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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.  

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