing for her role as a reading specialist at Bingham Academy, and I am beginning my planning for the Academic English and Youth Ministry courses I will be teaching at Evangelical Theological College.

Come celebrate with us Memorial Day Sunday, May 29

After 8 years on staff, our church is sending us off with a benefit concert to help our family raise funds for our two-year mission to Ethiopia. The concert is free. No tickets or RSVP necessary. 100% of the proceeds go toward our vision- impacting the next generation of leaders for Christ.

This will be a fun outdoor event from 4-8pm at Community Fellowship Church in Lancaster, PA.  Bring your blankets, lawn chairs, Frisbees, and anything else you need for a summer party.  Picnic style food and Ethiopian dishes will be for sale.  There is even rumor of a dunk tank and t-shirt cannon.

Vote for the Benefit Concert set list HERE.

Directions to Community Fellowship Church can be found HERE

57% is not always an F

I am pretty much a nerd.

It’s OK- I have been a nerd since I can remember. My mother protests that I was a sweet child and that there are no such thing as nerds, but that is because she is a nerd too. In fact, I come from a long line of nerds. Although my daughters are “cool” right now at ages 9, 7, and 4, it won’t be long before they too will become poindexters. That is why, from time to time, I like to emotionally prepare them for the inevitable by photographing them wearing Emily’s glasses.

Although you may be wondering why after that opening paragraph, Emily and I have been appointed as missionary staff with the SIM organization. As teachers, we will serving the next generation of leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 2 years. Emily will be a reading specialist at Bingham Academy and I will be teaching Academic English and Youth Ministry courses at Evangelical Theological College.

For the past three months we have been connecting with friends and family, sharing our vision, and giving people an opportunity to partner with us in various ways.

We are thrilled to report that our one-time departure costs have been met 100% and our monthly support budget has rocketed to 57%. Thank you to our growing number of partners!

This process of sharing vision and developing partners has been a such as positive opportunity for us both. Our schedule has been tight and nights have been busy, but it has been well worth it! The depth of conversations has been priceless. In the remaining months we look forward to connecting many more with our unique 2-way approach to partnership. If you are interested in some Ethiopian coffee and great conversation, please let us know. We’ll even let you try on our nerd glasses.




Last week was wild! With only hours notice we sent off 2 suitcases of books, sheets, and kid clothes to Ethiopia via North Carolina with a friend who is traveling there soon. It’s like getting a 90lb luggage bonus for free!

We are grateful to be given such a gift. It was simultaneously exciting and crazy to be thinking about packing this early. The adventure has begun.


Shakin’ Sticks

I never quite understood the idiom “– more fun than you can shake a stick at,” but I try to use it often. It makes me feel like a gray-bearded grandpa playing a banjo. Well, I can honestly say that the process of developing prayer and financial supporters for our mission has been just that– a blast. If that comes as a surprise to you, know that it has been a shocker for us as well.

For the past couple of weeks, Emily and I have begun meeting individually with some local friends, sharing our vision for serving the next generation of leaders in Ethiopia. Over coffee and brownies we hear some of the wonderful and challenging aspects of their lives and share stories of how God has impacted our family in the last year.

As you may already know, we have been appointed as missionary staff with the SIM organization, and plan to be serving as teachers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 2 years.  For the next few months we are assigned the fun task of connecting with as many friends as possible to share the vision and give people an opportunity to partner with us in various ways.

So far, this process has been a priceless opportunity for me and Emily to fine-tune our communication skills with each other, and to invite others to join in an exciting work already going on in Addis Ababa.

If you are interested in some great brownies and ever better conversation, let us know. We would be thrilled to come over for a visit.

Sweet Pic

The orange lines may be The Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea—- we’ll never know. When I asked my 4 year old artist, she reared back slightly offended and requested more M&Ms.

Please pray for our little ones, Lauren, Anna, and Sarah. They are continuing to process this transition in a positive way, but we know there is a lot going on in those little heads and hearts.

Ethiopia by July

Awesome = We’ve Graduated!

Emily and I just completed a rigorous three-week on-line training course to help us share our vision more effectively and connect people with a vital purpose in the Great Commission. This was the first class we have taken together since high school, and it was a fantastic opportunity for us to fine-tune our communication skills as a team.

Our training is now complete and for the next few months we are assigned to the fun task of connecting personally with as many folks as possible to share our vision and give people the opportunity to partner with us in various ways. As a family we want to be a unique expression of Christ to Ethiopia and we hope you will join us.  

Awesome = Budget #1 is almost fulfilled

We are “jump up & down” excited that a handful of people have launched us into an amazing start for our support raising. THANK YOU! Now that our departure and settling costs are nearly met we can focus on building our monthly support team. Awe Yeah!

If you are curious, our detailed budgets and other giving information can be found on the financial page.

Awesome = Our kids know where Ethiopia is…

… and they are excited to go. In our last post, we mentioned that one of our girls recently asked which state Ethiopia was in. We have had a fun few weeks of cultural training at the breakfast table. We’ve been teaching them to count to ten in Amharic and dreaming of how our life will be different.

Please continue to keep Lauren, Anna, and Sarah in your prayers.

Ethiopia by July

“Daddy- Which state is Ethiopia in?”

The simple inquiry of Anna, our 7 year old, at the dinner table leads us to believe that we have a long way to go in preparing our daughters for a life overseas. But we are more than excited for the opportunity and challenge to serve God as a family.

As you may already know, we have been appointed as missionary staff members with the SIM organization, and plan to be serving as teachers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 2 years beginning this summer.

However, for the next few months we will be assigned to the fun task of connecting personally with as many friends as possible here at home to share our vision and give people the opportunity to partner with us in various ways.

Practicing Our Webcam Faces for the 3-week training course

We are excited about an intense three-week online training course we are taking to help us share our vision more effectively and connect people with a vital purpose: being the expression of Christ to the world. The course begins today!

At this point we are asking for your prayer as we take on this course with lots of homework, and then launch this exciting assignment.  We look forward to getting in touch with you when our training is complete.

Peace and Love,
Jason and Emily