Thursday, December 24, 2015

12 photos for 12 months in 2015

February
Flying back to Africa 
The year 2015 started with packing and preparing to return to Africa after a refreshing and wonderful home assignment. We returned not knowing if we'd be able to go back to Melut or not but after a quick survey trip that Eli made in February, we believed God was leading us back.

April
The boys were thrilled to get back to fishing in the Nile River!
 We arrived back in Melut as a family at the beginning of April. After being gone since the fighting in December 2013, we were overjoyed to reunite with many special friends.

Our small Melut team celebrating our 1st month in Melut
 May
Playing Uno in a bunker at the UN compound
 Sadly our time in Melut came to a quick end at the end of May after only 6 weeks in Melut. Rebels approached via the Nile River so we evacuted to another team base and a few days later to Nairobi, Kenya. We were so sad to leave our friends and home but so thankful to the Lord for His protection, especially over our children who didn't witness any of the violence.

June
With my life-long friend, Emily Greene
 While we waited in Kenya and processed everything that had happened, the Lord provided a very significant gift to aid in my healing - my dear friend, Emily Greene flew from Uganda to spend a week with me.

August
Our new home in Doro, South Sudan
After about 6 weeks in Kenya and much prayer and guidance, we decided to join the SIM team in Doro, a base only 4 hours by road from Melut. One of the amazing things about being in Doro is that we are now where many of our friends from Yabus and Melut have fled for safety in the refugee camps. During our 1st four months in Doro, God has continued His healing process in our family by not only reuniting us with old friends but by providing new friends too.

The boys with their neighborhood friends
 September
Eli's one-on-one discipleship
 Not only has God given us many special new friendships, He's also opened many doors for ministry for both Eli and I. Though Gideon Theological College is closed temporarily, Eli continues to use his gifts of teaching and discipling in Doro.

October
Bible Teaching under a tree
 We arrived in Doro right at the time when the Ingassana tribe and several other tribes who have never had a chance to hear the gospel and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior started responding and asking for Bible teaching. Eli and I jumped in though it was very stretching for us to teach in Arabic and with tribes we haven't had experience with before.

Bethany with Ingassana ladies who participate in a weekly Bible study
 November
Our 2015 Doro Team
 
For Thanksgiving our team gathered with lots of delicious food and shared all the things we've been thankful for in 2015. It was so good to reflect and remember how our God has been faithful and to remember all the blessings He's given us. Looking back at 2015, our family experienced its share of grief and pain but in the midst of that He's given us great joys - a new home, new friends, a wonderful team, and a fruitful ministry. 

December


The added extraordinary "cherry on the top" for our year is that we get to celebrate Christmas with most of Eli's family who has gathered in Burundi where 2 of his brothers and their families work as missionaries. Oh, what a year! We look forward to 2016 with great anticipation because we know God holds us in His hands.

Monday, November 30, 2015

3 Camps in 2 Days

One of the seekers in Yusif Batil

On Saturdays we go out to Yusif Batil Camp where we are chronologically teaching through some of the foundational Old Testament stories. This last Saturday we also got to pass out some solar powered Scripture Radios that play portions of Scripture in Arabic. This is a wonderful way for non-readers to hear the Word again and again.


This is what our drive looks like as we head about 35 minutes out of town to the further camps.


This is the new church in Kaya, furthest away. It was such a joy to worship the Lord together and encourage one another in the Word of God.


It is a wonderful gift that many of these new believers can read Arabic well so they are able to read the Scripture for themselves!


This young lady is the daughter of the Sultan. The Sultan is just how it sounds, he is the most powerful man in that camp! We visited the Sultan's home after church and shared a cup of tea and grieved with one of his older daughters who lost a four year old son last week.


On Sunday afternoon I go to Gendrassa for the Ladies Bible study. We used to meet on Thursdays but since more ladies are trying to find work and some are attending literacy courses on the weekday afternoons, we shifted our meeting to Sundays so more women can come.


And more women have definitely come!
Another blessing recently is that my teammate, Khambawi and a few of his colleagues from the Secondary School join us after our Bible study to teach these new believers Christian songs.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Wild Weekend

Lately, I've been finding myself in situations that are so new and different for me that I am eager to share it with you. Because I find so much joy in getting to live life in South Sudan, I wish I could share every detail with you, wish I could take you right along with me!
 
In my last blog post I shared how Thursday Bible study went in Gendrassa. None of it happened as I'd planned and yet I drove home that evening with peace and gratitude in my heart because I knew God had worked, He had spoken through His Word, and that was all that mattered.

On Saturday, Eli, the boys and I headed out to Yusif Batil camp, about a 10 minutes drive past Gendrassa. The new believers there have constructed a small place of shade - several poles stuck in the ground and a tarp over the top. It provides shade from the sun but boy is it hot! There was already a good sized group there when we arrived and they were eager to begin. We met a new fellow who spent 10 years in Uganda so he speaks English and is literate in English and Arabic. He used to be a muslim but learned about Jesus in Uganda and is a follower of Jesus now.  Apparently last week when we couldn't make it for Bible study because of car troubles on the way, he stepped up and taught the group who had gathered. Isn't that beautiful how God provided?

Our friends told us there was a big wedding taking place in the neighborhood so the women wouldn't be able to come because they were busy helping with wedding festivities. This week we studied Genesis 3 and after reading through it several times and some good questions and discussion, it was so neat to hear some of the men re-tell the chapter in their own words and in their own language.

Towards the end our study, Eli and I got a little distracted as the wedding party arrived with singing, chanting, and the blowing of cow horns. Soon after that, a group of men started dancing and then whipping each other! We were quite startled, as were our kids, until the men in our group explained that this is their culture and part of the celebration. I didn't have my camera but here is a picture I found on Google:


Soon several ladies that I've been getting to know out there came to get me and invited me to come meet the bride. I was ushered into a very crowded tukul (mud hut) where the bride was sitting and her friend/maid of honor sitting right next to her. They had very somber, serious looks on their faces. I greeted them and offered my congratulations and then all of us filed outside where a large group of women crowded around the bride and her friend as a special ritual was performed using oil and beads.


A man, who was a relative on the bride's side, dipped his fingers in a bowl of oil and then wiped it on the bride's forehead, neck, wrists, and ankles. Then the bride dipped her fingers in the oil and did the same process for her friend. It was fascinating. After the oil, friends and family of the bride gathered around with a large bowl of beads and started putting beads all over - around her head like a crown, on her arms and upper arms, around her waist, around her neck and even on her legs. She looked beautiful - how I wish I had a photo! Once the beads were all on, they began cheering and dancing and singing around her. It was incredible. Weddings in South Sudan are one of my favorite things!

The next day was Sunday and we decided to drive out to Gendrassa again to join them for Sunday morning worship. It was so neat to see this baby church conduct their service in their own way. After a time of greeting and fellowship after the service we headed home and brought my friend Manahil with us. She is going to take part in Eli's seminar this week on how to study the Bible and then teach it to oral learners. We organized a place for her to stay here in Doro so she wouldn't have to commute the distance every day. So she spent the day with us here at our house, along with a few other friends who came to visit in the afternoon. I decided to go all out and made juice, tea and then made coffee the Sudanese way - roasting the beans, pounding/grinding and then serving it with ginger in little Arabic coffee cups.

Enjoying coffee with the ladies


Eli and the men sat under our giant Baobab tree and played Uno while they drank coffee 

The cherry on the top of the whole evening was that we had a friend come for dinner, all the way from Burundi! You heard right! Our dinner guest was Dr. John Cropsey, a teammate of Eli's two brothers who work in Burundi. John is here in Doro for the week trying to do 500 cataract surgeries! It was so neat to have him here at our house for dinner, knowing that in a month, it will be reversed and we will be there in Burundi with them! (Yes, we are going to Burundi for Christmas for a big Fader Christmas!)

Dinner outside
So that was our weekend. 
Monday morning, bright and early, Eli began his Discipleship Seminar but I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off from home school and use the beginning of this week as my "weekend". 

Needless to say, we feel ridiculously tired every night and can hardly keep our eyes open past the kids' bedtime!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Gotta roll with it

I wanted to update you praying friends about Bible study with the ladies in Gendrassa yesterday. I was sure in a pickle on Wednesday night. Wednesday afternoon both of my options for getting out to Gendrassa fell through so when I went to bed that night, I had no idea how I was going to get out there. In a matter of ten minutes Thursday morning, after a few text messages, one of my teammates offered to go with me and drive and then I heard from Hadiya that she could come translate! I was so delighted.

So Thursday afternoon Ruth and I headed out to Gendrassa together. We arrived at the little church right at 2 but ended up having to wait for about 20 minutes before anyone showed up. Hadiya never came but Maha, one of the ladies who is really shining as a leader, has basically started teaching the classes. She is hearing these passages of God's Word for the first time but since she reads Arabic beautifully, we just keep returning to the text and what it says. She summarizes and re-words the verses into simpler Arabic and also their native language. I am so proud of her.

This is definitely way different than any Bible study or teaching I've ever done. I am constantly feeling stretched and challenged and yet I am convinced that this is what God wants me to be involved in right now. I returned from Gendrassa on Thursday, again in awe of God and how He works things out according to His plan, not mine. I wish I was more flexible. In this context, I'm being forced to learn how to flex and "roll with it".

On a different note, we were excited to receive new equipment on a plane on Thursday for our team to set up new internet. A technician came with the stuff and Eli was helping to build a tower for the new satellite dish. Sadly, Thursday night a thief came to the compound and stole some of the new equipment! We were so disappointed. Somehow someone knew the equipment had arrived and knew where to find it and stole it in the night! Eli had to go to town to file a report with the police and we are praying that the thieves will realize they can't use the equipment and return it.

As I shared in my previous post, we've experienced a rough patch lately. Seems like one thing falls apart after another. Yesterday I found myself not even knowing how to respond when Eli got a call saying a quad bike broke down and needed help. Or when staph infection continues to spread through our family. Or when the phone rang at 7 am on Saturday morning...

I know we must press on and fix our eyes on Jesus. Can't let ourselves get bogged down with what is going on around us. Gotta remember why we're here. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It's been quite the week and something keeps urging me to share it with you.
A week ago Isaac started a fever, sore throat and headache. Joshua started complaining of tummy troubles and Evan had a runny nose and cough. Around the same time, I noticed a bug bite on my thumb and as it continued to get worse, I realized it must have been some kind of spider bite. It got so red, swollen and infected that I ended up having to go on antibiotics just to get it to start calming down!

Meanwhile Eli and I were still trying to stay committed to teaching out in the camps on Thursday and Saturday. On Thursday our teammate (who is also a nurse) agreed to stay with the kids so Eli and I could go out to Gendrassa. On Saturday I had to stay home and sadly as Eli and a group of folks were going out for Bible studies in 2 different Ingassana camps, they experienced car troubles. One Bible study took place that day but Eli had to come back to get another vehicle to tow the "sick" truck so he never made it out to the other camp. That was disappointing.

On Sunday we'd been looking forward to joining the 1st church service in a brand new church in the furthest Ingassana camp. But Sunday morning the kids were still sick so I stayed home with them and Eli took the motorcycle out for the special church service. I was disappointed I missed it but thankful Eli could go.

Tuesday is the day Eli goes out to Kaya, the furthest camp, and again, he showed up to drive the pickup out and discovered it had a flat tire. Thankfully he was able to fix it but it delayed him an hour and a half. As I type this, it doesn't sound like much, but to be honest it's been pretty discouraging for us. It feels like there have been so many "road blocks" and complications as we try to persevere in going out to teach the Bible in the camps. We recognize we are on the front lines and Satan isn't happy about people hearing about Jesus and turning to Him. He is going to do everything he can to try to stop us. And he is.
 
Will you please pray for us? We are feeling worn and discouraged. Poor Eli is very tired and his body is wearing down. This coming week he will start a 2 week Discipleship seminar and he will be teaching all day, five days a week for two weeks. So the intensity is about to go up another notch. We can't do it without the Lord's special strength and power. Your prayers fuel us.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Reflecting & Remembering

I love reflecting because it is always so encouraging to remember God's faithfulness and how He's so lovingly cared for and guided us. Many times in the Scriptures, God's people were exhorted to "remember",  to look back and recall how God had been present and real in their lives. Last Thursday I spent my early morning quiet time reflecting and I'm so thankful I did because  Thursday ended up being a very challenging day. I needed to keep reminding myself to remember.

One year ago, this month, we were still in the States on our home assignment praying about what God had next for our family. In November, we believed God was confirming to us to continue in South Sudan despite the unrest and lack of peace and stability. I am thankful I have a bench mark to look back to. God gave Eli and I such peace one year ago and He continues to grant us that same peace "that passes all understanding". Though we didn't know exactly what we were coming back to, we knew He wanted us back.

In February 2015 we flew back to Kenya, not knowing the next step but by March, after Eli's quick trip in to Melut, God opened the way for us to return to our home and ministry there. We spent 6 wonderful weeks in Melut, re-connecting with old friends and making new ones and opening up new classes on the college campus. These are sweet memories we will hold onto.

June and July were hard months because we had to leave South Sudan and wait things out in Kenya, again not knowing what was next. We knew our hearts needed some time to heal from our losses in Melut before we were ready to see what might be next. Though it was a difficult season, God was so near and comforted us through friends and family near and far, and through the hardships, our marriage and family seemed to grow even stronger.

On August 4th we arrived in Doro, full of excitement and anticipation and so very thankful that God had returned us to this wonderful country that has captured our hearts. Tomorrow will mark 3 months in Doro and we are amazed how at home we feel! One value that Eli and I pray for in each season of our lives and in every place that He carries us  is to bloom where we're planted. We believe we are blooming again. We might be a different color blossom, growing in different soil, but we are blooming and we pray we are giving off a beautiful scent of Jesus to those around us.

Flowers blooming outside our new home
Eli and I spend many evenings after the boys are in bed, talking about our new life here and how different it is from our life in Melut - though we are still in the same country! We now live amongst many many internally displaced people and are meeting people from tribes we've never even heard of before!

Another surprise is how God has seemed to "plop" us into a new and very exciting ministry of getting to teach the Bible to a tribe that has been very closed to the gospel in the past. This is not something we were expecting to be a part of when we decided to join the team here in Doro, but we have been so humbled and thankful to the Lord for how He's allowing us to be a part of it. We are adjusting from teaching in the front of a classroom (our ministry at Gideon Theological College) to sitting in the shade of a tree, teaching the Bible from the very beginning to people who have never heard it before. It is very exciting!

Teaching from Genesis 3
We all have a history. We all have beautiful testimonies to reflect on. I hope my reflecting will encourage you to do the same. And now, we must press on. We are all in the midst of a "story" that we'll look back on in a few months or a few years and be amazed and encouraged by God's faithfulness during this time. So keep that in mind.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today blew my mind!

Visiting my friend Manahil's home

God has been blowing my socks off with how personally involved He is in reaching the Ingassana tribe here in Mabaan county! I have got to tell you about my day! I've shared with you before that I started going out to one of these camps with a teammate, about a 30 min drive from home, to teach these new believing ladies the Bible. These women are hungry for God's Word and embracing it so excitedly. However, trying to teach the Bible, even a simple parable, in Arabic is quite a challenge for me. I know I should be better at it by now, but it always terrifies me to try to communicate God's Truth in a language I speak like a 3-year old!

And yet, despite my shortcomings and weaknesses, God has put these ladies so heavily on my heart. Most days I wake up and they are one of the first things I pray about! I have been asking God for guidance and wisdom, for transportation to get out there several times a week, and for a translator. Today God granted all my requests! But it took stepping out in faith, not fully understanding how everything was going to come together.

Last Sunday I asked my contact/friend in the camp to announce to the ladies that I would be coming on Thursdays at 2 like we did before. I didn't know what I would teach, how I would teach it in my broken Arabic and how I would get there! Eli had agreed to stay home with the boys. All week I prayed and trusted. Just yesterday, the day before I was set to go, a kind teammate offered to watch the boys so Eli and I could drive out together. (No one was excited about me trying to get out there by boda-boda, motorcycle taxi).

On Tuesday Eli was out in this same camp and God ordained for his path to cross with a lovely lady named Hadiya who graduated from Gideon Theological College years back, speaks beautiful Arabic and English, and loves the Lord. She was ecstatic to hear that Ingassana people were choosing to follow Christ. On the way out to the camp today, just on a "whim" (but honestly led by the Lord), I called Hadiya to see if she was in the camp again and invited her to come and meet these new Ingassana believers in our ladies group. She agreed! So when it came time for me to teach my lesson, Hadiya translated for me. Not only was the message delivered clearly, but at the end, one of my brave friends volunteered to now sum up the Scripture lesson in their mother tongue (tribal language). Honestly, I could hardly stay seated, I was so excited about what took place among the women today!

After our lovely time together, I asked if my friend Manahil would take me to her house so I could see where she lived and meet some of her family. About five of us walked together, visited her home (pictured above) and then Eli and I drove back home to our boys.

What I haven't mentioned is that I woke up this morning not feeling well. I had a bad headache, was very tired and my whole body ached. I was worried I might be coming down with malaria. Eli offered to teach the boys school so I could rest in bed. Around 10:30 dear friends - and their whole family - came to visit us. I pushed myself out of bed to fix juice, tea, and lunch. Even though I wasn't feeling my best, we had a lovely visit right up until Eli and I had to leave around 1:30.

I had not expected any of this to happen today. And yet I believe God orchestrated it all. I feel like God is stretching me so much lately but it's in such a good way. It doesn't always feel good but I'm so thankful to be seeing Him work in such real and tangible ways, in big details and small of my life. Days like today, where God orders all the details in His perfect way, fuel me to press on and keep stepping out in faith, doing what I know He's calling me to do.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Clueless

Blog: October 17, Saturday

Clueless
It is amazing to me that even after eight years spent learning as much as we can about the beautiful culture and people of South Sudan, there is still so much we do not have a clue about! I have felt more clueless and helpless since we moved to this refugee camp than I ever have in my whole life. Today was yet another day that I felt like I really had no idea what was going on around me. Let me explain.
 About two months ago when we first arrived to this new area, I started going out to a distant camp where the Ingassana tribe live, to help teach a group of women who are very new in their relationships with Jesus. It was a joy to go out there every week. Their faces were bright and eager to learn and we became fast friends. Since that time, many more people from this tribe have asked for this same teaching. They want to know what the Bible says! So now, some of our teammates are coming out together twice a week and breaking into different groups to teach in different parts of these more distant camps.
As a team and also on our own, Eli and I have been praying and asking the Lord for guidance. This ministry seems HUGE. A tribe of over 100,000 people, who have in the past wanted nothing to do with Christianity, now are begging for us to teach them! How do we do this? We are just a handful of people who still understand very little of this cultural context and whose Arabic is still limited, especially when it comes to teaching the Bible (which should be our expertise!) So why has God chosen us to meet this vast need? I honestly don’t know, but it’s thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. It keeps us totally relying on God and recognizing that we are clueless and that it’s not about us at all. We are just the vessels. It’s all about our amazing God who has been preparing peoples’ hearts and who wants to offer them His hope and new life!
Speaking of God preparing hearts, we heard something so extraordinary today. A man who recently joined our small Bible study groups was sharing a bit of his testimony this week. He said that for two years he’s been having a recurring dream where a man urged him to read a little white book. He never understood where he could find this white book until he arrived in one of the Ingassana camps last week and met a man who had a little white book that looked exactly like the one in his dream. Do you know what it was? A small booklet that Eli’s been using for teaching the Bible chronologically! For two years this man has been dreaming about this white book and now here he is finally getting to learn what it’s all about. Isn’t that incredible? Doesn’t God work in such miraculous ways?!
Y’all, it is testimonies like these that keep us doing what we’re doing. To be honest, there were times today that I asked myself,
 “Are we really doing any good here?”
“Is this teaching sinking in?”
“Are we doing this right?”
Yes, we do flounder at times. It’s taken several weeks to figure out the best way to teach these groups of people. You know why it’s so complicated? Because there are soooo many people who want to learn! Isn’t that a great “problem” to have? But we keep moving forward, we keep doing our best, trusting that in our weakness, He is strong and that He will fill in everything that we leave out. It’s messy. It’s complicated. We fumble and make mistakes. But it is exciting to be putting God’s Word into people’s hands and teaching them the truth that it holds.

So will you pray for us every Thursday and Saturday as we drive a half hour from home to minister God’s Word as best as we can? There are a myriad of circumstances that happen to prevent us from going – no vehicle, unrest in the area, sickness, miscommunication, etc. Pray that we will press on, making ourselves available to the Lord. Pray that every person that comes to hear and receive God’s truth will then go and share it with someone else.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Confessions of a Missionary Mom

I just wanted to visit my friend who lives out in one of the further camps. Usually when I go with the boys, we feel like the Pied Piper as crowds of children surround us as we walk. Since it's a 40-minute walk today I thought it would be a good idea for the boys to ride their bikes. WRONG!

We had just barely made it into the outskirts of the camps when one by one, two by two, children came running from everywhere to see these strange little white people on bicycles. Soon they were yelling and cheering, getting as close as they could to the boys who were a bit alarmed and unsure whether to slow down or speed up. Meanwhile I was walking behind the boys, going as fast as I could to try to keep up with them so I could at least attempt to manage the crowds.

We finally made it to the turnoff for the specific area of the camp and turned onto a footpath which would normally be wide enough for bikes but today there were piles of murrum (gravely stones) spaced every 30 feet. So the boys had to get off their bikes and walk around each pile, now giving time for all the hoards of children to catch up with us and push in, almost to where we felt we were about to be knocked over. I grimaced a few times as I noticed some of the wee children being stampeded or knocked over. Several kids weren't watching where they were going and stepped right into thorns with their bare feet. Oh what a mess we were making!

Further down the path, an older man suddenly sprang from behind a hut with a long switch/whip and started whipping at all the throngs of children. Again I cringed as these innocent children who were just clambering to see something exciting for the first time, were snagged by the mean whip. I know this man meant well. He was trying to give us some space, but I felt badly that it was at the cost of some of the children running in the opposite direction sobbing in pain.

We finally arrived at our destination, my friend Marta's house. She is a dear friend from our first year in Sudan. We don't talk much since she is very quiet and shy but our friendship is special and has been tested by time and distance. Before I get to Marta's house I know by looking at Isaac's disappointed face that Marta is not around. All their huts are locked up. I asked around and found out she was at a funeral, the whole family was. I had planned on visiting my friend Rauia, also from our Yabus days, but found out she too was at this funeral. Like an angel at just the right time, Marta's husband showed up with a surprised look on his face. He too explained where everyone was. I couldn't even get close enough to shake his hand because of all the village children pressing in. In fact, we could hardly hear what the other was saying over all the voices around us!

After a bit of deliberation, I realized this visit was not meant to be. Even though we'd pushed through all the way to their house, there was really no way this visit would happen today. Humph! So I smiled, passed the bag of coffee beans and sugar I'd brought as a gift for my friend to her husband, and told him I would try to come another time - next time alone. :)

On the way home, I told the boys to pedal ahead of me - that way they could get going faster than the children could keep up. And I would follow behind. I'm so thankful for my responsible 11-year old who I knew I could trust to keep all his brothers together and get home. As I walked behind them, even though the boys were out of sight, I could hear the chanting and cheering of the Sudanese children as they sprinted after the 3 miniature bikes. I smiled to myself and thought, "Well at least this will make a great blog post!" I've learned my lesson: don't take your children on bikes into the refugee camps!

This is a first for me, living among refugees. I'm so thankful for all we get to learn but it's not always fun in the learning stage. I couldn't help but spend my brisk walk home praying for these precious people. Several things stood out to me as I smiled and nodded at people that I passed and as I stopped to greet a few people that I knew:
   - Friends that we've known from Yabus or Melut are now much thinner and older looking. The years have been hard on them. After not seeing each other for five years, they comment that we look just the same and it saddens me a bit because their lives have been so harsh. They have had to fight to stay alive and many of their own family members have died in the struggle.
   -  There were a lot of drunk young men.
Making local alcohol is a money maker so many women in the camps brew it and sell it from their homes. With life feeling hopeless and empty, many men turn to alcohol to escape the pain and helplessness. It is devastating to see how alcohol is gripping many mens' lives and holding them captive.

*I  share this story with you because for one, it was such a crazy experience, I had to share it! But also to ask you to pray for the many different tribes who are having to live almost on top of each other in this community. For many of them it is getting old, and since we didn't have a good rainy season this year, crops have failed, cows have less grass to feed on, and people are really desperate. More violence and unrest has broken out in the last month between different tribes. They've been trying to get along but are just plain tired of it, I think. Please pray for patience and endurance and that all would desire PEACE more than anything else.


Monday, October 12, 2015

These Days in Doro


It has been a couple months since arriving in Doro.  I have had the immense pleasure of shadowing my fellow missionaries and believers in our area to see what God is doing in the lives of the people in and around Doro. 

SIM runs a clinic in Doro where I have seen people receive excellent care at the hands of our team of nurses, PAs and Community Health Workers.  Our family has even been the recipient of their care.  Evan developed an abscess on his leg and they cared for it until it healed completely.  Two chaplains are available for counseling and share the gospel with those who are waiting.

 
I had the privilege of shadowing the SIM water team as they went out to fix a borehole for a community.  They received a report that the borehole stopped working and after investigating, gathered the tools and supplies necessary to fix the problem.  I got to drive them out about 45 minutes away on a quad bike and trailer.  They were a well oiled machine.  After gathering the community and praying for the work they were going to do, each man on this 4-person crew knew their assigned task and they whipped the cover off and had the pipes and other things I had never seen before pulled out of the ground in no time.  They figured out that the pipes were worn through from corrosion, replaced them and had water pumping before lunch! 


 

I tagged along with 3 of the ladies who work at the clinic to some of the different Bible studies that they do with women in the various refugee communities.  Through a combination of spending time, story-telling, pictures, discussion, and even a wind-up radio that tells the story of the gospel, these ladies communicated the love of Jesus Christ.  

Two of our teammates, Bubba and Cathy, invited us to go out and visit a tribe called the Ingassana.  We were introduced to several people who had heard about Christians before but now they wanted to know more.  Over the last couple months, we have spent several days with them, sharing the gospel and starting to tell the story of Scripture.  There were 58 people gathered to worship God yesterday!  This has been truly amazing to witness as there have been only a handful of believers in this tribe before. 

 
We were invited to attend the annual Spiritual Life Conference of the Uduk Church in the refugee camp.  The Uduk tribe has embraced the gospel and they have a strong church.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but the boys and I bought some sugar and coffee (these are very dear to the Uduk heart) and when we rounded the corner to the church, there were over 1,500 people packed into the shelter and spilling out into the shade of nearby trees.  We spent the day worshipping God in no less than 6 languages and being encouraged by the Word of God. 

On August 23, 75 years ago, two SIM missionaries lost their lives in Doro and were buried near where we stay.  Another grave stone marks the spot where Dr. Masters was buried after he passed away in Doro in 2008.  In memory of these missionaries who paid the ultimate price, we gathered and cleaned the grave sites.  Bethany planted flowers and they have begun to bloom.

 
Two of our teammates, Christiane and Debbie, hosted a seminar to look at the topic of discipleship in Scripture.  It was a fantastic time to be a “fly on the wall” and look at Scripture together with Sudanese and Southern Sudanese.  I will be facilitating a seminar next month where we will look at how oral learners can understand and apply Scripture. 

 
It has been an incredible couple of months and even though we are not at Gideon Theological College, we are excited at the ministry opportunities that have opened up here in Doro.  God is at work and we are thankful to be a small part of it. 
Here are some ways you can pray:
1. Despite the peace agreement that was signed last month, there is still a lot of tension and active fighting between forces of the government and former rebels.  Please pray for peace to come.
2. There are a lot of tensions between the refugees and local people here.  Sadly, some people have been killed lately.  Pray for peace between the tribes here.
3. The rains have not come this year and people's crops have died.  The hunger has increased tensions and theft is happening more frequently and people are in need of food.  Please pray for miraculous rains and for people to not turn to stealing when they are hungry. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A New Nephew

Holding my new nephew on his birthday 
You might have noticed a bit of silence on our blog since I'm the main writer and I've been away this past month. I had the precious privilege to fly back to the States to be with my sister for the birth of her first child. The timing of my trip couldn't have been more perfect! I arrived five days after her due date thinking she would have the baby by then, but I arrived in California to a still very pregnant sister! We spent a week together doing special things together including lots of walks trying to get her labor started. On September 22, little William Ethan was born. They call him Ethan.

Baby Ethan
 Another special thing about my time in the States is that my brother Stan joined us for four days. It was great to get to catch up with him and encourage him. He lives and works in Washington state and I don't get to see him very often.

After Ethan was born, I still had one week left, and enjoyed every diaper change and cuddle I got! Audrey and David are natural parents and they are doing a wonderful job with little Ethan. He is now 2 weeks old and very healthy and growing. After such a special time with them, it was hard to say goodbye, knowing I wouldn't probably see them for at least another two years. But I'm so so thankful for this unexpected gift to get to go and be with my sister during this important milestone in her life.

I couldn't have done this if it weren't for my amazing husband who stayed home in South Sudan with our three boys and did a stellar job homeschooling, cooking and parenting! I don't know any other man who could do what he did! Needless to say, I was sooo excited to come home to my four men and I think they were pretty happy to see me arrive on the airstrip as well. We are now settling back into our life as a family. We've had some sickness already since I've been back but I'm just glad I am here to take care of them.
Happy Reunion with my kiddos

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Flexibility

Eli with some of the new believers in his discipleship class 
In order to survive here long term, one needs to be very very flexible. Plans rarely go as we anticipate and we have to learn to just "go with the flow" or we  end up very frustrated. This weekend seemed especially full of  "surprises" and I thank the Lord that He enabled us to be so flexible. As we allowed God to stretch us, trusting He knew what was going on even when we did not, we were so very encouraged by the outcome.

On Saturday morning Eli and I thought we would have a quiet, relaxing morning. The boys were out playing and we were sitting back enjoying the rest of our morning coffee. Eli was called outside by our guard and several minutes later he returned saying, "Well, our day has changed!" We were being called out to Kaya Camp, an hour drive from home, to meet with some of the young people of a very large tribe who are hungry for the gospel. So we packed some snacks, lots of water, and the kiddos and headed out.

As we met with a small group of representatives of that area, they urged again and again, "Please come teach us what the Bible says and teach us about Jesus!" 


The boys were amazing! While we met with different people they played soccer with all the children who came to see them. After the gathering in this camp, we headed to another camp where Eli usually teaches every Saturday. He has been teaching the Bible chronologically by story telling.

Not your typical "classroom" but everyone was paying close attention
 While Eli taught his lesson, the boys and I went to get a bite to eat in the market since we hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was now 3. Then the boys got their ball out again and played with more new friends while I went to visit a new friend.
We arrived back at home a little after 5 pm and we were exhausted but so thankful for such an incredible day.

This morning we planned to go out to worship with the Jumjum tribe. Little did Eli know that he would have to be flexible yet again. Spur of the moment, he was asked to preach and he did a wonderful job, teaching in Arabic while Peter translated it into their Jumjum language.



After church everyone files out of church, stands in a circle, and then we go through shaking everyone's hand.

What a beautiful walk!

Teaching Uno
 After church we went to sit and visit with some of the church folks. Eli and the boys taught the men how to play Uno while the ladies sat and drank tea and coffee.

Making tea and coffee


Funny things we see as we walk home. Apparently this sheep was an obstinate fellow and didn't feel like walking home from market!


Since it was already 2:30 and we hadn't eaten lunch yet, we stopped in the market to eat. This "restaurant" is owned by Ethiopians and it was delicious!


With full tummies, tired and hot, we arrived home with one thing in mind: a Sunday afternoon nap under a fan!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Sunday in Doro

Uduk church service
 Every Sunday since we arrived in Doro, we have visited a different church. Sometimes we don't know a single person in that church, other times, we're visiting a friend's church. Today we went to the church where one of our students from Gideon Theological College is pastoring. I wish I had taken a picture of him while he was preaching but I was so absorbed with his beautiful sermon from Philippians 4 about pressing on toward the goal.


After the sermon, 3 new babies and a toddler were dedicated to the Lord.


The woman in the purple shirt sat by me and translated from Uduk to Arabic for me through the whole service. I can't explain it but I fell in love with her immediately. I could tell she had a beautiful heart for the Lord. After the service I talked with her for a bit and met one of her friends (in the picture). It was so neat to hear that both of these ladies knew some of our earlier missionaries from the 1960's and they are called the mothers of the church because they were some of the first ones in the Chali church. Chali is an area in Sudan where this group of the Uduk tribe are originally from. They have to live in Doro because their area is continually being bombed by the north.

Priscilla is my sweet little friend from Melut. I've always enjoyed cuddling her on my lap (though she's getting big now!)

Isaac loves his Sudanese tea (shai)

Having tea with Miriam
 Miriam is married to Yoel who preached such a lovely sermon this morning.  They were with us in Melut for 2 years and now are continuing in ministry.

Baby Samuel with an auntie
 Then this afternoon, neighbor friends came to tell me that my new friend Haua who gave birth about a week ago, was having a special celebration for her baby boy. I was delighted to be invited. I took a large bag of milk powder as a gift (milk is precious) and enjoyed some time trying to hear the Mabaan conversation, drinking tea and coffee, and holding a few babies.