Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Month of August in pictures

 On August 6th, the new semester here at Gideon Theological College in Melut started. Eli teaches Intro to Islam, Hermeneutics, and Prophets and is also stepping in temporarily as the academic dean.

Bethany is teaching a class on how to teach literacy

Sunday mornings we attend the local Sudan Interior Church here in Melut. On Sunday evenings we join other khawadja (ex-pats) for a time of worship, God's Word, prayer and fellowship in English.

Last Saturday we hosted a fun game day at our house with teammate Claire Meckler and our amazing neighbors Chris and Bev Rupke.

We are very thankful that we haven't seen many snakes in the last 2 months but Eli is a great snake killer on the rare occasion that we see one these days.

In his limited free time Eli enjoys working on his motorcycle, usually accompanied by a "helper".

Joshua thought our cat Q-Tip needed to learn his Arabic alphabet!

All I can say here is: "BOYS!"

Teaching a game of chess

Home school every morning at 10 am.

No better way to unwind for Bethany than to play guitar, sitting on the Nile River's edge, as the sun sets!

We are now eating delicious vegetables from our garden. The rains are already dwindling significantly so we're thankful to be right near the river. Many evenings Eli and I work together to water the garden by bringing bucketfuls of water from the river.

Very soon we'll be eating tomatoes too!

  Spike the hedgehog was our very unusual pet for a week. We kept him outside and he stayed close to the house for a few days and then decided to move on. It was fun while it lasted.

Not a day goes by that I'm not amazed that we get to live together with our dear friends from Yabus, Yuna and Marta and their 7, almost 8 children!

Thank you so much for praying for us and following our news this month. Quite often we're amazed that we get to live such a full and incredible life here in Melut. But we are not here on our own. We need your prayers and support and are very thankful for it each day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reading the Bible with Mary

 Yesterday I went to borrow a special gardening tool from my nearest neighbor friend, Mary. I stayed to talk for a bit, surrounded by her 9 children and drank the cup of tea offered to me. Before I knew it, Mary brought out a book of Bible stories in English and tried to start reading it to me. It was a more difficult level of English and she was struggling so I ran home to get the Beginner's Bible that I've been using for reading with Isaac in home school.
When I opened the Bible to the bright, colorful pictures, Mary and all 9 children crowded around to get a peak and see what was written on the pages. We began in the beginning with Mary sounding out each word and after each sentence, I interpreted it into Arabic to make sure she was understanding what she was reading. After the first story of creation, I could see she was energized and beaming at the great reading she was doing - and in English as that! She stood up suddenly, grabbed my hand, and told me we needed to show this to the other ladies. We wandered over to another student's house where a bunch of the ladies had gathered to drink afternoon coffee together. After greeting everyone and accepting a cup of coffee of our own, Mary excitedly told them all that she'd been reading Bible stories in ENGLISH! Soon the Bible was being passed around and everyone was trying to sound out the words on their own.

Eli came home to me glowing as I cooked dinner. While I stirred my spaghetti sauce, I smiled to myself as I realized that God brings those amazing opportunities out of nowhere. What a joy it was to help a sister in Christ experience the excitement of reading God's Word for herself in English!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A quadruple baby shower!

  On Tuesday Claire and I hosted a quadruple baby shower for 4 student wives who are all expecting babies in the near future. It was a surprise. We didn't tell any of the women what we were doing. They thought they were coming to their regular Tuesday health class with Claire. And it was quite a surprise. The classroom was decorated with tinsel, we'd made tea and cakes and cookies, and even had a giveaway of clothes and toys.

Claire called up each pregnant mama one at a time.

Claire passed out prenatal vitamins
 Julia, the lady on the far right, hadn't told anyone she was pregnant yet so this was a fun way to announce it. (We asked for her permission before hand.)

 Then we gave a small gift to each mother which included a baby blanket, baby outfit, and some nice soap for the mother.

When the college had been in the north, student wives were taught to knit and made these lovely doilies. We found them in storage and handed them out to everyone who came.

Before we had our big give away of clothes and toys and other fun items, Claire did a raffle for a nice large suitcase. The bunny in the hat was holding all the numbers. :) After the winner claimed the suitcase, Claire read out trivia questions about different mothers and babies in the Bible. Each woman who answered a question correctly got to pick a prize from the gift table. It was such fun!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

God is moving among our student wives

When we moved to Melut in June to teach at Gideon Theological College, it didn't take long before God gave me a heavy burden and a deep love for the women on this campus - the wives of the students and faculty at the college. I realized that these 4 years of college life are expected to equip and prepare both the men and their wives for future ministry in South Sudan. I began preparing fervently for each family. During our first Bible study with the ladies after I arrived, I discovered that many of the women are not even able to read yet so studying their Bibles is not an option for them. I asked God for wisdom in how to first address these issues but also knew that this was a work only our God can do. He has to put the desire and hunger in their hearts to learn about Him. They won't want to join their husbands in ministry unless God puts a calling on their hearts and pulls their hearts closer to Him.

 There are many opportunities to "hang out" with these amazing women. As I've drunk many a cup of tea and coffee with them, I've heard stories that broke my heart and stories that boulstered my faith. It amazes me what these ladies have been through already in their 30 years or so of life!

            Yesterday's Bible study was a huge encouragement to me. In these 2 months that I've been here, my teammate Claire and I have been challenging each woman to take turns leading our weekly Bible study through the book of John. At first they were aghast and said they were not able. After a bit of encouragement Mary, one of our Dinka student's wives, agreed to lead yesterday. I had been praying for her through the week and wondering how it would turn out. It was amazing! After going through the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and sharing from her heart, we all affirmed and thanked her for leading. She said she'd been really nervous but was glad she did it. She realized it's not as hard as she thought it was! Claire brought up a point at the end: Just as the little boy brought his small lunch of bread and fish, offered it to Jesus, and God worked miracles with it, we can offer the little we have and as weak as we are, God can use us for big things. I could see it registering on each of the ladies' faces and then another lady agreed to lead this coming week! Praise the Lord!
      Another beautiful answer to prayer was when we shared prayer requests and Mary, the very woman who led us this week, asked us to pray that she would start reading her Bible every day. After having to prepare for this week, she's "tasted" and seen how sweet God's Word is for our daily lives. And glory to God that she now has a greater hunger to learn from Him and His Truth.
     I came home glowing and in awe of our God. What a blessing to see God working so powerfully in their lives! Please continue to pray for each of our student wives: Mary, Julia, Miriam, Martha, Lydia, Tabitha, Rhoda, Rebecca, Monica, and Elizabeth.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Full but wonderful life!

Many of you might not know but last week I, Bethany, had to quickly fly to Kenya to get a root canal because I just couldn't wait any longer. Eli did a wonderful job here in Melut with all three boys on top of his other responsibilities. God very much had His hand on my travels and brought me safely home by boat on Sunday evening. The next morning our new semester began at Gideon Theological College and I taught the first class at 8:30 - Teaching Literacy in the Community.
No, the picture above is not me. :) Mr. Philip Eisa, our principal taught Research Methods on Tuesday.

Welcome to the Principal's Office: Mr. Philip Eisa

Academic Dean: Eli Fader

Secretary: Joyce

Librarian, school nurse, health & Bible teacher: Claire Meckler

The students seem refreshed from their break and motivated for the new semester.

Saturdays are now called Sanitation Saturday on our campus. Every Saturday morning students work around their homes to keep the compound clean - picking up garbage, weeding their gardens, slashing grass, etc. Sometimes they get together for a project. One week they all planted thorn and mahogany trees along our property to create a living fence. Today they worked to clear the rubble and weeds off of an old collapsed house so that the cement floor and partial walls can be used for a new tent where guests can stay when they come to visit campus.

Eli and the men worked on problem solving skills as they discussed how to erect the poles for the tent cover.

Isaac, Evan and Josh love doing their part. They are just like their Papa and LOVE working hard.

As you can see, our boys are still very content and fit right into life here. Now that we've been in Melut for 2 months it definitely feels like home. The boys have made special friends. Their friends are over every afternoon as soon as school is out and they play hard until it's time to come in for dinner.

This little girl cried the first time she saw me. Now she runs into my arms yelling, "Nyadeng! Nyadeng!" (my Dinka name) when she sees me!

In other news, we are all very thankful for good rains because the gardens all over campus are flourishing. Today Nyayup was showing me how tall her maize has grown - now it's taller than her!

We are also very very grateful to have Elizabeth as part of our family. She began working for us, helping out in the house, when we first arrived but now she comes 5 days a week to help wash clothes, clean house, and cook. While I was away in Kenya, she began cooking and when I got back I heard how good her food was. Since my mornings are full with class at the college plus homeschooling the boys, it is such a blessing that she cooks lunch and has it ready every day for us. This week she fried fresh fish and it was seriously the best fried fish we had ever tasted. She is such a gift!