Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sudanese Triathlon

I got my own taste of what a Sudanese triathlon would look like on the day we flew from Yabus to Nairobi.

Event 1:
Load family into vehicle as soon as you hear airplane flying overhead. Drive the 2 miles through 2 rivers to airstrip without getting stuck. Unload family into airplane and load supplies brought by airplane into truck. Return the 2 miles home with truck and supplies; unload. Run the 2 miles back to airplane and hop into plane as it taxis down the airstrip.
Time allotted for Event #1: 40 minutes

Event 2:
Arrive at refueling spot in Pachola, Southern Sudan. Interpret where the fuel is being stored using Arabic, English, and sign language. Run the ¾ mile to house where fuel is stored, avoiding the ostrich who is guarding the compound. Kick or push two 55 Gallon drums filled with fuel, each weighing 375 pounds, back to the airplane and position them under the wings of the airplane. Proceed to pump the fuel into the wings of the aircraft using a hand crank.
Time allotted for Event #2: 25 minutes

Event 3:
Arrive in border town of Lokichoggio, Kenya. Unload plane and locate counter for visa into Kenya. Compete with other passengers coming from all over Sudan to obtain visa form, fill it out, pay for visa, get passport stamped, check baggage, and take children to bathroom (no toilets on small planes). Only upon completion of these tasks will you be given a seat on the airplane flying to Nairobi. Although you have paid, your seat may be given to another so you must complete your tasks quickly.
Time allotted for Event #3: 32 minutes

Christmas in Uganda

We left Yabus, Sudan less than a week ago, traveled through four countries (Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda) and arrived in Kabale, Uganda where Bethany's family lives by December 23 - just in time for Christmas. We've spent the past few days cooking up a storm, laughing, and most of all, celebrating the birth of our Savior - the reason all of us work in Africa.
On Christmas Day we went to Mom and Dad's church and worshipped with our Ugandan brothers and sisters in Christ who were very full of joy, clapping, singing, and drumming. Audrey and I sang a duet in church which was always our custom growing up and that was very special for us.
The day after Christmas we got together with the rest of Mom and Dad's team here in Kabale and sang Christmas carols together. It's been such a wonderful time.
We've been able to relax and have fun together over the holidays, yet the party continues. Mom and Dad seem to be spoiling us with lots of good food, fun activities, and special treats. We're so thankful we will spend a full 3 weeks here.

Making gingerbread cookies

Bethany explains Jesus' birth on Christmas Eve

Eli gave Stan a Sudanese cobra skin

Evan's so proud of his new toys

Isaac gets new trucks- yeah!

Evan's Christmas stocking

Isaac pulls lots of treats out of his stocking

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pastors' Conference in Yabus

I have often thought to myself that Sudan is a land of extremes. One of the latest extremes I have learned about is the partnerships that are formed in order to serve the people of Sudan. Many of you have just supported a church leaders' conference in Yabus through your support of us. Now although SIM hosted the conference here in Yabus, it was greatly funded by Samaritan's Purse who asked teachers from African Leadership to participate who are from the African Inland Church but training leaders for the Sudan Interior Church. Enough cooks in the kitchen? Well mix in the fact that there were 5 different tribes (6 if you count my tribe) and the course was taught in 3 languages!

When all was said and done, 41 church leaders spent 2 weeks working through an Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Old Testament survey, and New Testament Survey. These three classes are part of a program called African Leadership in which they take 10 such courses and earn a degree. This time we had 19 men and 1 woman graduate. When we handed them their certificate, they just sat there staring at the piece of paper with THEIR name on it, reading and re-reading every word. So proud of accomplishing something a few years ago they thought impossible. So proud of moving their church and country forward one small step.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Alarm

Our Sunday afternoon nap was pierced by the screams of our Ethiopian colleague, Meseret. I had never heard urgency in her voice like this before, so in just a few seconds I was out the door. I heard several loud pops, and as I rounded the corner I was horrified to see our meeting place in full blaze. Our guards and several other people were desperately throwing water on the 15 foot flames. Our local construction lends itself exceptionally well to fires: grass roofs, bamboo trusses, and wood walls. One of our guards was already throwing water on the other nearby buildings to prevent the fire from spreading.

The building which was on fire was where we received guests and sheltered ourselves from the afternoon heat. It was also home to our quad bike. Sure enough, as I peered into the conflagration (thank you 12th grade English), I saw one of our greatest assets engulfed in flames. In its short life, the quad bike had been used for evangelism, hauling sand for building, gathering supplies from the market, hauling water, taking passengers to the airstrip, and giving our family fun outings together.

We quickly ran out of water but contained the flames to one building. Tired and in shock but thankful the flames were dying down, we looked around to find out that the 5-year old son of our Ethiopian colleagues was missing. 30 minutes later he was located and it was found out that he had been playing with a lighter when the accident happened. What Satan meant to use as a divisive event turned out to bring us closer together as we prayed, forgave, and worked through this together as a team.

Praise God that no one was hurt and that we only lost what we did. Praise God that He can use all things to bring us closer to Him.