Mogadishu On Fire


This is a song my sister wrote a while ago. It is incredibly relevant. “Dogfight” by Stephanie Tamasweet.

I had another post planned for this morning but how I can write or post about anything after what happened in Mogadishu this weekend?

276 dead. And rising.

300 wounded. At the very least. Severely wounded.

The worst terrorist bomb in Somalia’s history.

That’s saying something, in Somalia.

Turkey sent an airplane full of medical supplies and staff. Djibouti sent an airplane full of medical supplies and staff, including the Minister for Health. Somali rescue workers are doing an incredible job, they pulled a young man from the rubble, alive, after he was buried more than 40 hours. And yet. For a nation already ravaged by violence, this seems especially devastating. There had been so many signs of Somalia coming back to life. And now what?

To see some of the work being done in Mogadishu, check out these Instagram accounts:



But it isn’t just Somalia. It is among the Rohinga. Where a young woman’s baby is ripped from her arms, tossed into a fire, and while her child burns, she is gang raped. It is Las Vegas. Where couples out for a night on the town are slaughtered from above. Where we are forced to reckon with what we have collectively done to our planet when water comes where it shouldn’t and fires rage without end.

Dear God have mercy. Mercy. Its all I can think. People want to go to school, buy spinach in the market, watch movies, eat watermelon, play football, have access to a hospital, stay in hotels, eat pizza, swim in the ocean. People want to fall in love and give birth and dance at graduation parties and pray in community. People want to go on long runs and gaze up at a starry sky and listen to their grandchildren giggle.

When did we start hating ourselves so much that we decided killing other people could cure our brokenness?

When did someone’s peaceful day become an opportunity for carnage? Someone’s shop/ice cream parlor/bookstore/concert hall/hotel/movie theater/elementary school/dance club a place for horror?

When did fearlessly wielding death become a facade of power and strength?

When did men become gods?

How long must the world remain on fire before the God of mercy hears?

When I first heard the song Dogfight, I sat down on the floor in my bedroom and wept. When I heard what happened in Mogadishu, I listened to it at least five times on repeat. I asked my sister for permission to share it and she bravely said yes.

That’s how we move forward. Bravely. Together. Sharing our gifts and our brokenness and refusing to let hatred have the final word.

Have a listen, if you didn’t already, or maybe again. Have a cry. Pray for mercy.





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Endure, How Spiritual Assets Build Resilience

Dan Maurer, my Minnesota writing friend (we met way back when we were both writing fiction), wrote his fourth book. Four. Books. And this one is my favorite yet. Dan has a gift for taking hard stories and highlighting the hopeful aspects of them, something we all so desperately need. From a graphic novel on addiction recovery to a nonfiction book of a young boy who was trafficked in the US, his work is always about transformation.

Endure, Dan’s latest book, explores how spiritual assets contribute to resiliency. He tells the stories of several people who endured intense trauma (domestic abuse, war, refugee life) and weaves his own story of recovery into the book. The people he highlights are incredibly vulnerable and brave in sharing their stories, I am amazed at how much empathy Dan showed in listening to, probing into, and sharing them.

The book has moments of horror, surprise, grief, and tenderness. And while I appreciated the stories people shared, as a wanna-be psychologist who loves learning about what makes human beings behave certain ways, my favorite parts of the book were when Dan examined specific spiritual assets and how they helped people overcome their personal traumas.

Hope, love, forgiveness, honesty, these are some of the assets the book highlights. Dan describes spiritual assets like this:

…spiritual assets become the transforming spark that undergirds a resilient response in many life situations, even yours.

Heavy on anecdote, but with research and Dan’s theological training as a Lutheran pastor sprinkled throughout, Endure is a book that is a pleasure read and that offers practical tools for a resilient response to trauma.

Endure would be a great book club pick or community read. Read a chapter and then discuss as a group how you have experienced the highlighted spiritual asset in your own life or how you could develop it in the future.

I don’t believe our world is any more broken now than it was in the past, but I do think we hear about pain and suffering much more. What we also need to hear about is hope, strength, character, and beauty. This is a book full of these kinds of stories. And, it is a book that can help readers live those kinds of stories.

Find Endure on Dan’s blog and on Amazon.

Dan has written several times for Djibouti Jones:

Strong in the Broken: Living While Recovering

On Writing, 7 Steps to Finding Your Niche

A Little Piece of Fiction (bonus: a photo of Dan playing the bagpipes in my Minneapolis backyard when we lived there in 2012!)





Pumpkin Honey Bread

This is one of my favorite fall recipes. We don’t carve pumpkins here and the majority of pumpkins are green, not orange. We also can’t find canned pumpkin. So, either in the market, at a vegetable stand, or in the grocery store, I buy pumpkin by the kilo. The vendor uses a machete-like knife to slice off the amount I want, then wraps it in plastic. I bring it home, chop it up some more and either roast it for hours and hours in the oven, or boil it on the stove top.

Personally, I don’t like flipping through a bunch of photos just to get to a recipe. I know what eggs look like. I know what piles of ingredients look like. I know what flour is. Get to it, please, is how I feel when I have to scroll through a ton of images, no matter how lovely they are. So, with no further ado, here is the recipe.

Pumpkin Honey Bread

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two bread pans

3 cups fresh pumpkin puree (roasted or boiled and mashed and if you add more than 3 cups, no problem, I eyeball it)

4-5 eggs (in Djibouti our eggs are quite small so I go with 5, clean off the feathers)

1 cup oil (I like to use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)

2/3 cup water

2 2/3 cups sugar (I cut out the 2/3 cup, this isn’t cake, people. And I use some honey, too. So I tend to go 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup honey)

Mix these ingredients together until well blended. Mix:

3 1/2 cup flour (or 2 1/2 cup white flour, 1 cup wheat flour)

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg (you can buy fresh nutmegs in the market here and grind them at home. If you buy a lot, the vendors will giggle, it is viewed as an aphrodisiac)

1 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ginger

Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Pour into the pans.

Bake 45-50 minutes

Enjoy with butter, maple butter, plain, sprinkled with chopped walnuts, or toasted.

For more recipes like this (using locally available ingredients or modifications), check out the Djiboutilicious Cookbook.



Good Things, the Third. September 2017

Taking note of one good thing, one beautiful thing, one thing to be thankful for each day.

1 puzzles and apple cinnamon tea

2 our puppy splashing through the ocean at sunset

3 helpful car mechanics

4 sleeping in late on the last day of summer

5 the first day of school at the International School of Djibouti

6 leftover pizza

7 “thank you for learning my language. I congratulate you and I love you.”

8 hot wind on my face

9 spicy lentil soup

10 licking sticky fresh halwad from my fingers

11 my 9/11 birthday baby

12 bringing friends from the airport at midnight to crash in an air-conditioned room, drink a cold glass of water, and share a meal. Welcome home, we’re glad you’re here.

13 a dress with pockets

14 ten friends sharing the best burgers in town, chez moi

15 sand between my toes, salt on my lips, ocean water like a bath

16 this, from To Bless the Space Between Us

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

17 a squishy baby in my lap

18 a visit to a friend’s new shop, Tiki Do’ Boutique

19 a long phone conversation with my son

20 on my run I only sweat through my shirt down to my belly button, leaving a good two inches of dry-ish shirt

21 honey mustard curry chicken with rice, pumpkin maple granola, steamy pumpkin bread smeared with melty pads of butter, and dear friends

22 untangling spiritual thoughts with a trusted friend as we walk in the dark

23 a quiet, solitary day with my hands full of books

24 a silvery snake, three-feet long, gliding out of my way on a run at dawn

25 best chocolate chip cookies I ever made

26 volleyball, again, always

27 remembering a life, a mother, a grandmother, a mother-in-law

28 a song, a truth, everything is holy now

29 beach volleyball

30 plumbers who do the work

What are your good things this month?

good things 1

good things 2



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I Hear the Nomads Singing

I found this poem in a dissertation by Nathan Jurgenson. I couldn’t find any other references to the author, Sarah E. Gilbert, or the poem. If anyone has a link to her, please let me know. I love this.

I Hear the Nomads Singing

(in the style of Walt Whitman’s ‘I Hear America Singing’)

I hear the nomads singing, the earth wanderers’ melodies I hear,

The song of the one who delights in the hearts of a people not his own, and yet who are a part of him,

The song of the one who weeps in despair, he knows not who he is.


Some have said: “You are one of us, the brother from another blood,”

While others from his own land say: “You have returned to us,

your people!”

And all the while his own heart cries out its dirge: “Who am I?”


I hear the song of the one who is never content to rest,

The pegs of his tent are driven into the ground,

He reveals his heart to those he meets, or else builds a wall through

which none may pass,

But either way his heart turns to the road

His ear listens for the roaring “thrummm” of the plane

His feet ache to move again.


I hear the song of the one who knows people,

From every corner of the earth,

From the steaming, living green wealth of South America,

From wave upon wave of red roofed Istanbul,

From the cool, isolated majesty of the Pamirs,

And from the culture rich provinces of China


I hear the song of the one who has said goodbye

One hundred too many times,

I see the crowd of downcast friends, and the one who is leaving in the center,

I see the tears run down her cheeks

her pain is freely shown,

I feel her arms clench me, strengthened by the knowledge that this is the last time I shall feel them,

I hear her groan

half of weariness and half of pain,

The cry of a heart that has been bruised too many times by goodbye.


All of this I hear and they are my songs also,

Melodies of pain and of joy,

All twining together to become one song,

The nomad’s song,

My song.


Sarah E. Gilbert

a TCK, in high school when she wrote this poem in 2007