I am in - Ethiopia
I am living in - Jimma
I am working with - the Baldwins
I am helping with - home schooling
I have a fellow gap-er - Lexi
I will be here until - June 2002
Click on the map for a larger version
Ethiopia, the oldest independent country in Africa is also one of the poorest. It is a land of fertile mountain plateau, isolated river valleys, drought prone lowlands and desert. Heights range from 380 feet below sea level to over 15,000 feet above sea level. Ethiopia is believed to be the original home of the coffee tree. It has a population of 62 million people of whom about 65% are Christian and 31% Muslim. Northern Ethiopia was one of the first Christian nations - from the 4th Century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church became the Sate Church from 1270 until the 1974 revolution. The Marxist regime persecuted Christians, especially Evangelicals, with many church buildings destroyed and congregations scattered. Since 1991 there has been unprecedented freedom for worship and witness. The government seeks to deal even-handedly with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the increasingly active and growing Muslim minority. In 1927 the founders of the Abyssinian Frontiers Mission joined forces with SIM founder Dr Rowland Bingham to evangelise southern Ethiopia. In 1974 the SIM related congregations formed their own denomination called the Kale Heywet Church (KHC), which today numbers 3,500 congregations and 1.5 million believers.
For more information about the country and the history of the work of SIM in Ethiopia see their International web site at www.sim.org
Jimma is a town with a population of around 90,000 and is situated about 260 kilometres south west of Addis Ababa on the Ethiopian mountain plateau. It is 5500 feet above sea level. The town has a large market, a University, a Teacher Training College and an Agricultural College. As the major town in the Western Zone it is home to a burgeoning coffee export business. The local coffee is rich and mellow. The building of a large new hospital in the city is nearing completion. It is due to open in January.
David and Maura Baldwin are SIM missionaries. David's main job is teaching in the Jimma Hale Heywat Bible School. He also does a number of teaching activities in conjunction with local churches in the Jimma area. They have four children; Joshua who is 12, Luke 8, Alfie 4 and Phoebe 2. The three eldest are being home schooled by Maura with help from Lexi and me.
(photo to follow)
I am spending much of my time with Lexi helping to home school the three older Baldwin children. Each morning from 9am to 10am we help to teach English in a 'Compassion' school (funded by Tearfund). Other opportunities being explored are assisting with the Sunday School in the local church, or even doing a Holiday Bible School project for a few weeks. And all this in the local language, Amharic!
My fellow gaper is Lexi Graves. Lexi is from Leicester and is great on the piano.
Click on the picture to see a larger version
Lexi and I flew out to Ethiopia on 7th January and will be returning to the UK on 21st June (DV).