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

Laura Mulder
01/20/2014 9:18pm

So glad you both got to visit the fistula clinic. Prayers headed your way for your selfless requests.

Judi Jongekrijg
01/20/2014 9:47pm

So thankful for your updates and sharing your hearts and prayer requests! May God continue to open your hearts to absorb all you are learning and seeing and a heart to love the Ethiopians! ♥ Share our love and thanksgiving with the VanderWals for taking in two daughters for the month! Thankful for them!

Julie Van Oordt
01/20/2014 11:05pm

WOW - what an awesome experience you are having! You have seen God at work in so many ways. Thank you for sharing His love with others that you have met along the way. Praying for you this week. Tell the Vander Wal's that I'm coming next:)

Ruth Dykgraaf
01/20/2014 11:21pm

Thanks again for the update on everything that's going on. WOW!
Sounds like you've had some amazing experiences during your stay in Ethiopia. You'll have lots to share when you return home, looking forward to hearing all about it. Keeping you in my prayers on this your last week there and for a safe trip home. Sending my love and God's Blessings to you both. Shalom !


Leave a Reply.

    Coryn Mulder & 
    Megan Jongekrijg


    We are both Nursing/Public Health students at Calvin College. We are passionate about serving the least of these and being the hands and feet of Jesus. We believe God calls us to bring His love and Good News wherever we are–from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    We will be updating our blog whenever we are able. 
    Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated! 

    Luke 4:18-19


    December 2013