Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day

After a huge breakfast on Christmas morning, we headed to church for a very meaningful service at Mom and Dad's church, Kigezi Baptist Church. As you can see in the picture, Eli and I got new outfits (purchased in Yabus market) and Mom's blue outfit is also from Sudan.
Audrey and I sang a duet: "Mary Did You Know" in church. We printed out the words of the song in Rukiga (the language in Kabale) so those who don't understand English could still get the meaning of the song.

Stan sure loves his nephew. Stan and Joshua have developed a special bond over the past week together.

Christmas stockings and gifts

The boys were very proud of their new stockings that Aunt Audrey sewed for them.
Evan proudly shows off his new toy!

Joshua is thrilled to finally have some cars of his very own

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Full days

Uncle Caleb wrestles his three nephews

Eating like kings! Shish Kebabs, baked potatoes with all the works, and a salad

The beautiful couple: David and Audrey

The guys worked on a project all morning - fixing Mom and Dad's dining room table

Monday, December 21, 2009

On Saturday the boys and I made Christmas cookies - the process took much longer and made a bigger mess but we all had so much fun.

Frosted cookies: the finished product

There have already been several water fights with Uncle Stan's water guns

There's always something fun to do and in the background the Christmas lights are on and Christmas music is playing - everything's just perfect!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

At Home in Uganda

We're so sorry we haven't updated this blog for so long. We were having troubles with our internet in Yabus. But now we're in Kabale, Uganda with Bethany's family. We'll be here for the next three weeks celebrating Christmas and the New Year. I will do my best to keep adding new photos. Please make sure you read the next few posts because I added some pictures and stories from our last month in Sudan. MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL!
Isaac and Evan acted as Mimo's little elves and helped put all the Christmas presents under the Christmas tree.

Can you see how happy we all are? Mimo is thoroughly enjoying her grandsons and I'm LOVING the extra help.

Yabus Friends

Kids movie at our house.
Antony and Sonia joined us for the last three weeks of homeschool. Class picture: 2009

River slide

Eli invented a great water slide down at the river one day. He took a long piece of black plastic, set it up on the sandy incline that runs into the river, and made a super duper water slide for the kids. At first Evan, Praise, and Isaac tried it out, but soon all the other village children joined in when they saw how much fun it was.

This is what they looked like in the end!

Thanksgiving in Sudan

Lori, Phalice, and I, the three American women on our team, spent most of the afternoon cooking up a storm. Yes, this is our kitchen.

Dreamwhip in Yabus? You bet ya! Lori's parents sent homemade whipped cream packets.

Our team gathered for our special Thanksgiving meal. These were very strange foods for them to try but overall we had a very good time and we were all stuffed by the end.
Glazed ham
mashed potatoes and gravy
green bean casserole with real frenchfried onions sent from the States (except made with mixed vegetables)
jello fruit salad
homemade rolls
pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top!

Coffebreak - Sudanese Style

I gathered the team in the racuba (dried grass shelter/Sudan style gazebo) and served them all Sudanese coffee. I'd done the whole process myself: roasting the beans, pounding the beans, brewing the coffee in the clay pot, etc. so I was so thrilled to serve my SIM family true Sudanese coffee. Should I mention the whole process took more than an hour?

I want to apologize for not updating our blog in such a long time. We've had some internet problems in Yabus, so we weren't able to post updates. We are now in Uganda enjoying a sweet time of rest and family fun with Bethany's family who live here. I will try to put up a few pictures from our last month in Sudan and then give you a peak of our past few days here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Beautiful colors, beautiful sisters

Over the weekend we had a fun girls night. On Saturday night all the women on our team here in Yabus gathered in Asule's home with hot and cold beverages and lots of toenail polish. We spent the evening laughing, sharing stories, learning from each other's cultures, and most of all, enjoying each other's company.
Halfway through the evening, I looked around the room and noticed how diverse of a group of friends we are. Here, in the heart of Sudan, in the middle of the continent of Africa, we have 2 Americans, 2 Indians, 1 Nigerian, and 3 Sudanese - living together as friends...and most of all...sisters.
I marveled at how much we love each other and how we feel so much like family. I marveled at how God called each of us and brought us to the same place in Sudan to serve Him together. And I thought about how this is a tiny glimpse of what heaven will be like.

This is what our feet looked like at the end of our "spa." We'd all had foot massages and pedicures. And even though most of our feet are usually calloused and cracked from the heat and dust, I couldn't help thinking of the verse, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." Rom. 10:15

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Off to Chali

Today Eli and Pastor Joseph drove four hours on the quad bike to an Uduk village called Chali. Eli went to meet with some SIC church leaders about starting discipleship in Yabus. Please pray for his safety and for clear communication and good relationships during his three days there.

Aunt Canberra

Canberra is a special friend and amazing teammate. She has a heart for children and every day you can hear children's laughter and singing coming from her house. Today I couldn't find my boys and when I went looking for them, this is where I found them - eating candy and having a lovely visit with "Aunt Can".

Finding my identity

Me and my girls - sometimes I forget I'm white!
As a missionary kid growing up in Africa, I always struggled a bit with my identity. I knew I was an American, but when I was in the States, I didn't feel like I belonged and it never really felt like home. But I also knew I wasn't Ugandan (where I grew up) because my skin was white and my culture and language were so different. As a child and even into my teen years I tried so hard to be like my African friends - acting like them, doing the types of things they did and even trying to speak with their accent. One day I even went as far as rubbing charcoal all over my body just so I could be black!
As a new missionary to Sudan I again feel the struggle of who I really am. I've tried so hard to learn their language and culture and learn how to do things the way they do (although I've completely failed at carrying large jerricans of water on my head!) But I'm learning something. I will never be Sudanese. I'm an American and that means it's OK to act like an American, as long as I'm not offending anyone. My Sudanese friends know I'm not Sudanese and they love me just the way I am. As I grow more comfortable with my own "culture", I'm learning to glean the good things I admire from each culture and mix them into my life. The result? A little bit of everything. But isn't that what heaven will be like?
I've learned how to make coffee Sudanese style - roasting the beans over a fire, pounding them, then brewing the very strong, black coffee.

Here I am learning to make kisra. I had another lesson today. I still haven't gotten very good at this one. It's like a giant crepe pancake but made of sorghum.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2 Priceless Pics

I think this picture speaks more than a thousand words. If you study it long enough, you learn a lot about Sudan - the animals, the homes, the dirt, the poverty. Take a minute and look at it. My favorite part about this picture is how at home Isaac is. He's relaxed and happy in an environment that most of us would feel uncomfortable and out of place.
After a big rain yesterday the three boys had a great time playing in the mud. What a threesome!

More fun with Mom and Dad

Mom has probably played close to 50 games of Uno with Isaac and Evan. They never tire and neither does she.
Dad is such a good sport, helping Eli out wherever he needs it. The two of them spent most of yesterday out in Gondolo fixing the sorgum grinding mill. They had to pack all their tools and the generator on the quad bike and Eli drove his motorcycle. Their trip home was tricky since it downpoured rain just before they left to come back. So Eli was fishtailing through the mud and Dad had the trip of his life.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lots of good experiences

During this first week back in Yabus, we've taken Mom and Dad to meet many of our friends. They are greeted very warmly everywhere we go. Some of the new experiences for Mom and Dad:
-Driving to church on a quad bike through grass that's 10 feet tall
-Drinking strong Sudanese coffee
-Eating asida (consistency of playdough) with kudra soup (slimy and green)
-Greeting in Arabic

The men sit under one side of the tree and the women sit on the other

Mom is a big hit everywhere we go. She's lavished hugs on many many people!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Home in Yabus

Hello All!
Yesterday afternoon we flew home to yabus, Sudan, but this time with my parents, Skip and Ruth Sorensen. It's been one big fun adventure since landing. I never realized what a big deal it would be for people to meet my parents. But we've had a steady flow of visitors and friends who are eager to meet them, especially my mother. For some reason, she is significant and receives many affectionate hugs when she's introduced as Bethany's mother. (People have also commented she looks young enough to be my sister and young enough to still produce more babies!)

Mom and Dad fit so beautifully into life here. Mom's love and joy in life overflows and impacts everyone she comes in contact with. I know how to find her on the compound by listening for her laugh (or the laughs of those in her company!) Dad has been working way too hard. He's doing a lot of fix it jobs around the compound, gardening, and manually pumping water for the whole team. Both have been sweet servants.

I'm so thankful we have more than two week to spend together here. Tomorrow we'll venture out to Gondollo, the Ganza village 4 km from our home, to encourage the believers there and introduce my parents. It should be a fun and very eventful day.

I just want to comment on one more interesting thing. Everytime we return to Yabus, Isaac and Evan are overjoyed and so obviously feel more "in their element" when they're here. Yabus is their home and where they're most comfortable. But this time I noticed it with Joshua as well. While we were in Nairobi, I was shocked that Joshua wasn't interested in eating any of the delicious foods that we'd missed - they were too new for him. He was also very clingy and nervous around most people. But as soon as we settled back into Yabus yesterday, he polished off his first bowl of rice and beans and has been eating like a horse ever since. He's also happy to be back to lots of open space and all our animals: goats, chickens, cat, dogs, and donkey. Seeing Joshua so much at home here, has made Yabus all the more home for all of us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fun in Kenya

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we start our three day journey back to Yabus. We've spent a wonderful two weeks in Nairobi and feel rested and ready to head back to our "family" in Sudan. This time we're heading back with Bethany's parents, Skip and Ruth Sorensen who are coming to visit for two weeks.

Isaac had a great sword fight with his Uncle Stan

Last weekend was our highlight of our time in Kenya. We went to Kijabe where Rift Valley Academy is located. My little brother, Stan, is a junior there. We stayed with our colleagues and good friend, the Congdon family, and enjoyed a fun and relaxing weekend including: sledding down a grass hill, watching Stan and Eli play rugby, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and eating lots of yummy food.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A day in Gondolo

This sweet lady passed the time by smoking on her pipe.
The balloons I packed were a huge hit with all the kids. They lasted longer than I thought they would with so many thorn trees everywhere. I even caught two grown men fighting over one!

Last Sunday, we spent the day in Gondolo village to celebrate our teammate Lori's house opening. Until now she's lived on our compound in Yabus, but she now has her own mud hut in Gondolo. After church, all the church members and other neighbors walked back to her house and we immediately began making coffee and tea for all the guests. But as you will see in the pictures, we made coffee Sudanese style. First you wash the coffee beans, then roast them, then pound them, then brew the coffee in an old tin can over the fire, and finally you pour the brewed coffee into a jebuna - a clay coffee pot. It's quite a process but makes deliciously strong coffee. In the course of the day I think we did the process at least 6 times until everyone had drank all the coffee they wanted.
It was a very hot day but the boys did amazing. One fun thing wedid was teach some of Isaac and Evan's friends how to play Uno. The kids caught on fast and had a great time playing in the shade of a tree. Meanwhile Joshua had fun pushing around a homemade bike made of wood (see the picture.)

Quite a full day but also a very special day. After lots of goat soup, kisra (sorghum pancakes), and coffee we left in time to get home before dark. The next day we flew out of Yabus for a two week break in Kenya. It was a great finish to our time there.