Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adventure With Jesus

Adventure with Jesus

“Make sure you have good walking shoes!”

A good piece of advice for any traveler, yes. Just a few months ago, I was hurriedly throwing a few things into a suitcase in order to catch a plane that was Africa-bound. In went the old familiar brown sandals. The ones that had climbed mountains in India, ran beaches in Mexico, and now would soon be shaking Sudanese dust off of their worn soles.

Now, over two months later, I looked down at those old brown sandals as I walked to some surrounding neighbors to say some final goodbyes. The packed dirt below had bare footprints (along with a random smattering of cow, goat, donkey, and chicken prints) etched into the soil of those who had walked the path before me. The pathway kept going – winding in between compounds and disappearing into fields that were tall with sorghum ready for harvest. Part of me wanted to keep going – to look beyond the next bend in the path, to find more faces, to see new things. The other part of me knew that the sun would be setting soon and it was time to turn back.

Now, I’m turning back … going home.

But the journey doesn’t stop.

Because with every day that passes here in Sudan, the more I realize just how much of this life is truly an adventure with my Jesus. Every step of the way.

Next Wednesday, a certain plane will land in Indianapolis. Lord willing, both Laurie and I will be setting foot into a new chapter and a new adventure back in our homeland.

I just wanted to send you all a heartfelt “thank you” for being faithful prayer warriors during this African leg of the great adventure. It has been so full and so rich with His abundant care and grace. Our time here has drawn to a close, but we go willingly on to the next – knowing that following Him means truly living the abundant life.

The last week with the Cush4Christ team here has been mixed with joy in all that God has done, along with some sadness at the thought of parting. Things like screwing the final screw into the completed shutters at the Ward’s house or topping off our project blitz by the construction of a new latrine (“cho”) this week has given a sense of finality and completion to this trip. Many things still continue, however, and will the time to come within our own hearts. God has blessed us with so many relationships and friendships here that it is difficult to say goodbye. They ask us when we will return, and we can only say “The Lord knows” (and then we think a little less of earth and a little more of heaven.)

A few final prayer requests as we embark on our journey home:

- For safety and protection in travel: Jan, Laurie, and I leave on Friday morning from Aweil, spend the night in Juba, and do the second half of our flight to Nairobi on Saturday. Our flight to America begins on the following Tuesday (September 7).

- For the C4C team: especially the Wards as they remain behind in Sudan and continue on the work here so faithfully. Also, pray for Scott (returning next week) and the Faris family (still, as far as we know, are awaiting the arrival of baby in Nairobi). Being able to live and work alongside these servants for the past few months has been such an encouragement to us – God is in the process of doing great things through the people that He delights in calling His own.

- For our own hearts: as we say goodbye to people we love so dearly and transition back to life in America. Pray for good times of reflection and joy as we remember what God has done and look forward to what He will do in the next chapter of our individual lives.

The words from Psalm 117 (the psalm that we love to sing quite frequently with the Ward family here!) come ringing back into my ears as we say goodbye and look forward to home. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! All you nations, extol Him; Extol Him, all you peoples! For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever!”

His love truly is great toward us – we have seen it in countless ways. His faithfulness has guided us every step of the way and will continue wherever else He may take us on the face of His earth… until we are finally Home.

It is exciting – this life, with Jesus holding on to us!! I’m sure each of you have your own stories of how God is leading you even now. So, from one traveler to another, on this journey with Christ -- make sure you have good walking shoes … because the abundant life with Jesus is always an adventure.

Praising the Lord with you,

Beth

Sunday, August 29, 2010

update #5 from Laurie

8/29/10

Dear Family and Friends,

While our days have become quite busy with projects over the past few weeks since the Farises left, we are constantly reminded that our time here continues to diminish one hour at a time.

Being here in Sudan has given me the joy of experiencing a new culture, meeting new brothers and sisters in Christ, seeing the growth of Christ’s work in this part of His kingdom, and the day-to-day perseverance of our missionary friends.

Several weeks ago, I learned of a missionary friend’s death in Afghanistan that has caused me to stop and think about where I am heading in life. I think receiving that news while here has given me a different understanding and new appreciation for the kind of life she must have lived over the past six years as a missionary in Afghanistan. I have been forced to ask myself—“Do I really truly value the
Gospel of Christ in my daily life?”

All of this has increased my anticipation to arrive home and continue this adventure of a life that God has given me. I know not what the days hold or how long my days will be here on earth, but He is using it to deepen my longing to live these frail days on earth earnestly for Christ—the One who has given me
eternal life, true love, and the deepest joy imaginable.
One of the hardest things that I’ve struggled with here is the language barrier-not being able to understand the conversations around us—let alone all the singing, prayer and worship on the Lord’s Days. It has made me realize that no matter where I am, if I don’t understand the heart language of the people around me, I cannot understand them or where they are coming from in life. While I long to connect with the Dinka people in the deeper heart ways, I am learning that I have to start from scratch and build friendships through smiles, love, and just taking the time to sit together, laugh and sometimes use a rather animated form of sign language to understand them. It can be uncomfortable—or in most cases, very hilarious—but either way, it’s worth the time and energy.

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Here are a few highlights from week #7 that we have just finished.

Wednesday (18th) – Projects today included finishing tying the jergonia (grass mats) to the fence that encompasses the side of the Ward’s yard, sanding and filing the angle iron for more shutter frames, and spending an hour digging the Ward’s new cho (latrine). We also had the joy of painting the back of the Ward’s dresser with chalkboard paint so that Julie now has a great teaching tool to use while schooling
the boys.

Thursday (19th) –

Our projects included more cho digging plus digging a pole up from the Ward’s old shower to be brought back for the new cho walls. The ladies of the church were out in the ground nut (peanut) field nearby and invited us to join them. We couldn’t today since we had more projects to do, but decided we’d have to set a morning aside to join them.

Friday (20th) – We worked on a new project this morning which included making little metal holders for another project. Beth and I got a process down which involved me cutting the metal strips, Beth bending them, me hammering them to fit around the rebar and then hammering two holes with a nail in either side. We ended up making about 100.

Saturday (21st) – Today was another shutter day. We measured, grinded, sanded, and welded. Praise God, by lunch time were almost ready to hang shutters #9 and #10 (3 more to go!). Later in the afternoon we finished hanging them.

Today was Presbytery meeting at Gekko during which Ajo and Keer were examined by the pastors and teaching elders to receive a license to preach. After lunch Beth, Jan and I walked over to greet them. It was so good to see each of these men whom God has brought to be trained to preach the gospel.

The Lord’s Day (22nd) – I was looking forward to going to my home village, Dhokul, this morning where another mission church has started up. It’s an “unorganized” church right now, which means they meet under a big tree (which is the usual way a church starts here).

However, this is Sudan—which means flexibility! Right outside the compound gate, we had a flat tire. (This was similar to last week when we also did not make it to Dhokul due to the back two tires being stuck in the mud—right outside the compound gate.) So we worshipped in Parot (our village) this morning and were truly refreshed by the fellowship with so many of the ladies and children whom we have grown to know so well.

Monday (23rd) – We witnessed another cultural insight via some thief-tracking this morning. Last night, some boys from another village had swiped some things from the Faris house while the team was having worship. Vince did some investigation, and many of the items were found and returned as the day progressed. It amazes me that they could even recover stuff, but the neighbors around here seem to be on top of the news and already knew that the robbery had taken place. Jan, Beth and I also made our market run which we thoroughly enjoy each Monday. We always meet people along the way, and are glad we can now converse or understand somewhat what they are asking us. Last week, we had walked over to the well to talk with the ladies and exchange names and generally provide a source of amusement and laughter to the ladies. This time, we walked through the fresh produce area, where all the ladies sit and shell their ground nuts and sell their okra and fresh greens. They were all eager to be introduced. We always received an extra warm welcome and handshake from
those who are “related” to us or from the same clan.

This afternoon Julie took Beth and I and the boys on a walk to see a new little baby boy who was born this morning around 9am. At 7 hrs old, he was sort of a light grey color (they darken as they get older), with a full head of black hair, and part of his umbilical cord was still waiting to fall off. He was precious.

Tuesday (24th) – We joined the ladies in the ground nut field this morning and tried our hand at “pooning” (weeding). The ladies were delighted that we showed up and quickly taught us the ergonomics to how to correctly kneel and hold the “pur”—which looks like a flat metal hoe fastened to the end of a long thick stick.

Through much sign-language and our limited Dinka, we were able to converse a bit. The ladies asked us when we were leaving, to please not go away, and instructed us to go back to America, get married,have children and then come back to live with them! It was quite fun. Also, it’s totally cultural, but no matter how sunny it is, one of the ladies will fix hot chai over a fire right there in the field, and they’ll
drink chai while they work. (Now those of you who know me, will know that this is quite a wonderful thing!)

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Congrats if you actually read all of this! It’s hard to believe that we will be leaving Sudan this week and arriving back in the US on Wed. Sep. 8th.

Much love in Jesus,

~Laurie

Friday, August 20, 2010

Update #9 - Life in Sudan

____ Update #9 - Life in Sudan ________

(written Thursday, August 19)

Dear Friends,
The sun has now set on Day 50 here in the Sudan. Right now, Laurie is lighting our little kerosene stove to brew herself a cup of chai and I am listening to our resident cricket sing his little heart out somewhere in the thatched roof above my head. Life here has been an incredible grace-saturated adventure thus far. I’ve shared a few of the spiritual lessons in some previous emails, but tonight I thought I would just invite you to our little “baai” for a peek into life as we know it here in Sudan.
The C4C compound has become more empty lately, as we waved goodbye to our dear friends Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel – who are off to Nairobi for the birth of the baby. We’ve missed them here - and Georgie (the dog) does too, but he’s consoling himself by curling up by one of our beds at night. We have been keeping quite busy along with the Ward family and Jan, as we approach our final few weeks.
This week has launched us into fast-forward motion with the various projects to be completed here. One thing I’ve learned about being here in Sudan is that nobody here has just “one” job – and our experience here is giving us a myriad of things to increase our resumes. *smile* The Minion Department (as we are affectionately called) has taken on many different roles: babysitter, dishwasher, chef, farmer, welder, grinder, plumber, tea connoisseur (Laurie), pole digger, photographer, general source of Kowaja amusement… and the list goes on. It has been quite enjoyable, and we go to sleep every night thanking the Lord for the opportunity to use our hands in service here.
Just for fun, I thought you all might enjoy an ongoing list that is being compiled by a few of us (something akin to “you know you live in Sudan when…”) – taking note of the somewhat unusual things that this land offers. Who knows, maybe some of you will end up in Africa someday too and this knowledge might come in handy.

- A common dish served at a local restaurant is cow intestines
- Praying for rain at the dinnertable is a common occurrence
- The currency is a Sudanese pound and there are no coins
- Recreational activities include spear throwing and chasing goats out of groundnut fields
- Kids have little attachment to clothes and even less for “indoor” toilets
- Chickens, goats, and cows are often the welcoming committee on your doorstep (not as much anymore since Daniel constructed the fence though!)
- Digging a new “cho” (outdoor toilet) has many benefits, including a full body toning routine (my muscles are singing volumes right now!), golden sun tanning, and clay mud pedicures.
- Waking up in the morning to an energetic scurry of little feet overhead is no cause for alarm – it is just the lizards having a “good morning” dance on your mosquito netting.
- Waking up at night to the energetic scurry of little feet, however, often means that the resident mouse is having a midnight snack on your granola bars.
- Cameras make instant friends, even if they don’t know to smile until AFTER the picture.
- Land rovers + mud x full night of rain = flexibilityyyy in the schedule! (Or flexibility in footwear when the next day’s jaunt to the market left Jan stuck in the clay!)
- Every night, there is either a gorgeous sunset, a sky full of stars, or a majestic lightening display that you can watch while taking a shower – can’t get much better than that!
- Two boards nailed together make a perfect plane swing, an empty plastic bottle hanging from a string is great for “tetherball”, and countless hours can be spent digging holes in the sand and climbing trees. No need for televisions here!
- Onions and garlic are the staple ingredient for just about any recipe.
- Taking your dirt-christened work skirt out of the laundry for the third time in a week is perfectly fine – it’s just fitting in with the latest fashions!
- Your “tan” often comes off in the shower every night.
- … and much, much, much more!

We are continuing to live every day here to the fullest and are looking forward to our final two weeks here. Thank you for all of your faithful prayers over the past few months – it has certainly been God who had made this trip so profitable. Lord willing, we will have a few more things to share with you all before we return. Please continue to pray for the Kingdom work – that God would “establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90) as we finish up here.
Beth & Laurie


--
"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus and of the LOVE that you have for all the saints, because of the HOPE laid up for you in heaven." ~ Colossians 1:3-5

"…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of FAITH…Let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE without wavering…let us consider how to stir up one another to LOVE and good works…." ~ Hebrews 10:22-24

Monday, August 9, 2010

Update #8 Shining

Hello from Sudan once again! As I sit down to write to you all, I still wonder if I will ever be able to adequately express all the work that God is doing here in Africa. Yesterday, as I was sitting under the shade of a nice tree, God was reminding me of so many of His commands in Scripture to declare the wonderful works of the Lord. “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to you among the nations…” (Psalm 108:3) So, even though my words are rather inadequate and time is lacking to tell you of everything, it is my hope that you are reading these emails and finding your heart drawn to praising His Name with us.




This afternoon, I’ve been thinking about light and how important it is in our daily life here. The sunshine that is so well-known here in Africa becomes a welcome sight, as it is often our “alarm clock” to wake us up in the mornings. At night, that same sunshine becomes appreciated in a new way when we use our solar-powered lanterns. The stars that you can see from here are absolutely breathtaking – sometimes it is almost light enough to see the path without extra help. Flashlights do come in handy to keep our eye out for snakes when we walk back from the shower, however. *smile* And yes, Laurie and I have been known to read our emails by candlelight as well.




You probably know where I’m going with this. All of these various forms of light that shine brilliantly into the darkness are visible pictures of what God commands His children to be: “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," Philippians 2:15




I just thought I would share one example (out of many) of this spiritual light and darkness that may give you a better idea of ways to pray as we continue on this mission here in Sudan.




On Friday, as Daniel Faris, Laurie, and I were getting ready to leave for Aweil Town (to pick up Jan, a new team member for the month), there was a great commotion outside the gate. A woman had been attacked by a stray dog and was having violent reactions. Daniel was able to drive her to Aweil town for medical attention, and Laurie and I rode along and prayed (Later we were informed that the cause of her disturbing reactions were most likely the result of demon-possession.) This was the first time that I have witnessed something like that so closely, and it has caused us to think much upon Jesus, His victory over the powers of darkness, and the impact that the gospel could have in this land. Please pray for Adoot and her family, as well as the many, many people in this area who are still bound by the chains of fear and have not yet experienced the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ.




In contrast, this past Lord’s Day, we had the privilege of worshipping with the saints in Mangar-Aquach, which is the village of the first organized church in this area. Every time I visit that area, I am amazed at the joy and sincerity that radiate from their faces. This week, we had the privilege of witnessing two important milestones in the church: the ordination of five deacons, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper with them. Both of these events, along with the preaching of the Word, singing, and praying, was a beautiful picture of how God is continuing to grow and build His church.

"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3



So yes, there is darkness, but there is also a glorious light – and how great is that Light! I marvel at the ways God is continuing to shine His gospel even more brilliantly into our own hearts as we witness it going out into this community. He truly is worthy of our praise.




As some of you have requested, here are a few more specific prayer requests as we start off this new week:

This Friday, we say goodbye to Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel as they fly to Nairobi for the birth of their little one. We will greatly miss their presence here in Sudan, but look forward to hopefully seeing them in Nairobi in a few more weeks when we pass through. Please pray for their safety in travel and the birth of baby in God’s appointed time!

We are also grateful for Jan, who has come for a month. We have enjoyed getting to know her! Please continue to pray for her as she adjusts to life here and discerns God’s calling on her life.

On Tuesday (tomorrow), Jan, Laurie, and I are going to do an impromptu workshop/discussion with the women of Manach-Aquach, talking about womanhood and discipleship. Please pray that God would give us the words to say and that we would communicate effectively to a culture and a mindset that is so different from our own. Pray that relationships would be established and that long-lasting fruit would be seen.

Please pray that we would continue to treasure the moments here and use our time wisely as we anticipate the next few weeks ahead.




Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. We praise God for each and every one of you!




Love,

Beth & Laurie

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Week 4 update

Week #4 update
Tue 8/3/10
Dear Family and Friends,
This update is quite late in getting out due to full days and tired evenings—plus a spotty internet connection. But I thought I’d send this out anyways if you are interested in getting a feel for what week 4 was like for us.
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Wednesday (28th) – I woke up this morning only to find more bug bite designs on my legs, feet, and arms. Thus I allowed God to avenge me by sunning my mattress for a few days and happily imagined those bed bugs getting the fry of their lives.
Beth and I helped Julie put up a new clothes line this afternoon. We had barely begun when we were interrupted by Zakari who found a bat sleeping above the cho – the outdoor toilet! (I must say that little guy was quite cute!) We dug 2 foot deep holes for the poles, and then—with Julie and the kids—mixed cement in a wheel barrow and set the poles. With the leftover cement, we poured a back door slab upon which all of us (plus Vince) placed a footprint. Julie wrote an inscription that says: “Our Dream Home – To God be the glory – Rev 7:12.”
Thursday (29th) – We watched the kids this morning while Daniel and Natalie went to Aweil Town to check up on the baby. Thankfully Natalie will be allowed to fly at 36 weeks in August – when they leave to Nairobi for the birth.
We also had the opportunity to “shadow” Daniel to a deacon training session in Mangar Akuach—which is Beth’s “village” (since she received her Dinka name from Pastor Thomas who lives there.) After parking the Land Rover, we had a 15 min walk to the church. It was such a gorgeous walk—with the afternoon sun light bringing richness to the landscape. It was a lot like what I imagine the new earth will look like. I longed to walk around alone with God. As we neared church, we heard the beating of the drum which is used kind of like church bells to call people when it’s time for an event to start. We were warmly greeted by the people. They have this way of greeting by shaking our hand and then putting their hand over their heart, and repeating the motion several times. This is the first organized RP church here in Sudan, and we sensed a specil maturity in this congregation. It was especially wonderful to see God’s evident relationship in their lives.
Friday (30th) – We had a “fun” day helping Daniel and Lual (our compound guard) build an oval-shaped “tin house” for Jan Buchanan (RP missionary in Senegal ) who is flying into Sudan next Friday. One of my highlights, however, was when Lual picked up one of the metal doors from the pile and a hedgehog stumbled out. I ran over and grabbed the little guy up and could feel him start to try to close up. (Now this little guy was just plain adorable!) Before long, however, he managed to squeeze shut until he was a tight prickly ball. He reminded me that when I cling to Jesus in the scary times, the more protected I am from my Enemy of fear, flesh, temptation and discouragement.
Tonight, after Beth and I had fallen sleep, I awoke hearing Beth talking and heading to the door. Initially I thought she was sleep-talking and walking, but then I heard Julie’s voice, asking for the snake identification book in our hut. A village boy had gotten bit by a snake and his family had brought him for help. She’d sent them back to find the snake and bring it to her so she could determine how bad his bite was. We found out later that it was a Burrowing Asp, but he had not been bitten too badly.
Saturday (31st) – Project day at the Wards went well. Beth learned how to weld and I watched the kids. Julie and Beth hung the first two shutters (out of 18!)!
After lunch Beth and I headed back to our bai for a rest and time alone with God. However, we were quickly interrupted upon our entrance when Beth caught sight of a snake-like head peering at us from above our door that leads into our room. I thought she did a great job reacting, and was proud of her for turning to grab her camera instead of running out of the bai. J So Beth went to get some killing help, and I took video of the 2 plus foot long green snake that slithered up onto the ceiling and stopped above Beth’s bed. It was not venomous, but Asouta (one of the village ladies) helped us get it out of our bai and ended up killing it.
Soon after, Ajo arrived for our discussion time helping him understand his English Bible and helped him prepare his sermon for tomorrow. It is so exciting seeing God raise up men to faithfully preach His Truth here. Praise God!
The Lord’s Day (1st) – Worship at church today was especially alive with a packed building. There must have been 90 children and easily 30 adults. About an hour in, Akec (the lady who works for the Farises and is a really sweet woman) nudged my knee and I looked over to see her balancing two babies on her knee. I took one and cradled her. She did not cry—which was unusual—but lay there languidly and only stirred to cough every once in a while. I wondered if she were sick. Before long she fell asleep and I found myself looking down at her little face marveling at this beautiful creation of God’s. I felt the tears rising as I wondered about this little life. Will she grow up to know Jesus as her Savior? Will she experience the freedom of His grace and the joy of His love? All I could do was pray, knowing that He knows—and I had the joy of feeling Christ’s heartbeat for this child—and yes, for this people.
Monday (2nd) – Keer (Peter) came for our hour of English. We were able to help him understand words in his English Bible and to answer his questions over four different passages (and yes, one of them even stumped us and we had to talk with Vince about it later). It was beautiful to see him reading in so many different places of the Gospels and the Epistles and wrestling to understand Jesus’ meaning so that he could preach it accurately.
Tuesday (3rd) – We washed the inside walls of the “tin house” this morning while watching Sammy and Amina (so that Julie could do school with Samuel and Zakari). Our afternoon project were further prep of shutter materials (measuring, grinding, sanding).
Pray we’ll be able to somehow get all these shutters done before we leave. Right now it looks pretty impossible, but if we don’t get them done, they most likely won’t get finished until next year. We’re trusting God for the time, good weather, and working equipment.
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The longer we are here, the more God shows us His reasons for us being here at this time in our lives and in the lives of the Cush4Christ team. God’s faithfulness is great and His mercies are new every morning!

Much love in Jesus,
~Laurie (and Beth)

“I will cause Your Name to be remembered in all generations:
Therefore nations will praise You forever and ever.”
Psalm 45:17

Friday, July 30, 2010

Update #7 - Building

Update #7 - Building
Hello dear friends,
As I write to you, a golden sunset is just disappearing across the western sky. Nearby, cows are bellowing in low tones, and the sounds of the night are starting up their calming chorus. My hands and face are bearing tell-tale signs of plenty of African sunshine, and I’m breathing a sigh of contentment after a full day here in Sudan.
The calendar says that we are well into our fourth week here. I was writing a date in my journal the other day and stared at it for a few moments – it’s hard to believe that it’s the end of July and exactly a month since we left the States! At the team meeting last night, Laurie and I were remarking at how “normal” it feels here – which is a testimony of God’s continuing grace and many prayers on our behalf. We are so grateful.
As I was thinking about what I could write to you this week, the theme that has come to mind several times is BUILDING.
Perhaps it is on my mind because we built a house today.
Well, more accurately, we *helped* Daniel Faris and Lual (the day guard) screw together the sheet metal for a tin house on the compound – in preparation for some upcoming guests in the next few weeks and months. The walls are now standing tall and the roof awaits its completion tomorrow! But still, for someone who hasn’t had too much experience in the construction department, even passing screws and wielding wrenches gave me a sense of achievement.
Now, a nice round dwelling stands glistening in the evening sun, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different kinds of building that I’ve witnessed going on this week. A few afternoons have been dedicated towards various “home improvement” projects – like tying grass mats (jargonia) to the newly constructed fence, cementing posts in the ground for Julie’s laundry line, or helping with the construction of new house shutters for the Wards. It has been quite fun to get “our hands dirty” in some small ways to help with the settling-in process.
However, tin huts and fence posts aren’t the only things that have been building around here lately.
Yesterday, Daniel took us over to a nearby village to witness some deacon training in one of the churches. We’ve been hearing about the discipleship work that Vince has been doing with the pastors. Also, earlier this week found us listening to one of our newfound friends, Achol, read from her Dinka Bible and discussing spiritual things with her. Being able to see some of these things firsthand has reminded me that God is continuing to build in the hearts and lives of people here in His own ways and time. What a blessing it is to see His Kingdom continue to expand in this vastly different corner of His globe!
As Laurie and I can both attest, God is also continuing to do a building work deep within our own hearts. We can wait on Him, joyfully confident that He is faithful to complete His work.
In His Strength,
Beth

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Week 3 Update

Tue 7/28/10
Ciobak!
Praise the Lord for He has heard our prayers and has poured on us an abundance of rain over the past few days—in fact, Beth and I still have laundry hanging on the line from Saturday’s washing. As I write, the sun is shining, the breeze is actually cool (which explains the goose bumps on my arms), and the cows are serenading me from their stakeout near our bai.
Here are some highlights and fun memories as we come to the end of week #3 in Sudan!
Wednesday (21st) – We spent the majority of today working with Achol while helping Vince and John prepare the radio station for the big “opening” ceremony tomorrow. We washed the outside wall of the building, and learned the Sudanese interior decorating style of hanging sheets on the walls—which they love!
Thursday (22nd) – The big ceremony was “scheduled” to begin around 10:30am, but of course we run on “African time” here, and didn’t get started until 12:30pm after the Commissioner arrived. The best chef in Wanjok closed down his restaurant to cater this event meaning we ended the celebration with a delicious abundance of food (meat with onions, beans, and delicious bread) and ended up having to send word out to the neighbors to come eat the leftovers!
Friday (23rd) – This morning Beth expanded her sleep-talking by counting to ten in Dinka (I truly appreciated the spontaneous review). Our play-dough skills increased as we expanded our repertoire to exotic animals, trucks, bicycles, and airplanes! We also started to learn the art of origami with Samuel and Zakari. Dinner at the Farises ended with laughter when we realized we were all intently watching the chicken that had walked in and was eating the grains of rice off of the ground. How easy it is to find entertainment here!
Saturday (24th) – Project day at the Wards didn’t go as planned due to the rainy morning and most of our metal being wet. We did get some rebar and sheets of metal sanded, but when we started welding, the generator died. In the afternoon, we were going to meet with Ajo to discuss his sermon and help him with his English, but he didn’t show. Later, we found out that he had been doing some idol burning in several homes in another village. (Praise the Lord!) Tonight at our “internet cafĂ©” at the Faris home, we celebrated the completion of the compound fence that Daniel has so faithfully worked on with hired help for the past 6 weeks.
The Lord’s Day (25th) – Nearly 70 children and 25 adults (mostly women) were at church today as Carlo opened the Word. The rain pattered on the plastic tarp overhead, and I happened to be seated under a drip that managed to drench my hair and back. There were so many drips in the ceiling, however, that some kids were tempted to shower in it while others stood with their mouths open to catch a drink. My favorite time of worship is before prayer when Alo (the songleader) leads the congregation in singing Psalms that have been translated into Dinka. It’s beautiful.
Monday (26th) – We received the most rain today since we have been here (just under 2.5 inches!). This afternoon we were going to meet with Peter to discuss his sermon and help him with his English, but due to the afternoon downpours, he couldn’t make it. Thus we had an enjoyable afternoon with Achol. She’s been trying to start a school here at the church building. The plan is that she’ll teach Dinka for an hour and we’ll teach English in the following hour. Achol arrived just as the second wave of storms hit and we took shelter in the church building. Before long, we were sitting on the pews (each “pew” branch is held up by forked branches stuck in the ground) with miniature streams flowing around us. Achol gave us our own Dinka lesson in which she taught us the Dinka alphabet by writing in the dirt to show us the letters. Because no one showed up for the class, we invited her to our bai and I was delighted to finally serve a guest a cup of chai! JDuring this time some of the men and children of the village were driving stakes into the ground pretty close to our bai outside our fence and we learned that a herd of cattle were going to be staked there for the next few days. Apparently people will request the neighborhood cows to be staked in the areas they want fertilized for growing crops. We were surprised that they weren’t nearly as loud as we thought they’d be during the night. Now being downwind from them is another issue…but we’ll just pray the breeze remains blowing from the South. JTuesday (27th) – This afternoon, Beth and I helped Julie tie jargonia (grass mats) to the new fence that skirts one side of their yard. This way the dust won’t blow in from the re-routed traffic that now runs around the compound instead of thru it. For dinner the Wards decided we’d all go out to eat in Wanjok. The food was great (the dishes were bean, potato, and beef with lots of bread!)—and no cow intestines graced our table this time. Following dinner we took a walk around the village and even got to watch a football game that was being held between two of the villages. Most of the boys had either blue or red uniforms—just not all of them had shoes.
Prayer & Praise:
Health – As you know from my last update, I was hit slightly with a cold bug last week which resulted in a headache for a day. But praise God, I was feeling bad only that one day and was back to normal in the following days. Praise God, the team’s health has been the best since we arrived!
Friendships – We are aware that our time is limited. Please pray that God will open His doors to form friendships with the women here where we can encourage one another in a deeper relationship with Christ.
We know that your prayers have impacted our time here. Thank you! May God cause His face to shine upon you as you seek Him!
In Jesus’ love,
~Laurie (and Beth)
“I made known to them Your Name,
and I will continue to make it known,
that the love with which You have loved Me
may be in them, and I in them.”
John 17:26

Friday, July 23, 2010

Living Water

Update 6 - Living Water
The warm evening sun beckoned me out for a brief walk before dinner. In the distance, I could hear the buzz of voices coming from the community well. The small crowd of women looked up as I approached, and curious dark eyes matched my own. I was interested to see more of this daily chore of Dinka life, and they were equally as interested in the strange white girl who found such fascination in an ordinary thing.
I watched for awhile as the women took turns filling their yellow gerry cans with the clear water. Young girls were systematically pumping the long metal handle, using their weight as leverage and jumping up and down along with the motion. One lady laughed and motioned for me to try. I could feel the tension of the water as I pumped, and my inexperienced hands only brought out a rather haphazard trickle from the tap (much to the amusement of my audience.) When the 40 liter cans were topped with water, the women would lift them onto their heads in one swift motion and balance them effortlessly. As I waved goodbye to the newfound friends at the well and continued on my walk, I thought more about this necessity of fresh water that helped the community to thrive. Even more than that, I was reminded of the work of the gospel here that quenches the thirst of the soul. LIVING WATER.
It has been such a blessing to see how the team here has dedicated themselves to this gospel. I have learned so much from them so far, from both watching their daily lives and also hearing the stories of how God has built up this ministry in Sudan. Although we have only been here two weeks, we have been privileged to take part in some small ways – especially seeing the fruit of the team’s long-term labors in our own short-term endeavors. As Laurie mentioned in her update,we had the opportunity to do some English work with two pastors-in-training here on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. We spent an afternoon with Peter and Ajo on Monday, helping them with sermon preparations and discussing several Bible passages to answer their questions. It was tremendously encouraging to talk in our own native language and be part (in a very small way) of the gospel going forth in the surrounding churches. To me, that was a celebration of the Lord’s work thorough the faithful service of the mentors who have invested in these men’s lives for such a long time.
Yesterday (Thursday), we were also privileged to be part of the “Grand Opening” ceremony for Weer Bi, the radio station that transmits a gospel message to thousands of listeners in this area. Cush4Christ has partnered with this ministry since the very beginning, and the majority of it is made possible through the work of Scott, Vince, John (pastor) and Carlo (pastor). Although they have been on the air for several months already, the “official” ceremony took place - complete with dedication speeches, singing, preaching, and a “ribbon” cutting. Quite a day! It was likewise a great celebration of God’s work through the faithful service of these men who have been dedicated to the gospel message.
These two events this week reminded me of the beauty and refreshment of Living Water upon the souls of people. It has also reminded me to be dwelling on this gospel and its glorious meaning for my own life. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support as we settled into a varied schedule here. Every day has seemed to provide us with new experiences, new faces, new encounters, and new grace, while still allowing us to be part of the daily routine of the team here. I have learned so much about missionary life and greatly look forward to what God has in store for the next six weeks. Wherever you are, it is my prayer that you will stay encouraged and treasure this glorious gospel in your daily life as well. It is truly worth everything. “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14
Rejoicing in Sudan,
Beth (and Laurie)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 2

Dear Family and Friends,
Wek acha mauth erin Jethu Christo!
(We greet you in the name of Jesus Christ!)
God continues to remind us of His goodness each day as we awaken for a new day with His breath and life. Here’s a little update on the happenings and adventures of week #2 in Sudan! Wednesday (14th) – We’ve been doing a lot of praying for rain of late since the work with the compound fence has been somewhat delayed due to hard dry ground. Just as we were closing our 4pm Wed team prayer meeting, huge gusts of wind came ripping through the village followed close behind by billowing grey clouds. We only got a few patters of rain at that time, but it was a good reminder of God’s ever present provision.
Thursday (15th) – While moving bricks at the Wards, I saw and killed my first scorpion—plus eight or so small ones that Beth and I also executed. Our lunch at the Wards was interrupted by Natalie coming over to tell us that a snake killing was going on at their home. Apparently, little2 ½ year old Samuel saw the snake slithering across their porch and alerted them to the “bad snake.” I was quite excited to see my first Black Forrest Adder! Friday (16th) – The Farises took Beth and me out to eat for dinner in Wanjok (the nearest market where we get bread for lunch every day). A few extra dishes appeared in addition to what had been ordered, and after eating from it, we realized it was cow intestines. Now that was interesting! Strangely enough, Beth thought it was rather palatable while I found myself quite disgusted with my first taste and thus if you were to ask us what it tasted like, we would provide two very different descriptions! Saturday (17th) – Project day at the Wards new home found Julie teaching me how to grind rebar and sheets of metal for their new window shutters. My favorite part was learning how to weld! (I mean, have you ever looked through those cool masks—it’s a whole different world!) Beth took care of the children, and if I had the power, I would have bestowed Beth with the reward of #1 Nanny of the Day—especially since by its end, she was not only taking care of the three Ward children, but was reading stories and playing with about a dozen neighborhood children!
The Lord’s Day (18th) – I spent the day in bed due to waking up with a headache, a fever, and sore throat. It was not much of a surprise since the sore throat had already been coming on for several days and the kids have been coming down with it for the past week. I did enjoy listening to the drumming and singing of worship at the church located quite close to our bai. God also sent a refreshing thunderstorm that helped cool me off! (Currently I am feeling much better and only break the sound barrier with a sneeze and the blowing of my nose.) That night, I got a laugh out of Beth sleep-talking and asking me “Are you as snug as a bug in a rug?” [Interjection from Beth: Don’t ask…amusement comes at the strangest times!]
Monday (19th) – We hosted our first visitors in our bai today as we worked with Peter and Ajo with their English while helping them prepare their sermons for this Lord’s Day. Peter and Ajo are two of the three pastors-in-training Vince is working with. It was encouraging to talk on a deeper spiritual level with them since there are so few who know English and thus so few whom we can really connect with.
Tuesday (20th) – I accompanied Julie, Natalie, and Zakari on a walk in the village to visit. We walked through about five different compounds of ladies from the church and some of the women who refill our water and wash our clothes. We even got to peek in on a three-week-old baby boy! It is always helpful learning from about these women’s lives in order to understand the cultural norms and taboos. As Julie and Natalie conversed with them, I wished I knew more Dinka, but had to be content with greetings and introductions. The order of questions we are asked upon greeting is 1) What is your name? 2) Who is your father? 3) What is your clan? and sometimes, 4) What village are you from? And yes, Beth and I have both been given separate names, clans, and villages. (Beth’s village has already requested her to come worship with them on the Lord’s Day!)
Praise and Prayer: · Today (Tuesday) we received a rainstorm in the middle of the night. It was more than we’ve gotten since we’ve been here! Please continue to pray for more rain. · Several of us have been getting colds. Please pray for further protection and healing.
· Please pray that we will be diligent to continue learning Dinka and taking the initiative to go deeper in conversations.

Much love in Jesus,
~ Laurie (and Beth)

“Therefore my beloved brothers,
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
Knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 1 Walking in Grace

Week 1 – Walking in Grace
The thunder rumbled in the distance. Eagerly, all of us looked up from where we were gathered for prayer, as the wind suddenly picked up and whistled around the house. The strong, envigorating winds blew dust in swirling hordes as the dark clouds promised something more. Rain!
The kids squealed in excitement as the first droplets came. As we danced around in the rain, feeling the wet spray on our faces, I could almost feel the invigorating refreshment that it was bringing to this thirsty land. Laurie and I have ended our first entire week here in the Sudan, and I just have to smile at how God sent this little rainstorm as a celebration of His continuing grace. A few minutes ago, as I made my way through the little winding dirt paths to our little bai (and shooing away the cows and goats off the front doorstep), I began to think about all the ways that God has shown us His grace this past week, and they are really too numerous to count. One common theme that I’ve been noticing is that God tends to show me particular things about Himself as I move forward – walking one step at a time. So, here are a few places that I’ve walked this week and some glimpses of Himself that He has shown along the way.
I saw His gift of life this week as we walked around the village in prayer on Friday, and stopped in to visit a newborn baby who had been born a few hours before. The precious dark tiny face looking up at his mother reminded me in a particular way of how God sustains life here and holds all of His children securely within His hand. This is grace.
I saw His gift of community this week as we walked into neighbor huts with some of the team members and greeted people with our broken Dinka. After only a week of being here, we confess that our conversational language still relies heavily on patient translators and hand motions, but we have greatly enjoyed being a source of amusement as we learn from one another. As faces become more familiar, names stick a little easier, and the “light bulbs” of understanding turn on a little quicker, we see God drawing people and forming relationships. This is grace.
I saw His gift of the gospel as we walked out of the Weer Bi radio station, after seeing the first Saturday night radio program hit the air. This Christian radio station, which is connected with the Cush4Christ ministry here, reaches a 60-mile radius in all directions and has approximately 20,000 listeners. I am so encouraged by the dedication of the men here who organize the programs, and even more thrilled to see God working in such a powerful way to bring His message to this oral culture. This too, is grace.
I saw His gift of worship as we walked to God’s house here in Sudan – a grass mat enclosure with branches for pews and a tarp for the roof – and listened to the voices of these saints raised in psalms of prayer. Although I only understood a word or two, it was a beautiful sight to see these people here worshipping the true God from their heart. It reminded me of the people back home who were doing the same thing around the globe on the Lord’s Day. This is grace.
And yes, I saw His gift of security as we walked throughout our days (and nights even). I just have to say that the necessary walks in the dark are still a little unnerving – even with the trusty flashlight. However, as I was walking back from my shower last night, I just had to smile at the confidence that had come to my step (for me, that is saying kinda a lot – especially with all the sticks on the ground that look like snakes in the dark!) *smile* Praise God for His protection, and yes, even if I do encounter one of those reptiles one of these days, I’m sure there is grace enough for that too. Finally, tonight, I saw His gift of joy as I walked back in the rain. The adjustments to this culture have been rather easy thus far (mostly thanks to the wonderful team members here who have patiently taught us so much!) but there is still that daily need to choose joy wherever I am. I just love those moments when it just can’t help but bubble up inside and spill over. That is a gracious gift from God as well. Anyway, I thought a few of these things would make you smile too – and hopefully bring to mind ways that God has shown you grace in your lives today as you walk forward into what He has called you. Thank you all SO much for your many emails! They are extremely appreciated and we are very grateful for the links of love that connect us to home. I continually thank God for all of you and look forward to responding as the time permits. Know that you all are being thought of and prayed for under this African sky. *smile*
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is as sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains water the earth…” – Hosea 6:3
Love,
Beth (and Laurie)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 14

*all Dinka words in the following text are phonetically spelled out for the enjoyment of the readers—and because our keyboard does not contain all the correct Dinka symbols and letters! -------
Chiobak!
We are wrapping up day 14 since we left America and have come to the close of day 7 since we landed here in Sudan. Beth and I felt surprisingly at home when we stepped into our little bai (home)—and have since embraced the big cool-looking spiders that adorn our walls, caught sight of Remi—our resident door mouse, and watched lizards and geckos of all sizes and colors climbing around in our ceiling!Also, I have quickly kissed goodbye all of my “clean freak” streaks and instead embrace the dirt that constantly smudges, rubs, and hugs my every move. Many things have brought us joy and delight in the “every day” happenings. Here are just a few of those memories from each day that we have been here:
Tuesday (6th) – Showering under the stars in the “jargonia” (grass mat) structured stall outside of the Faris home, being able to see the colors of the stars, and falling asleep to distant drumming and singing in the village. Wednesday (7th) – Receiving our own Dinka names, having our first language lesson with Vince (or Dang-ga-rrang as he is called), and our first snake sighting followed by its chase-to-be-killed at the Ward’s.
Thursday (8th) – Awaking in the wee hours of the morning to the cool breeze and rumble of a storm blowing in, walking around the village with the kids and practicing our Dinka greetings and introductions, and having a Sudanese/Kenyan dish cooking lesson with Julie!
Friday (9th) – While on our “ladies prayer walk” with Julie (A-book) and Natalie (Alu-ett), we visited a lady who had a baby early that morning (Julie had been called upon at 2am that morning due to some complications). We saw him at 6 hrs old—which is the youngest newborn I have ever seen! Saturday (10th) – Having the cows chew several of our freshly laundered clothes off of the line followed by an unceremonious dragging in the dirt (I had my own clothes washing party after that discovery), witnessing a historical moment at the radio station (called Weer Bei) and the broadcast of their first Saturday night Christian program—followed by getting locked in the studio due to a broken door handle and a wonderful 1.5 hr talk with Vince while we waited for our rescue.
The Lord’s Day (11th) – Worshipping with our Sudanese brothers and sisters, seeing the joy of Christ on their faces and hearing testimonies of God’s saving grace in their lives, followed by a very encouraging team family worship at the Wards with and insightful opening of the Word from Vince.
Monday (12th) – We visited Damaris, the wife of John (a pastor who faithfully works at the radio station), and had a hilarious 2 hr “lesson” in which we taught English to Damaris and two young men who were visiting her, and they taught us some Dinka in return! Tuesday (13th) – We were reminded that sometimes our plans don’t always take place and instead we got a little extra time to rest, reflect, work on our Dinka, and catch up on email.

Praise & Prayer:
A reminder of God’s grace - On the day we flew into Sudan, I had a bad headache. It was there when I awoke that morning, and strangely I got sick once we arrived at the airport. The pain hovered over me for the entirety of the trip. But as soon as we touched down in Sudan, my headache disappeared—and has remained incognito since. I praise God for He is so good! · Please pray for continued good health and energy for both of us and the team.
We’ve been experiencing an unusually dry rainy season. Daniel Faris and some of the men have been building a fence around the compound, but due to lack of rain, the ground is dry and hard to work in. · Please pray for some big rains! We have loved hearing from many of you and thank God for raising you up to battle alongside us in His Throne Room of Grace!
In His Love,
Laurie (and Beth) a.k.a. Achole (and Agole)

“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
26 My Flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart
And my portion forever.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.”
Psalm 73:25-26, 28

Thursday, July 8, 2010

First day in Sudan

Hello everyone!
We send you love and good wishes from a little round hut in Southern Sudan! The sun has just gone down on our first full day on this missionfield, and I am currently sitting under its thatched roof, listening to the sounds of the evening – some crickets, an occasional drumming, some soft singing in the distance (Daniel and Natalie having family worship), and the typing on this tiny computer (that last one kinda spoils the night atmosphere, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless!) I have just returned from a nice envigorating shower under the stars, and await another peaceful night’s sleep before another busy day!
So much has happened in the last few days that it would be rather difficult to sum it all up in one small update. However, I thought I would share with you a short snippet from my journal – my faithful companion that has kept a few of the many memories.
On the MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) airplane, somewhere in between Nairobi and Aweil:
“Right now, as my family and friends back in America are just waking up to start a new day, I am getting ready to set foot on a new missionfield. The small white plane is maneuvering through some fluffy white clouds as we head towards Aweil. Below, I can see a sprinkling of brush and some sparse greenery with an occasional dirt road snaking into the distance. Occasionally, a small cluster of thatched or tin roofs appear, but that is the only sign of civilization below. My heart has been singing words from Psalm 108: God, my heart is steadfast, I will sing your praises…Lord, among the peoples [the Dinka, specifically] I will sing your praises. And from among the nations [right now, it’s Sudan] my praise to You will rise. For your lovingkindness extends is above the heavens, Your faithfulness extends into the skies.” Lord, you have been gracious to give me a steadfast heart, and I am learning to let go and lay my burdens down – and just worship with my whole heart. Your lovingkindness and faithfulness go before me into this new land – it is even up here in the skies! May your glory be lifted above all the earth, Jesus!”
Those words were written just a few moments before God, in His faithfulness, brought us safely to the ground and we stepped out to feel the warm sunshine on our faces. Little adorable black children, with brilliant smiles and curious eyes, cautiously crept towards the plane with murmurs of “Kawaja!” (White person!) on their lips. We were met at the landing strip by Scott (one faithful missionary who is heading off for his furlough) and Daniel, the latter of whom whisked us away to our new “home away from home” – a cheery little hut that has been tastefully decorated by its previous occupant (thanks, Heather!) We have now settled in quite nicely, and the Wards are making fast progress to settle into their new home as well.
There are so many new sights, sounds, voices, and experiences that have stretched and grown our souls and senses in the last 24 hours…. like making friends with a few (more like a dozen) local children, finding a donkey in the church building, writing stories with the kids, expanding our Dinka conversational vocabulary (slooowly, but surely!), good long conversations around the dinner table, seeing the amazing stars that light up the night sky. We’ve also christened our resident mouse in the roof with the name “Remi” and have had only one snake sighting so far (and yes, I am quite thankful about that!) I’m sure more words and adventures will follow from this little hut here at Cush4Christ, but for now, I must close. Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support from afar. We have been so blessed by your encouragements and have seen God answer your prayers with His daily grace in ways far beyond what we can express.
Secure in His Grip,
Beth (for the both of us!)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebration in Africa

Greetings from wintry Nairobi! The rooster that cheerily wakes us up every morning seems to be the only one not affected by the chilly air that we’ve experienced while here. The Kenyans have been walking around in scarves, hats, and jackets in this chilling, frigid, 50 degree weather. *smile* In spite of the rather brisk evening outside, however, we still enjoyed ice cream sundaes provided by our gracious hosts (the Morads) in honor of our last evening in Kenya.

This past Lord’s Day, we were reminded of some of the universal truths that transcend the thousands of miles between us and the places we call home as we celebrated a few special things along with the people back home.

WORSHIP: I have never ceased to be amazed at how beautifully and uniquely people can worship our God from the heart, regardless of the country. Today was no exception as we worshipped at a local Kenyan Presbyterian Church and were warmly welcomed by new brothers and sisters. In the afternoon, while our small team (Laurie, Beth, and the Wards) spent time in prayer and worship, I was thinking about how my family and friends would be heading to their own houses of worship in a few hour--and how beautiful it must be for God to look down and see people from every tribe and nation lifting their voices to Him. What a GLORIOUS thing heaven will be, when we are ALL together in one place, finally able to worship purely and completely!

FREEDOM: While many of you back home were enjoying picnics and fireworks for the 4th of July, we were having our own celebration—not just for Independence Day but also for Canada Day (July 1st) that the Wards had not celebrated yet! Samuel and Zakari made country flags, and we celebrated by singing our respective national anthems, enjoying a smorgasbord dinner, and sharing things that we are grateful for in our countries. Despite the good-natured Canadian and American rivalry here (lol), we are truly grateful for the way God has blessed our countries and the freedoms that we have. And we admit that despite our American blood, Laurie and I have caught ourselves saying “eh?” several times already.

PRAYER REQUESTS:

Today (Monday) has been a packing day, as we all gear up to fly to the Sudan early tomorrow morning. The kids have been telling us about all the fun things they do back at “home” and we are excited to be joining and learning from them. We are also looking forward to meeting Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel Faris – the family who is already on the field. As we have anticipated our departure date, we have been spending much time in prayer together, and we are so grateful for you all joining us in lifting this before our Savior’s throne. Please pray that:

Our 8 hr charter flight (with 2 stops included) will go without incident—and that no one will get plane sick!

God will grant us the flexibility, grace, and joy needed for the interesting changes ahead as we adjust to a new culture and ministry

God will continue to grant wisdom and strength to Vince and Julie as they lead the team and settle back into their ministry responsibilities

Good health for each of us daily

Thank you for the encouraging emails and prayers that we have already received. May God continue to bless each of you with His strength and grace for the ministry set before you, knowing that we are all co-laborers in His Kingdom! We love you all and look forward to sharing more of God’s grace with you in the future.

Beth & Laurie

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!


Happy Independence Day (July 4) and Canada Day (July 1) from your friends in Africa!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Arrival in Nairobi!

We have now set foot on African soil! Thank you all so much for your prayers as we travel to this side of the globe. God has truly been gracious, and we arrived safe and sound – with all of our luggage, and even a few hours of sleep behind us!

Whenever a new adventure begins, the “first impressions” are always ones that stick out in my memory. The first glimpses of this beautiful country came from the airplane window as we descended into Nairobi. After a long all-night flight, one often looks out – eager to see something other than pitch black darkness. At long last, just as we were descending into the clouds, a fine streak of golden sunshine could be seen on the horizon. It was a welcome sight!

As the plane gradually dropped, we could see the sparkling lights of the city down below. Alas, the cloudy sky prevented the city from the rays of the glorious morning sun that had been shining above the clouds. As we landed though, the memory of the sunlight caused me to smile. It just reminded me that God is always present, even when it is hard to see. His providential works are behind every circumstance, and we can smile knowing that He sees beyond the clouds – and can see how all things work together for good!

God’s providence has certainly brought a smile to our faces, even in the few hours that we have been in Africa thus far.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: We praise God for giving Laurie the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a college student named, Rilke (“Rilk-ah”) on the plane flight. Please pray that God will the conversation to plant the seeds of hope, peace, and direction that Rilke is longing for. Rilke had lots of searching questions like “who is Jesus Christ” and “what is the Trinity”? She has a genuine desire to believe in God, but her biggest wall is that she sees herself as an anthropologist who views God as a creation of societies of men. Laurie gave Rilke her travel Bible and they were able to exchange contact information in hopes of planting further seeds.

We are now settled into our host home and are enjoying getting to know the Ward family. The children especially have already woven their way into our hearts, with some good romps on the grass, a few rousing “sword-fights”, and lots of hugs! Samuel (6), Zakari (4, and Amina (2) are going to be fun companions. We are so grateful for the way that Vince and Julie have already opened their hearts to us, as well as the Morad family (our host home for our few days here in Kenya) and look forward to working alongside of these saints in the weeks to come.

For those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, we also have a blog address (being managed by our family members back home!) and a few things may be popping up on there as well: www.73daysofrain.blogspot.com

Beth & Laurie

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome!

Hello dear ones.
If you’re reading this, you are special to us.
Perhaps you are a family member, beloved and dear to our hearts, who are “holding the ropes” in so many ways. You may be a long-time friend who has come to check up on these two girls on the other side of the globe. Maybe you’re an acquaintance who got wind of this “crazy” adventure and are here to find out more. Perhaps you are a “stranger” and just stumbled across this with a click and are reading on out of curiousity.
Whoever you are, we are grateful for you.
It is our prayer that what you might read here would be something that you recognize. As you read the story that is being penned here, it is our hope that you see that some of these fingerprints are from the same Hand that is writing your story.
In a matter of hours, this little corner of the web will begin its intended purpose – to keep our beloved family and “fellow workers in the truth” updated on what the Lord is doing under an African sky for these few months. We hope to chronicle a unique journey to the Sudan with the prayer that you might be inspired to lift up our brothers and sisters of the Cush4Christ team in prayer, see the Almighty’s hand in a new way, and be encouraged in your own advancement of His Kingdom where you are.
This blog is titled “73 Days of Rain.” Rain has been a particular favorite, as it has come to mean so many things to us lately – particularly in reference to God’s grace being poured out upon our lives. The analogy has far reaching implications for this trip and for our entire lives as we seek to live in light of His glorious gospel. Psalm 72:6 says, “May He be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!” It is our prayer that the effects of Christ will be lasting and fruitful.
Rain is a gift, and just as God gives physical rain to dry ground, it is our prayer that we might be bearers of that spiritual grace to those that we meet as a reminder that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from Above.
Rain is necessary, and may God continue to build utter dependence upon Him as we continue to step out in faith into this mission field for a time, knowing that it is only through Jesus Christ ALONE that any good will come.
Rain is growing, and may we be changed and conformed more into the image of His Son through the variety of circumstances that we will encounter.
Rain is refreshing, and may God work through our feeble efforts to envigorate and encourage these dear saints in the Sudan, as He continues to refresh our own souls with His presence.
“O how pleasant are the effects of rain to languishing plants, to make them green and beautiful, lively and strong, fragrant and beautiful! So the effects of Christ’s influences are most desirable to drooping souls, for enlightening and enlivening them, for confirming and strengthening them, for comforting and enlarging them, for appetizing and satisfying them, transforming and beautifying them…” (John Willison, quoted by Spurgeon)

We’re going to be gone for 72 days this summer. The extra day is to symbolize that we are eagerly expecting how God will work on the day AFTER we return… and every single day following for the rest of our lives.
We look forward to sharing bits of this adventure with you.
With love,
Beth & Laurie
*As our Internet access in the Sudan will be scarce, the management of this blog is being done by our family members in the States. Please continue to email us, however… we would greatly appreciate hearing from you and will reply as we able.
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