Phil and Chris in Ethiopia

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fun (A Letter to Dr Abiy)

Dr Abiy doing official stuff(If you're puzzled by the title, click here.)
Dear Dr Abiy,

It was with a mixture of sadness and eager anticipation of the future that Chris and I left your amazing homeland of Ethiopia on 17th June 2019. When we arrived at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa on 21st November 2013 we couldn’t have anticipated just how thrilling, challenging, life-changing and fun-filled the next six years would be. The people we would meet, friends we would make, work we would complete and things we would achieve are now the subject of constant reflection and gratitude to God. Happy as we are to have settled back into our home country with family, a multitude of grandchildren1, a new church and new challenges ahead, there is much about our term in Addis Ababa that we will always miss.

Clean Hands, Kitfo, and Funerals

David, Coral and Sarah with Haile's son KalebDavid, Coral and Sarah Nicholson, visiting us from Spicer Street Church in St Albans, had never experienced anything like this. We were in Haile’s home on Ethiopian Easter Sunday for lunch. The TV was on, and the food was being laid out. Ethiopian food is eaten with your right (and only your right) hand, so handwashing before a meal is not only necessary, but is part of the whole cultural dining experience.

A Different Experience (From our guest blogger David Nicholson)

All of us with Lemma"We are really looking forward to your visit and can't wait to share life here with you. It will definitely be different!"

Like the rest of you, we have followed Phil and Chris's blogs with interest and with them nearing the end of their time in Ethiopia, we wanted to come and experience for ourselves some of all that they have blogged about over the last 5½ years.

Over the Wall

DSCN0222My classroom faces an outside wall of the Bingham compound, the other side of which stands a government school. Birhan Bir school as it is called is attended by four of our Y’tesfa Birhan girls (the ones who recently experienced a fire at their homes). The Kindergarten building, which they probably attended when they were younger, is located further along the main road on the opposite side.

Of Time and Spare Wheels

IECTime and planning – two things that are managed very differently in different cultures. When asked to serve and pray during the communion service at our church in St Albans, I would be on a rota organised six months in advance, I would know where I would sit and which part of the congregation I would serve. And everything would run like clockwork. It’s done a little differently here, as I was to discover for the first time, a few years ago.


WingateFireLast Saturday a fire ravaged a community north of Bingham Academy in a place called Wingate. Many make-shift houses had become established over time, typically constructed of corrugated metal and tarpaulin. Five of the girls who are part of our “Y’tesfa Birhan” programme as well as a young boy from the equivalent “Horizon” boys project lived there. Fire trucks were called. The first arrived with no water but was followed by a second. Once the blaze was tackled it was clear that there was nothing left.

Never in the UK

A random neck x-rayI well remember one of my anatomy lecturers at University College London Medical School describing the anatomy of the neck, especially around the spine, as “lion country”. It is easy, he said, when operating around the spine in the neck to do huge damage very easily (he was a surgeon). “if you cut something you shouldn’t”, he explained with a wry smile, “hand your instruments to your assistant, say to them ‘you carry on – you’ve always wanted to do one of these!’ and then get on the next plane to Mexico.”