Saturday, December 27, 2008

December 23rd

Dec. 23rd: We had a team Christmas party with Christmas caroling and a fun white elephant gift exchange. The funniest gift was when Canberra (the shyest member of our team) opened a pair of little boy race car underwear! After the party, the rest of the team drove out to Gondolo village (4 miles away) to Christmas carol. We discovered that Christmas caroling is also a custom among the Uduk and Mabaan tribes. On Sunday the Mabaan church members came to our compound singing and dancing. And on Tuesday night, the Uduk church youth came caroling too. So we decided to return the blessing.

Dec. 24th

Dec.24th: In the afternoon we had our own family Christmas at home. We read the Christmas story to the boys using a fun interactive book with felt characters that you could stick on each page. Then we opened a few gifts. Eli and I bought clothes for each other at our local market so on Christmas day we both wore our new Sudan clothes. After dinner that night we went caroling to the Mabaan and Uduk villages on our side of the river. We carried lanterns and sang along the way. It was so much fun.

Bethany's new dress from the Yabus Market!

Reading the Christmas Story

Josh was really happy with his gift

December 25th- Christmas Day

Dec. 25th: At 8:30, the kids and moms with babies rode the quad bike to town for church. It was a special service since the Mabaan and Uduk tribes joined together in one church. Even the choir was mixed with Uduk and Mabaan singers! The service went until 1 pm. After church the kids and I came home for lunch and a nap and around 4 we returned to the Uduk church for a huge feast, then joined the Mabaans for dancing and singing around town. The “caroling” ended as it was getting dark so we headed back to the Mabaan church where they served us more food. By now we were very full and had eaten lots of pork and goat meat, sodas, and kisra – a thin pancake-like bread made with sour sorghum and very tasty. By the time we’d finished eating it was very dark and we had one flashlight and the quad bike. The kids and I got on the quad bike and shone the light for the rest of the team to walk home.

Caroling through the town with the Mabaan Church

December 26th

Dec. 26th: This day we celebrated Christmas in Gondolo, a village about 4 miles away. They told us to come at 9 am for a church service. We arrived right on time. The men went off to sit and drink coffee with the men and the women sat under a huge tree and drank coffee and tea. When we first arrived, they had just slaughtered the pig and wanted us to admire it and take pictures, so we did. Around 1 p.m. one of the church leaders came to tell me that a woman nearby had gone into labor and was having complications. I strapped Josh to my back and asked Victoria to watch Isaac and Evan (Eli was still in town doing visitation among the Mabaan church elders.) About a mile from the church, we finally made it to the hut where the woman was. The anxious husband and father were pacing outside. I ducked inside and saw 5 other women squatting in the dark and the woman in labor on the bed. I greeted them in Arabic and went over to check on the mama. She had already given birth to a darling baby girl, but 2 months premature. The baby was very tiny but breathing well and crying so I knew she was OK. However, they had not cut the cord and the placenta was stuck inside still. All of you know I am not a nurse, even though everyone here seems to think I am. I wasn’t sure what to do but encouraged her to get up and squat and try to push. We did that but she fainted two times. Each time she passed out, one of the women got a mouth full of water and spewed it all over her body to wake her up. It worked every time. I was behind her supporting her body and there was a woman holding the still-attached baby. I was praying the whole time and suddenly remembered that there was an Uduk lady at the church celebration who was a midwife in town, so we sent for her. By the time Lucy, the midwife arrived, the baby had been out for 3 hours. She was still doing fine but getting cold. We had her wrapped, but she needed body heat. Thankfully Lucy knew just what to do and cut the cord (with me watching so I’ll know what to do next time). Lucy did all she knew how to do to get the placenta out, but it was stuck, so Lori brought the quad bike and took her and her husband to the clinic in town. She refused to take her baby on the bike and left her with another woman to nurse.
By now it was almost 4. I was hungry and thirsty since I hadn’t eaten all day and it was about 100 degrees out. I got back to the church right as the service was ending. The head count was 279 so floods of people came down the path to the place where we would eat together.
Isaac and Evan were starting to fall apart since it had been a long day and they hadn’t eaten anything except for some nuts and raisins I brought. Around 5:00 sat down to eat. We had a wonderful meal of goat, pork, and kisra. We tried to eat kind of fast because we knew we had to walk home which would take more than an hour with all our kids. Isaac already had 3 blisters on one foot from sand rubbing in his sandals. I said a quick prayer and asked God to somehow carry us home. By now we were all hot, dusty, and very tired. Miraculously Isaac walked all the way home – all four miles. I carried Evan on my shoulders and had Joshua on my back. I’m not sure how I did it – God did it.
We got home just as the sun was disappearing around 7. Eli was setting up the movie screen to show “The Nativity.” I knew I wouldn’t last much longer, so I brought the boys home, bathed all three, and put them straight to bed. I followed suit.
As you can see, this Christmas week was quite eventful. We had a lot of new experiences and learned a lot from our Sudanese friends.Edna and baby Sandy from the Ganza tribe. It has been fun to pass on some of our children's clothes and see them around the village.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to donate to the bridge project

We've had several people say they want to give to the bridge project for Christmas this year. The easiest way is to visit the bridge blog ( and at the top of the page you can click on the project number to donate to the project. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chocolate Chick

Today was our teammate Asule's birthday so while the boys were napping, I baked a chocolate cake. I had finished the batter and set it on a stool in our kitchen hut while I went to get more charcoal. Just a few seconds later I heard a baby chick squawking and guess what I found? A baby chick was stuck in my chocolate cake batter! He had ventured to hop into the bowl for a taste and fell in! YUCK!

I wanted to help get him out but when I got close the mama hen flew at me and attacked me. I ran out of the kitchen, right into Zephaniah, our guard. I told him what happened and he helped rescue the now chocolate dunked chick.

After all the hard work of making the cake, I was hesitant to throw it out. I checked for feathers, dirt, and poop and found none, so in the oven it went! At the birthday party tonight I couldn't decide if it would be good to tell the story or not. Maybe tomorrow.

Yabus' Baby

Josh doesn't mind being held by anyone. He's content to sit in anyone's lap.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Honoring Eli

I want to take this opportunity to tell the world how much I love my husband. I know this is bold, but I'm daily amazed at the incredible man God has given me and I want to honor him for all he does. First of all, all the glory goes to the Lord, not Eli. God called and equipped Eli to do this work in Sudan, so Eli simply obeys and follows Christ each day, doing whatever it might be with great passion and fervor. Sometimes it's building a bridge, sometimes it's showing 30 men how to make soil blocks, sometimes it's putting a roof on a building or digging a latrine, sometimes it's driving a sick woman to the clinic, sometimes it's showing Isaac and Evan how to use a saw, sometimes it's taking the family to the river for the afternoon. But I will say this: HE'S GOOD AT EVERYTHING!

I love Eli Fader so much.

He knows how to do EVERYTHING!

A great papa

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas is HERE in Yabus!

Yesterday we made cut out sugar cookies and shared them all over the compound. Today we went searching for the perfect tree - well not quite perfect - but at least it's green and doesn't have thorns! We had fun listening to Christmas music while we hung a few ornaments that I brought from the States.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Are these cute kids or what?

My day with the kids is full but when I look at these pictures I realize our boys are having the most incredible childhood ever! Growing up in the middle of nowhere (well, the middle of Sudan) they are making so many happy memories.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Our Yabus Thanksgiving

After only four hours of cooking over charcoal on a 100 degree day, our Thanksgiving meal was complete and ready to serve: bbq chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, homemade dinner rolls, green beans, squash and pumpkin pie for dessert. It was delicious. Only four of us on the team are Americans but our Indian, Scottish, English, Nigerian, and Sudanese teammates enjoyed it too.
I had to include a picture of how Lori rolled out the pie crust and how our table was set.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Isaac and Evan's new friend

Last week a new family joined our team here in Yabus. They are from Nigeria and have come to help teach at the secondary school. The funnest part is that they have two children. Praise is their 3 year old boy who has quickly become like a brother to Isaac and Evan. They play together non stop every day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back to Work

I started construction on the bridge again this past week. It has been pretty exciting. God is showing us the generosity of His people through this project. We have 60 people working right now, including 22 women. We are building the towers and collecting stone for construction. Enjoy the photos of our tower going up, collecting sand from a dry river bed, and a Mabaan lady collecting stones for our construction.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eating out in Yabus town

On Saturday, we braved the river and crossed with the truck to go to town for lunch. It was fun to see friends and enjoy lunch at the "W" Hotel where a group of about 16 other men were eating lunch. We enjoyed bowls of Egyptian beans with fresh bread and cold sodas.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Josh gets a taste of "real" food

We started Joshua on rice cereal this week since he always seems hungry. Today I took some leftover cereal from the fridge and wished I had a microwave to heat it up. Instead I sat it outside in the sun. When I went to check it less than 5 minutes later, it was warm! Who needs a microwave when the hot Sudan sun does the same thing?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Our growing 4 month old

Our Wonderful Yabus Team

It's about time we introduce you to our team. From top to bottom, left to right is: Asule, Claire, Phalice, Canberra, Joshua, Bethany, Tohru, Stuart, Anter, Eli, Evan, and Isaac.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baby Rahab went to be with Jesus

Oct.20: 2 p.m.
Dear Praying Friends,
Besides what I posted on our blog, we haven't said much about Hope. Mostly because it still feels like a dream but also because we weren't sure if she would survive. The past few days have been a whirlwind and emotional roller coaster for us as we've poured love and attention into baby Hope. But last night, Oct 19 at 10:30 p.m. her little heart stopped beating and she went to be with Jesus.
If you want to hear the whole story, read on...
The baby's name was actually Rahab but we all nicknamed her "Hope". On Friday she came to live with us and we set up a "contract" with the baby's grandmother and uncle saying we would care for baby Hope until she could eat solid food (porridge). When she's ready to go home with them, we'd also ask them to take a class at the clinic in town about how to feed and care for malnourished children. (The reasons we were keeping her are 1.) we can keep her in a clean environment 2) we knew we couldn’t just give a can of formula to them because they would add dirty river water and not wash the bottles/utensils properly and 3.) we have medicines if she gets sick.
Since she arrived on Thursday, she'd been drinking the baby formula well, having wet and poopy diapers, and crying more which I took as a good sign because she was so weak the day she came she couldn't even cry.
Our whole team fell in love with her and the five of us women took turns caring for her. The nights were most difficult since we didn’t get much sleep but we also took turns having her at night.
On Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. she took a turn for the worse quite suddenly. She started having a hard time breathing. With good advice from Dr. Fader (our Papa) and Dr. Rob in Doro, we started her on an antibiotic to fight whatever infection might be attacking her little body. A few hours later she seemed to be improving and started feeding again - this time through a syringe since she was again too weak to suck.
I went to check on her before heading to bed around 9:30(she was going to stay with Lori and Phalice)and she was eating well. But an hour later Phalice came knocking at my door to say we were losing her. By the time I unwrapped her blankets to feel for a heatbeat/pulse, she was gone. Phalice tried some baby CPR for a few minutes but we realized there was nothing else we could do. We called everyone over and spent the next few hours praying and crying together.
This has been a really rough time. I never thought we'd experience something like this. When we took her in, we knew it would take a miracle for her to survive so we were trying to be prepared for the worse, but we are still so sad. We all grew to love her so much in just a few days.
The relatives came to get her body and will bury her today. We will go for a visitation tomorrow. We've also planned to have a small memorial service of our own as a team to make closure.
This has definitely bonded us as a team and family here, but please do pray for us. We long for the day when God's kingdom will come and put an end to grieving and pain.
So thankful for you,
Bethany and the rest of our family here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby Rahab

Oct. 17 2008
When baby Rahab arrived on our compound yesterday morning I thought she would die in my arms. At only two months old and probably weighing less than 4 pounds, she was just a little skeleton. It was a cool day and she was naked, with just a ragged, dirty cloth covering her slight body. So after feeding her two ounces of baby formula from a bottle, we dressed her in some of Joshua’s small clothes, socks, a little hat, and swaddled her in a blanket. She instantly fell asleep since she was warm and had a full tummy for the first time in a long time.
Throughout the rest of the day, we fed her an ounce of formula every hour or so. It turns out that Rahab’s mother was somehow related to Bookie, our househelp, so Bookie offered for them to stay with her, just down the path from our compound. Sadly, the person left to care for the baby is a 12 year old girl named Dama. So around 6 p.m. we sent Dama and baby Rahab with a bottle to Bookie’s house. Later around 10 p.m. Eli took another bottle to help get her through the night. He still wasn’t home an hour later and when he did finally get home he smelled like coffee and campfire. The village people were so happy he came, they insisted he stay for a few cups of strong Arabic coffee.
This morning Dama brought Rahab back and I made up another bottle. Dama said Rahab slept better last night than she ever has. Dama was thankful for that.
I’m learning a whole lot through this situation. There are definitely some frustrating times because of communication problems. The plan we came up with yesterday was that Dama and Rahab would stay with Bookie for a few months until Rahab got her weight back and started eating some solids (porridge/cereal.) But I found out this morning that Dama is too afraid to stay without someone from her own village. (There were two men, and an old woman who came with her to bring the baby.) I bluntly told them that little Rahab would die if they took her back to their village because they already told me that there is no other woman there who can nurse the baby. So the baby will starve.
I’m happy and willing to keep Rahab here with us for a few months until she’s stronger and eating solids and can go back with her relatives. But we’ll have that meeting this afternoon to see if that’s an option they would agree to. I know this is way over my head but I think it will save her life and that is well worth a few stressful months for me. I keep reminding myself that this is not over God’s head and He has a good plan for baby Rahab.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Amana

A week ago I met a precious little 5 month old baby boy on my way home from visiting some friends. The Ganza woman carrying him explained to me that his mother died and she was caring for him but had no milk. I invited her to come back to our compound and I fixed a bottle of baby formula for him. He gulped it right down. Thankfully I had two large cans of formula so I told her if she came every day I'd make milk for Amana. I couldn't send the powder home with her because she'd end up using dirty river water to make the formula and that would almost defeat the purpose!

So for a week Haua (the caregiver) has been bringing baby Amana for milk and he's looking so much better. Even though he's five months old he feels like he weighs less than 10 pounds and is half Joshua's size (Josh is 3 months old.) It is exciting to see the change in him as he gets more nourishment.

When Haua and Amana came today for milk, Haua told me another woman relative of hers just died leaving a 2 month old baby girl. No one else in the village is willing to care for her, so a 12 yr. old girl is taking care of her, but obviously can not feed her the milk that she needs. I told Haua if she could bring the baby girl here I could feed her like I am Amana. Thankfully a plane coming tomorrow is bringing more baby formula!
I'm overwhelmed at the suffering, sickness, and death engulfing the people here. I want to help but I'm not sure how and where to draw the line. How do I help in a culturally appropriate way?

Part of me wants to just take these precious babies and nurse them myself. But that would be like having triplets! I know Amana is going to be fine. But this 2 month old baby girl won't survive without milk of some kind.

Will you please pray for wisdom to know how to help and ask God to preserve the lives of these little babies?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joshua's 3 months old

We can't believe how fast Joshua is growing. He's got big bright blue eyes, a tuft of dark blonde hair on his head and plenty of chub. It was just a year ago that Eli and I found out God had a big surprise for us - another baby. He's here now and we're enjoying him so much.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

More new teammates!

Yesterday three more new teammates joined us in Yabus: Stuart, Canberra, and Asule. Stuart is a young man from Scotland and Canberra and Asule are teachers from Northeast India. It's a joy to have such a diverse team. Today at lunch it was fun to look around the table at the different colors and faces and feel such love for one another. God has given us a precious family here in Yabus and we PRAISE Him for it.

This morning we all headed down to the Yabus river for some fun in the water since it's Saturday - no school, no work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Little boys paradise

Isaac and Evan are so happy to be back in Sudan. They're usually very busy outside most of the day and collapse in bed at nap and bed time because they're so worn out. Here are a few pictures of some of the things they do.