Home from Ethiopia

For all of you following my folks’ mission trip to Ethiopia, they arrived home safe last week, and feel like they got a fair amount accomplished while they were there. My mom also got a bunch of training done with the nurses at the Soddo Hospital, and my dad put together that hot water system. It wasn’t up and running yet when he left– they needed one more part– but he is hoping it will be complete soon. Of course there’s that half-ton of corn and the baby blankets and pajamas that you all had a part in.

Finally, they were able to be a part in helping a needy family get back on their feet. Twin baby boys were on the brink of being relinquished by their parents, who had 6 other kids to raise as well. The family had recently lost their land and were really struggling. My folks were able to be a part in getting the family some more land, money to build a house, and formula for the babies. My mom fell in love with little Nathaniel and Millenium in the process. But we are so glad they get another shot at remaining with their parents. If only more families were able to get the help they need to stick together.

Here’s a portion of my mom’s last report about their trip.

Idaho feels great! What we noticed most upon arrival in the US is how clean, convenient, and organized everything seemed! What wide, smooth (goat-free!) roads! And McDonald’s – yes we had a double cheese burger right off the bat….ahhhh! And I’m lovin’ my clothes dryer, and paper towels, and sleeping in our own bed.

My nurses made their graduation morning very memorable. When I entered the classroom, it was decorated, Ethiopia style, with a square of grass and flowers on the floor, as well as flowers on my desk. We shared expressions of gratitude and friendship over baked apple donuts and popcorn, plus bottles of soda pop donated by Ron. The nurses were delighted when Ron showed up in our classroom, greeted each of them Ethiopia-style, kissed me, and gave them each candy. Sister Addis assured me they will begin using the 2 new documentation forms immediately, approved (finally!) the previous evening by the medical staff. I left loads of information for them on the computer, with hard copies of documents and information in a binder at the nurses’ station.

We talked about solutions for the babies getting cold in the delivery room: a room heater, which we hoped to purchase in Addis and send back to SCH with our driver, and heating pads to arrive via a visiting American doctor. Sweet Almaz prayed in Amharic, and I understood the intent of the prayer. At the end, Sara removed the lovely blue head covering from her head and tied it around mine, amidst much advice and laughter from the others on how to best do it. We ended with many hugs, fond words, and a few tears. What a blessing for me to spend time with these beautiful women!

Our trip back to Addis went well. Our now-familiar driver returned us to the same hotel in which we had stayed upon our arrival in Ethiopia a month ago. Our mission for Saturday was to purchase a space heater for the delivery room, 42 wall-mounted soap dispensers, and a water filter for the family of Nathaniel and Millenium. This turned into a 3 hour ordeal but we did finally accomplish all those purchases. Thank you to all who donated money! You have been an important part of this mission trip!

Our other goal for Saturday was to visit the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.Two Australian obstetrician/gynecologists, Drs. Reginald and Catherine Hamlin (both Christians), came to Ethiopia and learned to repair fistulas. Their amazing story is told compellingly in Dr. Catherine Hamlin’s book, “The Hospital by the River, a Story of Hope”.

Erase all images of modern Western hospitals with automated doors and spacious parking lots, and picture instead walking through protective gates into a beautiful wooded area with numerous buildings attractively landscaped on a hillside overlooking a river.

We were greeted by an Ethiopian gynecologist who graciously gave us a tour of the hospital and grounds. We walked through a large ward with perhaps 24 post-surgical patients in a spacious room with many windows. There are 4 operating suites where surgeons from many countries have come to assist or to learn. All surgeries and the surrounding care are free of charge to the patient, funded by donations from numerous individuals and groups around the world. The average cost of a surgery is only $300, which seems amazingly low to us, but is totally out of the reach of fistula pilgrims, who walk long distances to get the help they need. The cure rate is 92%!

The 17 hour flight between Addis and Washington D.C. was more comfortable than expected for Ron and me, due to having great seats with extra leg room. I’ve also become a fan of melatonin, which helped me get some sleep on our flights. In DC, we had a 9 hour layover, so we opted to shower and sleep at a motel (after our trek to McDonald’s) and that helped us tolerate our other flights. A storm in Chicago delayed us about 3 hours, so Boise was a really welcome sight. I’ve already had a 14 hour stint at the birthing center here, caring for 2 moms and 2 babies, and appreciating the clean orderliness and safety of birth in the U.S.

Thanks so much for taking this journey with us, and for your support and love.


  1. It is amazing to me that your parents still have the energy and motivation to go across the world and care for those less fortunate. Again, thank you for the website and the inspiration to see that any of us can make a difference.

  2. What an amazing journey your parents had.

    I have read ‘The Hospital by the River’ and found it to be an awe inspiring book of courage and faith and hope.

  3. What a wonderful thing your parents did in preserving that family (among everything else the accomplished on their trip)! I wish that ALL adoption agencies had programs that would help to preserve more families such as this one…there are no shortage or true orphans to adopt (and we all know that adoption is not the answer to the orphan crisis) and you’re parents demonstrated that with just a little help, a poverty stricken but otherwise stable two parent family can remain intact. If all the agencies had the same level of commitment to keeping families together (when possible) as they do in creating new ones, imagine the difference that could be made…and it would almost certainly help to change the current negative feelings that are emerging on international adoption among Ethiopians.

  4. Amazing. You must be so proud of your parents. They are being God’s hands and feet. God bless.

  5. So glad to know your loved ones are safe at home once more, and gladder still to know of all that they accomplished while they were there. Thanks for sharing their journey with us.

  6. I loved reading about your parents’ trip. What an inspiration it was! I am going to get that book, too. What a ministry.