We’re the Swarts. Welcome to a little piece of our life. We are Reformed Church of America missionaries, living and serving in Southern Ethiopia. We have four kids, Elsa, Ezra, Daisy, and Dexter. They kind of steal the show around here.
Caleb grew up in East Africa. He’s the grandson and son of missionaries who have dedicated their lives to this corner of the world. He had a regular boy’s own childhood–hunting and fishing and motorcycles and running free. It’s spoiled him for life. In a good way.
I grew up in Snohomish, Washington. The older I get and the longer I live away from Washington, the more convinced I am that it is one of the most beautiful places I know. Caleb and I met in school in Kenya when we were 15. I can tell you the story sometime. But loving and marrying an Africa-loving soul has changed my life completely. In a good way.
Right now we live and work in the far southwest corner of Ethiopia. We live along the Omo River, about 15 km from the Kenyan border where the river dumps into Lake Turkana. It’s hot. And remote. We live two days from where we buy our toilet paper. It is a beautiful place. The kind of place that we know we are blessed to get to call our own for this stage of our lives. We live next door to Caleb’s parents, who have been living in the area for the past 14 years. Having grandparents 100 meters away is a rare blessing in this type of lifestyle, one that I don’t neglect to thank God for every single day.
Caleb and his dad have an agriculture project. They build windmills for irrigation of small gardens. The windmills pump straight from the river and are owned by individuals who, with the windmill, have the ability to feed their families year-round and also have onions or bananas or tomatoes to sell. The people we live with are from the Daasanech tribe, a people group numbering around 50,000, spreading themselves up and down the Omo river and across the border into Kenya.
We also partner with the Kale Hiwot National Church, an Ethiopian evangelical denomination. We work with evangelists sent by KHC who lead the church and mentor the believers and local church leaders. We also do some informal health work. Meaning that I stand around and watch as Caleb’s mom (also a nurse) does everything from delivering premature twins to sewing up crocodile bites and treating baby after baby for diarrhea. (The Daasanech have a thing about diarrhea–they want treatment ASAP). I feel really privileged to be learning and watching from someone who has as much rural clinical experience as Caleb’s mom does.
The kids. Well, really the whole blog is about them so I won’t elaborate here. Everyday is learning to parent them in these unique circumstances, to feel the weight of responsibility of being a mom in a remote environment. Sometimes they can be maniac children, and always they light my life.
That’s us. We’re glad you’re with us in this.