Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Details



This blog is for those of you who like details. Many of our dear friends and family are asking questions about what our new home/life will be like in Doro. Let me try to fill you in. Above is a map of South Sudan and if you look at the upper right hand corner you will see arrows that show where Melut is (where we used to live) and where Doro is- where we're moving in 6 days. You can see that we are very close to the Ethiopian border.

Photo by snipview.com

This picture shows just one frame of the many white refugee tents that dot this county. Because of fighting and unrest in other parts of the country, many thousands of people, from varying tribes have fled and settled in Maban County. At the beginning of 2015, the numbers of refugees were 130,000. That was before the situation worsened so I imagine there are even more now.


So this is where we're moving. We are very humbled and thankful for how God has provided us with a great house for our family.  We will have plenty of room and I'm most excited about having space for hosting and having a whole room to set up as our schoolroom!

There is no electricity or running water so we will use solar power for lights, fans (at night) and charging electronics. Another thing I'm so excited about is that we'll have an indoor, western style toilet! Since there is no running water, we will just flush it with a bucket.

I will cook on a 2-burner propane stove but since propane is so expensive to get in South Sudan, I am also taking in a nice charcoal "jiko" or stove. This way when I'm cooking something like beans or meat that takes longer, I won't use up our gas quickly.

We will not actually be on the SIM compound. This house belongs to a missionary family with another organization so we will be on a small compound with one other missionary family that will join us in September. We already know these folks and LOVE them, so this will be yet another wonderful aspect of our new home!

At the SIM Doro base, the majority of our missionaries are nurses and medical staff. SIM has a hospital, clinic and nutrition village very near to the compound. There is also a secondary school - the school actually began in Yabus and was on our compound 'back in the day' but had to transfer to Doro because Yabus had become unstable. Besides medical work and education, there is also a water project - providing clean water for the many hundreds of thousands of refugees - and a great evangelism and discipleship movement going on. As you can see, this is a very exciting place to be and the ministry opportunities among the many different tribes who have moved to Doro for safety, are endless!

We aren't sure what our first month in Doro will look like but we imagine it will take time to get unpacked and settled into our new house, do some exploring around and get to know the market and local area, connect with old friends, and then Eli will begin his discipleship work. To start out, that will mean lots of meeting together with pastors and leaders of different churches in the area, discussing the different materials he has for teaching, and creating a vision and plan together. We would really appreciate your prayers in this.

Right now, it is still rainy season in South Sudan so we've got our mud boots and bug repellent packed. We hear there are many cases of malaria and many bugs! Will you stop and pray for our family's health and safety when we head in? We've all started our anti-malarials already.

Photo by actalliance.org

Because there are so many different tribes in the Doro area, we have not picked a specific people group to work with. We are thankful we know Arabic and that Arabic is commonly spoken among the different tribes and in the Doro area. We are looking forward to visiting different churches in the many camps and we pray we will be an encouragement to the believers there.

Hopefully you can hear the excitement in this post. We are deeply grateful to the Lord for opening His good plan for us and guiding us in this direction. Though there are many uncertainties and changes in our future, we remember: "this Hope (our God) is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls." Hebrews 6:19.

We fly into Doro this coming Tuesday, August 4th, on a small AIM AIR plane loaded down with 300 kg to start over in a new place. 6 days and counting!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Exploring the Great Rift Valley

We just came back from a really special 3 days out of the city with our good friends Jeff, Heather, and little Jordy Ladine. We drove only an hour out of the city, to the edge of the Great Rift Valley and did what we call, "gourmet camping."

Eli and Evan followed us on the motorcycle

This was the view from our place

Totally relaxed

Lovin' on Little Jordy

The pool was cold but the boys enjoyed cooling off after a long hike

Our three boys


Enjoying the breathtaking view

Mother/Son hike just the two of us 


Plenty of rock climbing too!





Jordy was so happy on the walks



Drinking coffee in the most beautiful spot on earth!

Afternoon game of scrabble

Grilling for dinner

Checkers by the fire in the morning

Potty with a view
I am not joking! This was the bathroom! You basically sit and look out at the view of the valley!

The shower's view
And this is how the shower is set up. You shower with one side of the shower completely in the open so you can enjoy the scenery while you shower! And yes we did it!


A cool cave we found on one of our many hikes


Eli and Jeff after a morning hike
We basically spent our days eating, relaxing, and hiking up and down the mountains. There was so much for the kids to explore and we even saw some wildlife. This was just what our boys needed after 2 months of living in the big city. They are definitely bush kids - they love open space and freedom - so they were very happy here.

The timing of this trip with our friends was perfect. Eli and I had just spent the previous days shopping for everything we needed for our new house in Doro, South Sudan where we move on August 4, and then packing it all and weighing it. We had reserved 300 kg thinking it would be more than enough but when it came time to weigh, it tallied up to 298,5 kg!!!! Super close, but still within our limits! So yeah, it had been a stressful week and getting away from it all with good friends was just what we needed - like a last hurrah before heading back to South Sudan for the rest of the year.

We all decided we'd like turns on the motorcycle so Eli took us on some fun trail rides.



This has always been one of our favorite places to be as a couple - on a motorcycle together!

Group photo with the valley in the background


L'ol Dacha was a beautiful place to stay and catch our breath before this next adventure ahead of us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Shopping for South Sudan

Eli with one of the 5 full carts! 
We are very thankful that we can get just about everything we need here in Kenya! Since our flight back into South Sudan is in 2 weeks, we need to have everything packed and at the office by the end of this week so it can go through processing. Today Eli and I set out to Nakumatt, Kenya's equivalent of a Walmart, with a long list and a cup of coffee in our hands. We were very thankful friends invited our kids to come over to play so we didn't have to drag them along with us!

This is our amazing Nakumatt


After spending 30 minutes in the pharmacy buying medicines for the next 6 months, we spent about 3 1/2 hours in Nakumatt. Since we lost our entire household in Melut, we had to buy things like fans, drawers for clothes, chairs, food items and other essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper.

The crazy thing was that by the time we came to check out and everything was rung up, our Visa card wouldn't go through! Granted we don't usually spend such large amounts of money in one go so our bank in the States must have blocked the transaction. :) Here we were after almost 4 hours of shopping, everything had been rung up, but we couldn't pay for it! After trying a few different ways, Eli went out of the store to an ATM machine and was able to withdraw the amount in cash! He came back to the cashier with very bulging pockets!

How are we going to get all this stuff into this little car?
 Sure enough, when Eli went to pay for our parking, the ticket read: 3 hours, 57 minutes. That's how long we'd been shopping!

Tired but oh so thankful for how God provides!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Lord is with you!


Yesterday was the 2 month "anniversary" since we were evacuated from our little town, Melut in South Sudan. I feel like it's been a good 2 months and God has taught, grown, and healed our whole family. The exciting thing is that we are now gearing up for what is next. In about 2 weeks, on August 4th, we will fly to Doro, South Sudan, and settle into a new team, new ministry and a new house and try to make it home. When Eli and I first started seriously discussing this possibility I was nervous and did not have any peace about it. With the news of fighting continuing in South Sudan, especially in the Upper Nile region where our mission works, I didn't want to invest in creating a new home if there was a chance we could lose it like we did our home in Melut! But God has been infusing peace and hope into me little by little so that I feel free to be all there and move forward wholeheartedly.

For some reason, whenever we have a pretty big decision in front of us, I expect that God will make our future plans clear in some big, flashy way. But lately I've realized that it's more in the daily obedience and trust that He guides us. I was reminded of this fact this morning in my quiet time. I'm doing a Bible study on Gideon and these verses stuck out to me from Judges 6:11-12,
     ' Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon, son of Joash, was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!"'
      When you look at those two verses you see that the angel didn't suddenly appear in great splendor or light. The Scriptures say the angel first came, sat down nearby and watched Gideon, and then appeared or came forward to Gideon. The author of my Bible study, Priscilla Shirer says, "Just as the angel came to Gideon, God often comes to us in our boring days - veiled in the most ordinary circumstances. If we only anticipate grandiose events to accompany the times when we encounter Him or hear His voice, we will miss out on many intimate moments in our relationship with God. The mundane, the routine, the commonplace - these are often the contexts in which He will reveal Himself to humanity."

This is exactly how God has been doing His work in our hearts these last few weeks. We have been faithful in seeking Him, marinating in His Word and Truth and committing our future to Him. Rather than a sudden BOOM! as we have been aware of the Lord's presence with us, He has made us aware of what He has next for us.
     Yes, things might get tense in Doro and we might even have to leave at some point. But I'm at the point, thanks to the Lord, that I know He would give grace to help us through it so I'm OK with that possibility. That is something only the Lord can do in our hearts and I'm so so grateful for His quiet, gradual work in our lives. I am realizing now that even while I was struggling and felt stuck emotionally, God was doing His beautiful thing in us in His time.
     Since we sent out our newsletter yesterday, sharing the news of this move for our family, many have asked how our boys feel about this decision. We've shared it with them and they are really excited too. Our oldest said, "As long as we're in South Sudan, I'm happy." We have shared that we don't know how long God will give us in Doro and that we will need to take life month by month, but we are planning on making it "home" for the unforseeable future.

When you think of our family, please pray for us as we purchase what we need to set up home and pack it all, and as we prepare our hearts and our family for this new move. One verse that keeps coming to mind is Hebrews 11:34 - that one little phrase that says - "their weakness was turned to strength." In this context it's talking about all the heroes of faith including people like Gideon, Samson, David, etc. God turned their weakness to strength and we're trusting God to do the same for us as we move forward.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cuddles at the Babies Home



About a month ago I realized that I needed an outlet, something I could do a few hours a week outside of the apartment building to stay healthy. In God's sweet way, He led me to New Life Home right in my neighborhood! Every Wednesday a babysitter comes to watch the boys from 1-5 pm and I head to the babies home to help wherever they need me. Every week has been different so far. I've been with the one year olds, the real little babies and the crawlers. They are such a joy!

We are actually not allowed to take pictures in the babies home so I haven't taken any but I found this photo online and it looks just like what I see at the babies home. There are 45 babies in this home from newborns to 2 years. Once they're 2 years old, they are moved to a home with older children.  This orphanage receives babies left in hospitals or abandoned on the streets. Each and every one is so precious, all with their own beautiful names. I find myself thinking of them and praying for them throughout the week. It's been such a neat experience for me to go each week and hold, feed, tickle and play with these little ones.

I have to admit that since adoption has always been a huge desire of mine, it has been hard to leave the babies home each week and not bring one home with me! How I wish we could be a family to one of these sweet little ones. But adoption and our crazy adventure in South Sudan just don't seem to be matching up right now. The two can't happen simultaneously...at least they haven't been able to yet.

So as long as we're in Kenya I will keep going every Wednesday to this oasis in this huge city and cuddle all the babies I want and remind them that Jesus loves them and so do I.