Team Ethiopia

by Lana Shotwell '05

Ten APU students went to Ethiopia for four and a half weeks during May and June 2005. Our purpose there was to minister to the children of Ethiopia, as they tend to be neglected and looked down upon. As a team, we planned activities such as crafts, stories, games, and songs to enjoy with the children. We traveled to four different schools, starting off in the Capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and moving south to Alemtena, Shashamanae, and Arbagona.

Upon arriving in Ethiopia we quickly realized that no matter what happened while we were there, it was definitely a trip in which God was in control. There were several times when our plans changed unexpectedly or someone got sick, and we had to adjust and be open to the changes. There was a huge election taking place in Ethiopia when we arrived, causing schools to be closed and some resistance to our being there. Despite this, we found alternative places to minister and never once felt unsafe. We thanked God for guiding us through all of the changes and difficulties.

Many of the children we met at the different schools were very excited to have us come and visit. And for many of the team members it was such a blessing to be able to serve them. Some of the children were slightly afraid of us initially, but given time they warmed up to us and were sad to see us go in the end. While we were at each school, our team became very good at telling Bible stories such as Noah and the Ark, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, and David and Goliath. It was amazing to see these children’s faces light up as we played with them or simply held their hand.

Aside from visiting schools, we were given the opportunity to travel to a remote village called Bettela. There, we shared in the local church and visited the homes of some congregation members. We learned how simple their lives were and appreciated how loving they were about sharing their small homes with us.

At the end of our trip, we had the opportunity to share in a reforestation project recently started in Ethiopia. Much of the land is deteriorating due to deforestation and is in dire need of restoration. We were able to help roll seedlings to be planted to help restore the land.

As a team, we really enjoyed being able to walk away from the whole trip seeing we had made a difference.