July 1 - 18, 2010



We are grateful to have you join with us on our trip to Ethiopia beginning Thursday evening, July 1st through Sunday, July 18th, 2010. We know we cannot do this trip on our own strength, so we appreciate your prayers, both as we prepare, and during our travels.

Our team of 11 are (mostly) young adults, in their early 20’s to early 30’s and includes three members of church staff (including our teaching pastor), graduate students and teachers, computer science experts and teacher trainers, and a lawyer. The team’s relative youth, does not mean it is a rookie team. Several members of the team have traveled and/or spent stretches of time in Africa, and three members have spent time in Ethiopia (including our team leader who is returning to Ethiopia for his seventh time in the past five years).

Last year represented the end of the five-year missions undertaking at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (“MPPC”), known as the Ethiopia Initiative. A part of that initiative was to help bolster educational opportunities for the “poorest of the poor” in Ethiopia. So, in 2005, the first team traveled to Dese to work with students at the HOPE Enterprises school in Dese and to understand the programs of this 30-year ministry partner of MPPC. While successful on many levels, the 2005 trip caused the education team to retool their focus on empowering the teachers of HOPE Enterprises. (To learn more about HOPE, click here.)

In 2006, a talented team of teachers traveled again to Dese, this time to work with teachers. The team’s training focused on active learning, content enrichment and observing the teaching methodologies of the HOPE teachers. Then, in 2007, a team of teachers and non-teachers returned to Dese again. By this time, the education team of MPPC had developed specific curriculum focused on “English-as-a-second language” techniques, active learning, content enrichment, critical thinking and other grade-specific training techniques. In addition, this team included technology experts who were able to work with HOPE teachers to try various technologies, including computers loaded with ESL software for students, overhead projectors, and native English recordings of high school texts.

The success of these prior trips resulted in a request from HOPE Enterprises for a conference for all of the HOPE teachers from all six of their schools around the country. So, from July 20-24, 2009, 125 Ethiopian teachers and administrators (90 from HOPE schools and the remaining from government schools) gathered in Addis Ababa for a teacher training conference. (To learn more about the 2009 Teacher Training Team, please click here.)

Our team has a simple mission – to asses what techniques, teaching curricula, technology and best practices for English-as-a-second-language, active learning and other teaching techniques, worked well in practice for these teachers and what has not. Our team will visit Dessie (where most of the resources have been focused) and we will meet with the teachers and de-brief on practices that have stuck, and those that have not.

While our teacher trainers are working on their assessment, another group will be putting on vacation Bible school programs for the young children of Dessie. And when we return to Addis Ababa, a team of our computer specialists will be installing a computer network for Ethiopia’s only Graduate School of Theology.

Our trip will also take us into a small village in the Rift Valley six hours South of Addis Ababa where MPPC built a school and a well with HOPE Enterprises.  During our short stay there, we hope to assess the usefulness of prototypes that have been piloted in Roggie Village, including the products form Stanford’s Extreme Affordability course (well-drilling equipment, solar-powered LED lights and cell phone chargers, and pepper grinders).

We love spending time and playing with the children at HOPE schools. As HOPE would say, the children served by these schools are the “poorest of the poor” (in a country that is considered one of the poorest countries in the world). (In each entering class of 50 students, forty percent (or 20 students) are full orphans, another forty percent (or 20 students) are half orphans and the remaining twenty percent (or 10 students) are considered “destitute” (to use a HOPE phrase) – living in a large family where starvation is a real risk either because of a lack of income or the family income is variable.)

Our team will also serve in the HOPE feeding kitchen in Addis Ababa. The soup kitchen would be makeshift by American standards (with its corrugated tin roof held up on poles), but it has been serving the street children of Addis Ababa since 1975 and is the oldest, largest and only feeding kitchen in Ethiopia feeding 1,000 people each day – 200 children each morning (who are then given some biblical instruction before they go to school), and 800 people at lunch, including street mothers and children, people suffering from severe disabilities and others who live on the streets or are destitute. Each person eating lunch must present a meal ticket purchased for 1 BIRR or approximately $0.12 US. That represents 1/4 of the cost of the meal, the rest being underwritten by donations.

Finally, we plan to visit some of the other amazing ministries in Ethiopia, including the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and the Sisters of Charity Hospital for the Destitute and Dying.

In the last weeks leading up to our departure, our team has focused on hearing God and understanding what it means to be servants. We hope to carry ourselves in this way as we learn what God has in store for us. And we look forward to sharing it all with you through these pages while we are there, and with our personal stories upon our return. During our time there, we would appreciate your prayers. If you are so inclined, please refer to our prayer calendar.