Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Christmas

 We began our morning with the final reading of our advent: the story of Jesus' birth and then the boys got to open their stockings.

 It was such an added joy to have gifts sent from family and friends in the States to open as well.
Somehow it made it feel like our family was sharing Christmas from afar.

 We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast

 My friend and I got henna done for the Christmas season. The dyed fingertips are a sign of a married woman.

 The BIG gifts this year were new bikes! The boys have been asking for bikes since we got here and this year their grandparents and great-grandma gave this wonderful gift!

 Joshua's first bike

 Trying it out - a little hard at first because of the sand

 Of course friends wanted to help and share in the excitement

What I haven't included here is that we had a very special service at our pastor's home. They have a lovely garden area and set up sound equipment so we could have a lovely Christmas service in their garden. Our church family consists of people from many nations and backgrounds so it was truly worshipful to join and sing and remind one another of God's indescribable gifts for us. After our advent candle lighting, carols, and a short message we fellowshipped and then enjoyed a fabulous potluck with dishes from many cultures. I took stuffed chicken with American style sage dressing.
    Another highlight of our Christmas happened in the evening. Around 5 pm we packed up loads of plates of Christmas cookies and wrapped 2012 calendars that have Bible verses in Arabic in them and went to visit our friends and neighbors to wish them a Merry Christmas and share a bit of our Christmas tradition with them. It was lovely to spread some Christmas cheer and the boys did great after 3 solid hours of being in peoples' homes.
    We will forever treasure this Khartoum Christmas knowing we may never have one like it again since we will most likely be in South Sudan next Christmas and the Christmases thereafter. Our hearts are brimming over...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Arabic Christmas Pageant

 Last night our Arabic Language School gave a presentation of the Christmas story, all in Arabic, to our teachers, staff, and our families. Each class prepared a part of the story to present in Arabic. Eli and my class did a small skit explaining the significance of each of the wise men's gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the picture above Eli gave the introduction for our skit.

 This is part of the audience - other students, teachers, family, etc.

 It worked out perfectly that one of our school mates recently had a baby in November so his wife posed as Mary and their new son had his first acting debut as Baby Jesus! Our classmate, Beth, presented gold to baby Jesus, symbolizing the truth that he was King of all Kings.

 I presented burning incense as a symbol that Jesus would be the last and greatest High Priest

 Eli brought the myrrh. He went to the market here in Khartoum and found all the different minerals and perfumes they combine to prepare a dead body for burial. He brought them on a tray to give to Jesus to symbolize that Jesus would die for the sins of the whole world.

 After our dramas and speeches, we presented special gifts to each of the teachers to thank them for their patience with us over the months.

We also gave a gift of thanks to our director and his wife. They are the couple who run the school.
It was a very fun program followed by food from all of our unique countries: Switzerland, Germany, Brazil, the US, Uganda, etc.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

International Carols

On Sunday evening we had a wonderful service, enjoying music from many nationalities represented in our church family.

 New Zealand
 South Korea
 Sri Lanka
 Switzerland and Germany

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmases over the years

 I thought it would be fun to look back at the past Christmases to remember where we were and to see how our family changed every year.

 Christmas with Isaac in 2005, Evan "in the oven"

 Christmas 2006 in Naperville, IL

 Yabus Christmas 2008

A special Christmas in Uganda - 2009

 Christmas in Washington State - 2010

2011: A Khartoum Christmas

The Christmas Bazaar

 Today we went to a fun Christmas Bazaar. There were vendors selling all kinds of wonderful things: jewelry, books, clothes, pictures, food, etc. There were also some fun carnival games for the children and Isaac and Evan chose to get their faces painted as Spiderman and Batman.

 Isaac went fishing

On the way home (with our teammates) Eli surprised us all by stopping for ice cream. Great end to the day!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Christmas decorating

 After breakfast this morning we pulled out our new artificial Christmas tree and dusted it off. Then while Eli figured out the lights, the boys and I made some of our own ornaments this year. Here Isaac is painting a butterfly.

 Then we pulled out all the ornaments we brought from the States
 The boys had fun placing the ornaments on the trees.
 Here are a few ornaments Evan made all on his own

 We also have a mini tree that we set up with some beads and lights.

Ta-da! Finished product. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Happy Boys

As I mentioned before, the boys are really happy to be back too. They had a great first day back at school after being out for a month! When they went out to play with their friends this afternoon they were thrilled to discover that a truck had dumped large loads of rocks and sand right in the area behind our building.

Getting right back into the swing of things

 We got back to Khartoum on Thursday night. It was perfect timing because in Sudan the weekend is Friday and Saturday so we got 2 full days to unpack and get settled before school started up today for us and for the boys. We spent most of Friday walking around the neighborhood visiting all our friends and letting them know we were back in town. Yesterday our landlady, Layla, who lives in the apartment below us, came up to my kitchen to show me how to cook several mutton dishes. It was great Arabic practice and good bonding for us. It meant so much to us that she'd saved a portion of sheep for us in her freezer while we were away (they celebrated Eid - a special festival -  while we were away and the custom is to slaughter a sheep.)

This morning the boys were so excited to go to school that we were all ready early. When we went outside to wait for their minibus, the bus flashed its lights in excitement and of course they've had lots of hugs and kisses to welcome them back. Eli and I also started back at Arabic school this morning. We thought we'd forgotten quite a bit but it's amazing how quickly it all comes back! So thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trip to Melut

Over the past week I (Eli) have been in Melut, South Sudan to investigate a possible ministry location for our family after language study.  Gideon Theological College was started here by the Sudan Interior Church and the Sudan Church of Christ over 30 years ago.  The war caused it to shift locations but now it is back in Melut and it has a wide and deep needs.  Here are a few pictures:

Chris Crowder, director of SIM Sudan in the library.  3 full shelves of English volumes and 1 shelf of Arabic.  There are many books waiting to be shelved too.

The Tukul (hut) where we stayed for the week.  It was very windy and freezing cold in the morning but warmed up in the afternoon.  The water was wonderful for swimming although I did keep close to the shore.  The beauty of the sunsets was astonishing.

There is only one classroom right now.  GTC has 18 students.  They are all in their 3rd year of pursuing their Bachelor of Arts, a four year program.

The sunrise on the morning we left.  You can see a fisherman already out in his wooden canoe.

Chris Crowder, Hellene Samia (head teacher of our SIC Secondary School), Hiakie Hegui (SIC Secondary School), and Dr. Donker (present Academic Dean of GTC) at the entrance to the college.

Any verse come to mind when you see a weapon turned into a tool?  There is a vise welded to the top of this exploded bomb.  Check out Isaiah 2:4.  This is our prayer for this place.

The needs of GTC are immense.  There is great need to build more teacher housing, student housing and classrooms.  There is great need for teachers.  There is great need for partners to give scholarships and financially back the school.  Do you see a way for you to meet any of these needs?