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This is the text of our family’s tribute to Kalkidan at her memorial service. We all stood together lending our strength and love to Russ who spoke beautifully.  You can watch the video on my One Thankful Mom Facebook page.

Thank you to each one of you for being with us today, celebrating and remembering our amazing daughter, Kalkidan. Your presence means more than you’ll ever know.

On Valentine’s Day 2006, Lisa got a phone call that would change our lives. Our friend Emily called to tell her that they were adopting two little boys from Ethiopia.  Something happened during that phone call – a door opened just a crack and she glimpsed a possibility for our future.


giving thanks #1561 – 1570

Jesus and His great love for us

the privilege of being Kalkidan’s (Dimples’) parents – the Lord counted us worthy of her

Sovereign Over Us, Aaron Keyes

Verse 1
There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting, Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

Verse 2
You are wisdom unimagined, Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens, Reaching down in endless grace
Youʼre the Lifter of the lowly, Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me, Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
Youʼre working for our good, Youʼre working for our good and for your glory


Kalkidan Ella Qualls was born Oct. 29, 2001, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She became part of our family eight years ago, and it was our great joy and honor to love her. On the morning of Dec. 27, she and our parents were driving to Montana for a holiday visit with friends when they were involved in an automobile accident. Kalkidan passed away instantly in the collision. She was 13 years old.

Kalkidan believed that spice was the spice of life. She loved cooking, and often made dishes so hot that the rest of the family’s eyes would water from the spicy fumes in the kitchen. She especially loved Sriracha sauce and the Ethiopian spice berbere, which she went through so quickly that we stocked it in mason jars. It was her dream to one day open a restaurant called Kalkidan’s Your-Mouth-On-Fire Cuisine.

Kalkidan was incredibly competitive, but worked hard at both winning and losing graciously. She took great pride in besting her older brother at her favorite board game on Christmas Day. She loved playing sports and often talked about becoming a college basketball player. She bemoaned her height, but anticipated becoming the first WNBA player under 5 feet tall.

At school and in sports, she was often one of the first to befriend new students. She could tell when someone felt like an outsider and reached out with no hesitation. She brought enthusiasm and energy to everything she did.

In the multitude of emails, cards and messages we have received from friends and family who mourn with us, the same words to describe her keep appearing: vivacious, determined, inspiring, high-spirited, beautiful, stubborn, spunky, athletic, sweet. These words can’t describe the richness of her soul, but they give a glimpse of who she was, and who she was growing to become.

Jesus Christ is the firm foundation of our family. Kalkidan loved him, and we take comfort that one moment she was on a road trip with her mom and dad and the next she was in the arms of Jesus. We believe that God writes a beautiful story, and it was our privilege that God chose to entwine her life story with ours. We grieve that her life was so short, but we are blessed she became our daughter and sister.

Kalkidan was preceded in death by her Ethiopian mother and father.

She is survived by her parents, Russell and Lisa Qualls; and her siblings, Hannah, Mary Kate, Noah (Katie), Samuel, Isaiah, Annarose, Beza, Claire, Ebenezer and Wogauyu; and her Ethiopian sister, Fikirte. She will also be remembered by her four grandparents and her aunts, uncles, cousins and countless dear friends, as well as the thousands of people who were influenced by her story.

A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the Moscow Church of the Nazarene. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to REACH Ministries via the Kalkidan Memorial Fund at

Russ and Lisa came home from the hospital on Sunday night. Lisa is experiencing some pain and mobility issues as she recovers from a fractured hip and temporary nerve damage in her right arm and hand. Hannah flew in from Minneapolis on Sunday morning and the family is now together.

A memorial service for Kalkidan “Dimples” Qualls will be held at the Moscow Church of the Nazarene on Friday, January 2nd, 2015 at 6 p.m. in Moscow, Idaho. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to the Kalkidan Memorial Fund for REACH Ministries. REACH Camp was very special to Kalkidan and her family. You can also contribute to, which has been established to purchase a safe, new vehicle for the Qualls family.

Please send notes to or mail them to this address:

1136 E. E St.

Moscow, ID 83843

A close family friend will deliver your notes to the family.


Our family experienced a terrible tragedy yesterday.

Dimples was born in October 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She became a part of our family eight years ago and it was our great joy and honor to love and care for her.

Yesterday morning, Russ and Lisa were driving Dimples to Montana for a holiday visit with friends when they were involved in an automobile accident. Dimples passed away instantly in the collision.


Our hearts are heavy as we grieve the loss of our sweet girl. We loved her deeply and are heartbroken by this tragedy. We thank God that she did not suffer, and that she is now completely healed and at peace in the arms of Jesus.

Lisa is in the hospital with a fracture and temporary nerve damage, but we expect her to be discharged in the next couple of days. Russ is unharmed. All the Qualls children are together, waiting for Russ and Lisa to return home.

Instead of emailing Lisa or sending personal messages on social media, please send condolences and prayers to

— The Qualls Family


Russ and I are heading out on a short road trip this morning with Dimples. A friend who used to work in the cottage at Dimples’ program invited her to come visit for a few days. Dimples is beyond excited. Not only will she see some of the adults who were integral to her life and path toward healing, she’ll see some of her friends as well. One of her closest friends has a family now (!!!!); they’ll get to visit and have fun outside of the more structured environment where they met.


Well friends, it’s early on Christmas Eve morning and I suspect I won’t get back here until all of the festivities are over. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Last night we realized that our water storage tank is nearly empty, which means there is a problem with the pump in our well, or something in our house isn’t working. This means: no showers, flushing toilets only when necessary, and minimizing water consumption. Talk about bad timing. Russ is going to call the well people this morning and see if they can come out, but it’s Christmas Eve, so I suspect it will be costly. Sad!


O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie…

I hadn’t given much thought to the significance of Bethlehem, until a couple of weeks ago. This is a busy day and our attention spans are short, so I’ll get right to the point.

In comparison to powerful and grand Jerusalem, Bethlehem was a small, lowly town. Yet the Messiah, the savior of the world, was born there.


giving thanks #1551 – 1560

celebrating Katie’s birthday today

Amazon Prime (thank you, thank you)