Day 2

Flight to Dessie

PictureWell rested after our long day of travel and meetings, we enjoyed breakfast and team devotions on Luke 4:16-19 where Christ gives his job description, and ours.  We then returned to Bole International Airport for a 9:30am flight to Dessie.

The plane held all nine members of our team – Mimi and Winta from the Community Health Education program joined the seven of us from California.  We took off into a clear sky and headed north.  Very quickly, the landscape changed from tin roofs and dirt streets to tiny cultivated fields and mud huts ringed by low walls.  The majestic Rift Valley soon passed below us with huts and small plots of land clinging to the sides of the canyons and on the plateaus.  It was impossible not to dwell on the majesty of our Lord while flying over one of the most beautiful features He placed on Earth.

PictureOnce we were sure there were no cows, goats or camels on the landing strip, we touched down in the village of  Kembolcha, about 30km south of Dessie.  We were met by our Hope Enterprises host, Aford, and were driven along some very rough sections of highway 1 into Dessie.  (Our one-hour flight spared us a day long, 400km drive on the same road).  For the next week we will be staying in the guesthouse on campus of Hope Enterprises which is an institution providing excellent primary and secondary education to 750 children in Dessie free of charge as well as serving as a trade school for older students.  Hope will be one of the four sites where we will perform screening.

PictureWe enjoyed lunch and a relatively free afternoon on campus (read: naps, walks, and for one of us, blogging!).  Tomorrow, we will meet with the community medical providers and pastors of the churches in whose schools we will be screening over the next 8 days.  We will begin the screening process Tuesday, April 29th.

Please pray for our meetings with the medical providers and pastors as well as for a solid and smooth start to our screening efforts here in Dessie.


pictureToday was an incredible day for our team here in Addis.  It’s amazing how much we’ve seen and participated in already.  We started with a visit to Black Lion Hospital and were privileged to meet with chief cardiologist Dr. Kebedi Oli and some of his staff.  He and Hardwin have been in contact over this past year to get a couple of echo machines over here from back home.  They have a large population of people who have died from cardiac valve disease.  The average age of death is 22 and they don’t have a modern cardiac echo machine.  Not for long though, as two re-serviced machines will be arriving in the very near future!

pictureFrom there we walked over to meet our SIM teammates and split up into 4 groups. We went to visit beneficiaries (The HIV positive people in the program) in their homes.  Their homes are smaller than most of our closets, housing whole families.  Most have mud walls and there are probably at least 20 of them in an area about the size of an average U.S. home.  But they are neat inside, organized, and the hosts are very gracious.  We are privileged to visit with them and share on a level that gives a much bigger picture than is possible to get in a clinic.  We heard about their families, their concerns regarding health, employment and the fear that the government may bulldoze their home at any time.  Many have been outcast by their neighbors and abandoned by family members because of their HIV status. Most are worried about their children – who will care for them when the inevitable happens? But despite their very real fears, there is hope.  Since joining the program and receiving the antiretroviral medications, their strength and energy have returned and many are able to work again.  They can enjoy life and relationships once again.  They have hope that they will be able to sustain this lifestyle for much longer than once seemed possible.  Many want us to pray for them and it is a privilege to do so.  The people are so beautiful and the children – well, the children are just a joy.

Besides the home visits, some of our team went to a Support Group meeting.  They were honored with a Coffee Ceremony where the green coffee bean is roasted right there and then the coffee is made.  It was served with popcorn by women wearing traditional garments.  The rest of us are jealous!  They also heard many peoples’ stories – their challenges and their joy and hope since joining the program.

pictureTwo others were asked to lead a community Bible Study at the SIM office for the beneficiaries.  This was a first time for both of them and they had a great experience.  The women asked many deep questions and they shared both laughter and tears.   God’s presence was palpable.  Remember, all this is done through interpreters.  And . . . .all this was done before lunch!

pictureAfter lunch we set up our first clinic.  We only saw HIV positive patients and you’d often forget that because the antiretroviral drugs have made such a huge difference in the health and well-being of most people.   We had two intake stations, three MD assessment stations and a pharmacy.   It went amazingly well.   I’m going to leave details of that for another day as this is getting way too long.   And I’ve left out so many fascinating stories of individuals!    We are so blessed and grateful for this opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters here in Ethiopia.  Thank you for praying – God’s power is evident.