A letter from Stephen and Brenda Stelle in Ethiopia
Upon leaving the Gambella airport we were greeted by baboons and bumpy roads as we made our way up the long and winding road to Dembi Dollo. However, this initial welcome was nothing compared to the wonderful reception we received from the entire church community in Dembi Dollo.
Amanuel, Brenda’s principal at Bethel Evangelical Secondary School (BESS) was our gracious host during our six-day visit. He and his staff introduced us to the school, along with Gidada Theological College, the two local Mekane Yesus churches, and the town. Here Brenda learned she will teach English to the 11th and 12th graders this fall, saw her classrooms, and even received her textbooks so she can begin planning for the school year. In chapel on Monday Brenda introduced herself (using Afaan Oromo language) to the students; she made a few mistakes (she accidentally introduced Steve as her wife—everybody laughed), but overall the students and the faculty were excited at the prospect of having a native English speaker join the staff.
On Saturday we spent an afternoon at Gidada Theological College. Gizawu (Steve’s dean) gave us a tour of the campus, which included a well-stocked library with books from Princeton Seminary, Steve’s alma mater. Steve will teach three courses in the fall semester—Introduction to the Old Testament, Genesis, and the Psalms—to Diploma 1, 2, and 3 students.
On both Good Friday and Easter Sunday we worshiped in the brand-new Dhanqa (pronounced danka) Church. This congregation traces its roots to Dr. Thomas Lambie, the first Presbyterian and American missionary to Ethiopia. The Good Friday service included the reception of their confirmation class, a group of 60 teenagers. On Easter Steve introduced us (in the Oromo language) to the congregation. After both services the pastors and elders of the church welcomed us and invited us to join them for tea. What a blessing! We met the church community and many of its leaders.
The evening before our departure, Kes Chali (the President of the Synod) hosted us for an afternoon and dinner on the Synod compound. There we met with Synod leaders and learned of their evangelistic outreach plan to further share the gospel of Jesus with unbelievers. They are excited to once again have Presbyterian missionaries teaching at BESS and Gidada and consider our arrival this fall as an answer to their prayers. Brenda met two pastors' wives who were starting a work project of making and selling soap to empower and help women in poverty.
WE LIVE IN AFRICA MOMENT!
Throughout these first few months we have found there are times that suddenly it just strikes us that we now live in Africa. We, just like everybody else, usually just go about our normal work and day-to-day activities. But then we see or experience something different, and we look at each other and say, usually with awe and amazement, “We live in Africa!”
We have decided we want to share a few of these with you, our dear friends and supporters.
For the weekend we stayed in the house where we will be living for the next three years. On the first morning we woke up to discover the mango trees in our front yard were full of monkeys. There had to have been 10 or more of them, climbing all over, swinging from branch to branch, grabbing mangoes and throwing them at each other and on the ground. Brenda said to Steve, “It’s like living in a zoo!” And we looked at each other, and jointly exclaimed in amazement, “We live in Africa!”
1. Please keep the students at BESS and the Gidada Theological College in your prayers as they finish this school year.
2. Also please continue your prayers for us as we continue our study of the Oromo language and as we begin preparing our course lessons for the fall.
Once again we thank you for your prayer and financial support of our ministry in Ethiopia. If you would like to contribute financially to our support, gifts can be sent to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—be sure to include our account number D507574 for congregations or number E200507 for individuals (or use the "Give" link below). We are excited that in a few months we will begin sharing our knowledge of English and Scripture with our students. We praise God for our partnership with you in God’s work in Ethiopia.
In Christ’s service,
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 133
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Dear Brenda and Stephen, I'm sending birthday greetings to you both. How fun to have birthdays so close together! I am thankful for you and for our God who gave you life and a heart for the work that you do. I pray for encouragement for you both in this school year, that you might feel encouraged each day. Peace be with you, in the name of the Prince of Peace.