Hey all,

No we're not all moved into our new digs yet but, I am moving my blog away from passthekimchi.blogspot.com

This one was built for our travels and, as the address suggests, was a little too place specific. For Ethiopia I kept the URL but changed the name. Now it's time to simply move and start over, something a little more inclusive of all the pots my fingers are in.

So come see the new blog at http://ericswanderings.blogspot.com/

This is where I'll be from here on in, so change your bookmarks, blog links, whatever.

Hopefully I'll be posting regularly over there and it's going to be the best way for all of you, our friends all over the world, to keep tabs on us. So go check it out!


Moving Mayhem

What a long weekend! My parents are in the process of moving out, we're in the process of moving in and the end result = four people's belongings and none of it in the right place. Seriously, the house feels like a tornado tore through it and that was after we spent the past 2 days working in it! But I would like to be the first to point out that my darling wife is being extremely (and maybe suprisingly) patient through it all and, despite her burgeoning belly, did a lion's share of the work. She's a machine. My machine. My sexy machine.

But this weekend did mark the fruition of a project! I've been working on building a bookcase for our new office.

Due to our new digs being so spacious we not only have a baby room, but I finally get an office (slash/ scrapbooking room =) I've been working away, sanding and cutting. (Thank God for good weather!)Here the wood is "getting its stain on"......And here is me "getting my stain on".With a little expert help from the 1-800-CALL-DADDY line I got the pieces put together and moved upstairs.And then, viola! From design to completion, there it was!With room for all of my books and space for me to buy a few more (right honey?)Still a few touches to the room, a chair to add, some pictures to hang but... this was really the first time I got to do a room how I thought it should be and I kinda like it.

One more day off for me and then back to school for another 3 1/2 weeks. And then summer can begin! Actually, I have a bunch of reading and research to do for my Master's but at least that's at my own pace and now I have a great office to do it in!


Obama vs. Ol' Dobby

Now you may not look at the news but this one one is fresh off today's, "Obama Dismisses Dobson" coming after yesterday's, "Dobson Blasts Obama on Bible." As you can see, a little dispute is brewing.

Now a caveat, I'm not an Obama groupie. Don't think he's going to change the world, or even America for that matter. I think he's a better choice than Bush. I don't think he's a miracle worker.

Another caveat, I'm not a Dobson fan. I think his organization does some good things and I think he's a headline grabber. I don't like his political stances and I think he misrepresents Christianity. He ashames me for the most part.

It's always better to let people know where you're coming from, the good ol' post-modern way. Situate, situate, situate.

Now to simplify this little dispute. Obama thinks the Bible's not really that applicable to governing a country. To support this he quotes Leviticus where slavery seems to be okayed and shellfish are an abomination. Obama also claims sections such as the Sermon on the Mount are too radical for governing a country.

Ol' Dobby refutes this claim and says Obama is misquoting the Bible to support his own twisted theology.

Here's where I put my foot down, whip out my most imposing lecture face and start swinging around my right pointer finger...

Obama's right. America is not a Christian nation and has a set of laws to govern it, not the Bible. He's right, slavery in not okay in America. And most importantly, he's right when he says the Sermon on the Mount is too radical for governing a country!

All Christ-imitators should be saying in unison, "My goal is not to change or rule a nation". Say it with me!

The Bible clearly states that our goal is to love Christ and then love our neighbor, the two most important commands. No governing of society. Christ's radical demands on Christian life just don't jive with civil rule. Government serves the "will of the people". The Bible is about the "will of God". They don't mix and, as the Bible clearly states, "You can't serve two masters."

So this is where Ol' Dobby gets in trouble. He rather likes the mixture of government and God, civil rule and Christianity. He likes getting his hands dirty and mixing it up politically, whether it's gay teletubbies, John McCain or Ted Haggard. He think his job is to "Christianize" America.

This is where I run fast and far away. My job as a Christian is not to change society... it's to have Christ change me and change individuals through me. We've seen how Christian societies turned out (Google "Munster" and "reformation" together and see what I mean, or try "Calvin" and "Geneva"). In fact, after the debacles of Munster we had guys like the Mennonites saying we need to remove ourselves completely from society, we're just too radical for governing!

So, as official scorekeeper for Dobby vs. Obama: Biblical Interpretion I score the Democrat 1, the confused Republican 0.


Africa Reads

I've been reading alot of books about Africa lately, I think on last count about 12 in the past 3 months or so. I know not everyone has my great fascination with the Dark Continent but here are a few reads I highly reccomend for those with an interest in Africa or in a good read.

First, Dervla Murphy's "In Ethiopia With a Mule". Imagine a single woman heading off into the wild Ethiopian highlands by herself, sans map... in the 1960's. Then imagine bandits, leopards, and mules falling off cliffs. That's this books. She's blunt and fearless and treks more than a 1000 miles, living with the fleas, the Ethiopians and the hyenas. Super fascinating book by a famous travel writer.

Ok, so the 750 pages might seem a little intimidating at first but they fly by. "The Fate of Africa" is African history since independence that focuses on many of the big personalities, weaving all the connections and bringing the headlines to life. If you want to know recent African history, this is the book. His writing style gives the history life and you often forget you're reading history.
If there was one man I might want to emulate on the international aid scene it would be Stephen Lewis. He's a tireless advocate for human right, women's right and African rights. And he's Canadian. He was most recently the UN envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and has tons of first hand experience. He knows AIDS in Africa. In "Race Against Time" he speaks out against the inaction and failings of the UN, the IMF and the Bank. He's honest and yet hopeful that these organizations can rectify their failures the fulfill their potential.
A couple more: Alexandra Fuller's "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight". One girl growing up in the unique world of Rhodesia.
Stephanie Nolen's "28: Stories of AIDS in Africa". A Canadian journalist gives stories and faces to the many crises that AIDS is causing in Africa.
Romeo Dallaire's "Shake Hands With the Devil". Ok, this one's been out there a while but I am constantly amazed at what he's gone through and his tireless advocacy for peace in Africa. And he's Canadian.
So, if that light summer reading just isn't your thing (I know it's not mine), grab one of these books and become edumacated. Ya HEARD.


Summer of BBQ

I declare the summer of 2008 the Summer of BBQ! The last couple of summer we haven't been around to take advantage of long sunny evenings, a deck and a BBQ so now... we're going to! We've got a great big deck, a BBQ, and lots of recipes to try.
I planked again, this time for my mom.
Tried two different salmon recipes: Terriyaki Pineapple and Sun dried Tomato. Both were yummy but all agreed the Sun-Dried Tomato was to die for... seriously yummy. I've been out BBQ'ing this week, rain or shine (mostly rain) - steaks, chicken, pork. I'm thinking meat and veggies is a solid diet. Normally that wouldn't fly with my Sweetie, but thanks to the bump in her tummy she's realized the importance of things like protein and iron! So fire up the BBQ, stock the fridge - we're having a BBQ. Once we move in proper, it'll be time to have guests over to share our deck abundance. Nothing beats a warm evening, a steak with a mug of Blackbery Porter, cool tunes and good friends to share it with.
As for everything else... I am half done my crazy days of classes, just 3 more weeks of mayhem. I've been putting in 10-12 hour days at school just to make sure everything gets done. Taking 4 semester long classes in 7 weeks isn't as easy as I remember it to be...
The little one in the tummy is growing. Had our first ultrasound last week, saw him/her just lounging around. Even got the ol' thumbs up. Pretty cool. And the last 2 night I got to feel the baby kicking for the first times, way cool! Guess this whole baby thing is for real.
Otherwise, life is moving on. Kinda weird to be in the grind and yet still feeling in limbo until we properly move and unpack everything. Be good to get everything out and feel properly settled... though there's no complaints about the current roof over our heads from this end!
For those of you who are still hoping to see us... it's all gonna settle down soon. I promise!
And a parting shot. Me and the little hoodlum.



I have a condition where I simply can't stay in one place too long. My feet get itchy, my eyes roam, and my mind wanders to other places. Seriously, I am always planning the next big trip (road trip to Mexico, Tam!) or thinking of where I want to go next (Belize). I have a top ten list of places to visit. I love travel. Doesn't matter where it is, as long as I am moving and seeing new things.
So for my birthday I asked for travel! This weekend we packed up the car and headed up island for a relaxing wekend away in Ucluelet, compliments of my family (thanks guys!). A beautiful drive (minus the crappy roads the last 30km or so) and I was reminded of just how beautiful BC truly is, especially this island we call home.

We had a nice little B&B on the ocean with a hot tub on the deck (it pretty much doesn't get better than that!)I got to spend the weekend whiling away the hours with my sweetie (again, does it get better than that!) as we watched movies, walked along the beach and explored the ocean (I won "Who can find the biggest crab"!).All in all, a sweet way to spend a weekend and a temporary relief for my itch. I am reminded again of how much we all sometimes just need to get away. Even if you do the same things you might do at home, just getting away from the feeling of responsibility and feeling the road underneath does some serious good. Fun times.


Plank It!

I fancy myself to be fairly handy in the kitchen. Nolana on the other hand, well... as she said yesterday, "I am glad you can cook so we can eat". My particular strengths are a willingness to try anything, especially if it is a touch different, and the ability to make up things that taste good.

So for Mother's Day I was requisitioned to cook for Nolana's mom which gave me the chance to try something new that I had been dying to try: planking!

I made up the menu: planked brie with a roasted red pepper, peach picante topping, planked shrimp gratin with asiago cheese, roasted potatoes with parsely and parmesan and grilled balsamic portabello mushrooms with bell peppers.
Planking involves cooking with a cedar plank on the ol' BBQ which is much more manly than just plain cooking! First I soaked the planks for a couple hours and prepped the rest which included marinating the veggies.
First to ready was the brie. Layered roasted red peppers on the bottom, then the brie wheel and then the sauce which I concocted (and turned out swell I must say).Next came the shrimp. Again, I layered sliced lemons on the plank, then put the shrimp mixture on top.
They both got transported out the BBQ where they smoked away with that sweet cedar smell filtering its way into the food.The brie slowly melted inside the skin until it burst and the shrimp slow cooked away. While this was happening my lovely wife set the table... (and I would be remiss to not mention her aid in the kitchen preparing as well, love ya honey!)And when everything had soaked up the delighful cedarness we sat down to eat with an excellent bottle of wine and had a great Mother's Day meal.And thus, my first planking experience was a huge success and I will most certainly try some more recipes on the plank... who's coming for dinner?!


Facebook Pictures

If you're a Facebook friend, I've posted some more Ethiopia pictures there. Go check 'em out!


In the Whirlwind

It's true. All those rumors and celebrity like sightings are indeed confirming what most of you now know, Eric and Nolana are back in Canada! We were scheduled to be back in Victoria in July but as your calendar will point out it is only May.

So why are we back? As some of you already know, Nolana and I are going to be parents!

So, you can see, it has been quite the month. We arrived home on the 8th of April, with only our parents knowing we were returning. We slipped into Victoria Aiport, avoided the paparazzi and bunkered down for a few days to recover from our 30 hour trip. Since then Nolana has had way too much fun suprising all of our friends and family with the news we are back!
I think my favorite moment was suprising Jani who had recently broken a rib so the excitement caused a bit too much movement for her rib so she was convulsing in a state between ecstasy and immense pain, crying, laughing, gasping... Though it was pretty sweet to suprise Lori coming back from New Zealand too.

The neat thing for Nolana is that two of her close friends are also pregnant, one of them due 2 months before her and the other due about 4 days later. Oh yeah, we're due around Nov. 1 and no we're not going to find out the sex and no we have not decided on names (just heading the questions off before they come, I'm a pro now!).

Not everyone was happy to see us back as we were greeted with uncharacteristically cold weather and an April record for snow in Victoria.

But we're settling in. We've bought a car.

Four door special. And we have a place to move into, top part of a house with 3 bedroom, great area, and the best thing about it is that it's a steal (thanks Mom and Dad! lol). So yesterday I painted the baby room and we're making plans to get somewhat moved in the next couple of weeks while the parents are moving out.

Nolana's started back at the hospital and already has a full time job which is great, she'll work enough hours to get her maternity leave in a few months. Myself... due to some complications I am back in school for this year, taking some courses to qualify me for my teaching certificate. Starting May 12 I am a student again. Not sure how I feel about it but at the same time I feel up for the challenge.

As for future plans... we are all up in the air. We loved Ethiopia and would love to go back there or possibly somewhere else on the fair continent of Africa, so we're looking around for opportunities and hoping God will lead. We are back in Victoria for at least a year and then we'll have to see. So if we haven't seen you around yet, we have some time to catch up with everyone!

Hopefully I'll be updating this more regularly but no promises. Hope you are all as well as we are, which is pretty peachy keen!


School Days

Hey there Blogger world, we're finally here for a much needed update. Due to a tropical virus our computer was down for some time and we were unable to post. But now it's all good. So I thought I would share some pictures of my school and my kids. Enjoy!
My Grade 4 class which is my absolute favorite. 24 kids who for the most part love to engage and think the world of me. We have a lot of fun. I see them about 7 periods a week.My Grade 6 class which is quite small. The 7 kids and I have some great discussion such as "Is it ok to beat your wife?" or "Is it ok for a Muslim to marry a Christian?". The girl in the hijab in the back is the smartest girl in the school, she could easily go to school in Canada and excel.These are 3 of the boys in my Grade 5 class. You are looking at trouble. Just this past week 3 of them (including the 2 on the left) were expelled for a week. That class just does not know the meaning of quiet or of work. Amazing how 11 kids can cause so much trouble! This is Hamdiya, one of the 3 Canadian children at the school. She was born in Canada and has lived there all her life until 2 years ago when her family moved back to Ethiopia. Her English is excellent and she has a pretty sharp wit. Always talking away and asking me to sing the Canadian anthem for her!Some of my Grade 2 and 3 girls. I taught them at the beginning of the year and now I don't so they miss me and love to just come chat with me. I love my kids' smiles. Some of them go a long way in making a crappy day a lot better.The boy in the back is Feysal and he is my biggest fan. He's in Grade 6, stands about 5 foot 9 and is incredibly affectionate. He started off the year failing miserably until he got in my class and all of a sudden decided he was willing to work at it. Now he averages around %70. He always states how much he loves me and always has to hug me or kiss me on the cheek. Ethiopians in general are way more affectionate but to see a teenage boy trying to kiss his teacher still sometimes gives me a bit of a shock! Me and the boys! They like to chill, play football (soccer) and cause trouble like most boys do. And suprisingly enough most of them love their English teacher. Which makes what I do here all so worth it.


Trekking in North Wollo

Time is flying! It really feels like that here as we passed the half way mark and have so quickly come upon 4 months left here in Ethiopia (ok, soon it will be four months). At school we finished the end of semester finals and I got to take some time off! Had most of a week to relax and catch up on some things and Nolana took half of that week off so we had a chance to just hang out together and take a break from our busy schedules… it was sweet! And then last week we headed off for five days of trekking in the north of Ethiopia .

We hooked up with a company called Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives (TESFA) which has taken some small communities and worked with them to build a sort of tourism infrastructure so that they do not have to rely as much on their subsistence agriculture. We stayed in tukuls (local huts) built by the communities, had locals cook food for us, had local guides, got invited into community tukuls to have injera and coffee made for us, and spent our days moving like a real Ethiopian (walking) in the mountains and the farmland, in places where the only foreigners are the ones TESFA brings and the occasional NGO worker.

All of the TESFA sites are ideally situated in the cliffs, looking out at the beautiful mountains, mesas and valleys.

So you wake up each morning, open the window and see the sun rising over the mountains. You wake up and have a leisurely breakfast in the morning sun.

Most mornings we were on the trail by 9am for our daily trek. We had a donkey to carry our packs and a couple local guides supplied by the town we stayed in that night, as well as our guide for the whole trip. Most days we trekked about 5 hours, some uphill but mostly flatland along the edges of the mesas where the communities were.

We would stop for a picnic lunch somewhere along the way and usually arrived at the next community around 2pm, had a snack and time to just relax and have some fun.

It really was a great way to see how the majority of Ethiopians live and do it in a way that aids them. The majority of people in Ethiopia live outside of cities and a recent UN report said that around 70% of Ethiopians live on less that 2$ a day. In the country I am sure that number is something like 97%. And yet they were quite friendly for the most part. They invited us in and cooked for us.

The kids tending the cattle and goats in the fields all ran when they saw us to have a picture taken. The communities we stayed in were grateful and we had one evening where we stood around with some of the men and some children, they gave us some local brew beer, served to us in a re-used tin can (recycling on a new level!), one man pulled out his prized battery-operated tape player, turned on some music and we danced a bit with them until it got too dark to see.

I don’t want to romanticize life in the country (which is what we Westerners tend to do). It’s hard and dark. Women bear the brunt of the work, cooking, taking care of kids, hauling water, etc…

Life is good if you own a cow, some goats, some chickens and a dark little tukul that keeps the rain out when it comes.

Most kids don’t go to school. TESFA has been working with Save the Children out in this area and still no more than 50% of kids are in primary school and most will never go to high school. There’s no money to do it, no school nearby and even if they did, no opportunities to use the learning. Kids stay in the same village, grow up there, marry there, work there and die there. When we arrived back in Addis it all of a sudden felt pretty luxurious, imagine being able to take an automobile to go get a pizza! Can’t say I ever thought of life in Addis as easy before but that’s exactly what it is compared to the country. Guess it is all a matter of perspective.

We had a great break and are happy to be back in the city, back into the routine and starting to think of all the things that have to be done before we arrive back in Canada . Hope to see you all there