Category Archives: Ethiopia

“Football, Seriously?”

Me and my Mom show up for a confusing game of football!

This little Bitstrips illustrates a basic human condition… The idea that preconceived notions or ideas sometimes lead to misunderstandings. This cartoon is a cute illustration of this. But in my case, until I moved abroad I didn’t realize that to most of the world what they call “football” most Americans would describe as “soccer”. My mom is an avid football (American football) fan, and would be quite put out if I showed up in a soccer uniform to play her beloved football! It’s a humorous little cartoon, but it happens.

After we’d been living in ET for a little more than a year we had a friend, who helped with the housework and cooking. After returning from furlough I learned she was expecting and the baby was due around New Years. This is late summer so I’m planning to give her leave in January. She’s a hard worker, a really hard worker! September rolls around and she asks me to ask one of my friends to come because she had something she wanted interpreted. This friend spoke both Amharic and English, so we’re sitting in the living room, and my friend begins by saying, (we’ll just call her “L”)

” “L” warned you that the baby was due at the beginning of the new year, and that she would be taking her leave then.” So I’m nodding, yes I know, I’m so excited for “L”, you know it’s her first.

My friend smiles at me and says, “well it’s the New Year now and she’s taking leave ASAP, she’s about to have the baby any time now.” I’m totally confused! Wait, she said in the New Year, and that’s not for several months, this is only September.

My friend says “no Felecia, it’s the Ethiopian New Year, September 11th.”

My brain does a kind of somersault, and I rehearse all the things I’d had “L” doing over the past few days. I was undone, this tiny pregnant lady could give birth any minute and I was clueless. She’d clean these tall windows and just made an extra market run! Good grief! My next thought, of course was, she could deliver here in my living room right now! OMG, I couldn’t believe it! Today her daughter is 4 and it’s funny now, but at the time I was really worried that she could have been hurt! Another instance when preconceived notions can result in crazy misunderstandings!Even innocent misunderstandings can have long lasting and profound effects.

This Christmas season lets make an effort to be at peace with one another, let’s lay aside those things that divide us and cause friction in our relationships. Jesus is why we come together this time of year, and most of the world celebrates the birth of our King… Let’s do all we can to rejoice in what unites us, JESUS! That’s how the World will know that He is our King, because of our love for one another. Mistakes and misunderstandings happen whether we intend them or not 😃

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Something’s in the Attic

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A Life in the Motherland flash back.

There’s something in the attic… maybe. The first day we moved into the rental I noticed in front of each bedroom the attic access cover was missing. I’ve been trying to get Gary to climb up the homemade 15 foot ladder to fix them. Yeah we haven’t seen a real ladder, but there is one made out of eucalyptus trunks, the same thing they use to build scaffolding, in the backyard. It had rags or cloths tied at the four ends and it’s about 15 feet tall. Throughout the house, the ceilings are maybe 15 feet high.

Today is Saturday, Gary’s been covering my “honey do list”, and brings the ladder in the house. One access cover slides easily back in place, but the one in front of our room seems to have disappeared. Being ever resourceful, GRM makes a cover. He pops it in place and “ta dah”, the ugly holes in the ceiling are covered. The holes are about 15-18 inches square, so it was a fairly big gaping hole. Glad to have it finally covered.

I woke up at 5am, the Muslims were calling everyone to prayer, and I just didn’t feel I could get back to sleep. Correction it’s not just a call to prayer, they actually broadcast the entire prayer service over a megaphone/loud speaker. It involves chanting and a great deal of raving. No, I couldn’t get back to sleep.

But wait, I think I hear skittering across the floor…the house has hardwood floors throughout, but maybe it’s my imagination, and after another 30 minutes I’ve forgotten about it. As I’m leaving the bedroom I happen to look up, and the attic access cover has been moved. Ohmygosh! How did that happen, what could have caused it? SomeTHING has moved the access cover, someTHING is up in the attic.

On no. I thought I heard something this morning while I was checking my emails at 5am. I just dismissed it as monkeys on the roof, or maybe ducks, or those 4 foot crane thingys. I see ducks on the roof of the other homes and the roofs all conduct noise well, when it rains it’s pretty loud. But today when we returned from running our errands Lindsey said she heard noises in the attic, a lot of noises. I assured her, monkey’s on the roof. But someTHING moved the attic access cover, someTHING is living in the attic.

I run to find Gary, because now I’m afraid to cross under it, who knows, a monkey might jump out or jump down. We have company Mesky and Endala. I get my husband’s attention and show him. Something has moved the cover, what could have done that? He looks and says, you better have Endala tell the owner to come and remove whatever is living in our attic. Oh no!!!!!!! You mean the skittering wasn’t my imagination, and the sounds Lindsey and I heard were not made by animals on the roof, but IN the attic….oh No!!!!…living in the attic…Oh NO!!

Endala, do you think that’s possible, could there be a monkey living up there? At first thought, he says, not a monkey but maybe a rat, A RAT. What??????? Is that better??? A little furry creature, that we’d have to set traps for??? But no, I haven’t seen droppings, and though I’ve only seen mice droppings I’m thinking they must be the same.

Endala grabs the homemade ladder and investigates. The cover is light weight, and Gary explains that he looked for the proper cover, couldn’t find it and fashioned his own. The next thing I hear is our friend Endala making a strangled being-attacked-noise! UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!

I scream, Endala’s being attacked by the creature living in the attic, he’ll fall 15 feet to the hardwood floor, and maybe die. UGH!!!!!!!!!!! Gary runs to me, Mesky is laughing and Endala is looking at me like I’ve grown two heads. He was only trying to “wake up” whatever might be up there. Oh, seriously, and that’s better… I guess kinda :/

He doesn’t see anything, he’s flashing the “torch” around. Yeah, a torch, not a flash light, it’s that blasted British influence. It’s everywhere, and the reason my accent sounds funny to them. Anyway, Endala see’s nothing…except… the actual attic cover Gary couldn’t find. He maneuvers it into place, climbs down, and mystery solved… for now. I guess the styrofoam cover he made was moved by the wind. According to Gary, now it would take something fairly strong and intelligent to move the real cover. Yikes!! How do I feel about that…is that good news???

5K Lightening, Seriously?

Have you ever wondered how pilots know how to navigate the skies when there’s heavy cloud cover. Looking out, and as far as the eye can see there are clouds, no landmarks, no signs in the sky. Of course, he uses instruments and the air traffic control tower which help him navigate the skies!!

In life, we often find ourselves in unchartered lands, difficult situations and circumstances that bewilder and frighten us. And in life, especially as Christians, we have instruments, God’s Word, Godly counsel; and a tower, the Holy Spirit directing us here and there, to do this or that. It would be crazy to fly without a good set of instruments or the tower, so it is true of us as well. Daily, in every situation we are o take our cares and concerns to Him seeking His advice and guidance (Proverbs 3:5,6). Never ever attempt to navigate life’s unchartered land blindly, that would be crazy!

For several weeks, together with the Buffalo 5K committee, we worked and prepared for the 5K. Mike Paulick, one of our Walkers had been posting the weather forecast for that day for about a week on FB. So on Saturday, the day of the event, as we were driving to Chestnut Ridge Park, it began to rain! I thought, maybe this is like the “dew from Heaven”, but then the lightening came, and I was “in unchartered lands”. We had not planned for “a storm”, and maybe we should have. As it began to rain harder, Gary’s phone began to ring, is there a plan B in case of rain? Sitting in the back seat I began to pray, and I felt I was to pray against the rain. Seriously, I felt to take authority over the weather. It would spoil all our hard work, we live in CA, we were going home, and so the 5K had to happen now!!But the rain kept falling and the lightening kept flashing. Then the Lord reminded me of Eph. 6:10 “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” This is one of my favorite scriptures, I’ve even taught it to my grandchildren. It’s powerful, and so “relying on the power His strength provides” (Amplified version) I began to tell the enemy to desist, this was God’s show and He was going to stop the rain, and allow the 5K go forward and it was going to be great!! “…submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” James 4:7. Within 15 minutes the rain stopped, and by the time we’d arrived at the park, 7:30am, it was just a beautiful autumn day in Buffalo!!

God stopped the rain, and the 5K was great!!

Thank you Lord!!!

check out our pics https://www.facebook.com/fireoverafrica
https://www.facebook.com/events/524187380991018/
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5K All the Way

Many amazing things happened that day during the 5K, some walked Lake Merritt for the first time or achieved some personal goal, others formed new and lasting friendships, and then there were those who dressed up in funny masks and costumes posing at the Lake for the first time… well, let’s hope it was for the first time!   To see other great pics of our 5K follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/282837535191409/

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine” Proverbs 17:22a5k masks 5k3

Fire Over Africa 5K Walk/Run (CA)

Yesterday, in Oakland we held a 5K Walk/Run, and it was a blast!. Over 100 Walkers registered, gathered sponsors and raised tons of money for Fire Over Africa our NGO, and the programs we support like, orphanages, leadership training, and medical missions outreach. Our 5K committee was inspired!! They invented fresh and fun ideas for making the day incredibly memorable for us all. We had an amazing treat, Gete, a young Ethiopian woman, who runs a 6 minute mile was part of our event, and boy was she fast!

The day was perfect for a walk or run, it was overcast and a little chilly, so as we began to move around we warmed up quickly! Our welcome tables overflowed with sweet treats while balloons and the sounds of rockin cool beats made you want to dance or “walk” your cares away! There were groups of young professionals, moms pushing strollers, entire families, grandmas, and grandpas, you name it they were there!! Even our very on Pastors David and Marilyn walked! We had runners, joggers, and  walkers galore. Lake Merritt is a naturally beautiful site for this kind of event and its wild life includes pelicans, geese, lunes and many other birds. 

Laughter was everywhere, and excitement was in the atmosphere! Everyone was excited to be walking or running for such an amazing cause but also to be having so much fun hanging out at the Lake with friends new and old. It was a great day and a great event, from the Bubble Machine Station, I know, go figure… to my personal favorite, the Photo Op Station!! Thank you all for making the Oakland 5K a great success, we are already planning others for the future, and the NY run is just around the corner. Thank you all so much, for joining us as we bless the people of the land of “13 months of sunshine”, Ethiopia!!

Kansas, it’s way overrated!

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I loved the Wizard of Oz, and Dorothy’s comment to Toto, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…” has become my “go to” phrase when I think about my life in Awassa, Ethiopia. One day I decided to go adventuring so I changed my clothes, grabbed my umbrella and a few Birr, and was off.

Immediately I stopped short…I had to wait for a monkey to run across the street. He looked just like the “Outbreak” monkey! Now that’s something you don’t see everyday in the States, but in Awassa it’s an everyday occurrence. After he scurried across the street, with something resembling a loping gait, I began to notice he was on all fours carrying a baby that was curled up and holding on for dear life. Suddenly I realized, what I thought was a “he” was probably a “she”! On top of all this she was balancing this really long tail. And I thought, for the umpteenth time, yup, no Kansas around here. Sure, life in Ethiopia is pretty unusual by our western standards, but the Bible tells us “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matt 28:19. Yes, He even intends for us to go to those nations which force us to move outside our “comfort zone”. So, I may not be in Kansas, but I’m where I belong… Kansas, it’s way overrated!

Water… /whä/ … ውኃ (in Amharic)

Last year we had been waiting for our senior pastor and a team to visit us for a while.  About a week prior to their scheduled arrival, we had problems with the city water, but we weren’t concerned, we have 1500 liters in reserve and rarely have to worry about water. A well would cost $20 thousand US dollars, we’d gotten a price from a well building non-profit, so we’d gone the other route, keeping enormous tanks in reserve. So, when problems surfaced, we did a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and voila we were back in business.

Our team arrived and we were so excited.  I’d made tons of meals in advance, decorated, and anticipated their every need and want… we were ready. The first night of their visit, my husband notices the water pressure is pretty low.  No way, that’s not going to happen, we’ve anticipated their every need and want, how can this be?

That morning our 5 guests woke up excited about their African adventure, only to discover there was no water. Of course, they mused, it’s a very odd thing to have happen, but hey, for most of them this was their first time in ET, so what the hay, and we thought, it will come on tomorrow.

But by the 2nd night, we learned the cities new schedule for our area was water every 3 days! Our collective disappointment verged on disbelief… I was so bummed.  It’s hard to get enough water to wash a few dishes, let alone give one of the nine people staying in our home a shower.  I couldn’t believe this was happening. We’ve had donkey carts deliver water into our reserve tanks, but not this time Lord.  Instead, we hauled out buckets for every bathroom, and used all our reserve for washing dishes and cooking.

Yes, Lord I wanted our guests to have a true African experience, but no water? I learned upon becoming a missionary to a developing nation, you need water of course to take a shower, but even to flush the toilets, even if you’re doing it manually, which is your only choice when the toilets don’t work b/c there is no city water!

What will the missions report back at our home church read… those Munson’s how can they call that a guest house when they can’t even deal with the water situation. We sure don’t want to stay there again! Of course the enemy was trying to sell me that bill of goods. But God!! Why had they come, they’d come to encourage us, and they had, to hold a pastors conference, and it was amazing, and to stir two thousand college kids to action, and they were super stirred!!

In light of the amazing things that were accomplished on this trip, going without a shower for a few days is a pretty small price to pay. The team enjoyed every bit of it, and had a few funny stories to tell about their experiences in the Motherland… God is good!!

Scriptures I used to encourage myself during this time:

Romans 8:28, Paul’s experiences as a missionary

…The ends of the earth.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” Is 40:28. Sometimes, when I think about Awassa, it feels like the ends of the earth. Years ago, when we first moved to Ethiopia I began journaling again, and one day I wrote… “It is beautiful here, I love sitting out on my porch and enjoying the unusual birds, the sounds of Africa and the occasional monkey. It’s the rainy season, and sometimes I can sit on the porch and simply appreciate the rain. It’s beautiful, and peaceful and quiet in it’s on way. Most of the animal sounds I hear from my porch in Awassa could only be heard at the zoo in the States. Amazing!” Because of many mornings spent just like that, Isaiah 40:28 rings so true, only God could have created this place… Awassa… the ends of the earth.

I got over myself…

Image I suffered from a little culture shock when I first moved to Ethiopia… kids are everywhere, and many of them are working for their family, even as very small children. One of the things I had to get over was seeing little kids, 3yr olds and 5yr olds, shepherding  these gigantic cows, or camels ,or herds of goats. (Ethiopia is the largest cattle  producer in Africa.) You couldn’t even see the kids but you’d see these itty bitty legs peeking out from the herd of cattle, and this long shepherds staff rising above the herds. I about had a heart attack when I saw this… I was afraid they’d be trampled by the herd. But these kids are very smart and very careful… you see in the country side they are the rich kids, b/c in the countryside owning cattle is a sign of wealth… I got over myself, but sometimes, when I see a little one standing alongside a huge cow, I just have to remember, that kid knows what he’s doing!!

As a person coming from America it is not our place to tell ET families how to raise their kids, especially not in this case… But we have the privilege of learning how another culture does things, who am I to say its right or wrong, its what they do and what works for them… so I got over myself!! Thank you Lord for saving me from being the ugly American, yet again!!

… and they’re off!!

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I was standing in my daughters kitchen when suddenly that white noise, you know, the constant hum of running electricity went silent… suddenly I asked my husband, did the power just go out? You see living in Awassa has caused me to consider that as a real  possibility …that the power went out, not that a fuse blew or anything like that. I’m referring to the frequent power outages we experience living in Awassa. In fact one of the first phrases I learned was “mebrat yelum” , and it means no lights, or no power.

When we were building our house, power outages were a serious problem. It was out every other day. No kidding, if you had power today you knew you wouldn’t have it tomorrow. For a season it was on one day and off 2 days! Do you know how hard it is to get a job done when the power is out every other day… it was crazy. It was crazy for the whole city, everyone was complaining.

All my food in the freezer kept melting. I asked a friend how she survived, she said her freezer was covered in permafrost so all her stuff never melted. Of course we had a new freezer, and that was not going to be a solution for me… so my great old American ingenuity kicked in and I filled tons of small water bottles and stuck them in the freezer!! My stuff never melted again.

They are there to this day… we still have power problems, but I just take them in stride, and nothing as severe as back then! I’ve had dinner parties with no power, my daughter has done homework by candle light, and sometimes we just catch up on our sleep!

Yes life in our little sleepy town of Awassa, Ethiopia has been an education in more ways than not… and thank the Lord, I can really say I wouldn’t have changed a thing… I love Awassa!!