What Ethiopia Taught Me

by jenna on August 19, 2013

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This is the fourth time I have started writing this blog post. I didn’t realize getting down on paper {err computer screen} my feelings after the trip would be this difficult. Turns out, it’s taken me a little bit longer to process everything than I thought. But today I am determined. As I write this, I’m curled up on my couch with a cup of the strong dark coffee that I carried for 30 hours home. I’m thinking the caffeine might sharpen me a bit, as it is 7:30am on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will help the fact that my stomach has been in knots since I’ve returned home three days ago.

Ethiopia was crazy. It was loud, dirty and wet. At times, it was uncomfortable {picture eight girls traveling in a van into the Ethiopian countryside, stuck in traffic for 5 hours, two sick and one puking into ziploc bags}. Ethiopia was the complete antithesis of my California home — full of comfort, luxury and endless clean running water. How many times have I taken that water for granted? Every.single.day. It was outside of my spoiled American comfort zone in every way possible.

Ethiopia was also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. That beauty came from the lack of pretense, I think. It was the first place I have been where there was absolutely nothing fake to be found. From the people’s smiles to the rough and muddy roads, there was no attempt to cover anything up. It was refreshing on a deep level, something I didn’t know that I needed but I surely did.

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Ethiopia taught me how to better connect with others. I didn’t realize just how “in my own space” I’ve been living. I’m a natural introvert that can sometimes shy away from interaction for the sole purpose of my own comfort. Ethiopia made me realize that even though our lives may be different, we are much more alike than I thought.

Ethiopia taught me that I don’t need to fix anything. Before, I had this backwards mentality that I need to go to Africa to DO something. I wanted to build a well. Build a school. Walk away from a neat, completed project and return home with one less thing on my bucket list. Something crossed off in crisp black ink. The truth is, Africans don’t need us. They don’t need us to “fix” things that we presume are broken or “save” them with our religion and lists. What they do need is the same thing that we need — love and connection. I’m ashamed I felt any other way prior to this trip, whether I was willing to admit it or not.

Ethiopia taught me about joy. A joy that doesn’t come from losing that last five pounds or getting those new jeans. This joy comes from within and has no relation whatsoever to exterior circumstance. It gave me a lot to think about, to process, about the way I want to raise my kids someday and the way I want to live myself. The M0cha Club says it best when they say, “I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness”. If I’m really being truly honest with my heart here, I’d say that yes…me, too.

Ethiopia taught me {even more} just how much our purchases matter. Buying handmade products from local artisans helps support job creation and fights poverty. While in Ethiopia, I was lucky enough to also visit with the group of Noonday artisans there who thanked me over and over and over for the work we help provide them. When you buy from Noonday and fashionABLE you are helping to make REAL differences in REAL people’s lives.

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Ethiopia taught me a zillion other things but I think I’ll keep unlocking them as the days go by. Here’s some answers to questions I have been getting over the past week:

How can I get involved?

Buy a fashionABLE scarf and tell your friends. FashionABLE works with Women at Risk, an NGO in Nazaret, Ethiopia that works to rehabilitate women in Ethiopia who were forced into a life of prostitution as an attempt to escape their situation of poverty. The “Women At Risk” program provides spiritual, emotional, and psychological counseling and helps them find alternate means of income to support themselves and their children. After completing the program, the women then can choose to work at fashionABLE.

You can also choose to join The Mocha Club for as little as $9 a month, or the price of a couple fancy Starbucks drinks. The money goes to help fund programs such as Women at Risk, as well as clean water initiatives, orphan care, HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

Would you go back to Ethiopia?

Without hesitation. I know I will go back one day, hopefully soon. I fell in love with the people there and want to share that with my husband, especially.

What was the food like?

Really good! I ate a lot of really delicious grilled chicken kabobs, injera and spicy lentil dipping sauces. Injera is a flat, spongy, fermented bread that Ethiopians use to eat a variety of things such as curries, meat and vegetable dishes. It was really tasty!

Did you get sick from the food/water?

Nope. A couple girls on our team did though. Let’s just say I was a little more daring and experimental with my food choices before two girls got food poisoning. After that, we all stuck to pasta with red sauce {there’s tons of great Italian food there!}, fries and cokes for the remainder of our time. I tend to eat pretty light when I travel, too, which I think helped. You do have to be careful to only drink/brush your teeth with bottled water and that really made me appreciate our abundance of clean water here even more.

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Disclaimer: Though travel + accommodations were generously sponsored by fashionABLE, all opinions are my own. I am truly passionate about these women and this organization and am so happy to share my experiences with y’all!

 

 

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Averie Cooks August 19, 2013 at 3:00 am

Thank you for expressing your feelings and sharing about your trip, experiences, and all that it’s taught you, Jenna. I can imagine this post was hard to write because I’m sure this trip is, was, and will continue to be larger than life. You expressed yourself beautifully and painted a clear picture of things there and the effect it has had on you. What a refreshing, honest, raw and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it :)

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Mish @ EatingJourney August 19, 2013 at 3:26 am

It’s very HARD to wrap your mind around this experience. As, I’d imagine, it would be hard for a woman that you’ve met to wrap their head around California or the USA. Culture shock both ways.

this: “The truth is, Africans don’t need us. They don’t need us to “fix” things that we presume are broken or “save” them with our religion and lists.”

amen.

Once we wrap our heads around building relationships and not saving people solely…we make change, forge equality and realise we’re really all the same at the core.

xo

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paige August 19, 2013 at 3:51 am

love hearing your story jenna!!
we talked about you often while we were in guatemala!!
keep on keepin on cutie!!

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Lesley August 19, 2013 at 3:58 am

Thank you for this post and your experiences of Ethiopia. I just wondered if the Noonday and Fashionable brands are retailing only in the US. Do they have any retailers or plans to retail in the UK?

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jenna August 19, 2013 at 7:39 am

As of right now, no…but hopefully in the future!

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Courtney August 19, 2013 at 4:12 am

Very well said. I remember my first and only trip to Africa when I was 17 years old — I was blown away and never would have been able to put those emotions into words. I really wish far more people would pick up the “they don’t need us to fix them” understanding. I work in international public health/development, and that mentality is fading but is still far too easy to fall back into.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

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Lauren @ The Highlands Life August 19, 2013 at 4:48 am

Thanks for sharing this with us. So true that instead of doing much for them, they do so much and impact our lives like they’ll never know. We are so so blessed with what we have and I’m thankful you are so aware of the need to support their culture. Hope you and Adam get to go back very soon!

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Madison August 19, 2013 at 4:58 am

This is such a heart-felt post that is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and being an inspiration to so many.

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Karen August 19, 2013 at 5:03 am

Beautifully expressed, Jenna!!

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Mila August 19, 2013 at 5:28 am

“‘Ethiopia taught me that I don’t need to fix anything.’ Before, I had this backwards mentality that I need to go to Africa to DO something. I wanted to build a well. Build a school. Walk away from a neat, completed project and return home with one less thing on my bucket list. Something crossed off in crisp black ink. The truth is, Africans don’t need us. They don’t need us to “fix” things that we presume are broken or “save” them with our religion and lists. What they do need is the same thing that we need — love and connection. I’m ashamed I felt any other way prior to this trip, whether I was willing to admit it or not.”

SO, SO well said!

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Christine Derrel August 19, 2013 at 5:30 am

Wow Jenna, it must have been really one big life changing experience!!!

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Amy Walters, A DESIGN DOCK August 19, 2013 at 5:37 am

Lovely post, Jenna! Thanks for opening up and sharing the experience you had in Ethopia. I know that it can sometimes be hard to put into words and feel like you’ve said what you wanted to say…so glad you did. ; )

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Karley with a K August 19, 2013 at 5:48 am

I’m coming back to the blogging world after a bit of an absence, and I’m so thankful to have returned to your page and this entry. You captured your trip to Ethiopia beautifully. These are powerful reminders for all of us—and I can’t wait to get to know the fashionABLE ministry better.

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erin @hooleywithaz August 19, 2013 at 6:10 am

you did a great writing this. so beautifully said, and great for everyone to be able to learn about these wonderful people and businesses that are doing good.

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erin @hooleywithaz August 19, 2013 at 6:12 am

and by “great writing this”, i of course meant “great JOB writing this”. mondays, i tell ya.

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jodi August 19, 2013 at 6:28 am

love post Jenna. i especially loved your words about not needing to fix Africa. lovely words, lovely message and lovely encouragement to spread love and compassion (which is truly all that anybody really needs, no matter where people live). well done. God bless.

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Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health August 19, 2013 at 6:46 am

Wow. It’s inspiring to know that Ethiopians are able to smile and be so kind even when they are without basic necessities that we take for granted every day. It sounds like the trip really enriched your life. Thanks for sharing, I loved reading about it!

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Carrie @ Carrie on Vegan August 19, 2013 at 6:51 am

What a beautiful, inspiring post, Jenna! I admire your willingness to go outside your comfort zone; it makes me feel like I can do the same. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this really important journey for you. I hope to continue my personal growth and work on changing the world for better, too, and you’ve made me remember that passion. :)

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Jeannine August 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

Ethiopia is indeed beautiful, magical and full of joy and you captured it beautifully in your post.

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Tara August 19, 2013 at 7:05 am

What a great experience! I went to Nepal when I was 22 and had the most life changing experience. I lived with a family that had an adorable 8 year old servant girl that slept on the kitchen floor….talk about culture shock! When I returned home to the Bay Area, I was sure I lived in heaven just for the fact that I had access to clean water and pretty much anything else you could possibly need. If only everyone would/could travel to see how unbelievably easy we have it here.

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Kate August 19, 2013 at 7:10 am

Thanks for sharing this, Jenna. Before your trip I felt a bit apprehensive about your motivations in traveling to Ethiopia–I got that “trying to fix it” feeling from your posts. But your paragraph about fixing things is dead on. What a great realization to come to during your trip.

I really admire the fact that you didn’t hide the way that your perceptions changed. Well said.

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Vanessa August 19, 2013 at 7:15 am

Hello! Thank you for sharing your experience. Can you please direct me to the website where I might purchase some Noonday products? Can I purchase from you or do I have to find a local consultant ( I live in Dallas, TX).

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jenna August 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

Here’s the website – you can purchase from me! :) http://jennabeaugh.noondaycollection.com/

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Live Love Yum August 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

You changed your last name! Sounds nice :)

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Ashley August 19, 2013 at 7:22 am

Very beautiful, Jenna. I hope you learned a great deal about human suffering that continues all across this world, and that if we all came together in peace we could change so much. Maybe even end it for good.

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Ashley August 19, 2013 at 7:29 am

By the way, you writing this:
“They don’t need us to “fix” things that we presume are broken or “save” them with our religion and lists. What they do need is the same thing that we need — love and connection. I’m ashamed I felt any other way prior to this trip, whether I was willing to admit it or not.”

Has totally changed my some developed feelings towards you. I know you are very Christian and have strong Christian morals, whereas I am an atheist. When I started reading your blog, you didn’t write so much about religion, and once you started I kind of strayed from reading eatliverun.com. When I read you were planning to go to Ethiopia, I was afraid it was more of a missionary rather than a visit to a third world country and comparatively focus on their have and have not to America. I’m appreciative that you are saying we can’t fix these people with OUR religions. It’s a big deal to me, and I’m sure to anyone else that reads your blog and is an atheist like me.

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S August 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

Ashley, I definitely agree with you on this point. Jenna, I’m so glad you wrote this reflection, and I’m sure it was incredibly difficult to put into words! Although I am agnostic, it wasn’t the Christian morals in your posts that bothered me; rather, I started to worry that you were writing about “fixing” an entire continent, about saving “those people over there.” This post made me respect your honesty and flexibility and willingness to change and listen and grow, so thank you for that.

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Sarah August 20, 2013 at 7:18 am

I am a Christian, and know you are too Jenna- but while I personally think that every one needs Jesus, I appreciate the raw honesty of your feelings that you shared. I’m sure its so easy for me to sit back in my comfortable home and say what needs to be done, when you actually went.
The atheist, the agnostic, and the Christian! LOL, too funny!

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Emily August 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Jenna, I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of people who have said this post changed how they thought of you. While I do not share your religious beliefs, I am in awe of your capacity to learn and grow in such a positive direction after your brief experience in Ethiopia. It gives me great hope for the future if someone who held the views (however well-intentioned) you had before your trip can experience such a transformation. THANK YOU.

Joelle ( on a pink typewriter) August 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

Thank you for sharing your journey… Your honesty is always refreshing in the blog world.

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Julia August 19, 2013 at 7:24 am

Thanks for sharing your reflections, Jenna. Very well written, as always, and extremely thoughtful. I’m glad your trip was so transformative on a personal level.

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Katina August 19, 2013 at 7:41 am

So awesome Jenna! It took me almost six months in Tanzania to learn some of the things that you learned in such a short time in Ethiopia. So awesome! I’m so glad that you are sharing these things and inspiring so many others to follow. The understanding that what people truly need is connection is super priceless. It’s a lifelong process putting that one into practice, especially for us task oriented Americans. I am learning with you on many of these things as well. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts and lessons with others.

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Alysa (InspiredRD) August 19, 2013 at 7:43 am

One year later and I am still processing my experience in Ethiopia. Thank you for sharing your heart. Please take me with you when you go back… :)

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Amber August 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

Thank you for sharing. Loved hearing this.

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Bryony @ Friday Night Dinners -- PDX August 19, 2013 at 7:52 am

This was beautiful, Jenna! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It sounds like a life-changing journey and I’m so happy you got to meet such wonderful women.

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jessica August 19, 2013 at 8:26 am

I truly appreciate you willingness to write this post and admit where you may have been wrong going into this trip. I definitely got the “going to fix them” vibe from your posts prior to this trip and find your new perspective refreshing.
Thanks for your honesty, Jenna.

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Suzanne de Cornelia August 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

A powerful post. Great writing.

We have the *perception* of an abundance of ‘clean’ water when in reality it is dosed up with fluoride and other carcinogens and it’s smart and practical if possible to have reverse osmosis water filter’s for the entire house water supply. I’d chance food poisoning before drinking a coke that’s loaded with sugar, another carcinogen, and aspartame, which might as well be rat poison. The social cost of coke globally makes it something that I would never consider touching. Just like the social cost of the mere existence of Walmart means I wouldn’t walk into one of their stores if they were the only stores on earth. They represent everything unjust and consumerist in the world today and I wouldn’t support that with a cent.

The majority of Americans–and this is proved by basic statistics–are unaware, unbothered and disconnected to cause and effect. It’s troubling how self-congratulatingly materialistic our culture is, when at the same time 76% admit to out of control spending and living paycheck to paycheck.

Arundhati Roy’s speech at the World Social Forum Porto Alegre Jan 2003 was one of the most memorable things I ever heard, but it’s little heard because it’s overwhelmed by ridiculous things like the ‘Kardashians’.

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Amy August 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Best comment ever!!!!

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Shaina August 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insights. I’ve always wanted my life here on earth to have meaning, and sometimes it can be difficult to determine exactly what that means and where my place is in the expanse of it.

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Lauren @ Sassy Molassy August 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thanks for sharing, Jenna. Some really interesting takeaways it sounds. Makes those “wants” seem that much less important.

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Sarah K August 19, 2013 at 9:27 am

Wow what an awesome post. I’ve really been thinking about trying to get involved with some sort of organization to travel and volunteer my time for others. This was very inspiring and I loved that quote, “I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness.” I also liked that you talked about the people of Africa not needing to be “fixed” or “saved;” I’ve talked to a lot of people who think. or have thought, like that, myself included.

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Emily @ Life on Food August 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

Thanks for sharing! My brother has lived in Africa twice over the years. I think it is really hard for people who have never been to make some of the connections you mentioned. You learned so much in such a short trip.

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Katie August 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

Beautiful Post! I can’t even imagine… That last picture brought me to Tears. You are such an inspiration.

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Sarah August 19, 2013 at 10:01 am

Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. “Ethiopia taught me that I don’t need to fix anything” such a great take home message.

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nickee August 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

Yep – I feel the exact same way everytime I go back to India to visit family. thankful for clean water and amenities etc. but at the same time I’m always so moved to see how little people need to survive AND be happy on. :)

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Steph August 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

Beautiful lessons. I’m happy everyone here can learn from your experience too. I would have went into the situation very much the same way- thinking I could have ‘fixed’ what I deemed to be the problems of another country. Your time seemed to be more about engaging in a global community rather than about charity.

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Laura@FoodSnobSTL August 19, 2013 at 10:53 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I love your honesty and openness about what you learned.

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Danielle August 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Oh, Jenna. You reflected in the most beautiful way possible. Thank you. Although I haven’t had anywhere near the same experience, I couldn’t agree more with your “Ethiopia taught me that I don’t need to fix anything” paragraph. I concentrated on similar issues in this past year of studies–looking at the way we frame social enterprise and promote charity. I am so in awe of how much wisdom you walked away with in a short time. Again, thank you for sharing. I’m glad it had such an impact on you, and I hope you’ll be able to take Adam one day. xo

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Kim August 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Great insight! Traveling to Peru for my honeymoon was a very interesting experience, similar to your Ethiopia trip. Peru was such an interesting country and like Ethiopia, you really had to be careful about what you ate and drank. I did get sick on the Inca trail, which wasn’t too fun, but upon warnings from friends and family who had traveled to Peru before, I brought antibiotics with us and that knocked the bug out pretty quickly!

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Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe August 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

It is very enlightening to read about your experiences in Ethiopia. It sounds as though it was an amazing trip !

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Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic August 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I can imagine how enlightening that trip must have been. Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us! Just reading this is making me feel even more grateful for all the luxuries I am blessed with.

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jan August 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Sounds like an amazing, life-changing trip. I love your thoughts, especially where you wrote about not needing to change anything. Sometimes I think our “mission trips” are for all the wrong reasons!

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Lindsay August 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Jenna, I’m glad you had such a life-changing experience on your four day journey to Ethiopia, but it bothers me as a reader that you make no mention in this post that your trip was entirely sponsored by Noonday/fashionABLE, and that you make a profit off of the products that are sold. Those two facts make most of your post seem disingenuous. As a sidenote, Ethiopian food is amazing and plentiful in the Washington, DC area, if you ever want to be “adventurous” with your food again.

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jenna August 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

You’re right – I should have mentioned at the bottom that fashionABLE sponsored my travel. I did show that on the previous post though. And no, I do not make any sort of profit from fashionABLE scarves that are sold. Thanks for the heads up on the food in Washington, DC. I’ll keep that in mind for next time. :)

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Sara August 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Jenna, thank you for sharing. I have been on 3 medical mission trips in the past 8 years …. Honduras, Dominican Republic, and most recently Rwanda. I’ve never been able to express in my own words how those trips have made me a better person, how they make me feel and interact with others. Thank you for putting it into words. Especially your mention of joy. The genuine happiness, the inner strength of humans, and the sense of community I’ve witnessed in other countries brings about a deep feeling of joy that is truly indescribable. Thank you!

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Jooles August 19, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Thank you for this. Beautifully said and I think it applies to all of us all over the world…if we try and connect honestly, openly with others, without an agenda, the world will be a better place. And I *think* that’s really the core of it all :)

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Assefaw August 19, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Dear Jeunna,
You will probably realize from my name that I am Ethiopian. I was fascinated with your article and read it more than 5 times including all the comments. It takes a beautiful person to find beauty in the lives of those that are different and impoverished. My favourite prayer is “Dear Lord, I thank you for all the luxuries I take for granted”. I live in Sweden and I am always trying to tell anyone who would listen that happiness does not necessarily come from material comfort. I thank you.

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Flower Patch Farmgirl August 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Love this and you. :)

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Anita August 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I know my own experience in traveling to a third world country was that the people were beautiful, joyful, giving of themselves. I recieved so much more than I gave. There are not enough words to express to others all you felt and experienced. The best way to explain it is for others to go and see for themselves. That is the only way to truly understand. I hope you were blessed with a life altering experience.

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Jen August 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I’m really glad you went! That bottom picture is the best one I’ve ever seen of you on the blog. Pure happiness.

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Caroline L. August 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I really enjoyed reading about what you’ve taken away – those are some pretty life-changing realizations that I’d love to experience for myself one day. Am so happy you had such a meaningful journey, and am excited to learn more through your “unlocking”!

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DessertForTwo August 20, 2013 at 5:29 am

Oh, Jenna. Just what I wanted to hear. It sounds like your heart was wrecked. And isn’t that the most beautiful thing?

I am definitely guilty of letting my circumstances define happiness. The truth is, all I think about since we left California is “are we happy here?” Is that worth my time to think about? Aren’t there other fish to fry? Shouldn’t I bloom where I’m planted?

The lack of fakeness and pretentiousness will stick with me.

While you were in Ethiopia, I interviewed someone at work from Ethiopia. I thought about you! He was so kind and hard working. He got to the US by winning a green card lottery. Isn’t that crazy?! And he came to the US, got a Master’s degree, and is working hard. I’m definitely hiring him ;)

And I will be purchasing stuff, don’t worry ;)

XOXO,
Christina

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Morgan August 20, 2013 at 5:57 am

I love this so much! I have the scarf that is the same pattern as the one in the picture, it warms my heart to see it in the making and know that each purchase makes a difference. I was selected to be a campus rep from FashionAble and until now I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to go through with it. I definitely want to now!

I love that you now see that you don’t need to fix them and I’m so happy that you learned so much from this trip. I really look forward to the future of this blog. :)

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Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) August 20, 2013 at 6:18 am

Sounds like an amazing and eye opening trip. I had a similar type experience when I went to Haiti when I was just 12 years old. Everyone was so incredibly loving and kind. That trip continues to stick with me to this day, way more than most other trips I’ve ever taken in my life! I’m sure yours will as well!

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Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves August 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

It sounds like you had an inspiring adventure in Ethiopia. I totally admire you for opening your heart and giving your time and love to all of them, and I’m sure you have loved receiving the same from them!

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Margarita August 20, 2013 at 8:18 am

Love this post and the truth in your words. This was a very inspiring read. And that look of pure happiness on your face in the last picture is simply priceless. Keep at it Jenna! You have a good heart.

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Sue August 20, 2013 at 10:40 am

Great post. I went on a church mission trip to Tanzania as a chaperone for my niece and 13 other teenagers (yes, it was as crazy as you may imagine) and our sole purpose was to build relationships. I am certain the teenagers on the trip gained as much if not more than anyone in Tanzania. …Except one girl who just didn’t seem to get it but that’s besides the point. ;)

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HeatherChristo August 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I have really been looking forward to hearing about your trip and I was so happy to find this post this afternoon. I love your revelations and would love the opportunity to travel to Africa. Excuse me, i’m off to buy some scarves :)

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Danielle August 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Such an amazing and touching reflections of lessons that are good to remember daily. Thanks for sharing – it was very real, genuine, and personal, and your readers are better for it.

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megan b. August 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

i must admit i was hesitant to read this post, given the duration and circumstances of your trip. however, the things ethiopia taught you in your short time there are incredibly similar to the things i’ve learned in multiple trips to tanzania and south africa. kudos to you for such thoughtful, authentic reflections.

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Candice @ Candy's Daily Dish August 21, 2013 at 3:59 am

You inspire ME Jenna. Thank you for that post, it was beautiful.

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Ashley August 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Bravo, Jenna, bravo.

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Kim August 22, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us! I can’t even imagine how a trip like that would affect me since I’ve never traveled overseas. It definitely sounds life changing.

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Xiomara @ Parkesdale August 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I’m not a daily reader of your blog, but it never fails. Every time I check your blog, you have some amazing revelation. Thank you for sharing your experience so candidly with all of us.

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Kath August 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Enjoyed your post Jenna!

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Katie @ From Here To Ethiopia September 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

I just love this. Our first vision trip to Ethiopia actually overlapped with yours, and we visited FashionABLE as well, along with many other ministries and orphanages. It was definitely life-changing, and I can relate to a lot of what you wrote here.

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Kate @ KaCo Living September 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

Thank you for your beautiful post. I traveled to Lesotho, Africa in 2009 and spent time working on sustainable projects for the Basotho people to continue long after we left. I remember feeling very similar to you both before and after I left. Before I left for Africa I felt this need to fix issues within the village that I was living but after I realized that certainly isn’t about the case. I certainly came away from that experience with much more than I could have ever given them.

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ThirdEye December 30, 2013 at 2:08 am

Some of us who live in the West, thankful as we are for having the daily comforts that Western societies value, have always been baffled by the realization that Western cultures do little to build the human being. So much loneliness, and desiccation of the spirit in the midst of plenty. I shockingly realized right after graduating from college that (native) former classmates who thought they had arrived and bought into the “dream” lock stock and barrel found themselves successful (materially), but a life best described as insular, lonely, not genuinely happy, and “comfortably numb”.

What nations like Ethiopia have is mirth, pure mirth, and plenty of it! The joy of life, the constant awareness of being human, and all the senses alive, good or bad. Material possession counts for something, but only as a supplement to being human. To be able to smile and to feel joy everyday is priceless. I know that existence. And few people really know how incredibly rich Ethiopia is in other respects. To start off, it has a hypnotic physical beauty that is second to none (read travel blogs), a climate to kill for, colorful culture, tradition, and history. These are the elements that drive the joy of the Ethiopians, even though the economy has been their Achilles Heel.

I think there is much to learn from that experience, and you captured it well.

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Anni Hart June 2, 2014 at 6:43 am

Ethiopia taught me, how we should be grateful for our life

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