MARY ELLEN (GROFF) DULA ‘51 became a nurse after graduating from Lancaster Mennonite. She chose this career path after feeling called by the words of Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
Taking this a step further, she traveled to Ethiopia to serve as a nurse with Eastern Mennonite Missions. In Africa, she built bridges of peace by practicing nursing in a very different environment. This included adventures like, “delivering babies on earthen floors, riding by mule back to rural villages or getting stuck in the mud while taking a patient to a hospital five hours away on the bed of a pickup truck.”
While abroad, she met an Ethiopian medical assistant, Mamo, and they were married there. Eventually, circumstances brought them back to the United States. Although it was a time of racial unrest and when interracial marriages were still frowned upon in the United States, they were able to adjust well and settled in the Lancaster area. Since then, she has worked in a variety of positions and served their local church.
In our polarized world, she states that “Building Bridges of Peace is a very important core value for students.” Mary Ellen recalls that spending 14 years in Ethiopia, “opened a whole new world of learning” than what she knew. Growing up as a Mennonite farm girl, she had never traveled or been exposed to a new culture, but that experience became the “greatest blessing” of her life.
Mary Ellen and Mamo co-authored a book, Finally and Forever: A Cross-Cultural Love Story, of how they met, letters to each other, the obstacles they faced, how their love transcended borders, and of “a love that flowered, finally and forever, into a beautiful, caring marriage and family.”