by Joy Casey in Ethiopia

It was crazy good to be in the midst of 37 missionaries and their wives on Thursday.  They were treated to three days of R&R at a hotel — a much needed R&R, I might add.  It was four years ago when we hosted a similar getaway.  Covid, ethnic violence, a new government and civil war has intervened since then creating tension in just about every sector of daily living with persecution from Muslims added to the mix.  A time-out was due.

After greeting the men, they were dismissed and we girls do what we are good at, especially if someone like Dinah Monahan is at the helm.  We shared about our children, our lives—challenges and blessings, and then soaked in God’s truths that were beautifully communicated by Dinah and translated by our friend Abonesh into Orominya and Amharic.

The fun began in earnest when handmade colorful totes filled with beautiful and practical things were given to each gal.  Dinah, with the help of her friends and family, thoughtfully gathered gifts that would bring joy to these village wives and mothers.

It was delightful to bless these women who rarely leave their village or have respite from their daily living which is far from easy. Friday afternoon we will meet again for a time of doing crafts together.

Our afternoon was taken up with babies, babies, BABIES!  I had forgotten just how beautiful these Ethiopian babies are, and once again my heart was captivated lock, stock and barrel.  Some of the children I expected to meet were gone, though.  Just this past week four little boys ages 4-8 months were adopted!  This is always joyous news for me and our orphanage staff, although several confided that when they close the orphanage gate as an adoptive family leaves, tears are rolling uncontrollably down their cheeks.  Our extraordinary staff pour themselves into these little children, many who have been nursed to health from less than optimal beginnings.  No wonder they feel the loss!

A homeschool co-op raised money for formula by selling tie-dye shirts for which we are so grateful! The kids also made small size tie-dye shirts and onesies for the babies and toddlers, so of course we had to do a photo op.  Aren’t they cute?

Our orphanage director, Ephrem, recently had the interior of the orphanage freshly painted in a cheery yellow.  The cute murals that had been painted some time ago were covered with much-needed paint.  The place was clean, but plain.  I had brought over some vinyl decals to add some whimsy and interest to the room, but then Dinah and Kelli thought they would paint one wall in flowers and grass, butterflies and sunshine.  Off to the paint store to buy primary colors and paintbrushes.

While they put their artistic gifts to good use, Ephrem and I had time to talk about the nitty-gritty of running of the orphanage.  Ephrem is a gem.  He does everything with excellence.  We both acknowledged we missed our regular times together since I have been unable to travel.  In all honesty though, I would never really have to show my face at our House of Joy orphanage because it is in such good hands. I come because I love the place and to encourage Ephrem.

We arrived late at our hotel after a very full, good day.  The Sidama people group of Hawassa started the celebration of their new year (yes, they have their own unique calendar!) last night with fireworks that we could see across the lake.  It was a fitting end to our day.