Monday, June 20, 2016

An Unusual Visit

Melissa and I adventuring through the camp
On Saturday my teammate Melissa and I were invited to visit a young teenage girl, probably about 17, whom I will call Teresa. She just started coming to our Saturday Bible study in the Yusif Batil camp and we were excited to have her, especially when we heard that she was from an influential family in the camp. Teresa is a very spirited, fun young lady and I feel like she took to me right away. Last weekend while we were sipping tea together in a tea shop she asked if I would come to visit her the following Saturday. I decided it would be possible because I could drop Eli at the church for Bible study and I could go on to her house. So Saturday afternoon we dropped Eli and two of the boys at the Yusif Batil church while Melissa, Joshua and I set out on what would later prove to be quite the wild goose hunt. I had a general idea of where in the camp she was from and I figured that since she was from a well-known family, I'd be able to find her house no problem. One issue: I didn't know her father's name. Just her first name. So for the next hour and a half, Melissa and I traipsed through the camp, first going in one direction, and then in another. We ended up coming to houses where someone with a similar or same name lived but found that it was not the right place. Finally we decided to head back to the church and see if someone there could help us find the way.

At the church, Sam, another young teenager, said he knew where Teresa lived so we got back in the car, heading back in the direction where we'd first been looking. He said he knew where she lived but as we started searching from one house to the next, Melissa and I realized that he knew the general area but not her exact house. :) We had to keep chuckling and smiling at each other because at this point it was just comical! Finally around 3:30 we ended up at the right house of the right girl. We met her mother who warmly invited us into a freshly mudded hut. After guzzling a big cup of water we found out from Teresa's mother that Teresa wasn't home! She had gone to market. She wanted to make us a cup of tea so we stayed, hoping that maybe Teresa would show up, but once we got to 20 minutes past the time we were supposed to meet back up with Eli at the church, we said we would try to come back another day and said our farewells.

I don't think people in that part of the camp have khawaja (foreign) visitors very often so we had quite a crowd of neighbors and children come by to greet and stare at us.

Children staring in at us
As we drove away from Teresa's house, honestly tired out and a bit frazzled from the wild goose hunt, I chose to believe that the afternoon trek and visit were not a waste. I hope it meant a lot to Teresa that we kept our word and showed up even though she forgot. I hope our determination to find her house spoke love to those who were helping us find the way. And I hope God will lead us back to that little hut someday soon to share His love and Truth. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Celebrating 9 Years of Adventures Serving Jesus in Sudan and South Sudan

The boys helped unload the plane

It is with great nostalgia that I share these photos from our first few weeks in Yabus, Sudan in June 2007. Eli and I were only 26 years old and had a one year old and a three year old. Though we grew up in Africa, this adventure was a whole new step of faith as we ventured to learn the culture and language of the people we'd been praying for and eager to meet for many years.

Our lovely Yabus home
 Our first few weeks were full of many firsts - snake sightings, scorpion killings, using solar power, planting a garden, multi-cultural team dynamics, cooking on charcoal, washing diapers by hand, getting random infections and diseases and trying to speak a language completely unfamiliar to us.

When the kids got fussy from the heat we sat them in basins of water

Bush transportation

Meals in our little house

I won't lie. It was hard. I remember a few times, having to hide in the kids' room, sobbing my eyes out and thinking, "I can't do this. I want to go home." But the Lord always reminded us of our calling and we knew Yabus is where we belonged as a family.

Little Boys Paradise

With the heat, culture stress, juggling little ones in the bush and the steep learning curve we experienced on a daily basis, we started taking hikes and "breaks" out in the countryside to get away and recharge. We also learned that regular R&R trips to Kenya were a must and helped keep us healthy.

Our Yabus Team: 2007
There is no way to sum up the experiences and the adventures we've had over these last 9 years as a family. Sudan has shaped us and taught us so much and God has used the highs and lows of everyday ministry in this country to refine us and stretch our faith. We are thankful for the privilege God has given us to remain, even through several civil wars, in a country and with a people that we love so very much. We pray God will bless us with many more years here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Team Prayer
 Last week turned out to be a tense week when fighting broke out between two tribes in our community. With unrest around us, our team stayed on our compounds and the clinic and school were closed down until things calmed down. After a few days we were beginning to feel a little stir crazy but we found some things to stay occupied. One of the things we did a lot of was pray. We prayed as a family and we prayed as a team. God answered and we're thankful that this week seems to be heading back to "normal".

Donut making
 Eli's birthday arrived in perfect timing - giving us an excuse to gather for fun and yummy homemade donuts.

Crazy Card Playing

On Eli's birthday, things were calmed down enough that he and the boys went on a bike ride to the river for a swim.

 One hot day a water fight was just the thing to keep the kids busy!