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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.