From Sophie in Ethiopia: falling in love with Ethiopia

This weekend while I am at Blogher, I’ll be sharing some more letters from my family in Ethiopia. This letter was written a few days ago by my sister Sophie.

Ethiopia has a way of sucking people in. Since I was in 7th grade, I’ve known that I would work in Africa. I didn’t know what I would do, but I still knew I would be here. After I spent a summer here, I knew that I was hooked. I’ll never be able to stay away. I even took a $20K/year pay cut so that my schedule would allow me to come. And apparently it’s not only me. Kara [fellow mission worker] was asked today if she would like to stay in Ethiopia and run a home for orphans and widows. Ron wants to build a house here so that he can live here for a month at a time. What is it about this place? Is it the beauty? Is it the poverty? Is it the food? Is it the pace of life? Is it the amazing amount of opportunity to make a real, tangible difference in lives?

Stephne [doctor’s wife who runs an orphanage] has a theory. She says that Africa has a very raw spirituality to it. In America, we gloss over our spirituality by going to church and doing all those good Christian things. We are not often reminded that “our battle is not against flesh and blood.” Here, the battle between good and evil is very evident, and raging around us. I am surrounded by just as many muslim mosques as Christian churches. The call to prayer is broadcast across the community on loudspeakers 5 times every day. People are constantly in positions of reverence.

Nearly every day, I learn of a “coincidence” that cannot be anything other than a work of or message from God. The sheer hopelessness in the lives of these people demands that they hold onto something. Their faith is the only thing that keeps them going. While in America, we can go for days/weeks/months without giving God a second thought. Here, that’s not an option.

This week has been a good one. After a great meeting, we had 4 good class sessions. The students came, were attentive, and participated in discussion. Today we looked at Konjit, the plastic forenge woman [a teaching mannequin]. It always makes me chuckle when I see a poor male nurse very nervously reach in to remove the pelvic organs of the plastic woman. Next week will be lots of review of surgical complications, and what nurses can do to prevent and treat these problems.

Having Mom and Ron here has been really fun. Mom is loving her work with the nurses, and Ron wants to build a house here so that he can live here for a month every year


  1. it makes me want to go!

  2. I have been really enjoying the letters from your family. Thanks for sharing!

  3. makes me want to go too! thanks for sharing mary! and i hope you are enjoying blogher!!!!