We Spent a Week on a Plane One Day

Traveling shoes - Michael Gowin

Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
— Romans 8.24-25

We’re home.

We left the guest house in Addis Ababa on Thursday around 2:00 PM (Ethiopia time). From the three flights, layovers, delays, driving from the airport, and other general waiting around, it took us about 38 hours to get home.

Maura fell asleep on the flight from Dallas to Peoria and had a hard time waking up enough to even walk off the plane. She slept in the car for the 45 minutes back to Lincoln and went straight to bed once we got home.

It was good to get home last night, to sleep in our own beds. I’m looking forward to a hot shower later. And, from what they tell me, everyone else here is looking forward to my taking a hot shower, too.

Since our last flight from Dallas was delayed, it was after 7:00 when we drove home from Peoria. The sunlight was gorgeous on the corn and bean fields along I-155. As we drove Suz and I talked about some of the contrasts between Ethiopia and here:

  • On our trip to southern Ethiopia, we watched farmers drive wooden plows behind oxen on small plots. Some used hoes and hand tools to break up the soil. In America, farming is a science dominated by decades of research, knowledge, and machinery.
  • Roads here get clogged with cars and trucks. In Ethiopia, they get clogged with people, sheep, goats, donkey-driven carts, and cattle.
  • Everyone here owns a car and they’re all relatively new. In Ethiopia, they take blue-and-white taxis. The small sedans for a couple people are expensive; most folks ride in a minivan that hauls 10-15 people and doesn’t leave its stop until it’s full. Addis has other public busses as well but few people own cars. And a car from the mid-90’s is considered “new.”
  • You can drink water straight from the tap here and it won’t make you sick.
  • Black diesel fumes choke the air in the city. But you get used to it after a while.
  • The Internet here is zippy. In Ethiopia it’s more like dial-up. On a good day.
  • It’s easy to get anything here in the US. Seriously. If you have money, you can get it. Even if you don’t have money, you can get it (loans, credit cards–but that’s another story).
  • America is a place of opportunity (I alluded to this the other day). Ethiopia wants to offer that but economics and other factors make it impossible for most people.

We really have it good in America. If you haven’t taken time to reflect on that, please do. Then do something to help someone else who could use a hand. Maybe here or here or even here if you’re so inclined. You have lots of options if you look.

While it’s good to be home, we’re aware that we’re not all here. We have to wait another two months (or so) for our embassy appointment. At that point, Kieran will join us.

Pictured above are the shoes that Suzanne, Maura, and I wore while we traveled. They bear the dust and sand from Dubai and the beach at the Persian Gulf as well as dust and mud from the hundreds of miles (or kilometers) we traveled in Ethiopia.

After our embassy trip, I’ll make this photo again but with an extra pair of shoes. Or maybe a photo with eight pairs of shoes. We’ll see.

Until then we live in the “already but not yet,” a family of eight but only seven of whom reside in our house. Until then, we hope for that which we don’t have.

Until then, we wait patiently.


  1. rochelle woolsey

    Michael and Suzanne,
    I am so thankful to Our God for you both.Being selfless in this society is not something you see too often. I want you to know that I pray for you daily, and for your children. I’m glad you are home safe and pray that you will remain that way until you dare reunited with your new son and many years after that.

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