Our wonderful staff: Giving back however they can


One of our recent visiting residents wrote about his week at Soddo Christian Hospital this summary of his visit:

“We do what we can”

It takes a huge team to care for patients here.  This picture is of the multidisciplinary team that makes orthopedic rounds each day.  They do a wonderful job in very challenging situations. Our staff every day confront medical needs that challenge both their medical skills and their emotional fortitude. The orthopedic surgery resident from UCLA just finishing his week-long surgical rotation at Soddo summarizes his experience below.

“It’s been a tough week here.  There are so many people that come to Soddo Christian Hospital from all over the eastern part of Africa and Ethiopia, and there are only so many resources and only so much time in a day to help people.  There is such an inundation of trauma from road traffic accidents, and [so many] infections [because of] people waiting to see physicians or travelling for days to come to this hospital, that the operating room is reserved for the [most] serious of emergencies.  Emergencies that would be deemed emergencies in the United States are true emergencies here, too, but the timing of treating them is delayed, with a certain amount of triage that [must occur].  For example, hip fractures are generally treated within 24-48 hours to reduce morbidity and complications from immobility and pain.  [But] we’ve had a patient in the hospital who has had a hip fracture for 2 months, who arrived last week.  He’s in need of hip implants, which are coming, but are waiting at customs in Addis Ababa.  They should arrive next week.

“It’s hard to see patients in clinic who have real problems that are solvable with the right resources: osteoarthritis treated with knee or hip replacements, ACL or PCL injuries treated with arthroscopic reconstructions, or even basic fractures like tibias, femurs, forearms or elbows.  Many are treated in a delayed fashion because of the need to take care of infections or open fractures. [See the two children pictured.]   Many emergency patients sleep in the yard of the hospital waiting for a bed.  It’s heart-wrenching to see children who can’t walk because of neglected, infected hips that have destroyed the joint, or complications from things like TB and polio, which are so rare in the US.

“Over the past week, we’ve had some complex cases.  As a team, we were able to perform 2 complex pelvic operations; a scapula/glenoid fracture was fixed, as well as multiple open femur and tibia fractures, along with a few pediatric fractures due to traffic accidents.  Additionally, we had a couple of patients with multiple knee ligament injuries.  Given my interest in sports medicine, and the presence of an arthroscopy tower in the OR (one of the few in the country), Dr. Anderson challenged me to take care of a couple of the knee ligament injuries and expose the Ethiopian residents to arthroscopy.  I quickly realized that arthroscopic surgery here would be extremely challenging: the language barrier, the power goes out frequently, [and] the staff is used to dealing with trauma [injuries so] all [the] arthroscopic instruments are new [to them]. Additionally, these injuries were difficult as multiple ligaments were injured, and we would be reconstructing multiple ligaments at a time.  [Seeing my hesitation], Dr. Anderson motivated me by explaining that we were likely the only people in Ethiopia who had the equipment and the ability to treat these injuries.

“[W]e ran 4 operating rooms at the same time.  One Ethiopian resident took consults in the Emergency Room, one Ethiopian resident operated on infections and long bone fractures, Dr. Anderson and another Ethiopian resident fixed a complex pelvic fracture, and the fourth Ethiopian resident helped me with [the] arthroscopic PCL reconstruction and used the fluoroscope machine to fix a complex tibia fracture. We all made it through. And when we were done, the knee felt stable, the pelvis was fixed, and 8 other infected bones and fractures were clean and fixed.  It was a tough, long day, but in retrospect, we accomplished a lot as a team.

“As I reflect on my last day operating here, I think there’s a bright outlook for this country.   I’m encouraged that I helped expose the Ethiopian residents to arthroscopic surgery.  I feel grateful to see that [my supervising doctors] have trained me to perform these cases independently.  Lastly, I was very impressed with the Ethiopian residents.  They are smart and extremely well read.  Dr. Anderson’s knowledge and ability is impressive. Soddo Christian Hospital’s resources, though limited compared to the USA, provide an orthopedic mecca for the Ethiopian residents here.  I’m hopeful that the partnership with UCLA/OIC can continue to bring US residents with different interests to Ethiopia where we can learn from Dr. Anderson and the residents—and give back however we can.”

a master carpenter from Iowa, helped build cabinets for our new ICU

Bruce Green, a master carpenter from Iowa, helped build cabinets for our new ICU building. We found him working in the hospital maintenance shop many late nights. He always served with a cheerful smile the month he was with us.

Soddo Christian Hospital has many visitors coming and going but we celebrate each one.

We have had people from all parts of the  United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Korea and Australia. They come with all kinds of skills: doctors, OB nurses, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders,ICU nurses, seamstresses, surgeons, counselors, worship teams, handymen, disciple makers, prayer warriors, nannies!

Each one blesses this hospital so we praise and thank God for how He has provided us with help.

If you are interested, let us know. God can use you.  Would you consider a visit?  visit@soddo.org


Ted Nichols from Washington state has journey here every winter for several years. He trains our welders and is an overall handy man.

We love our volunteers!

The van is closed, the goodbyes are said.  Our volunteers drive off to the airport to return to their homes with stories to tell.

Soddo Christian Hospital has many visitors coming and going but we celebrate each one.

We have had people from all parts of the  United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Korea and Australia. They come with all kinds of skills: doctors, OB nurses, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders,ICU nurses, seamstresses, surgeons, counselors, worship teams, handymen, disciple makers, prayer warriors, nannies!

Each one blesses this hospital so we praise and thank God for how He has provided us with help.

If you are interested, let us know. God can use you.  Would you consider a visit?  visit@soddo.org


This is Nancy Green from Iowa.  She repaired many sewing machines as well as sewed for the hospital and WRAPS ministry. She tackled problems because " I just love to stick with a challenge until it is solved."

The God of Ethiopia

This poem was written by a recent visitor to Soddo Christian Hospital. He wanted to remember his visit and this was the method God gave him for remembering his trip.

Where do we find God in Ethiopia,

Do we find Him in the bright, round eyes of a young boy in the hospital huddled close to his father?

Do we find Him in the quiet tears and prayers of a rounds team telling a patient he is going to die?

Do we find him in the tears of a young doctor fighting for a patient's eyesight and begging for God's providence?

Do we find Him in the sweet vespers hymns of a staff worn down by the cares of the day?

Do we find Him in the soft rain watering a thirsty land?

Yes, He is there!!

But He is also in the hearts of missionary men and women who have answered the call of God in their lives and given Him all they have.

And yes He is in the sweet minds and souls of those native Ethiopia's who have heard and heeded his call to salvation.

The God of Ethiopia permeates the heart and soul of the land.


Hear His soft voice and footsteps all around you.

A day in the life of a Soddo Christian Hospital team member

 "A man has been stabbed in the neck. He is going to die."

These words, spoken calmly and as a matter of fact by the ICU head nurse, came as we were doing an early morning ward round prior to our planned weekend getaway to nearby Awassa. Glancing up at Dr. Ryan and Dr. Kyley, our visiting maxillofacial surgeons from the St.ates; our eyes met and without much ado, hurried to the emergency department. Reports of a large wound at the back of his neck with bone visible and a smaller wound in his anterior neck, among other injuries, made us realize that the best place to care for the patient was in the operating suite.

Meanwhile, the entourage surrounding the patient arrived in the OR with his relatives commandeering the stretcher, bringing him to the OR via the shortest route through the back door. Having gone in head first, the stretcher could not be turned around and had to be reversed into the corridor for a 180 degree spin and re-entry made, allowing a hurried transfer onto the operating table. Never mind the ABC’s of airway, breathing, etc in this race to get him to the destination.

"Oxygen, mask, laryngoscope" barks Kyley to the man standing next to him. A blank look in reply, the commands were to no avail as he was the patient's brother, not an OR worker. Amidst the chaotic, frantic activity, equipment arrived after what seemed an eternity. Blood miraculously materialized in record time, (thanks to the medical director's dash to the blood bank) and was quickly administered after a dunk in warm water. An emergency crico-thyroidotomy was necessitated to secure his airway as we were unable to effectively ventilate him with bag and mask. All along, the maxillofacial surgeons orchestrated the airway and resuscitation.

The neck injury was a through and through stab wound, entering from the posterior neck and exiting anteriorly, severing several healthy arteries supplying the posterior neck muscles. Brachial plexus, trachea, esophagus and the great vessels of the neck were spared anteriorly. Other major injuries included two deep lacerations into his left proximal thigh, a through and through laceration of one hand and another into the knuckles of his other hand.  

It all ended well, the patient woke up with smiles.

[ois skin="Blog Post Share"]

“Now I will kick a football,” she laughed as she moved her new knee.



This is  sweet Birhana from the Jinka area; which is located near the Kenya border. She has endured 14 years of pain. Birhana came to Soddo Christian Hospital 3 years ago and was told she needed a new knee, but at that time a total joint replacement was not an option here at SCH, and the replacement parts she needed were not available anywhere in Ethiopia.

This week Dr. Clint Barnett from Texas arrived at our hospital and 18 knees were completely replaced. 3 men and 15 women were given the opportunity to have a life without pain, (something so many of us take for granted).  These knees were done using total joint replacements. Birhana  was among those so happy to be called this week to come and receive a new knee!! She could barely contain her joy, as she smiled and laughed.  “Now I will kick a football,” she laughed as she moved her new knee. “I love you and Soddo Christian Hospital.”

Birhana shared at Soddo Christian Hospital chapel, her joy and thankfulness shining so bright. Dr. Clint Barnett shared, "These are just replacement parts, made  by man, and of metal, not made of bone. They give the opportunity at a better life, one without pain and with more physical capabilities. However God longs to have our hearts, to heal our hearts, and more important than having a new knee, is knowing that you have eternal life." God is doing beautiful things here at SCH, both through physical healing and through spiritual salvation. All the glory is His, He is mighty to heal, mighty to save!!

Fun fact: The average size of a replacement knee for women  in the US is #5  but our Ethiopian friends were smalls. Dr. Barnett did five #1's in one week!   In fact, we had to send for more small sizes from the US and our recent visitors brought them while Dr. Barnett was here. 


[ois skin="Blog Post Share"]


Fantastic Visitor Video!

Andre Ishak, his wife Jeanine, and their son Brandon just visited us for about 10 days.  Dr. Ishak is a Hand Surgeon, and he performed many life-altering and wonderful surgeries during their time here.  We were very blessed to have them.  Check out the amazing video they made to document their trip!

Ethiopia 2014 from Andre Ishak on Vimeo.

Barnabas' St.ory

SCHChapelBstudyPrayer_148 (Small)Every Wednesday morning, the hospital staff at Soddo Christian Hospital gathers together before work for a chapel service led by the chaplains. Songs are sung, the Word is opened, and testimonies are shared. For our team, here only a short time, it was a highlight in a week full of highlights, because we heard the joyful testimony of a teenage Ethiopian boy whose mother is receiving care at the hospital.

This young boy, whom I’ll call Barnabas, is from a rural area of Ethiopia that lacks infrastructure and educational opportunities for children. In fact, he said, in his home region education is not prized and many are hindered from pursuing one. In his longing to receive an education, he attended a school started by Christian missionaries, where he heard the gospel and became a follower of Jesus.

However, when Barnabas told his family about his decision, they forced him to choose between his family and his faith. He chose faith in Christ, experienced persecution and isolation, and was forced to leave his home. Barnabas moved around, staying with people he hardly knew, all the while growing in his knowledge and love of Jesus.

Barnabas soon received the news that his mother was sick. He returned home and tried to find her health care locally and then at a referred hospital in Addis, but no one could help his mother. Finally a doctor referred him to Soddo Christian Hospital, saying simply, “They can help your mother.”

Barnabas spent the last of his money getting his mother to Soddo. He handed his mother’s care to the doctors and nurses at Soddo Christian Hospital, so grateful that she could be served with the love of Jesus Christ.  While his mother is treated, Barnabas has spent his time at the hospital sharing the gospel with patients and their family members, believing strongly, as he says, that “Jesus is the only way. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He has given me life.”

Through the love shown to her at the hospital, Barnabas’ mother, who once forced her son to leave because of his faith, has decided to become a follower of Christ. In Barnabas’ words, he “once was just one” in his town and family, but “now we are two.”

With that, the listening chapel congregation burst into applause, rejoicing that God sees and saves all that desire Him, but also knowing that Barnabas and his mother are not just two but join the multitude of brothers and sisters all across the world who call Jesus their Lord.

St.rategic Gospel Work

Our team has been at Soddo Christian Hospital for just two short days, but already we’ve seen and experienced so much of God at work.

One of our team members has spent her days in the lab, using her skills and experience to answer questions that might help the lab run more efficiently. Today, she sat with the Ethiopian techs and mapped out a simple plan that may have profound logistical effects on the hospital. One of the techs said with gratitude, “God sent you. We’ve never had anyone care about the lab before. Could you move here?”

Others of our team have spent hours working one-on-one with Ethiopian staff, teaching them computer skills that will benefit the accounting department, the pharmacy, and other departments.

I spent the morning walking through the wards with Eyasu, one of the chaplains, hearing the stories of the patients, praying for them and their family members, and sharing the gospel. I met people that had traveled hundreds of miles to receive care in Soddo, family members of patients who have slept outside each night so they can care for their loved ones, people who have become Christians at the hospital and planned to testify to God’s healing when they return home, and those who have not yet believed. I loved every minute of shaking hands, saying hello in their language, and sharing and praying as the translator followed behind in the native tongue.

SCHChapelBstudyPrayer_114 (Small)

The highlight, however, was watching Eyasu move from room to room, greeting and praying for patients that have been under the chaplains’ spiritual care as long as they’ve been in the hospital. He knew each name, each story, even the names and stories of family members in the room. He also introduced me to the nurses and the cleaners, emphasizing that each one is important to the mission of the hospital and each labors together to share the love of Christ.

In one ward, the chaplain introduced me to a nurse who speaks a certain dialect of a region around Soddo. She joined in with the chaplain and me going room-to-room. But this time, the rooms were filled with many patients and each bed had a family member sitting at watch. I listened as she spoke, not understanding her words, but knowing immediately that she was sharing the gospel and praying silently for the Lord to touch hearts as they listened in in rapt attention. Then she turned to me and all eyes turned with her.

I felt inadequate and unsure, but knew I could simply share how God had rescued me from my sin and hopelessness. And as I spoke, I realized with clarity the truth of what I was saying to a room full of people unlike me in language and culture: it is true that God loves all people the same and desires all to submit to Him. We’re different in our externals, but we’re all the same in our need.

When I walked out with the nurse, I hugged her and told her how encouraged I am by her work. God is using her at Soddo Christian Hospital. But it’s not just her; she’s but one example. He’s using everyone—the cleaners, the nurses, the doctors, the Ethiopian staff, the international staff, the chaplains, the cashiers, and the lab techs—to work in tandem to speak the gospel and authenticate it through loving care.

There is such strategy and purposefulness to their work. And God is blessing it. He’s meeting the external and internal needs of His beloved children in Ethiopia through the people at Soddo Christian Hospital.

Caring for the Caretakers: A Visitor's Perspective

IMG_7866 (Small)

In 2013, my husband Kyle and I had a conversation about both his passion and his discouragement about the missions partnerships we were trying to develop through our church. As the lead pastor who had planted the church a few years back, he'd long held a desire to plant missions in the DNA of our people. But things were moving slowly, some partnerships hadn't gotten off the ground, and he wasn't sure what to do.

A few days prior to that conversation, I had interviewed my college roommate, Christina Gabrysch, for my blog about her experience of raising children overseas. "Perhaps", I said to Kyle, " you could contact them and just find out more about what they're doing?"

And so he did. Kyle talked with Jeremy, Christina's husband, and told him about our church--how we have an inordinate amount of medical people because of the University of Virginia's elite medical school and hospital, how we have college students eager and willing to give their time to go overseas, and how we were seeking partnerships that we could invest in for the long haul. Jeremy simply said, "Why don't you come and see what we're doing?"

And so he did. Kyle and our worship pastor, Joseph, set out to see. They visited Soddo Christian Hospital, went bed-to-bed with the chaplains as they prayed for patients, saw people who might have died if not from the care of the medical staff, heard about the hospital's focus of discipleship, and met the international doctors who have committed to training Ethiopian doctors. He came home with a new, tentative partnership between Charlottesville Community Church and Soddo Christian Hospital.

This week, I am here in Soddo because of that partnership. Our first team is on the ground, helping teach computer classes to the Ethiopian staff, working and training workers in the lab, taking on tasks around the hospital, and even enjoying a game of kickball with the national staff.

In just a few days, we've discovered a few things. God is working, that's for sure. And His people are working in His name, that's also for sure. But one thing stands out to me: the international workers have a visible joy in what they're doing among the people of Soddo, and they are doing excellent work, but they cannot do their work alone. Some of it they must do alone; none of our team members can go in and help with a brain surgery or deliver a baby. But some of it they can't do alone. They need encouragement. They need to remember and celebrate what God has done and is doing. They need the time and space to remember and celebrate what God has done and is doing. The caretakers at some point need to be cared for.

As I prepared for this trip, I got the requisite vaccinations and made arrangements for my children and made plans for our team. In my mind, it's always been a nine-day trip, and then I'll return home and go about my regularly scheduled life. But being here, I'm reminded that this isn't a trip where we do a few helpful things and go home. This is a partnership, a relationship, and we will state our intentions with our consistent presence, encouragement, and prayers. We've essentially said that these doctors and their families will not go at this alone.

So really the preparation begins as we leave, as we ask ourselves: How can we continue to serve? How can we continue to help? How can we remember our co-laborers in prayer and verbal words of encouragement?

If you have ever contributed to Soddo Christian Hospital in some way, you have essentially joined in partnership with God and with those He has led to this place. Remember these doctors today. Offer what encouragement you can. Remind them that God sustains them and that Christ is sufficient. Tell them in whatever way you can that they aren't going at it alone.