Monthly Archives: May 2009

Greetings from Addis

I know you are all anxious to hear that I have arrived safely here and am settling in. It is hard for me to believe that I’ve been here for 3 weeks, though 9 of those days were spent in Spain at a Mission to the World Area Retreat for Africa and Europe missionaries, but more about that later.

I arrived here on the morning of April 14th, after a very busy 2 months of packing up my house, packing for coming here, and being the general contractor for work that was being done on my house to get it ready to rent. I’m so thankful for a couple of friends who let me stay with them while I had no water/bathroom while work was being done and once the furniture was gone.

The biggest question people ask is “where are you living?” Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not living in a thatched roof mud hut with dirt floors and chicken running through it! I’m living in a very civilized apartment at SIM Headquarters (a partner mission agency). It is furnished comfortably, living room, kitchen/dining room, and bedroom. I have a toilet, but don’t have a shower, with a communal one close by. I’m a short walk from our main office which is convenient.

The first week I was here is kind of a blur. It didn’t take me too long to unpack the 5 suitcases I brought with me. What seemed like so much stuff when I was packing it didn’t seem like very much once I got here! I bought a few groceries, went to the office, spent some time with some visiting missionaries in the microbiology lab at the main hospital learning about what we have been doing to improve TB detection.

I went to Islantilla, Spain on April 21st to the Mission to the World Area Retreat for missionaries working in Europe, Africa and the Muslim world. This event happens every 4 years, and I just managed to be on the field at the right time to go. It was a bit of an ordeal to get there and back, leaving from and returning to Addis in the middle of the night, having to transfer between Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London and getting stranded in the airport in Faro, Portugal overnight. Islantilla is on the Mediterranean coast, just east of the Spain/Portugal border. The hotel was lovely, and the beach great for walking and shell collecting–it was enjoyable to be outside in warm sunshine and water. The teaching, worship and fellowship times at the retreat were excellent and I was able to reconnect with some other missionaries who I had been through some of my training with. I returned home to Addis on April 30th.

Since I’ve been here, we have had 3 national holidays–Orthodox Good Friday, May Day, and Ethiopian Patriot’s Day. And there is one more holiday at the end of the month to celebrate the end of the Dirg, the military Marxist coup that took over after the Emperor was assassinated in the 1970’s.

I’ve now been to visit all 3 of our offices and do home visits with the staff at each. Each area is different, though the needs are the same. Lideta, the area where I live, is very urban, busy, crowded, with what I thought were the worst living conditions I had ever seen. But in Bole, where I went yesterday, I saw houses that were much worse than in Lideta. We visited in an area called “Moon Village”, because it was built after dark by the light of the moon. It is essentially a squatter’s settlement built on land that had been cleared to build a sports arena that was never built. Houses there were made of cardboard boxes, with corrugated tin roofs. Today I went to Kolfe, which is on the outskirts of the city and in places looks like country. In both Bole and Kolfe, the contrast between rich and poor is stark; there are McMansions in close proximity to some of the poorest housing.

But in all places are desperately poor, sick, lonely people who need to hear the good news that Jesus came to redeem the pain and sadness of their lives. It has been encouraging to see how people are being changed by experiencing God’s love through the mercy ministry of our project. We have trained “expert patients” according to a World Health Organization model, and these women are absolutely blossoming. Many of them were bedridden and dying 4 years ago; now they have work and a purpose and have been afforded dignity, which they hadn’t experienced before this. Some of them work in the neighborhoods, visiting other project beneficiaries and others work in the government neighborhood health centers with nurse case managers, who are doing HIV/AIDS casefinding, education and compliance/adherence training.

So, that brings you up to date on my life here. I’m on my way to do some grocery shopping for the weekend.

Here are a few prayer requests:

  • A renter for my house in Baltimore who will love my house as much as I do.
  • Continuing to become more comfortable with living here, finding my way around, dealing with language barrier and deciding on language school.
  • That I would have the attitude of a learner and a servant as I get to know the staff I’m working with in all the offices.
  • That I would learn to deal creatively with regular water and power outages–I was working on the computer by candlelight the other night!

Here is my contact information:

Snail mail address: c/o SIM, PO Box 127, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Email address: lindajswallow@gmail.com
Blog address: www.addisfaction.com
Cell phone: 011-251-1- 0910-37-33-23
Home phone: 011-251-1-011-551-3726

Entrance to my apartment