October 22, 2013 – When you think of Ethiopia, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you think of it as a place to take a holiday? Most of us probably don’t. And yet that’s what Dr. Beth Trengove did this month when she traveled to Ethiopia with a group of other Christians to perform missionary work. Having just returned, we caught up with Dr. Trengove and asked her to share her experience.
It turns out that this was not a one-time thing: Beth usually performs missionary work at least once every year. “I have as much fun on mission trips as I do on other vacations.” She noted that such travels always instill a strong sense of gratitude within her. She complimented the strong work-ethic and tremendous faith of the Ethiopian people. “The Ethiopian people are very gentle and friendly. Plus, they have awesome coffee!” she commented.
While doing missionary work, she met a small-business owner – a single mother, living with HIV. Far from being despondent, she takes antiretroviral medications – many of which are provided for free by the US government and other charities. She is fortunately relatively healthy. Through other “micro-finance” initiatives (whereby charities give loans directly to individuals, rather than giving aid directly to the government), she was able to start her own coffee stand. Her coffee stand allows her to put her son in school and provide him with a home – something she did not have for many years. While the needs of Ethiopia are great, missionary work absolutely makes a difference.
Beth also visited a center to help people with leprosy. She was particularly inspired by men and women she met there. Far from being a place that just gives out aid and assistance, recipients work, weaving various cloths, which are then beautifully embroidered before being sold. Many of the recipients have lost fingers and toes to leprosy, but continue to work and are grateful for the opportunity to earn a living. Despite their afflictions, these women were happy because Beth and everyone in her group purchased a large number of tablecloths, towels, and potholders. “The craftsmanship was extraordinary: hand-woven and intricately stitched… We were all so happy to support their hard work.”
Dr. Trengove also assisted at an HIV clinic in the northern region of Ethiopia, whereby pregnant women with HIV were given drugs that prevent their unborn children from contracting the virus. “These people have so little, and yet they are so rich in their faith.” Beth went on to stress that these people weren’t looking for handouts but rather new skills and meaningful employment. In Ethiopia, only 30% of woman can read and write, and the average worker only earns between $3 and $4 a day.
The need is great, and one can only do so much on any one particular missionary trip, but she stands firm in the knowledge that she’s doing her part in showing Jesus’ love. “As we all join together and do our part – whether it’s praying and lifting up those in need, raising money for a local fundraiser or church mission drive, or traveling to these places yourself, we can make a real difference in people’s lives.”