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A letter from Barbara and Larry Moir in Ethiopia

August 2009

On the road to Dembi Dollo

Sometimes I dream of suitcases and black plastic footlockers. I am packing, weighing each to stay within the 50-pound limit; rearranging and repacking, reweighing; shifting Barbara’s sewing machine to another footlocker, only to find myself moving it to its own locker padded with quilt batting and quilt material. The quilter’s motto is: “You can never have too much material.” We are both pleased with Barb’s current work on a new bedspread for our new home at Bethel Evangelical Secondary School (BESS). I can hear the clack, click, clack of knitting needles as Barb prepares cotton placemats for the kitchen table.

We have a new home in the making, and we are filled with joy and anticipation.

I see myself concentrating on the essentials recommended by those who have been to Dembi Dollo: Barbara’s wellingtons, and my tall yellow barn boots, rain coats and umbrellas. Living in the tropical highlands of Ethiopia, we are told, will be living with the reality of rainy seasons that prepare the land for planting and growing the food this fertile breadbasket of Ethiopia is famous for. Then again, I look forward to walking about the school’s farm among the cows and the pigs. I recall rainy days on my stepdad’s farm in Youngstown, New York: the thick gooey clay sticking to the bottom of my boots, the cow manure I am scraping out of the gutters behind the cows to be dumped into the barnyard pile for spreading on the fields later. I once remarked that I left the farm to get away from all that. Now, in an odd way, I am anxious to be back to it.

Barbara, ever the prepared teacher, wants to take teaching supplies and is keeping those items together. But books and supplies are heavy and need to be spread out among other footlockers. Each August brings about the teaching instinct, not unlike the nesting instinct of an expectant mother. Now Barbara is preparing herself for those first heady and hectic days with her new 11th- and 12th-grade students. She is even crocheting small cotton crosses to be used as bookmarks, prizes for Friday night game nights with our students at our home at BESS. The miles of driving from mission orientation in Chicago are filled with her hands working her tiny crochet hook and thin cotton thread. The short moments of free time, during the days leading up to our departure from Dulles International Airport on August 16, will see the accumulation of more crosses for our 300 students.

Dreams and reality are distinct. Yet the dreams have basis in the real and everyday activities of preparing to move our home to a place we can only imagine. Dembi Dollo, BESS, and 300 high school English students are real; the rainy seasons, one of which will greet us when we deplane, are real; transporting suitcases and footlockers along a 200-mile road, half of which is paved with stone and rutted along its mountain traverse is altogether real. The reality of it all seems beyond real at times, such as the day we were offered our appointment. That giddy, “pinch me to see if I am dreaming” feeling comes and goes as we make ourselves ready.

The only one in our family who is oblivious to the reality and the dream is our best pal, Digger, our 2-year-old golden retriever. Digger’s reality is a bowl of kibble, a hard bone, a walk on his lead, a toy to throw in the air for us to catch, and soft earth to dig into. Digger is accompanying us on our new adventure. It’s not right to experience life without him by our side. He will follow Mike and Janelle McCarty’s dog Haley to BESS and do what he loves to do more than digging holes, and that is greeting people and making friends. So, with new shots and a certificate of good health in paw, Digger will become a dog with a mission. Expect to hear from him in the months and years ahead. He always seems to have his own perspective on life.

Until our next missive, we pray that we will all see visions and dream dreams of God’s Kingdom and the role we all play in answering God’s call.

With Hope and Confidence,

Larry and Barb Moir


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