Christmas greetings from Addis Ababa. Christmas in Ethiopia isn’t celebrated until January 8th, so if you read this after December 25th, which is likely, it will still be on time!
As I’m writing this, I’m at a Catholic retreat center about an hour outside of Addis, on a beautiful volcanic lake, on an Advent retreat with my church here. Life in Addis continues at a whirlwind pace, so it has been nice to have some time out of the city to rest, relax and reflect. This entire year has been a whirlwind of medical teams, visitors, language learning and continued adjustment to life here in Ethiopia.
The story of this year is not about me, but about what God has done in and through the team of people I work with, both American and Ethiopian. It is our privilege to care for 485 HIV affected families, to be the light of Christ in an otherwise dark and lonesome place. Here are some stories:
WeuseneMany of you have been praying for her, since my September update. We completed 45 days of painful injections for mucocutaneous leishmaniasis. After those were completed, the doctors weren’t satisfied with the results. Thankfully, she was able to get an oral medication, which has done the job! There was only capacity for 20 people to be able to get this drug! The change has been amazing! The swelling in her central face and cheeks is gone and the lip is healed! We have been able to find her a school, run by another NGO, which is specifically for children who are behind in school for their age. They provide her with uniforms and there are no school fees to pay. She is in first grade at age 12, so I hope she is able to persevere and learn. I saw a tee shirt on a girl a couple weeks ago which said something like â€œA girl without education is like silver left in the mine. Education is the best way for her to have more opportunities and choices in her life. She is a good example of our partnership with the local government, when we give them the opportunity to send patients to our outreach clinics when we have visiting medical teams here from the US. Not all the results are so dramatic as this!
Habtam Habtam has been a huge challenge medically since I arrived in Addis 20 months ago. If you’ve seen our video ( http://theater.15four.com/ethiopia/),she is the one being carried to the taxi to go to the hospital during the summer of 2009. Later that summer she became psychotic from one her TB medications. But God has been faithful and it is joy to see her come to the office several times a week, when a year ago, she could barely care for herself and her family. She calls me her mother because of how I have cared for her. I tell her I am her friend and sister, not her mother, but she just babbles at me in Amharic, as if I understood every word–which I wish I did! She has her struggles and at this writing is dealing with a very sore and ulcerated mouth, making eating and drinking difficult. And the doctor told her not to come back, which has made her wish she were dead. Such are the struggles of the poor with medical care here and we are seeking to bring Christ’s healing love and compassion to people like Habtam.
Hiwot One of the joys of my work is the HIV+ kids that I care for. Several of them have been quite sick this year, but I have been amazed at their resilience as they have bounced back time after time. Hiwot is an 8 year old girl, with AIDS, TB, and most recently shingles. But she is doing well again, back in school and being a real girly girl who loves to pose for pictures, as you can see here.
As we anticipate and celebrate Christmas this year, I pray that you and those you love will know the life and light that Jesus brought to the earth when he came as a baby 200 years ago.
Please pray for wisdom for our missionary team and others here in the country who are facing stricter regulations regarding the granting of work permits. I need a work permit in order to stay here beyond April 3, 2011, when my visa expires. I want to be able to stay longer to continue the work God has called me to here. At this point, it looks like I will have to leave Ethiopia for short trips, probably to neighboring countries, to renew my visa and comply with visa regulations. This is an unexpected expense and I am thankful for my faithful and generous supporters who have provided the funds for this even before I knew about it.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.