Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reflections



I am a huge fan of reflection. I think our faith and trust in God grows as we look back on our lives and remember how God has been faithful and reflect on what He’s been doing in our lives. Today has been reflection day—looking back at the last 4 months we’ve been in Khartoum, North Sudan.


Looking back through my journal I realized that before we arrived in Khartoum, I had a lot of fear and uncertainty about what life would be like  here: how would we manage living in such intense heat, how would the kids handle another change, and would we really be able to make progress in our Arabic study?


It’s been a challenging 4 months but as I reflect I am dazzled by God’s goodness and provision for our family. The boys have adjusted beautifully, love their Arabic school, are progressing in their Arabic, and have many friends at school and in the neighborhood. God gives us grace everyday to endure the heat and we’re thankful for coolers and fans in the house. As far as our Arabic study, instead of one school we attend 2 different programs and we believe we’ve come a long way. We are complimented in the market and everywhere we go because we can communicate in their language.


I think the most unexpected blessing from God’s hand has been the amazing friends we’ve made here. I imagined we’d be so busy with language school we wouldn’t have a chance to be very involved in our community but God has given us that joy. After 4 months of pouring into our friendships, we feel we have a good base now to share more deeply of our Savior and our walk with Him.


Other things we’re thankful for are:


· our SIM team, though small we’re tight.


· Our comfortable home.


· Full monthly support from those back home.


· A great international church that we attend here.


· Expatriate friends to share, pray, and encourage each other.



Friday, September 16, 2011

Wedding Season

 We've been to 2 weddings in 5 days. I know that's typical in the States especially in the summer months but it's mid September. We recently learned that there is a small window of time between 2 of their special holidays: Eid al-Fitr and Eid a-Dahiya when it is good luck to get married. So this is the wedding season. On our way to our 2nd wedding last night we passed at least 5 other weddings just on one street!
Unfortunately our camera isn't working well at night so these aren't the best pictures but hopefully you can still get a taste of the celebrations. In the first picture above, note that the bride doesn't look all that thrilled.
 This wedding was a Nubian wedding. The Nubians live in the far north of Sudan and are a very unique tribe. As the bride and groom made their grand entrance to the party, a special band and group of 3 lady dancers led the way before them.

 Here comes the bride! A pattern we're noticing is that the bride looks to be at least 15 years younger than the groom.

 This is the band that played a little parade in front of the bride and groom.

 After some nice food and drinks, everyone got out on the dance floor, This was our boys' first Sudanese wedding experience. Evan danced for about 1 minute but Josh enjoyed the dancing and stayed close to Eli in the men's line. The men stand in a long line holding hands with their fingers intertwined, rocking their upper bodies to the beat of the drum and music. The women do the same thing facing the men. It was very cool. The other American woman you see here is Heather our teammate dressed in traditional dress.

 The guys were really getting into it here. The guy next to Eli is Sam, our dear friend who is related to the bride and groom.
The wedding was a splash of vibrant colors. Since we live in the dry dusty desert, I felt like it was a feast for my eyes to see all the sparkles and bright colors. Women came decked out in beautiful traditional toobs, jewelry, henna on their hands and feet, and high heels. This is the back of one of the dancing lines.
We had a wonderful time. There is a law in the city that parties have to die down by 11 pm (especially turning off the loud music the bands play). We were amazed how well the boys did staying out until about 11:30 pm when we finally tucked them into bed. This morning I find myself hoping we'll get another wedding invitation soon. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting ready for a wedding - Sudanese style

 Our neighbor's daughter got married yesterday and we got to finally experience their wedding customs. The first thing I Bethany got to do was go to a "kofeer" for the first time - a ladies salon. I went with my neighbor friend Maisoon and since it takes some time to draw on and then dry, I got to chat with the other ladies getting henna done as well.

 Apparently when you have henna done, it's imperative you wear heels to show it off!

 An hour before the wedding I went over to Maisoon's house because she wanted to get me ready. She first took a straight edge razor to my face and removed all my peach fuzz! Then she caked my face with powder, loads of eyeshadow, rouge and lipstick. The finishing touch was putting the traditional tobe (Rhymes with robe) on - what a true married Sudanese woman wears!


Since the wedding didn't start until 9 pm, our teammates stayed home with our boys and Eli and I anticipated a fun date. We arrived to find that men and women sit separately so it wasn't exactly the date we expected but it sure was fun. Eli had quite different experiences, including a special ceremony earlier on the wedding day to witness the signing of the marriage certificates/agreements (only men and by special invitation). He offered to write about his side of the story...more to come.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The grand finale to our week off

 Last week we had a week off of school - both for us and the kids. Since it was a week long holiday we enjoyed visiting our neighbors and meeting new families in our community that we hadn't met before. We finished off the week with a night at a beautiful hotel here in town. Our teammates heard of a special deal they were giving for the holiday weekend so we decided to go together and enjoy some pampering before we all jumped back into intensive Arabic study again. :)

 The next morning we enjoyed a beautiful buffet breakfast including omelets, waffles, bacon and sausages (not pork) and even chocolate donuts!

 Isaac shows off his chocolate donut

We spent most of the 2 days down at the pool swimming and relaxing.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Pray for our Yabus family

This weekend we heard very sad news that there has been fighting (bombing and shooting from the air) in our area Yabus (where we spent 3 years) and the cities nearby to the north. Our colleague wrote a beautiful blog about God's provision for our teammates in evacuating them and protecting them from all harm. Please read her account at: www.africanurse.blogspot.com
   And please please pray for the violence and fighting to stop quickly. We will keep you updated....