(From L – R) : With Srs. Anjeline, Tagesech, Naomi, Leema at Chole mission house
It was a dream come true for me when I landed at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 19th May 2019 on a warm and sunny afternoon. I was on my way to Togo to attend the AFRAM Zonal Area Coordinators Meeting in Togo. So I took that opportunity to stop-over in Ethiopia for a few days. My main and only purpose for the stop-over was to visit our Holy Spirit Sisters who have been working in Ethiopia for the past twenty-four years.
A view of the dispensary at Weragu mission
Ethiopia is a neighbouring country to Kenya. It is a case of being so near yet so far. I received a warm welcome from two pioneers of Ethiopia mission, Srs. Judyta, the Regional Superior and Stella, as I came out of the arrival terminal. Driving through the rather easy flowing traffic of Addis to the Regional House was a nice experience. I was welcomed to the Regional House by the sisters in the community led by Sr. Sheeba, the Regional Treasurer, who had prepared a delicious Chilly chicken. There was also a delicious cake prepared by Sr. Meseret the first Ethiopian Holy Spirit sister.
(From L – R) With Srs. Leema, Kavitha,Stella and Ann with home made candles given to me as a gift
The Regional House is an elegant edifice though simple looking. The House chapel is a house of prayer with an Ethiopian orthodox spirituality touch. The big music drum near the altar resonates very well with Ethiopian way of worship and spirituality.
On the second day of my visit, Sr. Stella was generous enough to take me to visit two of their communities at Chole and Weragu. The vehicle we used was carrying different stuff belonging to the health centre, the women project there, and for the sister’s house among others. Both these communities are more than 300kms from Addis. Sr. Leema joined us along the motorway to Chole and Waragu. The journey took us practically the whole day since the road is not very good for almost half of the distance. But after a long and tiring journey, we reached Chole first and later Waragu, it was like being on cloud nine. A special blessing on the way to these missions is that it’s full of beautiful hills, valleys, fresh meadows a really breathtakingly scenery.
Celebrating Holy Mass at the Chapel of the Regional House
Our sisters are running a health centre, a women’s centre and other projects in the area. This mission is far from the main Electric grid and so solar energy is the only source of power. Using a solar lamp in the room where I stayed and in the house gave me a feeling of being in an interior mission and rightly so. Three of our sisters, Srs. Stella, Kavitha and Anna are serving the Waragu mission. The sisters took good care of me, fed me well, gave me gifts like coffee powder (ground from the coffee beans grown in the mission compound) and hand-made, beautiful and decorated candles. The young and energetic Consolata Fathers, Michael and Marko, serve Waragu parish. They offer spiritual support to our sisters and the Christians. May our sisters be blessed in their missionary work.
On my way back we visited Chole mission again. Srs. Lovely, Anjeline, Tagesech and Naomi, are involved in various ministries which include, a Kindergarten, Women’s welfare, taking care of young girls in secondary school, pastoral work, etc. An elderly Consolata missionary priest, Fr. Eduardo is serving the Chole parish. He also offers big spiritual support to our sisters there. I was also blessed to get a ride back to Addis with our sisters from Chole mission as they had to go there for their work. So travelling to the missions was comfortable and I could not ask for more.
In Addis, the sisters were also very generous. They took me and another visitor to the city centre to visit the Cathedral, a famous Coffee House and a place to pick some simple souvenirs. The sisters took me back to the airport on the last day.
I enjoyed the Ethiopian highlands and the countryside to and from their missions. The trip to Ethiopia was a learning and an enriching experience for me. I learned about the missionary work our sisters are doing there, the environment in which they work and life of the local people.
To share a bit of my time with our sisters was also a way of strengthening our Arnoldus family bond. Their hospitality was superb. I was delighted to visit Ethiopia. I will remain eternally grateful to our sisters for their generosity, time, care and concern. If an opportunity comes along the way in the future to visit Ethiopia I would grab it immediately so that I could visit other communities that I could not visit during this visit. Ethiopia is an exciting place, a bedrock of Orthodox spirituality.
May Sts. Arnold and Joseph, Bl. Maria Helena and Josepha and our SVD Martyrs bless our sisters serving in Ethiopia abundantly
Amaldoss Rethinasam, SVD