Thursday, March 29, 2012

Last day of school

 Isaac and Evan had a good cry last night as we talked about today being their last day of school. On one hand it made my heart break because they've had so say some difficult goodbyes already in their short lives. But I also know that there will be many goodbyes to come. Father, take care of these little lambs and protect their hearts. They know they're called to this life just as much as Eli and I.

 So I took the camera out as we waited for the "bus". This is the driver Amu Jahid. "Amu" means uncle. Every time the boys climb in the van Amu Jahid motions for Joshua to join him in the front seat. Joshua loves the special attention and I pray extra hard for safety on the roads!

 The boys and their friends on the bus.

The bus pulls away for the final day of Arabic school for our boys. Well Done Boys!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Boys' Graduation

 Isaac and Evan joined their friends at 8:30 this morning to get ready for the big day

 After 10 full months of Arabic school our boys graduated today. Eli and I couldn't be more proud. We know this has prepared them for being more efficient in the language in the future but it also gave them a great opportunity to make friends and find their niche in Khartoum.

 Little boys in little jalabias

 Evan is all ready to go

 All the songs but one were in Arabic.

 The ceremony was held in a large tent. These are the friends and family members.
Sodas and many types of sweets and cakes were served.

 Isaac had the honor to carry the Sudan flag as the students entered and then sang the National Anthem

 Isaac was part of a group that did a special song and show.

 Evan with his rosy cheeks. I couldn't believe how long they lasted! We got there at 8:30 and left shortly after 2 pm!

 The ladies

 Isaac receives his diploma

 Evan receiving his diploma

 The graduates sing a closing song

Evan and Isaac are leaving many good friends behind. They will be missed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where Next?

 It's really hard to believe that our year in Khartoum is drawing to a close! I (Bethany) officially finished language school at the beginning of March after passing 3 unit exams and an oral/speaking test. The boys completed their last day of school today - a full year - at a local Arabic kindergarten. They have a big graduation tomorrow. Eli will continue class until the 29th of March. In April, we'll begin a period of transition with many stops along the way: to a conference in Kenya, a family wedding in Michigan, and finally...Melut, South Sudan. This is our next destination and we are so excited that we wanted to share a bit about what our new home and new life will be like.

 Gideon Theological College in Melut, South Sudan trains and educates future pastors and leaders of South Sudan. Not only will the graduates go on to pastor churches, lead evangelism, and disciple others but many graduates from Gideon Theological College are also recruited into government positions because others recognize the integrity and character of these men and women. What an amazing opportunity to impact the future leaders of South Sudan!

 Melut is a small town located right on the Nile River. This is a view of the campus from the river.

 Eli is already joking (or is he serious?) about buying a boat instead of a car since it will be much more necessary to travel via water than road, especially in the rainy season when the roads are impassable.

 Last November Eli traveled to Melut to check out the school and see if it would be a good fit for our family. As we've prayed and asked many of you to pray we've been thrilled to see God leading us clearly in this direction. Even our boys are excited about a new life back in South Sudan.

 This is Mr. Phillip, the principal of Gideon Theological College. Eli will work closely with him .

This is the beautiful village along the Nile River. Doesn't it look like a little bit of village paradise?

Though change isn't always easy, we are absolutely sure God has gone before us and is preparing the way for us. Please pray for us as we close up our time here in Khartoum. We've developed some very special friendships and it will be difficult to say goodbye. Also please pray for us to get some good rest and refreshment while we're in Kenya and the States so we'll be fresh and ready to begin our new work in Melut. Please pray for Gideon Theological College as the students are now moving their wives and children to live on the campus with them. Pray for God's blessing on this school, the staff, and the students - for everyone to grow in the knowledge of our Lord.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Evan's Beach Party

 On March 17th Evan turned 6. He wanted to have his party at the beach so we invited a few friends to come swim and have a dinner picnic on the Nile beach. We had a blast.

 Our big 6-year old

 it was a little chilly in the wind

We stayed long enough to watch a beautiful sunset and bring out glow in the dark bracelets for the kids.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My heart won't stop breaking

After Eli and my first trip to Sudan in 2003 as a newly married couple, we knew from the beginning that it would be hard to see so much suffering on a regular basis. But I didn't realize my heart would break over and over again and not stop breaking. So much of the world doesn't even know what is going on in Sudan and South Sudan. Not only are people being bombed out of their homes and being forced to leave their land, but they're starving and dying of easily preventable diseases.
   As I pray for the Sudanese every day, I don't even know what to ask for because the problems seem so huge and insurmountable. The solutions seem impossible. The future bleak. The results devastating. The words that God comforts me with and reminds me of is that He has a plan for these people and for these countries. He called our family here - not to end the atrocities. Not to bring a solution. But to bring HOPE and to bring the GOOD NEWS of everlasting life to all we come in contact with.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Creative Play Time

 Yesterday afternoon Isaac and Evan came to me with their collection of shells from the beach last weekend and some of the candies they've been saving up and announced that they were going outside to set up their own dukan (shop) to sell them. I knew this would be a great photo op. 5 minutes later I went outside and this is what I found!

 They realized quickly that none of their friends had money to pay for the candy and shells so they made play money with old phone scratch cards that were lying around the street. In a matter of minutes all the candies were gone and they had managed to pick up a bit of the litter around. :)

 Fox, the neighborhood dog, who likes to get in on the fun, joined the group. I didn't get a picture but he actually snatched the plastic bag away that had the boys' shells. The chase had us all rolling with laughter and had Evan rolling in the sand!

By the time the boys came in for supper they were all covered in dust and dirt and definitely in need of a good bath. But I could only smile with pleasure that they think of such creative ways to have fun in this desert we call Home.

Beautiful Time with Ladies on Monday

 I met Lucy when she came to the baby shower I hosted at my house. She invited a bunch of us to her house on Monday evening. We had a really wonderful time, drinking several types of juice, Sudanese coffee, and eating several delicacies.

 This is Lucy on the left. She did a full coffee ceremony for us and we enjoyed sipping the very strong, very sweet tiny teacups of coffee. I enjoyed it so much I couldn't stop at just one cup and paid for it later that night when I couldn't fall asleep until after midnight!

Rasha and Asia joined the party as well. What a great time with beautiful ladies. I'm sure going to miss them!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hosting a Baby Shower - a First for my Sudanese friends

 Usually in Sudanese culture, you  bring gifts to the mother and baby AFTER the baby is born. But my teammate Heather and I will both be leaving Sudan for a conference in Kenya a few days before our dear friend's due date. So we decided to introduce a new thing and host a baby shower for our friend Rasha who is having a little girl after having 2 boys.

 We invited friends in our neighborhood who know Rasha, we baked a bunch of treats, bought gifts, and Heather even fashioned this beautiful diaper cake - also a first for our friends!

 Heather serves the cakes

 Rasha is in the green and her sister Asia is to the right of her.

It was a special time to love on Rasha, shower her with gifts, chat about life and we even got to pray for her at the end. Another highlight was when several of the ladies turned on some traditional music and showed us some dance moves!