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.
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
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!)
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,