When Sheila Etherington moved to Rwanda as a missionary in 1983, she worked as a nurse at Kibogora hospital in southwest Rwanda. There, she met and worked with Dr. Al Snyder, who along with others, showed her examples of living a life of servanthood.
Etherington served during the Rwanda genocide, lived in refugee camps, endured death threats, encountered war criminals and met a president. For 22 years, she helped run Kibogora hospital on a very small budget.
Years ago, Etherington said, “People think I should come back home [to England] and settle down, that I have done enough and should not have to come back here in a box [casket]… But this is my life – Africa gets in your blood, I think.”
In August, the time came for Etherington to retire. After 35 years of service she has returned to England. Thankful, for a smooth transition back into the life of a Brit. Five years ago, Etherington moved into part-time work because her mother passed away. Thus, since 2011, she has come and gone to Rwanda for extended stays, two or three times a year.
Etherington has enjoyed traveling from England to Rwanda and back, as this has become quite a routine. However, at the moment, she’s looking forward to this season of her life in which she’ll get to learn more about how life happens in England.
“I’m hoping to get a job here in England,” Etherington said. “Something mindless, part-time. I’m not ready for the rocking chair yet! If nothing else, I’d like to do some volunteer work.”
Rwanda will always be a part of her. Although being relocated to England now, Etherington is still keeping herself available to the work in Rwanda when necessary. She will spend November there as a volunteer working with David and Carol Crandall.
When these visits become scarce and far between, Etherington knows she’ll continue to miss the simplicity of Rwanda, her friends, and being a part of the mission station there.