A letter from Rachel Weller in Ethiopia
Greetings from three floors above the mile-and-a-half-high city of Addis Ababa. Michael and I arrived here a little over two weeks ago, nearly three years after leaving for an education upgrade. We enjoyed a very warm greeting by our friends and colleagues at the Bethel Synod's Coordination Office (BSCO). Qes Teferi, Ato Petros, and Asenakech were just arriving to work when we drove in. Takalu and Samuel carried all our stuff up the three flights and then went and dusted off the stuff we had stored in the “Crow’s Nest” above the office and carried it all up the stairs to our new apartment and (temporary) home.
The apartment is a recently completed addition to the facilities of the Bethel Mekane Yesus School (known as “the girls’ school”) at the bottom of the BSCO compound. The building houses offices and a library along with our apartment and a second yet-to-be-completed apartment. It was built directly above the chapel where my parents got married 54 years ago.
From my balcony I sit unnoticed watching the red-and-blue sweatered girls socialize in the schoolyard below. Taking a break from my work (writing a newsletter), I study their interesting callisthenic routines during their gym class. Standing at the balcony railing, I see all the way across town even through the smoke and fog. The new buildings of the African Union complex rise up in the middle of town, announcing that Ethiopia is plowing into a modern future. The line of lights at the far edge of the city mark the place where tourists, diplomats, charity workers and missionaries first encounter this ancient land. Watching before the sun rose, one recent jet-lagged morning, I saw three planes approach Addis between the southern mountains and land on the runway about 10 miles from here. Through the large picture window of our apartment I watched a murder (yes, murder is the word) of white-vested crows playing in the wind. Grabbing a perch on the bended pine tree, they vie for King of the Top of the Tree, fighting off the wind and other crows. As a rainstorm drifts down off Wuchacha Mountain behind me, the crows and the mountain peaks disappear, forcing me back to my letter.
Some of you know that our return was delayed when Michael had a heart attack shortly before our intended departure date. The care he received in the States was providential. Doctors identified the problem and prescribed certain medicines and lifestyle changes. His primary care physician, a man committed to serving Christ, laid out the realities of living with heart disease. He assured Michael (and me) that, though his heart has been damaged somewhat, by following his prescriptions and being obedient to God’s call he will be able to plan for a healthy future. Adjusting to the smoky, foggy high altitude had been a bit worrisome, but recently Michael’s blood pressure and pulse have both been within normal limits, putting both of us at ease. In addition, one of our friends, an elder from the Oromo Church in Addis Ababa, heard that we were back and immediately came up to see Michael. He arranged for another elder and the pastor of that church to come to our house for a time of healing prayer. The next week Michael visited a cardiologist in Addis, who found no evidence of a heart attack!
We plan to live in Addis Ababa for a few months while we make living arrangements in Gambella. The drive to Gambella covers about 470 miles and parks us more than a mile lower than we started. We’re hoping the lower elevation will be easier on Michael’s heart and that the heat will not be harder on it.
Michael and I will both be traveling soon. We are planning trips to Gambella and South Sudan, working on the details even as I write. In Gambella I will do what I can to learn the state of the clinics, the Community Health Evangelism programs that started several years ago, and the program for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. In addition we will begin investigating the best options for our living arrangements when we are able to be there more permanently. We hope to build something that will be simple and comfortable.
If you are interested in more detailed updates and partnering with us in prayer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or use the link below). I’m also on Facebook, where I will be posting pictures when I can—if you send me a friend request, send me a message letting me know how you know me.
Thanks for your prayerful support. Thanks for joining us in God’s mission to Ethiopia.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 57
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 95