Thursday, November 10, 2011


                                                                 Where to start?

We spent the years 2007-2010 in a beautiful, very rural area of South Sudan called Yabus. We joined an international team and settled into our new home with a 2 year old and a 1 year old. Our first year was full of learning the culture, learning Arabic, learning how to cook on charcoal, washing clothes by hand, learning how to kill snakes, scorpions and other freaky insects and bats, and building relationships with the beautiful Sudanese people we’d loved even before we arrived.

            Originally we were only supposed to spend 6 months in Yabus for culture and language study but we fell in love with the people and area and saw endless opportunities we could plug into ministry, so we stayed. We raised our family of boys there those 3 years. Bush life was all they knew. Our youngest son, Joshua came to Yabus at only 2 months of age.

            In April 2010 we packed up our Yabus home and stored it in a metal container to leave for a 9 month home assignment, expecting to come right back. Instead we decided to first spend a year in North Sudan to study Arabic further before returning. During the past few months as we’ve lived in Khartoum, the situation in Blue Nile State and Yabus has gone from bad to worse. After the separation of North and South Sudan in July 2011, Blue Nile State is now considered North Sudan. So really it was a matter of time before the North came to “claim” their land. But the way they have claimed it has killed, injured, and terrorized many many people. Thousands of people have fled to refugee camps in Ethiopia and other states further south in Sudan. There has been bombing in the towns north of Yabus and in Yabus as well. Our team had to evacuate in June and then again in August, this time for good. This week we heard from our compound manager that army troops came to the compound and took our truck and quad bike and have probably taken other things from our compound.

            This is a great loss. Everything we poured our lives into those 3 years is gone. I’m not worried about the stuff. But everyone we ever greeted and loved on has had to run for their lives. They’ve left homes, gardens, goats, everything they own to flee to a place where they probably won’t have those things. How do they feel? What are they thinking? I don’t know how to process all of this. I feel like a huge chunk of my heart has been cut out and something is dying inside of me. Is this how it’s going to continue to be? After language school when we move to a new place, might we have to hold lightly and recognize that we might have to leave again? This is way harder than saying goodbye. When and how will I ever see all those friends, those brothers and sisters again?

            When we first came to Sudan in 2007, a very experienced missionary who’d lived in multiple countries in East Africa, including Sudan during the war, told us, “Be careful not to pour too much effort into buildings and stuff that can fall apart or be destroyed. Pour into people. If a building is toppled, a person still survives and what you’ve poured into them still survives wherever they go.” Now I see what he means. Eli sweat and spent many months building the secondary school, buildings on our compound, a water system from the river, and the Unity Bridge. What will that all come to? I don’t know. But we also poured even more into those dear people from 5 different tribes. We lived with them. We ate with them. We did life on life. And I pray that as I grieve this loss that I will remember that God goes with His children, most especially in their suffering and sorrow, and I pray that whatever Hope He planted in their hearts, will burn now more than ever, and grow their faith to get them through this season. And I pray that God will teach us more about Himself and how He wants to use us in this torn up nation.

 Our Yabus Compound

The boys spent many hot afternoons down at the river with their friends

Joshua was right at home in Yabus -  happy and content

Unity Bridge - an effort made by 5 tribes and Eli that took a year and a half to complete but changed life for the whole community every rainy season thereafter.

my sweet lady friends - the wives of our BELC students (adults going through primary school)


smunoz0329 said...

I'm so sorry to hear of this.I will be praying, and you will see these brothers and sister again if not now, when we are all with the LOrd! The world is not getting better but worse and worse by the year. These things have to happen. I love you Bethany.

Mom & Dad said...

Bethany, this is well-written. Better than that, it gripped my heart in such a way that praying for you and Eli from today on will be a new type of prayer ----- prayers of comfort, help, strength, determination, joy, peace, and the love of the Lord! Precious Kids, Dad and I so love you!!!

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and especially for the brothers and sisters in Sudan! So hard to understand why this is happening AGAIN to them...We know or at least have met many of them when they were living in Bonga and Sherkole refugee camps (while visiting our children, Angela and Rolf Kruse). Praying for you that God will comfort, guide and direct you in the future. Blessings, Sharon Friesen

Holly said...

Praying for you and for Sudan. Thank you for sharing on your blog--makes you so much more than just the name of a missionary our church supports.

Doug and Heike said...

This breaks my heart for the people of Sudan. I have come to love the few I have met for just the very short time I was there, and I can't imagine....Praying for you guys and the dear people of Sudan.

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Bethany said...

Hey Bethany-This is Bethany from Mundri. Just caught up with your blog, and am so saddened to hear about all the conflict and loss in Blue Nile. I also know Sheila from a couple of months in Nairobi, and I am praying for your SIM team.