Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ethiopia :: The Lighter Side

Well, for one thing, I have to be up in six hours and I haven't even been down yet. It's reverse jet-lag, a condition I'm personally pioneering as we speak.

So now seems like as good a time as any to catch you up on some of the juice.
I'll begin with a story.

Once upon a time there was a girl who procrastinated every important thing in life. For instance, if she was traveling across the globe, she probably wouldn't think about any of the practical aspects of said journey until roughly 1.5 days prior. Then she would commence in the most ridiculous and agonizing experience of analyzing her entire closet, convinced she had absolutely nothing both travel-worthy and fashionable (she was traveling with fashionable companions and hey, who doesn't like to think of themselves as on-trend travelers, representing the homeland with grace and dignity?)

After much angst and one shameless Googling of "Lisa Ling outfits", she gave up completely and packed 2 pairs of cargo pants, 1 pair of jeans, and a weird sweater with a bird on it that she hadn't worn in over two years.

So savvy was she, that she decided to ditch the extra outfit in her carry on because, yo, the flight was direct. No problem, man. (Also, the bag was already so heavy it made her a full inch shorter when she carried it.)

Yada, yada, she arrived in Ethiopia. Her bag did not.

But at least she was wearing her "Lay it Down" cuff, the one that served her well three years ago when her whole life was turned upside down and continues to serve her well to this day. It was a fitting reminder, so she laid it on down, determined not to let it fluster her.

She wore the same outfit for over 48 hours. And trust me, it was no head-turner. She had no brush, nary a hair product, not a moisturizer to be found.

It's Shannan Martin's legendary travel luck, with a twist!

Here I am, moments after arriving in my hotel room, 24 hours in on the outfit, over 24 hours to go. (It wasn't pretty...)

The good news is, the bag arrived the following morning.
The bad news is, well, the weird blue bird sweater.

It seems no matter where I go, I still have stuff to learn, stuff I feel like I probably should have mastered. I'm in a different world right now, but I'm still wholly me, full of complication and quirk.

I'm a flip-phone, treading water in a sea of Instagram'ers, living a life that's hard to explain and harder to understand. Yet even here, I'm reminded of the beauty hiding in the small. I'm nudged to keep on owning every bit of my quiet tendency and my misfit soul. I'm doing my best to walk in the right direction when I feel adrift. I'm bonding over Scandal, guacamole, reality tv, motherhood, blog talk, cute kid pics. You know, the important stuff.

I'm navigating a journey of the soul and doing it in full-on community.

Tomorrow Today is another full day, ripe with possibility and I'm praying for a heart that's prepared and a back that can hack it. (Remember that too-heavy bag? It sort of wrecked my lower back. Send prayers!)

I still struggle to really understand my "place" on this trip, but I trust that there is one and sometimes, that's all a girl can do.

This team is amazing. This country really is life-changing.

And....we’re having a Twitter party later today (Tuesday, 2pm Eastern) I’d love to see your pretty face on that feed! Come and visit me. Chime in. See for yourself how amazing my mates are. Learn a bit more about what we're doing here. Just follow the hashtag #blogABLE.

I'll be the one in the blue bird shirt.


CU Soon!


  1. glad you're having a great trip...
    praying now for your back...i know ALL about back pain.

    can't wait to talk about your travel companions in private emails. {HINT: #emilymaynard}

  2. You look adorable, as always!! Your place there is to bring us along with you, to be His eyes and ears there and His voice here!! I'm so glad that you went!! Praying for healing on the back and brokenness on the heart <3

    I may even join twitter today!!

  3. As you already know, God works best when we are totally "out of control" and "out of our element". Praying that you stay that way so you are TOTALLY dependent on Him.

    And hey...the bird sweater is simply a reminder that "His eye is on the sparrow and He is watching you too!" :-)

  4. True story: yesterday I was praying for you over there and yours over here when the thought crossed my mind about how "first-world" I myself would be over there. Worrying about debt, and kids, and details that will never ever matter even though I'd be smack dab in the middle of that HUGE reminder of how blessed I am.

    Not that you're doing that... I am just saying that I was thinking I would be. And then I felt like a loser. Then God reminded me I am HUMAN. Praise God.

    Sunday School lesson adjourned.

    Be safe.


  5. I struggled with the same "what is the reason for me being here?" when I went to Tanzania. I had nothing to offer. God knows better. There was one particular little struggling church that we spent an evening at. My son spoke the message. I just gave my testimony. The one about me, my son, prayer and answers. One of the pastors there emailed me after I got home and told me "I don't know why,:) but you touched the lives of the women at ...church, and they want me to thank you and let you know that you made a big difference in their lives." Huh??? God knows and that's what counts. We thought we were going to "save" souls. Turns out it was to encourage those already living it. Our ways are surely not His ways.

  6. If you had to be stuck in an outfit for 48 hours, at least it was gingham!
    Can't wait to hear more, Farmgirl.

  7. You look good in anything. Seriously you do. I have learned my lesson after arriving in Nassau once without my luggage. I had a swim suit and an extra top. We were at sea three days later when I woke up and had my suitcase. I didn't know that another ship captain picked it up at the airport and threw it over to our ship at sea. (Private ship, but still) I always take something to change into but maybe not a whole outfit. Glad you got your luggage. I am enjoying your trip.

  8. Oh, I love your posts (aka your mind). It's refreshing. I saw your sweet face on other Instagrammers photos of the Africa trip, and I thought, "Ohhh, I must follow Shannan on IG because I adore her blog." Then, after a few minutes of wondering how to do that I remembered you had a flip phone. And, to be honest the first thing I thought was, "HOW COOL!" I think it's the raddest thing that you flip your phone proudly and follow your own voice. As an awkward, enthusiastic introvert (try that on for a combination) I applaud walking to your own beat. Cuz Jesus didn't make us all clonies. Hope you get some rest and wear your bird sweater proudly. :) Thanks for being YOU!

  9. but it's you, shan, in #ginghamstyle. and there is really no other style, so you just rock it for 48 hours or more. whatever it takes, girl!

  10. haha! i just have to remind you again how much i adore you. you are amazing. i feel like i have so much to learn from you.

    big hugs and prayers for your back especially.