Pursuit of Happyness in Ethiopia

Here’s another update from my sister Sophie. Hope you all are not minding hearing about her adventures.

I love weekends here! They don’t expect anything to get done on weekends. It’s OK to sleep in and do absolutely nothing all day long. The missionaries need it as a detox time from the week. It’s great! Yesterday, for example, I slept until 9:30, made pumpkin pancakes with bananas and cream on top(much yummier than it sounds!), then made banana bread. I worked out for a little bit, then read for a couple hours. Kara and I watched 2 movies. Then Ruth, Tanden, and Sydney came over and we watched another movie. During and between these activities, I was hanging laundry out on the clothesline, cooking meals for us and our neighbors, cleaning, and trying to be somewhat useful. It was great!

Life is so different here. There’s the Africa time thing (everyone being late and nobody caring if they are), but it’s also the fact that things take so much more time. Everything is made from scratch, so much time is spent in the kitchen every day. Going anywhere takes time because you don’t have a car at your disposal. Nobody has cell phones, so you can’t always reach people when you want. Plans are very fluid things…. You can make them, but don’t be too disappointed if they don’t work out. Unforeseen things come up all the time, so be prepared to do whatever comes along. It’s pretty cool!

I read the first 200 pages of Melissa Fay Greene’s book called “There Is No Me Without You.” It’s the story of Ethiopia and AIDS in Africa, intertwined with the life of a woman who runs an orphanage in Addis. I have been to that orphanage, have met the author, and was acquainted with most of the kids discussed in the book, so it has special meaning to me. Plus, Ethiopia is obviously very special to me. Well the tragedy of these lives is even closer to me now, since I have starving people around me every day. I cried multiple times as I read about families who had to deliver their precious, loved children to the orphanage because they were either sick or impoverished. This woman running the orphanage tried to say no to these children, but they have nowhere else to go, so she took/takes them. That’s desperation. These children literally have nobody.

Just a couple hours later, I watched the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” It’s an adorable movie about a man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps in America. His wife left him, he was broke, lost his apartment, and his job wasn’t working out for him. He was so desperate that he and his son had to spend a night sleeping in a public bathroom. It’s a sad movie, but nothing compared with the stark reality of life for so many millions here in this very country where I’m living. In the movie, this guy had a homeless shelter as an option. He and his son were healthy. He was in the middle of an amazing internship that led to a great job for him.

Those in Ethiopia have none of these options. They sleep on the side of the road. Every single person has had multiple family members die. The unemployment rate is through the roof. Even those who are employed are doing well to make 2 dollars a day. They walk for days and weeks to get to the nearest hospital. Some have nobody in the world who knows their name. It’s horribly overwhelming. But, we do what we can do when there are here. We care for them physically, share the love of Jesus with them, then let them move on with their lives, hoping and praying that we have made an impact.

Dr. Ruth made my day yesterday. She is the primary doctor for the group of nurses that I worked with last week, so she would be the first one to see any results. She told me that the nurses have been much more attentive to the patients. They have been asking her questions about diagnoses, and looking for more and better ways to care for these patients. I cannot tell you how happy that made me. How amazing to see such great results after just 4 days of class!!

I will continue to share Sophie’s updates with you as I get them. My mom and dad are currently gearing up to leave for Ethiopia to help with work at the Soddo Hospital during the month of July. One of the most pressing needs of the hospital is a new generator. There are frequent power outages, and the hospital’s generator is grossly inadequate. The other day Sophie said that the only thing that they could power in the entire hospital was the instrument sterilizer. That’s it. Crazy, isn’t it?

If you’d like to assist this hospital in providing better care to desperately poor Ethiopian people, you can see contact information here.


  1. Yes, please continue sharing your sister’s updates! I enjoy reading about the cultural differences, and of course, her stories really put things into perspective.

  2. Yes, please continue to share.

  3. I love reading her updates. I think about them all day and pray…

  4. I agree…keep them coming. I am always fascinated with how life is in other countries.

  5. I, too, love the updates. Blessings to all of them on this wonderful trip!

  6. “Those in Ethiopia have none of these options.”

    Your sister summed up my feeling regarding overseas missions in this one sentence… As missions director at my church I sometimes get asked why we focus so much of our resources overseas instead of helping those in the USA (we do that too, but usually it just doesn’t get as much attention). But truly, if you are down in out in the USA- you can get yourself on your feet if you work hard and use the resources available. No it’s not easy, but it can be done. That’s not true in Africa- where there are no shelters, no unemployment offices, and sometimes- no hope…

    Keep the updates coming and we’ll keep praying for your sister as she brings hope!

  7. love the updates and admire her…thanks for sharing

  8. Love the updates from you sister, thanks for sharing! your sister is touching more lives than just the ones in ethiopia, thanks again.

  9. Thanks for the updates… what organization does she work with?

  10. never mind that question… i followed the link

  11. I love the updates. She is doing wonderful work.

  12. Without updates like these, we’d all float around in our little bubble without knowing what is really going on in the world. It’s hard to hear, but also inspiring to see what is able to be done to help when people care.

  13. Thank you for posting these updates. They offer such vivid glimpses into daily life of our son’s country of origin. Thank you.