In September, the new SIM missionaries were required to attend an orientation weekend at Babogaya, where there is a lakeside SIM compound near Debre Zeit, a town a couple of hours drive south east of Addis. The lake is an old volcanic crater and is apparently one of those ones where no one is quite sure where the bottom is now! The SIM compound is not fully staffed anymore, but nevertheless the gardens are lovely.
I have to admit that my first thought was “Really? More orientation?” It’s not that I thought I knew everything about Ethiopia or being a missionary; frankly, I never will! It’s just that I had already done so much preliminary orientation, and I just wanted to get on with it and learn on the job! It turned out to be a very helpful weekend, partly because of the sessions, and partly because of the restoring qualities of fresh air and lovely scenery!
We had sessions on living and thriving in Ethiopia, accountability and mentoring, cultural do’s and don’ts and the SIM Ethiopia Director, Steve Bryan explained where SIM is currently working in Ethiopia. I think I probably found this the most interesting; there are some really interesting projects going on all over the place!
Saturday afternoon was free time, and we had the opportunity to swim in the lake (despite the warmth of the day, it was still too chilly for this little black duck!) or to paddle on it in either a little tin rowing boat or a canoe. Two other new Bingham teachers, Jess, Tessa and I chose to drift aimlessly on the lake for an hour or so, then we collected Jill, a new nurse at the Langano clinic, from the shore and paddled to a nearby hotel to drink tea and coffee in their alfresco restaurant! I have to say it is the first time I have docked at a restaurant and dined bare-footed!
The other lovely thing about the orientation was the opportunity to get to know some of the SIM-ers who were working in other projects, many down country. Normally it would be hard to get to know them, but it was great to be able to chat. All in all it was a very pleasant way to spend the weekend.