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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Great Expectations for 2010








Happy New Year!

December has flown by. My time has been filled with good-byes to good friends, hosting my sister, Linda, including some sight-seeing, mission meetings, lots of cooking, and spending time with friends and colleagues. I hope you felt God’s blessings this past month as much as I did.

My sister does a lot of leg-work for Mango Ministries in the U.S. and enjoyed a meal with Reuben and Joseah when they arrived from Sudan for their breaks. They are doing well and enjoying the chance to be with family and friends at Tenwek. They are also eager to return to Akot next week. Pray for us as we plan for 2010 on January 4th and 5th.

Preparations continue for the Tenwek Eye Safari to Akot, only 9 days away. Please pray for:

* Processing of paperwork for medical supplies going to Akot

* The safe and timely arrival of a second operating microscope, scheduled to arrive on January 6th

* The Akot community’s acceptance of eye surgery. We're thankful several patients have registered and are trusting that after one or two patients have been given the gift of sight many more will come seeking help

* Uncomplicated and safe travel for the team: by road to Nairobi on January 8th, and flying from Nairobi to Akot on the 9th then reversing the process on January 15th and 16th.

* A peaceful community (no fighting) before and during this outreach

* Hearts that are open to hearing about Jesus

Dr. Roberts requests prayer for the team on Youtube. (sorry for the noise interference!)








We're excited to have 2 volunteers from Tenwek Hospital going to Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok on January 14th. Faith Shingledecker will assist in setting up a lab for the hospital (pictured with Dr. Ajak) and Stephen Leimgruber will assist with nursing care.

Jonny Adkins is finishing up work on the Coppedge dvd (Mango Ministry teammates) who are starting their Homeland Ministry Assignment in January and he will soon start the editing process for the Mango Ministry dvd. Pray for inspiration and creativity for Jonny as he works.

There are a limited number of Mango Ministry 2010 calendars available. If you’d like any send me an email that includes your postal address and I’ll send details for payment. Still only $12.

I visited my favorite mall several times this month after dark and I was impressed with how much the decorations reminded me of Las Vegas. They’re bright and beautiful, I think.








Actually it’s overwhelming and anything but subtle. Very different from the first Christmas. With the coming of the fall rains I’ve been impressed with the natural beauty found here in Kenya. Spectacular masses of colors found in bougainvillea to the same vibrant colors on a fish only one inch long found while wading in the Indian Ocean. Stars seen unencumbered by city lights are better than any light display made by man. God’s decorations are incredible. As with many things in life I find I want to help God with the decorating. My prayer for 2010 is that I will let God be the designer of Mango Ministries as His creations are best. Knowing that His creations are better than mine ~ I have great expectations for what He will do to bring transformation to the people of South Sudan in this new year.

Thank you for your interest, encouragement, prayers, and financial support that is transforming lives in South Sudan as we minister together.

Expectantly,

Joy




Friday, December 4, 2009

In the Dark

Literally thousands of people in Sudan are living in the dark because they live with cataracts. The most basic health care is not available to many, much less surgical eye care. That’s why Mango Ministries has arranged for the Tenwek Hospital Eye Team to take a safari to Sudan in early January to help people see. Drs. Ben Roberts and John Cropsey and 6 Tenwek staff will fly to Akot to take the same message that has always been Tenwek’s moto to Sudan. That is, “We treat ~ Jesus Heals.” Reuben and Joseah are meeting this week with the hospital staff and local pastors to prepare for the spiritual side of this outreach.

In an animistic culture people think differently than we do in the West. Sudanese are raised with an Animistic Worldview. We have very scientific reasons for why things happen which is called the Western Worldview. We accept that most cataracts are a sign of aging which causes degenerative changes in the eye. An animist will have a different set of reasons for what causes poor vision. Cause and effect to an animist is not based on science so much as on the spirit world. As we talk about Jesus to the patients and their families let’s pray that they will ‘see’ that any power that is preventing them from seeing is not nearly as powerful as that of Jesus.

I’m somehow in the dark too. Advertisements have recently gone out into the community about the cataract clinic. I thought there would immediately be a long line of cane wielding people lined up at the front door. As excited as people seem when they hear the news no one has registered yet! Is it the registration fee? This is a small fee being charged that is a step at moving away from the post-war hand out mentality towards cost-sharing which is a more sustainable model for health care in the future. Are people afraid of surgery? Will it just take one bold person to register and then others will follow? Right now we don’t know what the barrier is. Reuben wrote that the answer is to pray and I told him I’d let you know. Please pray with us that what ever is keeping people from registering will be overcome, whether it be money, fear, stigma, etc. Our goal is for many people to come and receive their physical sight but also spiritual sight too.

That’s our goal based on a Biblical Worldview! Now we need to commit it to the Lord and see how He is going to turn the darkness to light. That’s His job. Our job is to pray.

“You O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

Following His star,

joy


* Pictures are from past Tenwek cataract clinics held in Tanzania

** A gift of $200 will enable one Sudanese to see the light. Go to "Donate to Joy's ministry" in the right-hand column to give a gift today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Journey continues through October and November

The past five weeks have been busy ones and I’m thoroughly enjoying the chance to sleep in my own bed this week and clean up my desk.  Here’s a glimpse of what I've been doing over the past month or so. 

  • Cush Consultation ~ this is an annual conference for people in ministry in South Sudan.  It was good to meet contacts made in years past and be challenged in new ways.  As always the time spent networking and being challenged was helpful. 
  • Kampala International University ~ A two and a half week safari (this is what we call a trip in Africa, it does not mean we were stalking lions) began with a stop in Kampala.  In Uganda WGM works with university students ~ some who come from Sudan.  Our team was able to meet with a dozen students and we discussed their concerns for Sudan.  We learned that MANY Sudanese live in Uganda and Kenya and this may be an avenue for future ministry.  I was elated to see my former Lui Hospital colleague, Anna Yawa, who is now a student at KIU.  
  • Storying Conference in Arua, Northern Uganda ~ our next stop was attending a conference with about 75 other participants from all over Uganda and Kenya.  We learned the technique of preparing and telling stories from the Bible, looking for treasures, and how to ask insightful questions. Reuben and Joseah paid particularly close attention because the next week they would be small group leaders when our colleague Billy Coppedge was to teach a similar seminar in Sudan.  
  • Transitioning to Akot ~ Before flying up to Akot we spent a relaxing weekend with the team in Arua that included a shopping spree into the market to buy mattresses, fruit, rice and beans, water purification tablets, a broom, among many other things!  Not knowing how many would show up for the conference we were thrilled that 21+ out of the 30 who were invited showed up.  It was a learning experience not only for the participants but also for us.  The average educational level of the pastors was fourth grade. 
  • Sunday Sermon ~ it was encouraging then that when we arrived under the tree where one church service was being held the pastor, who had attended the seminar, was telling a Bible story and the congregation were acting it out!   
  • Team meeting ~ After the seminar Billy's family joined us for a few days and we were able to sit together and plan for 2010.  
  • Board meeting ~ Then after a few days at home in Nairobi, with enough time to produce pages of reports and proposals, the Sudan Board had a successful meeting.  

  •  *  One of the fun aspects of having spent a considerable amount of time on the mission field is that missionary kids grow up and sometimes come back to work with us.  Jonny Adkins joined us to film what we're doing. Please pray as he plows through hours of great footage so he can bring the needs of the Sudanese and vision of Mango Ministry alive.  Watch for a late winter dvd release!

As I read back through this I am thinking, "Wow, what a great trip."  And it was a good trip and we saw God at work.  But it was also a hard trip.  Working in Sudan is not easy and everything seems hard.  Not just the logistics of it, although that is certainly true.  But relationships are hard.  Communication is hard.  The heat and lack of variety in the diet is hard.  Things are just hard.  Spiritual warfare is evident.  Reuben was very sick for about a week during the trip and he recovered only to be held at gunpoint two weeks later.  No physical harm was done but Sudan takes an emotional toll on all of us.  

I am so thankful for those of you who are praying for us.  We couldn't do this without you! Thank you for your notes to Reuben and Joseah.  They have been encouraged by the family of God.  

Hanging out in a village during the Sudan seminar reminded me of how comfortable our lives are, how much we focus on eating and food, and how much we take for granted.  

This Thanksgiving season I pray that my heart and yours will break for the people of South Sudan.  

Grateful for His many blessings,

joy

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

High 'lights' from my week in Sudan



  • Virtual Team:  It was good to connect face to face again with part of my virtual team.  Reuben and Joseah are doing well.  I was happy to see they are really getting into the culture, learning the language and becoming real cow lovers.  They are both in Kenya now reconnecting with their families for a short break. 
  • Freshly baked date bread: After 3 days of trying, frustrated by clouds and rain, a very nice date bread was produced in the solar oven we took up to Akot.  Dates are grown in north Sudan and are available in the larger markets.
  • New friends:  We were able to meet and share with other missionaries about their work with the Dinka.  We learned about valuable contacts and cultural nuances and made new friends. 
  • Project visits:  It was encouraging to visit a project that empowers women called, Women for Women. We were able to purchase some produce they had grown that we enjoyed for several dinners.  Thanks to Dr. Clarke, who hails from the south, for the fried okra!       See the Youtube video of the women dancing for us!  
  •  Kudos:  The Mango Ministry Team was called together by a respected hospital staff member one day.  He told us that he hears everything that goes on in that community and what he hears about us is good! The community appreciates our interest in learning about them and visiting with them. 
  • Training Opportunities: We were able to arrange for a training October 21st – 24th.  Thirty pastors are invited to join us at Dhiakwei (pictured) – a church training center.  Our colleague, Billy Coppedge, will facilitate a 4 day training on teaching the Bible through story telling.  Participants have agreed to bring their own food although it’s not the season for plenty of food.  Pray for God’s provision in food and understanding.  Also pray that our translators will be right on and in sync with Billy and the small group leaders. 
  • Stories:  During hospital staff devotions I’ve tried to share a bit of my personal story and walk with Jesus with the staff.  I asked last week if several would share their stories with the group and several shared.  God is at work in the lives of the Sudanese!  I pray that we will be able to hear many more stories from the people of Akot.  Our goal is to have the Jesus story intersect with their story so that each day their story reflects more of God’s kingdom. 

Prayer focus

  • Pray as we develop a script and shoot video later this month to help share our passion of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to the Sudanese.  
  • While in Sudan this month the Mango Ministry Team will be developing our goals and budgets for 2010.  Pray that we’ll have God’s guidance and open ears to hear the hearts of the Sudanese.
  • We’re processing several volunteers who are interested in serving in our partnering hospitals and with our community team next year.  Pray for our future team members.  Also remember Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok and the Akot Medical Mission in your prayers as they provide incredibly valuable services in a complicated environment. 
  • Pray for our team as we attend a seminar on Bible Storying in Uganda and then as Billy Coppedge leads the same seminar a week later in Sudan.  This is similar to the missionary surgeon’s moto – see one, do one, teach one!
Thank you for helping us power these 'lights' in Sudan through your prayers and sharing of financial resources.

Shalom,  Joy



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scouting out the land

I'd be delighted to get an email from Reuben and Joseah saying they brought home a bunch of grapes that took the two of them to carry.  (Numbers 13:17-25) But alas ~ despite the fact that the soil is good and it's raining in Sudan there is not a plethora of fruits or veggies in the local market at Akot. There's hardly anything actually.  That's why I'm very excited about the drip irrigation equipment that has been donated by long time friends of Tenwek.  I'm hoping to see fresh veggies soon that will whet Sudanese appetites for the same. 

I continue to receive good reports from Reuben and Joseah as they've spent the last month scouting out the land.  They are making visits to churches, schools, other development projects, leaders, you name it ~ they're scouting it out.  We're trying to learn as much as we can about the Dinka people.  

For instance we have learned that in all of Lake State (pop. 700,000) there are only 5 High Schools.  Adults are expressing a great desire to learn now that schools are re-opening after the war and have enrolled as students too.  

A nearby Elementary School has 700 pupils and 13 teachers - you do the math!

Bells are very important!  A large bell that is used for weddings, dance contests, or when moving your herd of cattle weighs 22 pounds and can be traded for 5 cows.  

A child is named after the name of a cow that was given for dowry or after an ancestor.  I think you see the theme that cows are an important part of this culture!

Women will come to the hospital for prenatal care but not for delivery.  

We've still got a long way to go in understanding the Dinka people but we're grateful for the warm welcome we've received and people's openness to share. 

I will be traveling to Akot on Friday to catch up with Reuben and Joseah and plan for the next step.  We hope to contact the leaders of the area and explain our desire to do assessments and then select several communities that want to see transformation. We will need their help with that process.  Pray that our communication is clear and transparent.  We definitely need God to go before us.  

In my July Monthly Memo I quoted from a book on Transformational Development called, "Walking With the Poor,"  by Bryant Myers.  One quote referred to the cause of poverty being broken relationships.  As I've continued to read this theme hits me loudly.  "At the center of this relational understanding of poverty is the idea of the poor not knowing who they are or the reason for which they were created.  When people believe they are less than human, without brains, strength and personhood to contribute to their own well-being or that of others, their understanding of who they are is marred.  Similarly, when the poor do not believe that they have anything to contribute, or that they cannot be productive, their understanding of their vocation is distorted as well.  With marred identities and distorted vocations, the poor cannot play their proper relational role in the world, either within themselves or with those around them."  (pp 87-88)  Pray with us that the hearts and minds of the Sudanese will be prepared to understand and grasp the reality of who they are in Christ and what He has created them to do.  

Scouting for the Kingdom,

Joy

PS - My colleague Billy Coppedge will be praying for Sudan this Friday at 12 noon (EST).  We'd love for you to join him at the throne of grace on behalf of the nation of Sudan.  Call 800-868-1837 if you live in the US (code 78396872#) to join this conference prayer.  

PSS - Be sure to update your prayer list from the right-hand column.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Christmas in August - lots of presents!

I quoted from Exodus 33:13-14 in my last email: "Remember that this nation is your people." The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."   As I think back on the past 3 weeks it's true that His presence was with us as we traveled to Sudan - but in reality His presence is our present.  

We enjoyed the gift of koinonia as our team and families gathered at Tenwek officially launching Mango Ministries.



We also enjoyed the gift or fruits of the land as we savored cool watermelon at Werkok that Reuben helped plant 3 months earlier.   
 



Reuben and Joseah may have felt like it was Christmas with their new Suzuki 125 cc motorbikes that flew in with the team.  They are able to travel around the county where we are making our base in Akot, South Sudan.  



A real gift for me and Joseah was seeing so many of the Bibles that we helped distribute last year. We're praying that God's Word will continue to speak to the people of South Sudan. The man on the left gave his heart to Jesus last year when he received his Bible!



Another present we hope to share with many folks is the telling of Bible stories in culturally relevant ways. Billy Coppedge shared stories from formal church services to a captive audience in the back of a land cruiser on a trip to town.  


Please continue to pray that God's presence will continue to rest on the team.  Join me in thanking Him for the presents we have been blessed with and that the Sudanese will acknowledge Jesus as the greatest present of all.  

What gifts has Jesus given you this summer?

Thankful,
joy




Monday, July 20, 2009

Harrowing Experiences

Luckily I haven’t had a harrowing experience recently.  Just pushing on in what seems like the mundane work of getting a new project started.  Lots of computer work and a bit of networking, which has been fun.

When Reuben was sending reports of his agricultural project in Werkok he would write that he had been harrowing.  I thought to myself, “he’s afraid?”  But that didn’t fit the context.  He said he, “did harrowing with the tractor.” The dictionary says that’s to break up land by pulling a harrow over it.  He was preparing the soil for planting. 

Just as Reuben was physically preparing the soil for planting I am excited to focus our prayers on harrowing the ground in Akot: to prepare the minds, attitudes, and spirits of those Jesus leads us into relationship with. 

Team Preparation

  • Finalization of team make-up.  Praise the Lord we have just added another team member – Joseah Sang (left).  Joseah was one of the Bible Distribution Coordinators who worked with me last year and before that we worked for many years together at Tenwek Community Health.
  • Team meeting and orientation in Kenya in early August
  • Clear communication
  • An understanding of Dinka culture and basic language acquisition
  • Wisdom in selecting Kingdom Villages to target – villages where God is at work and wants us to join Him
  • Always lots of logistics:  Sudan visa’s, flight coordination, purchase of motorbikes, etc.

 Community Preparation

  • We hope for welcoming Church and village leaders
  • People will not want or expect handouts.  For over 20 years the country was at war and the UN and others were involved in relief activities. Some people have gotten used to receiving assistance.  Our desire is to come alongside people who want to be part of the process of building their lives. 

Updates

Dr. Martin (left) is very busy at Werkok Hospital.  Thankfully the needed medicines have arrived.  Gunshot wounds, a drowning, and enlarged spleens are a few of the patients Dr. Martin has seen in recent weeks.  Let’s continue to pray for peace and safety as he reports that there are too many guns around. Also, lets pray that Dr. Martin will be encouraged as he shares Jesus with the staff and patients. 

Reuben is headed to Akot today for a quick trip.  He’s accompanying Martha Kosge, a nurse from Tenwek Hospital, who will be taking a report back to Tenwek on the needs and opportunities for service.  They are accompanying an American doctor who will be working at the clinic for the next three months.  Let’s pray for Dr. Clarke McIntosh’s transition to a whole new world of medicine. 

On Wednesday July 22nd the Hague will announce whether Abyei will be considered part of North or South Sudan. Abyei is a town in the middle of North and South Sudan and is coveted by both because it is rich in oil.  Pray that the decision will be accepted by all and that peace will prevail.

Thanks for covering the Mango Ministries Team and our activities with your prayers!

Shalom,

Joy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting to know you. . . .


As I mentioned in my last Monthly Memo, God has led us to Akot to begin unfolding Mango Ministries.  I thought it would be a good idea if we were to get to know more about Akot and the people who live around this small town.    Akot is located
in Lakes State, one of ten  States in South Sudan  - with a state
 population of approximately 696,000.  It is the size of Maryland and Delaware combined - only without any paved roads and certainly no I-95!   The population of Maryland and Delaware is 6,500,000 or roughly ten times that of Lakes State.  The Nile River lies on the eastern border of the State. 


The predominant ethnic group of South Sudan are the Dinka and they inhabit Lakes State.  They own cattle, that are kept in cattle camps,  and grow their staple food crop - millet.  There is a six month long rainy season followed by a six month long dry season.  

The Dinka are noted for their height.  A notable Dinka is Manute Bol who played for the NBA from the mid-80's to the mid-90's.  At 7'7"  tall he was an impressive blocker!  

The Dinka are historically animist with many converting to a nominal Christianity during the last century when missionaries came and began ministering.  The Bible has been translated
into Dinka but one hindrance to it's impact is a low literacy rate.  It is estimated that only 5 percent of the population can read.  There are several evangelical churches throughout the region but with minimally trained leadership.  The impact of the church in the life of the village is negligible.  They are very expressive people and worship services are lively with vivacious music, drums and dancing.  

If you're looking for summer reading recommendations and would like to learn more about the Dinka of Sudan I'd recommend any of the following:
  • What is the What by Dave Eggers
  • God grew tired of us: A memoir by John Bul Dau and Michael S. Sweeney
  • They poured fire on us from the sky: the story of three lost boys of Sudan by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsian Deng, and Judy Bernstein
  • Lost Boys of Sudan:  An American Story of the Refugee Experience by Mark Bixler
Hopefully as you know more about the area we are headed to and the people who live there it will make it easier to pray specifically for transformed hearts and lives.  

A few prayer updates:
  • Reuben leaves Werkok today and flies back to Kenya tomorrow.  After two months in Sudan he's ready for his R&R!  Pray he will have safe travel and a good time catching up with his family.  
  • Dr. Martin arrived in Werkok a week ago and is transitioning into the work at the hospital.  There is a shortage of medicines and I told him we'd pray for a miracle like the loaves and fishes to happen with the medicines.  A shipment of medicines is in the works but is not there yet.  He also said there are lots of scorpions!  
  • Fighting with the neighboring tribe, the Murle, around Werkok has escalated in the past week.  Let's pray for peace and safety of all.  
  • Continue to pray for the Mango Ministries Team God is bringing together.  
  • Pray for our plans of initiating work in Akot - that God will guide us each step of the way.  Pray for hearts that want to see God's Kingdom come to Akot and a willingness to work together towards that with us. 
Thank you for making this journey with me!

Joy

Friday, June 5, 2009

Team Meeting

Dear Team,

I was lying in bed last evening.  Not necessarily wanting to lie in bed - but needing to be in a low impact activity for the evening to allow continued healing for my back.  God shared this with me to share with you.

I have been reading and studying Esther in recent days.  Last night I was rereading a book that mentioned Nehemiah and I was reminded of how these two books and people are similar.  

Esther and Nehemiah were both involved in a mission bigger than themselves.  What they were about was not selfish, but it involved God's plan for the people of Israel.  The book I'm reading* is about creating your personal or organizational mission statement and also developing a vision statement.  As I thought about Mango Ministries I think our vision can be boiled down to, "We want the Sudanese to know Jesus and see Him transform their lives."

The second thing Esther and Nehemiah have in common is that they had found favor from their Kings.  

Esther 2:17 says ". . . and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins."  Nehemiah 2:8 says, ". . . And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests."     

Esther and Nehemiah had a goal that was bigger than themselves.  They also found favor with their kings who then granted their requests.  


My desire is to have a goal that is much bigger than me.  Something I can't accomplish on my own - something God will have to do.  In a recent TV show an FBI investigator says to a teenager who had been caught trying to bring down a bad guy, "So, you want to be a hero?" To which the teenager looked him in the eye and said, "Don't you?"  We all want to make a difference and bring down the bad guy.  In Sudan poverty and war have been the bad guys.  They have wracked the people for long enough.  With God's transforming power that can change.  But that’s much bigger than me or even us.

So let's focus on finding favor with the King of Kings.  

And then let's come boldly to Him and make our requests:
  • To supply the perfect mix of teammates: multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary
  • Men of Peace who will be the entry point in the communities we will be targeting
  • Partnering organizations:  important meetings will be held soon concerning the work of Akot Medical Mission and Memorial Christian Hospital (Werkok)
  • The peace process in Sudan:  north/south relations and implementation of the CPA, the crisis in Darfur, and conflicts between neighbors and tribes
  • Finances
  • That we will proceed with fervor for the task ahead and have wisdom amidst any confusion.  

Thanks for answering the call to be part of the Mango Ministries Team!

Expectantly waiting for more than I can ask or imagine,

Joy

*  The Path; Creating your Mission Statement for Work and for Life, by Laurie Beth Jones
PS ~ a formal newsletter will be coming out within a week's time with fresh updates on what is happening in Mango Ministries.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two steps ahead and one step back

Goings-on up the Nile in Werkok

At the WGM Field Retreat I talked with Joy and Dave Mueller about their ministry at Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok, Sudan.  Two urgent needs were obvious.

Dr. Ajak, pictured in the blue shirt, the Sudanese doctor caring for an average of 500 patients per month needs a break.  He’s been working non-stop for 18 months and he’s worn out.  He’s planning on taking a vacation and meeting with some donors from mid-June through mid-August.  Can you help?  We’re looking for a Family Practice doctor who can also do C-Sections to fill in for Dr. Ajak during this time.  A Sudanese Physicians Assistant will be available to assist in providing care to this needy community.  Check out this website: www.pccsudan.org to learn more about the hospital WGM is working with.  Hollar if you have any questions or want to recommend someone for me to contact about filling this need.

In talking to Joy it also became apparent that she could use help in setting up a drip irrigation project with her women’s Bible Study group.  Reuben Kirui, from Tenwek Community Health & Development, was available so he flew up last week to help out for a few weeks.  

This is what Joy Mueller has to report: 

“The flight that took our dental team out brought in Reuben, a Kenyan agriculturalist, who works with World Gospel Mission.  Reuben had visited our location last October to make a community assessment.  As we began to talk to Reuben we realized that God in his infinite wisdom had brought us the key person!!  Not only is Reuben skilled in agriculture but he has a desire and skills to help us launch a large-scale agricultural program.  What was lacking was a tractor!!!  During a visit with the Governor in April we were promised a tractor.  We decided to see if we could make good on that promise.  It was a day orchestrated by God, with the right people, in the right place, at the right time.  The end result is that we have a brand new 80HP tractor with all the implements to start plowing and planting full scale!! . . . . Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would get a tractor for Mother’s Day!!   All of us have been moved to tears at the incredible hand of God in this. . . . . The impact of having a tractor means that together we can help these women produce enough food to last through the year with enough to sell and make the whole program sustainable.  By God’s grace, theses precious women will never again tell us that they have nothing to eat!!!”

There has been a lot of tribal fighting between the Dinka who live around the hospital and the neighboring Murle tribe.  Soldiers have been posted around the hospital to ensure safety for the staff and continued medical care.  Please be in prayer for peace between these two tribes and for good working relationships with Reuben and the women farmers. It’s exciting to see the prep work being done for the upcoming harvest season.  Pray for the planting of spiritual seeds as well. 

 

Green Mango’s

A little over a week ago I traveled to Arua, in northern Uganda, to meet with my WGM missionary colleagues, Billy and Joanna Coppedge.  We had a fantastic time together and have a more defined idea of where Mango Ministries is going.  Billy and Jo are training pastors in South Sudan and I’m excited to have them on board as we plan for community transformation.  Church leaders will be targeted using a strategy, new to WGM, that is called Bible Storying or Orality. 

I enjoyed exploring Coppedges bountiful and beautiful yard with their 18 month-old daughter.  We enjoyed the delicacy of eating green mango’s together.  Although tart and delicious this unripe fruit was another reminder that we’re still waiting for the actual harvest! Pray as we prepare and plant seeds that will reap transformed lives in South Sudan.

 

Stepping Back

I may have gotten a bit carried away with unpacking and house organization this past weekend and am experiencing more back related pain than I think I should.  I’m trying to rest a bit while working on the computer.  Please pray for continued healing of my back!  

I’m terribly excited about the opportunities that God has given us.  Two steps ahead and only one back!  Keep praying.  


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two weeks in . . . .

It’s been an exciting first two weeks back!  In a nutshell:

·     My trip to Nairobi was uneventful and my back is holding up well!

·     Friends have taken me in while I have looked for an apartment to base out of in Nairobi.  I found an apartment amazingly fast and am ‘even now’ in the process of cleaning and moving in. 

·     I was able to attend the WGM Kenya Field Retreat and re-connect with my colleagues working in Kenya.

·     I’ve talked to Reuben Kirui (Mango Ministries recruit) on the phone and we have two days of planning and prayer lined up for next week.

·     I’ve talked to Billy Coppedge (Mango Ministries missionary living in Arua, Uganda) and will be visiting he and Joanna in a week and a half so we can plan and pray about the start of Mango Ministries.

·     I’ve also talked to several of the Bible Distribution Team from last year.  They are finishing up several of the hard-to-get-to places.  Jonathan Siaga reported that people are most appreciative of the Bibles and the training they are receiving.  Last year there was heavy conflict with North Sudan and their town was burnt and pillaged destroying their Bibles in the process.

·     I’ve talked to people working with the two mission hospitals WGM will be helping in Sudan and they are ready for WGM’s assistance.

All in all it’s been a very productive two weeks.  The next two weeks will be busy with moving and meetings.  My prayer is that they will be equally as productive as my colleagues and I listen for God’s still small voice to lead us in the way forward with Mango Ministries and as I set up my apartment, cum office/think-tank, guest room, retreat & home base. 

Will you continue praying that/for

* I'll have a listening ear and compassionate heart

* Spirit led discussions, strategizing, and decision making

* Safety in travel and good health, including healing of my back and discipline in exercise

* Recruits for Mango Ministries

I want to be about “bearing fruit” all the time!  Not a very realistic goal.  I was reminded this past week at our Field Retreat when re-reading Psalms 1 that fruit has seasons ~ nothing new but a helpful reminder.  As the Mango Ministry Team invests in preparing the soil in the coming days and weeks it is my heartfelt prayer that God will use us to produce a big harvest – transformed men, women, and children living in communities that are coming a little  closer to resembling the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.  

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  Psalms 1:3

 PS – I’m enjoying the mango’s that are in season now!!  Looking towards the next harvest.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

A budding anticipation


The tree limbs are pregnant with new life.  A few leaves are peaking out of their cocoons.  The forsythia, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth have burst forth with color and the grass has greened up ~ all signaling that spring is here!!

I had a good Doctor's appointment on Thursday and he says I'm good-to-go.  I will be returning to my home base in Nairobi on Thursday, less than a week away.  I would love to see the trees dressed in their crisp, clean, new foliage in the next five days but that might be a stretch.  Spring doesn't happen overnight.  It's a process - profound, eh?

In the same way it's a stretch for me to consider taking a two-mile hike or taking a nice bike ride along the bay in the next five days.  I've had a good recuperation from back surgery but that doesn't mean a full recovery happens quickly either.

I'm being reminded of the need to pace myself.  If I push myself too far one day, I pay for it the next day with increased pain.  Have you ever decided to start an exercise program and overdid it the first day and paid dearly with sore muscles the next day?  I've done that all too often.  Pray with me that I'll gladly do less now, so that I can do more later.

I think there are similar lessons to be learned in the birthing of a project like Mango Ministries.  Despite the incredible needs of the Sudanese I don't want to make rash decisions or do too much too quickly and suffer adverse consequences.

Please continue praying for the start of Mango Ministries in South Sudan.  We need God's wisdom
in finding the right team members, choosing the right strategy, finding the right location, and doing this all in God's right and perfect time.   

You are an incredible support team!  I appreciate your faithful and fervent prayers, your generous financial giving, and the love you have showered on me while I've been on Homeland Ministry Assignment. Especially during my extended medical leave.  The cards, calls, and emails have been a great encouragement.  Thanks so much.

Specific prayer requests:
  • Travel next Thursday & Friday from Philadelphia to Nairobi, Kenya
  • Finding a bungalow or apartment to rent in Nairobi where I will be based
  • Pray that Reuben Kirui, Billy and Joanna Coppedge and I will have the mind of Christ as we get Mango Ministries birthed
  • Two Mission Hospitals in Sudan that WGM will be working with:
  • Memorial Christian Hospital is having a dedication tomorrow, April 5th.  Pray that God will be honored in all activities and for the logistics of this big event.
  • A group of interested people will be visiting Akot Medical Mission next week.  On Monday before traveling to Sudan they will visit Tenwek Hospital.  Pray their visit is an encouragement and they will gather relevant ideas and contacts to help at Akot. 
Spring is sprung, the grass is riz --
I wonder where them flowers is?   (old rhyme)

Anticipating the fullness of summer,

joy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cracked Pots


Sometime ago I acquired an asparagus fern while I was at Tenwek.  I loved this fern because it reminded me of my Grandmom Smith.  My Grandmom lived in the Detroit suburbs in a house my Grandfather built and it had a sunroom where no less than a dozen asparagus ferns resided ~ it was all light and green and airy and I loved it.  When I moved from Tenwek I left the fern with a girlfriend in Nairobi.  I happened to move into her house a year later and loved sitting on the porch watching my fern grow and remembering my Grandmom Smith.  One day last year I looked over and the fern's pot was broken into several pieces that were still clinging to the wedge of soil and roots inside.  I hadn't been taking very good care of this fern because when I really got a good look-see I noticed that inside the pot it was all roots and very little soil.  The growing roots had broken apart the pot.  I split the plant in 2, bought 2 more big pots and repotted the plants, glad for the opportunity to now have 2 asparagus fern plants.  

The last 2 months have been hard on me.  My head is telling me I'm like those brand new pots I brought home from the hardware store down at the Karen Shopping Center.  Strong, solid, and able to withstand any combination of dirt and roots placed inside.  As I've had to lessen my activities, mainly no heavy lifting, in recent weeks I'm slowly, oh so slowly, coming to the conclusion that I may not be that pot.  To be honest I've been a little disappointed that my body has let me down.  Can anyone relate to that?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready to check into assisted living quite yet.  As I stand over a heavy piece of luggage and want to weigh it and realize I better not pick it up I realize I'm mad.  I used to be able to do this.  You mean I have to rely on someone else to do it for me, when it's convenient for them, and I get to watch?  Yea, I think that's what I mean. 

I realize that my pot is slightly cracked.  I may not be able to lift 50 pound duffle bags anymore. I may need to ask for help when moving potted plants, furniture, and boxes.  I will need to respect the limits my body is setting.  I also need to come to terms that God can use me despite limitations that come along.  
 
As I anticipate returning to Kenya and Sudan next month please pray for continued healing after my surgery which went successfully.  I continue to have some pain which I am told is expected after surgery.  I'm a little impatient to be on-the-go again!  Also pray that I will come to terms with my current pot! Scripture tells us, "we are all the work of the potter's hands." (Isaiah 64:8b)    Despite the cracks that I have, and that you have, Jesus still has jobs for us to do - and the plant, or responsibilities He has given each of us, fits the pot.  My desire is to help the people of Sudan realize the hope of the Kingdom of God in their lives, and communities, and nation.  I continue to be in contact with two mission hospitals in South Sudan who are asking for WGM's assistance.  Reuben Kirui, from Tenwek Community Health & Development is also waiting for my return so we can begin planning and implementing a community based health & development outreach into South Sudan.  The needs in Sudan are more real now than ever before.  The Sudanese desperately need the hope that Jesus brings!  Pray with us as we recruit a team, choose a location to work in, and begin building relationships.  

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."  2 Corinthians 4:7

With the all surpassing power of Him who saved us,
joy
 

  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good News ~ Bad News

The bad news first.  The International Criminal Court brought charges against the President of Sudan last Wednesday on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  On the same day a dozen aid and relief organizations working in Darfur were expelled from Sudan.  This will leave over a million people in a very precarious situation.  Life saving services such as provision of food, water, and medical care will vanish and lives will hang in the balance.  It is still to be seen if the Sudanese government's response to the ICC's charges will affect security and ministry in South Sudan.  Please join me in praying for an invasion in Sudan - an invasion of God's angels to keep watch over His children.  To feed them, ensure that they have enough water, and that they stay healthy and safe from those who intend to cause harm.  Let's pray for a miracle!  Let's pray for all Sudanese and aid and missionary workers - that they will be safe and that peace will prevail.  Let's pray for the President of Sudan and the country's leaders.  

Andrae Crouch's song, "Jesus is the Answer," keeps coming to mind as I think of the Sudanese in these these trying times.  Let's pray that the 250,000 Bibles that were distributed last year will point people to Jesus. 

Now, the good news.  I had a good doctor's appointment yesterday and am scheduled to have surgery for my herniated disk this Friday at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.  My Doctor predicts a quick recovery which I will spend in Cape May, NJ with my sister, Linda.  Thank you for your prayers for my healing, for the medical team at Pennsylvania Hospital, and for an incident free recovery.    

As I walked the halls of the hospital waiting for my pre-surgery testing I learned a lot about health care in the US in a photo exhibit hung along the corridors.  Pennsylvania Hospital is our Nation's first hospital started in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond.  I know I'd rather be dressed in nursing whites and standing by a hospital bed rather than lying in the bed but I'm thankful for the miracle of, and access to, modern medicine.  Considering the loss of such basic livelihood necessities by so many Sudanese this past week I don't take this for granted.  

Giving thanks to Jesus for He is good, His love endures forever!  (paraphrase Psalm 107:1)





Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Glass half full

Two weeks ago I was having quite a bit of hip and leg pain and did not get on my scheduled British Airways flight to return to Kenya.  That was definitely a glass half empty day.  My nature usually sees the glass half empty but I know it's always better to look at it half full.  Let's see ~ glass half full.  I can see it if I squint.

  • Since I've limited my activity while waiting for Doctor's appointments my pain has decreased!
  • It's better to know about this herniated disk now rather than after getting back to Kenya and Sudan with the rough road situation and a potentially painful return trip for medical care
  • I've had a chance to get some paperwork done that might have been hard to squeeze in during my transition back
  • I have seen the bottom of my inbox!
  • Time to rest, pray, and prepare for Mango Ministries
  • A big snow in Cape May, New Jersey!!
I'm trying to make the best of this unexpected down time.  Because I love schedules this undefined time space has been a little hard to handle.  What I do know is that one Neurosurgeon has recommended surgery.  I have an appointment with a local Neurosurgeon in Philadelphia next Monday, March 9th.  It is my prayer that he and I can come up with a plan of action to relieve my pain, get me active again, and back to Kenya and Sudan.  That may possibly mean surgery.  If so, you'll all be the first, or second, to know when and where.  You have been a terrific support team and I've appreciated your many expressions of interest, concern and love.  Thank you so much for your prayers!  This all may mean that I will have to rely on others to carry my luggage on my many travels in the future but I may be able to get used to that!

This is my first attempt at blogging to share more information about my life and ministry for those inquiring minds who want to know more than what is in my Monthly Memo's - which will continue.  I will try to blog roughly once a week.  I have included:  several links to websites of interest, books I've recently read and recommend, and up-to-date prayer praises and requests.  I'll be updating all of this information regularly besides writing and adding pictures so bookmark this site and check back frequently.  Feel free to share this blog with other inquiring minds.  

Your missionary in waiting . . . . with a cup half full of Kenya coffee!