Tuesday-Thursday. January 21-23. 2014.
AKKAM! ("hello" in Oromo...language they speak in Langano!)
We spent the past few days in Langano, which is a rural area four hours south of Addis. SIM is actively
involved there in a variety of ministries, but we spent our time working in their clinic. We drove down and arrived Tuesday afternoon and decided to explore the area and walk down to the beach. Little did we know, the path to the beach was completely overgrown and we ended up trekking through the mud to get there! We were a disaster by the time we made it back to the beach house where we were staying, but the laughs and experience were well worth it. We even saw a couple hippo tracks :)
On Wednesday we had an early start at the clinic that included a time of prayer and teaching. We divided our time the rest of the morning and afternoon between the med dispensing room and prenatal check-ups. We were taught how to do the check-ups, which included measuring the distance between the symphysis pubis and the fundus (to determine how far along the pregnancy is), determining the fetal position, and listening for the fetal heartbeat. It wasn’t long before we were doing them by ourselves and charting the results!
Thursday was vaccination day, which we were super excited about, until we realized the patients were ALL babies from 1-10 months old getting their measles, polio, DTP, PCV, and BCG immunizations. However, after 30+ babies we were feeling like pros! They were so happy when they walked into the room and smiled at us…until we gave the shots. With five babies in the room at a time you wouldn’t believe the screaming.
We had many unique opportunities in Langano. The staff (a mixture of Habesha and Farenje) were so wonderful in allowing us to participate in the provision of care and observe many interesting cases. We saw patients with cutaneous anthrax, assisted in a minor surgery, watched an adult circumcision (we thought it would we a baby when we agreed to watch…whoops), gave shots in the bum, and much more!
Langano is a beautiful place with a beach and lake nearby with mountains in the background. God is also working greatly through the staff at the clinic and compound. This experience made us realize the importance of showing Christ’s love through actions. With the majority of the population around Langano being Muslim, it was an opportunity to be witnesses of the Gospel. Thursday, we vaccinated many Muslim women’s babies and then saw many of these women still walking home once we left Langano that afternoon. We were able to give some of them a ride to shorten up their trips home. At one point, we had 12 people in two rows of the Land Cruiser…it was quite a funny moment and we all shared some laughs, especially when they couldn’t figure out how to open the doors to get out! :) Small things like this make us grateful that we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with our actions, and hope that these women may have wondered the reason behind our actions. Another part of us craves the opportunity to share the Gospel not only with actions, but words. This is where we get stuck many times, especially here in Ethiopia where they speak a different language, but also in the States. We like to be nice and do kind things for others, hoping they will “see Jesus in us”. But, actions are not enough. We are called to share Truth with actions AND words. Verse about sharing gospel with words.
We challenge you to share the Gospel or your faith story with someone this week. Grab a cup of coffee, talk over the phone, or share with a co-worker the reason for your faith. God calls us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)…the Great Commission is not optional. We can start making disciples simply by sharing the Gospel or our faith stories both with new or old friends. It’s not through our power that the Kingdom of God will grow, but through the Holy Spirit.
Pray that God will continue to use SIM to reach the Muslims in Ethiopia
Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill YOU with HIS power to share the Gospel
Ask yourself, “How can I make disciples of all nations?” Write your ideas down, pray for discernment, and do it.
Our flight heads out at 2am Monday morning (Ethiopia time)... our time here has flown by! We would appreciate your prayers for safe travels home as well :) Thanks for all your support!
The SIM Langano clinic
We're so official in our white coats ;)
Giving the oral polio vaccine!
Try vaccinating a patient with this cute of a face!
The 2nd row of the land cruiser...I spy 5 adults plus 3 little babies :)
Just another cattle crossing...nothing out of the ordinary :)
Friday: Watched Matthew Vander Wal (in the lead) race at Bingham Academy's field day!
Chillin' at Field Day with some Cokes :)
Thursday. January 16. 2014.
We had the privilege of observing surgeries at the Cure Hospital located just outside of Addis. One of Mary’s friends from SIM works there and she invited us to see pediatric surgeries live! It was a great experience as we were able to see cleft palates/lips, broken bones, and club feet all being fixed. Cure Hospital is a great ministry not only because they are able to help so many people with physical health issues, but they use the opportunity to share the Gospel. It was encouraging to see the doctors and nurses take a moment before each surgery to pray for the child, asking the Great Physician to guide their work and heal the patient. We are grateful for this experience, but we all decided (Mary included) that working in surgery is not for us :)
Friday-Sunday. January 17-19. 2014.
This weekend we flew to Lalibela, Ethiopia, which is north of Addis. It was a good time to get outside of the city and see more of Ethiopia. Today (Jan. 19) is a special day in Ethiopia, as Orthodox Christians celebrate the holiday, Timket. On this day, they remember Jesus’ baptism. It was a very festive weekend, especially being in Lalibela, where the celebrations are very big!
On Friday, we toured Lalibela’s famous rock hewn churches. It was incredible to think that hundreds of years ago King Lalibela and others carved 11 churches down into the rock. Many of the churches were decorated inside and had windows that held special meanings. It was cool to see some of the history in Ethiopia. In the afternoon we were caught off guard by a random rain shower (very rare because it is dry season!), but enjoyed something to cool us off. Vander Wal’s Ethiopian friend, Gashaw, invited us to his aunt’s house for a traditional coffee ceremony with popcorn and injera :)
Saturday was a big day as we woke up early to ride some mules up a mountain! It was somewhat scary, and slightly dangerous, but it was awesome. The view was incredible as we traveled up. The pictures don’t come close to capturing the beautiful creation that God has made. We were able to hike parts of the mountain and it was also a very good workout. Our Habesha (Ethiopian) guides were great, especially on the trip down the mountain when we had to walk… or slide :). It was very rocky and slippery. I don’t know how the mules or the farmers do it every day! The afternoon consisted of touring more churches and watching the priests get ready for the big procession. This is not a normal parade we would see in the US. During the procession, priests from all 11 churches join together on the streets of Lalibela carrying replicas of the Ark of the Covenant. Church choirs, chanting men, dancing women, and cute children playing drums, all participate in the parade as well. Everyone wears there traditional Orthodox clothing. And then, there’s the Farenje (foreigners)… quite a lot actually! We were able to join in the parade as well and capture the moment on camera.
Typically on the morning of Timket (Jan. 19), there is a big baptism at a cross-shaped pool, where the priests “sprinkle” (splash) water onto anyone standing around the pool. It happened early that morning, and we missed it but had our own celebration in our hotel room as we read about Jesus’ baptism in the BIble :). We flew back and arrived in Addis in the afternoon.
Monday. January 20. 2014.
Today we had the opportunity to tour the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, something many of you know we were really excited about (If you have not seen the documentary "A Walk to the Beautiful" we highly recommend it! Full movie can be seen on YouTube). Not only does the hospital repair obstetric fistulas, they teach the women a skill (making scarves, baskets, etc.) in order to save money and support themselves, train midwives, go out to rural areas for preventative education, have a rehabilitation center, and much much more. They also have five outreach centers strategically placed around Ethiopia. Their ministry is awesome and we both are amazed at the incredible things God is doing through this ministry!
We are just relaxing and reflecting on God’s goodness throughout this whole trip. He has taught us to depend on Him for fulfillment and patience every day. We are grateful for the body of Christ as the Vander Wal’s practice hospitality and you prayerfully support us! Tomorrow-Friday will be spent at Lake Langano where SIM has a rural clinic.
It would be great if you could pray for the following things this upcoming week:
Pray for God to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to teach us something new
Pray that more medical workers will travel to rural areas to serve those people
Pray that the government would improve access to health care (transportation, education, etc.) for the rural areas
Pray that God will fill us with patience, joy, and peace for our last week in Ethiopia!
Upon arrival in Lalibela :)
St. George's church in Lalibela!
Waiting out the rain!
Megan on her mule :)
View from halfway up the mountain!
Some of the priests getting ready for the Timket procession
Reflecting over the past few days, it’s been a whirlwind of learning, laughter, and new experiences. Monday was a day we wish you were all here to experience. We made over fifty sandwiches (PB&J and scrambled egg) to take on our trip to the Portuguese Bridge with the boys from the Kolfe orphanage. As the bus pulled away from the church, the boys began singing songs of praise…it was so special to watch. We managed to get to the bridge, despite a flat tire along the way. We arrived at the Portuguese Bridge and the sight was beautiful. The bridge was built in the sixteenth century and was surrounded by waterfalls and swimming holes, as well as massive rocks and trees. It also had many lookout points over a deep valley, surrounded by hills…kind of like the “Grand Canyon of Ethiopia” :). We had a blast spending the day with the boys. They took turns holding our hands and leading us up and down the rocks to make sure we wouldn’t fall…it was so sweet! We had hours on the bus to get to know the boys as well as play games and sing songs. When we received snacks on the bus, the boys were quick to offer portions of their own snack to us. We, who have much, cling tightly to our possessions, yet these boys who have very little are quick to offer their snacks to us! We have so much to learn about sharing the blessings God gives us daily.
On a side note, our Amharic has continued to improve. Thanks to the boys, we can now count to ten, sing some songs, and identify various animals and bus parts in Amharic. It was a very successful bus ride, to say the least.
16th century Portuguese Bridge
Coryn's hair stylist for the day: The Kolfe boys.... you should've seen the back.
Some of the Kolfe boys splashin' around at the Portuguese Bridge :)
Tuesday we spent the day shadowing Mary at the SIM clinic and sorting out expired medications…LOTS of meds! It was an interesting day and we learned quite a bit about local health issues just by observing which meds were used by the clinic.
warning: those are not pink m&m's... they don't taste like chocolate.
Today, we were able to visit more ministries in Ethiopia. We started out the day at a government health center. We spent time in the dental wing, watching people get numbed up for teeth extractions and root canals. The dentist tried to get us to extract teeth, but we politely declined… knowing we would probably yank out the wrong tooth or cause some other catastrophe :). Then we spent some time in other units, such as family planning and outpatient pediatrics.
After lunch at Island Breeze we headed to Asco Children’s Center, run by the Sisters of Mercy. This place was unbelievable! Asco started essentially as a hospice for children with HIV, but has now blossomed into a sprawling campus with a school, housing units, clinic, garden, and much more. They have so many incredible programs to aid women and children, aside from the orphanage on the compound. Their school services over 1000 children from the community. They also have a unit where families can stay while their child receives cancer treatment. This is really helpful for patients coming from rural areas. In addition, all of the services provided are free of charge. They greatly depend on charity and donations to provide their services. The Sisters of Mercy have done incredible things here and it was great to see how a place can serve to meet more than just physical needs.
God has taught us quite a bit through our experiences in the past week. We have been immersed into a very different culture and have been reminded that a “normal day” for us in America is very different than that of the Majority World. We are very blessed, but it is crucial we realize these blessings are not given for us to keep to ourselves. God graciously blesses us in different ways and it is important we receive these blessings with open hands and hearts to honor Him by serving others and giving back. It is very easy and wrong to think that we deserve all that we are given. None of us deserve anything God gives us…it all belongs to him. He has already freely given us the gift of eternal life with Him. Yet, He continues to give despite our ignorance. Please take time to reflect on how you receive God’s blessings…are your hands and hearts opened, or tightly clenched? What way can you begin, or continue, to serve the Majority World?
Saturday afternoon we spent time with some of the boys from Kolfe orphanage. Our hearts were so full playing games with the boys and watching them recite memorized scripture. We also gave a short dental presentation*, which we think (hope) was received well! We are excited that we will be spending the day tomorrow with the boys again as we take a trip to the Portuguese Bridge!
Today, being Sunday, was our day of rest. We slept in and attended church with the Vander Wal’s. The service was in English (thank goodness) and it was a really unique opportunity to worship our Lord and partake in communion with brothers and sisters from all over the world.
This afternoon we played a game of soccer with some of the missionary kids that live on the compound; little did we know we would get into a battle with the field. It didn’t turn out so great for us: Soccer field 1, Coryn and Megan 0. We contemplated posting pictures of our battle scars, but we’ll spare you the gore. Other than that the day was very relaxing. It was a wonderful SONday :)
We will be staying in Addis this week visiting some different ministries before flying to Lalibela next weekend to celebrate Timket. We are absolutely loving our time here and ask that you continue to pray for God’s blessing and that we could be a small part of His work here in Ethiopia.
*Special Thanks to Drs. Borrowdale, Kessel & Bouwens, and Zuidema & Hess for the donation of MANY toothbrushes and toothpastes :)
Celebrating one of the Kolfe boys' birthdays!
"Birthday cake" aka huge baked bread (yum!)
Reciting Bible verses
Students obviously engaged in our dental presentation ;)
Group shot with the Kolfe boys!
Teanastellen!—(greeting; may health be given to you)
We are on day 4 here in Addis. Our morning was spent at ALERT clinic, specifically in the pediatric HIV and inpatient wing. This is a government clinic, which means the care and medication is provided free for patients who meet certain financial requirements. We shadowed two Ethiopian doctors as they did their rounds and met with patients for appointments. TB and HIV are very common health issues seen in this clinic. Various health issues we saw today include pulmonary TB, meningitis, Bollous (skin disorder). Every child that comes to the ALERT clinic has either been exposed or is positive for HIV; however, many parents chose not to disclose this information to their child, leaving them unaware of their status.
In Ethiopia, it is common for both mom and dad to be working in order to support their family. In this culture, children are the least valued members of the family so it was very special to see, in some cases, both parents at the bedside or in the appointments. Because of our limited knowledge of Amharic, we tried to interact with the children in other ways, which mostly consisted of Coryn dancing and making weird faces to get them to laugh while Megan played peek-a-boo with the crying children :)
Whenever we have free time, we are trying to learn more phrases in Amharic which is the 2nd or 3rd hardest language to learn. I think we’re doing pretty good :)
We had a very “American” Friday night which consisted of watching the Vander Wal’s son, Matthew, play basketball at Bingham Academy and then headed back to the house for pizza!
These next two weeks are going to be filled with awesome opportunities…stay tuned!
Selam!—(greeting; peace be with you). We’ve been in Addis for three days now, yet it feels like so much longer (in a good way)! We arrived on Ethiopia’s Christmas morning, January 7 and were immediately welcomed into Jim and Mary Vander Wal’s home, here in Addis Ababa. The Vander Wal’s friend, Tadesu, invited us over for Christmas dinner. We ate all kinds of things we can’t pronounce, let alone tell you what exactly they were. Tadesu taught us how to make injera (think big pancake that taste like sourdough bread). We were so honored to be able to participate in the meal and the popcorn and coffee ceremony. One thing we love about Ethiopian culture is the hospitality and importance of relationships. We were at the Tadesu’s house for around three hours, but not once did anyone appear rushed or eager to leave.
We are so thankful for the hospitality of the Vander Wal’s. They have welcomed us into their home with open arms. We have spent valuable time with them playing games and having insightful conversations on many topics from Islam, health issues such as HIV, orphan crisis, and caring for the poor. They are great followers of Christ and leaders at SIM (Serving In Missions) which is the organization they are missionaries through.
Ethiopians operate off a different calendar then we do. It’s actually January of 2006 here right now. And their time is structured differently. Time starts when the sun rises. So sunrise is 1:00, lunch is around 5:00, and dinner 12:00. In our minds, however, we are still just 8 hours ahead of the U.S. J
It’s always a guessing game when it comes to electricity and water. They may be out for just 10 minutes or 2 days. Cell service almost never works so communication is very hard. We have learned to be very grateful for the infrastructure in the USA, but also realize the patience that is learned when living in Ethiopia J TIA (This Is Africa)…especially when it comes to being somewhere at a certain time... you get there when you get there.
We spent the following two days after Christmas just experiencing life in the city, running errands, visiting people, getting a feel for the neighborhood, etc. This afternoon we joined a team here from Biola University to visit the ACT project (previously known as an AIDS training project, but now involves other health issues…so we just call it ACT). This project was started 12 years ago at the height of the HIV crisis in Ethiopia. At the time, medication was unavailable and ACT came alongside people to care for them in their final stages of life. However, as medication became available ACT began to broaden their focus of care. They now provide housing, food, school materials, and medication for families who cannot currently support themselves due to HIV and various other health conditions. While providing them assistance they aim to rehabilitate the families and individuals by helping them find work and become self-sufficient so they may graduate out of the program. We visited two families involved in the program and had the opportunity to hear their stories, including their challenges and hopes. This was a powerful experience to reflect on how God is the only true light in our dark days both behind us and yet to come.
In the evening we were invited to dinner at the house of an Ethiopian man who works on the SIM compound. This man works long hours every day and then goes to school five nights a week. He grew up in a rural area and did not receive an education, so at the age of 25 he has gone back to school and is currently in the third grade learning how to read and write. His dedication to his work, school, and his family is incredible. He has a wife and five month old baby, who are absolutely beautiful. This is a wonderful example of Ethiopian hospitality; many Ethiopians have next to nothing, yet they will invite you in for a meal and coffee. They love each other well, sharing what little they do have and cherishing time spent in fellowship.
Visiting with a participant of the ACT project.
An Ethiopian woman inviting us for coffee at the ACT project.
Enjoying an Ethiopian meal with the SIM worker and his family.
1 week left & our bags have yet to be packed. It will happen though...very soon :)
We are very excited to see how God will use us these next few weeks. We will be serving and learning in a very different setting than our norm, but we realize that God calls us to care for orphans and widows no matter where we are. For this course abroad, we have been reading When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett. The authors pointed something out that has stuck...we are all in impoverished-- "Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, so the solution to poverty is rooted in the power of Jesus' death and resurrection to put all things in right relationship again."
As we embark on this journey, we ask that you pray for God to give us strength and wisdom. More importantly, we pray that God will humble us and help us realize how broken and in need of a Savior we all are-- both you and me, and our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.
Departing USA--Sunday, January 5, 2014.
Traveling through Istanbul, Turkey.
Arriving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-- Tuesday, January 7, 2014.
Returning to the USA-- Monday, January 27, 2014.
Our three weeks in Ethiopia will be packed with many incredible experiences. We will be staying in Addis Ababa with a former Calvin Nursing Professor, Mary VanderWal. The following is a general overview of our trip. We will keep you updated whenever we have WiFi!
Week 1: spent in Addis Ababa observing urban health care, visiting orphanages and pediatric clinics, and possibly visiting the Fistula Hospital! Week 2: work in a rural clinic training community health workers.
Week 3: week spent in Langano to help out at some rural clinics and assist Mary with her PhD research.