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Ballinderry Parish teamís missionary outreach work in Ethiopia

Challenge Ethiopia 2006 - Ballinderry Parish Church

Members of Ballinderry Parish Church pictured at Belfast City Airport on Sunday 6th August as they begin their journey to Ethiopia.  L to R: (back row) Canon Ernest Harris, Ray Harris, Valerie Ellis - Crosslinks, Heather Tuft, Sandra Livingstone, Mona Thomas and Paul Hendron. (front row) Michael Hendron, Jill Hendron, Jenna Boyd, Melinda Steele, Susanna Tuft, Rae Gamble and Kenny Clements

Members of Ballinderry Parish Church pictured at Belfast City Airport on Sunday 6th August as they begin their journey to Ethiopia.  L to R: (back row) Canon Ernest Harris, Ray Harris, Valerie Ellis - Crosslinks, Heather Tuft, Sandra Livingstone, Mona Thomas and Paul Hendron. (front row) Michael Hendron, Jill Hendron, Jenna Boyd, Melinda Steele, Susanna Tuft, Rae Gamble and Kenny Clements

From Sunday 6th to Saturday 26th August, a team from Ballinderry Parish Church spent 3 weeks working in Mekelle, Northern Ethiopia under the leadership of their Crosslinks mission partner Karen Salmon.  The Challenge Ethiopia 2006 team was led by Valerie Ellis of Crosslinks and the thirteen Ballinderry members were the Rev Canon Ernest Harris, Ray Harris, Heather Tuft, Sandra Livingstone, Mona Thomas, Paul Hendron, Michael Hendron, Jill Hendron, Jenna Boyd, Melinda Steele, Susanna Tuft, Rae Gamble and Kenny Clements

The team were involved in taking a holiday Bible Club at Operation Rescue in Mekelle.  After a 20-minute walk to the Centre each day the children came running to meet them and shake hands.  During the morning they told the children Bible Stories, taught them memory verses, sang choruses did craft and games and really enjoyed themselves as the children responded so lovingly to them.  The team were so glad that they had crammed their baggage to over flowing with pencils, stickers, balloons and all the things we take for granted but are absolute luxuries to Ethiopian Children.

The Rev Canon Ernest Harris pictured with some of the children at the Mekelle youth centre.

Ray Harris and Sandra Livingstone pictured with some of the children at the Holiday Bible Club at Operation Rescue in Mekelle.

In the afternoon the team divided into small groups and each person was taken to work at the place best suited to their gifts. One of the places they visited was a school for blind children; conditions there were horrific.  The team supplied the paint and brushes and some of them supervised senior boys from the Rescue Centre whom they employed to do the painting - that brought much joy to everyone.  Some other members of the team cleaned up, talked, taught and played with the children.  They were also able to buy new mattresses for all the bunk beds in the school.

The team also helped at a Mother Theresa Centre for HIV orphans where they changed nappies, nursed, cuddled and played with the toddlers.  They prayed silently for these children many of whom were HIV positive themselves.  Team leader Karen Salmon was very hopeful that the staff would copy their simple ways of playing with the youngsters.

Susanna Tuft is pictured being greeted by some of the children in the street at Mekelle.

Melinda Steele pictured at the school for the blind in Mekelle with one of the blind children dressed in new clothes supplied by the Ballinderry team.

Michael Hendron pictured playing football with children from Operation Rescue in Mekelle.

The orphanage where they had initially been scheduled to do the bulk of their work was still not quite completed so there were no children in residence.  Help was needed in two specific areas - one was to build a swing set which had been donated and the other was to make a large garden in the centre of the building where the swing set would be placed.  It was certainly not a gardenerís dream world either in conditions or materials but God had provided someone on the team who loved gardening and was able to guide others in what to do.  The team hope that the dead looking plants they had to work with are still alive.  They were also fortunate that three very able males members of the team knew exactly how to erect the swing set.

Perhaps the most precious gift the Ballinderry team brought was 300 copies of Johnís Gospel in Amharic language, which they had obtained from Everyhome Crusade in Belfast.  They gave a copy to every child at the Operation Rescue and the remainder to people with whom they had made contact including those who served their food and cleaned their rooms.  Some were also given to people who had attended an English language class for HIV orphans to the Orthodox Priests at the Rock Hewn Churches which they had the privilege of visiting.  Ray Harris, wife of the Rev Canon Ernest Harris says that one of her lasting memories is of the elderly priest who was so glad to get his own copy of Godís word that he just stopped talking to them, sat down and immediately began to read aloud to us.  Ray says that she is so grateful to our Heavenly Father for allowing them to make this trip and prays that the seed which was sown will grow and many will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour as they read the Gospel of John in Amharic.  She asks that others will pray with the team for the children at the Rescue Centre who had told them that they had crossed over to Godís side.  She also asks that people will pray for Karen Salmon who does such an amazing work in Mekelle and concluded by saying that they were very privileged to have her as their link missionary.