Aaaaand it’s Ethiopia!!!

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We got the email this week that we will be assigned to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for one year.  We will leave in one year, after Chris completes his French course.  The funny thing is, they don’t speak French in Ethiopia!

I have more questions than I have answers, but they sent us a 95 page document with a lot of answers.  Here are some of them.

*As far as church goes there are three branches, two of them in Addis Ababa.  None of them are held in English, but a very nice lady who used to live there told me that they provided them with translators sometimes.

*They suggest we hire a day guard, a maid, a cook, maybe a driver or even a nanny.  It’s important to support locals.  I have heard that this is suggested before, but I saw it today in writing.  As much as I don’t enjoy housework, it will be very strange having someone else doing it for me.  I will never hire a nanny, I like my kids too much to have someone else raising them!

*We can ship our car there if we want to, it will take 3-6 months to arrive. It’s also extremely expensive to fix a car that breaks down because American parts are hard to find.  We have a while to decide if the independence is worth the hassle (international drivers license, extra insurance fees, breaking down in unsavory places etc).

 

*Local things to do.  I took this directly from the manual they sent to us:  “Many people enjoy going camping on the weekends. You can rent campsites and camping equipment from the embassy recreation center at Lake Lagano.  Other activities include tennis, golf, horseback riding, craft classes (mosaics, quilting), children’s cooking, American movies, running clubs, soccer, piano, swimming, aerobics classes (spinning, yoga, pilates, etc.), game drives, dinner parties and visits to a local water/amusement park.”

*We will have a mailing address that is safe to use.  I wasn’t sure about this.  The mail goes through the embassy, and we can pick up our mail there when it arrives.  We won’t have a house address where we can receive mail.  I can even continue to order from Amazon.

And lastly, a HUGE list of things we cannot easily get in Addis Ababa, and what they recommend we do about it.  What could you live without?  What can WE live without?  I guess we will find out in a year!  For those of you know Taiten and Kaia…  I worry about them too with this list!

  • Freeze cheese and bring it in your luggage, cheeses you are familiar with are VERY hard to find here
  • Juice (especially if you have children that consume a lot of juice)
  • Olive oil
  • Other cooking oils (they are sometimes available but much more expensive here)
  • Snacks (such as crackers, chips, cookies, microwave pop-corn, fruit snacks, etc) ßThese things don’t exist here outside of the commissary, which is generally well-stocked but very expensive
  • Cold or hot cereals (also available here but not in all the varieties available in the US)
  • Canned beans (black, refried, etc)
  • White and brown sugar
  • Crisco
  • Wheat flour (white flour is easy to find here)
  • Pepperoni or other shelf-stable meats
  • Baking supplies (baking soda, baking powder, boxed cake or brownie mixes)
  • Powdered milk (milk is sometimes available here but it can sell out all across the city, and what you can find is generally low-quality and frequently already spoiled upon purchase)
  • Powdered drinks (Gatorade or Pedialyte is very useful when you are suffering from intestinal upsets; a common problem here)
  • Steak sauce/mayo/ketchup/mustard/salad dressing and other desired specific condiments
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cornmeal
  • Pancake mix and maple syrup
  • Jelly or Jam
  • Peanut butter
  • Salsa
  • Spices
  • Pickles
  • Horseradish
  • S. stamps (you can mail through the pouch or Mail Angel here, and you can buy stamps from the commissary)
  • Plastic kitchen garbage bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Cosmetics
  • Preferred brands of toiletries
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Baby milk formula
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Over the counter medications like Claritin, Benadryl, Tylenol, Motrin, cold and cough, anti-itch, bug repellant, feminine care products, contact solution, anti-fungal creams, sunscreen (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • A year’s supply of contacts
  • Extra prescription eye glasses
  • Quality sunglasses
  • Inhalers (IF YOU NEED IT BRING IT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SHIP IT THROUGH THE POUCH)
  • Laundry soap and dryer sheets (especially important if you have an allergy because specialty products are not available outside the commissary)
  • Cleaning supplies (sometimes available here, but not in US strengths)
  • Towels, sheets, pillow cases, wash clothes
  • Toys & games
  • DVDs and Blu-rays
  • Aluminum foil
  • Books (They are very expensive here but they are easy to ship from Amazon)
  • Spare tires (at least two) for your POV—best case scenario with a rim already mounted (tires are expensive here and flats are common)
  • An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) or two for your electronics (frequent power outages can play havoc with your electronic equipment)
  • Power strips for your 110V electronics
  • Additional transformers (also you may consider buying 3000W or 5000W transformers if you have a lot of electronics or powerful kitchen appliances, because the embassy transformers only go up to 1600W)

 

 

Funny Loki Story

Chris is gone TDY again, he will be gone most of the month.  The whole time he has been gone our Burb was getting fixed so we have only had the van here.  I didn’t realize until today that Loki has been paying attention to all of this.  He knows Chris is gone, and he knew we only had the van here.

Today the Suburban came home.  A few minutes after it arrived, Loki happened to look out the window and see it.  He came running to me, barking and whining.  He was highly excited.  I hadn’t heard a knock on the door so I didn’t know what he was doing.

To humor him, I went to the door, no one was there!  He was acting agitated so I let him out, wondering what he was up to.

Well, he ran straight to the Burb and circled it a couple times.  It finally clicked that he was looking for Chris!

Poor pup!

Africa, here we come! In a while…

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This is the director of an outreach program, then Fred, then myself in Zambia, 2012.

And now for the really big news.  Chris was accepted to be a Foreign Area Officer or FAO for short.  He has been wanting this job for the last 10 years and has applied three times.  Third time is a charm because he is in as a Sub-Saharan Africa FAO.

 

I can’t tell you how much I have wanted to return to Africa since my trip to Zambia a few years back.  This is thrilling news for me!  Chris is excited too.  The kids are not so sure.

 

FAOs are like Diplomats for the Military.  Most of them live abroad, but there are Stateside jobs too.  We won’t know which one we will get for a while yet but here is what we do know.  Of course, it is all subject to change because this is the Army we are talking about!

 

We will leave Kentucky this Fall for DLI East, located in Washington D.C. so Chris can learn to speak Portuguese which is a 6 month course.   I want to go with him, but housing is hard there so there is a chance I will stay in Kentucky while he does this training.  Following that training they will send us to DLI-Monterey, CA so he can learn French, a 9 month course.  I’m totally jealous, I want all that language training too!  Housing is easy to find there so I’m going for sure!

 

If he fails the language courses he gets kicked out of the FAO program, but not the Army.  We assume he will pass because it seems that if you can learn Chinese, then you can learn these other two languages.

 

After all of the language training they will send us to Africa for one year, attached to the U.S. Embassy.  There are currently three possible countries: D.R. Congo, Cameroon, or Mauritania.  I have no further information on this portion of the program besides it is all for training purposes.  If he fails this part, he is kicked out of the FAO program, but not the Army.

 

Following the year stint in Africa, we come back to the States for Chris to complete ANOTHER Master’s Degree in, but this time in African Studies from any university that will allow him to complete it in one year.  Out of the colleges that have already agreed to this arrangement, the University of Kansas is our number one pick.  Of course, if we can get another college to agree to the schedule that is in the Pacific Northwest, we pick it instead!

 

After all of that is said and done, we would move back to Africa for 3 years or more.

 

It’s safe to say that we are very excited, nervous, overwhelmed, and surprised by all of this information!  Exciting things are happening for the Conner Crew!

Maihaugen

You can click this link to learn all about Maihaugen.  It’s extremely cool.  Now, on with the photos.  The above photos are a church, the alter and baptismal font.  The font is original, and is the oldest artifact they have if I remember correctly.

These posted somewhat out of order, and forgive me for not fixing them.  There are just too many!  Enjoy!

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Soldier’s training area

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Interior of the church at the top of the post.

 

 

 

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A second church in a different area.

 

 

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The original altar from the church above.

Kirtland Day 1

Today we drove 7 hours away to visit a church history site, Kirtland, OH. We went to the visitor’s center, which is amazing all by itself.  The tour was fantastic, conducted by sister missionaries.  If you are in the area with only a couple hours, do this tour!  The following are our pictures from day one of our trip!

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Site of the first baptisms in Kirtland.

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Original saw mill in Kirtland.  Boards for building the temple were cut here.

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Cauldron at the Ashery owned by Newel K. Whitney.  He bought fireplace ashes and turned them into a variety of products from soap to potash (pictured here).  Potash could be turned into windows.

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The living room in the Whitney home.

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This is where the household chores were done, the other side of the winter kitchen.

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When Joseph and Emma lived with the Whitney’s, is was their living room and kitchen.

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Store room at the Newel K. Whitney store.  The clerk would sleep here.

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The Whitney’s bedroom.

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Corn cob slices serve as checkers in the front room of the N.K. Whitney store.

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Lillehammer and Bergen

August 8th

Today was our last day in Lillehammer.  We toured Maihaugen and took lots of photos.  While there, we finally found authentic, traditional Norwegian food.  They even served Rommegrot, and it tastes exactly like the rommegrot that dad and I make.  We were so happy to find out that we have been doing it right all these years.

We toured Olympiaparken, the Olympic park.  So cool.  There isn’t much I can say about it, but I included a ton of photos, photos speak louder.

Today we stayed at the Mølla hotel.  It has a really cool history.  It started out as the town mill, and worked for over 100 years before it was turned into a hotel.  It became a hotel when an architect was building some other housing in the town, and discovered a mill that was closing down.  He fell in love with the building and decided to buy it and do something with it.

We ended up walking about 5 miles in all this day.

The first set of photos is from Maihaugen, and then the Olympics, then the Hotel, and finally a little bit of the town.

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Rommegrot, after I took a spoonful so it isn’t perfectly pretty anymore.

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Huge Raspberry

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Photos of Maihaugen will be added in a different post because there are SO MANY.

After Maihaugen we saw the Olympics locations including the ski jumps and the bobsled track.  The ski jumps were really interesting, there are 1000 or so steps if you want to hike up to the top, or you can just drive up to the top.  We drove up and hiked down 100 steps or so to the area where the jumpers jump from.  We saw about 5 crazy people doing practice jumps.  I didn’t realize you could ski jump in the summer.  They keep the grass wet so you can ski on it.  It was unreal watching them jump from up close.  It looks frightening enough on TV, even more so in person.

So, so many photos follow.

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Gate at a house right next to the ski jump.  Fence is below.

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We kept saying, “Look at the crazy people!”

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They jump right down to the grass, which they keep wet with sprinklers.

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This man looks exactly like my brother, Leif.

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Making repairs

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Me and the Olympic Torch

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Beautiful Lillehammer

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Dorms, very cool window placement.

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The closest I will ever get to Tesla

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Olympic Bobsled follows…

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See the black thing over there?  it’s a bobsled on wheels.

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Heirloom wheat on the pillow because the hotel used to be a mill.

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The view from the window.

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Ask me how convenient it was to carry around this room key.

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My dad at the open air restaurant on top of the restaurant.  The following images are the view from the top.

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The yellow building is the hotel, the “glass box” on top is the restaurant.

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Walking from the hotel to the main shopping area and found this.

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Main Street in town.

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August 9th

We drove from Lillehammer all the way to Bergen today.  We went through the Laerdal tunnel, which is the largest above ground tunnel in the world.  We spent an hour or so in Laerdal before we went through the tunnel.  We had our first traditional meatballs there, so yum!

The tunnel was well worth the visit.  It is 25km long and is broken up with pretty blue lights in three parts of the tunnel.  The blue lights are supposed to simulate the sunrise, midday and sunset, and it’s supposed to keep people awake since it’s so dark inside.

There are so many tunnels on this route, and hundreds of waterfalls.  The drive took about 7 hours so we only walked about 3.5 miles this day.

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Our little rental car, Toyota Yaris hybrid

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We counted over a hundred water falls, not all of them this spectacular.