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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Elephants, orphans, and trips

Aren't these baby elephant orphans cute? I had a fun opportunity this week to entertain visitors from home and we visited an elephant orphanage where we saw baby elephants frolic and enjoy a mud bath. We heard about the process of caring for these orphans through their childhoods and integrating them back into the wild. An opportunity was offered to sponsor an elephant and I was amazed at the crowd of people around the 'adoption' table.

And this verse came to mind: "Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil." James 1:27 (Contemporary English Version) As my heart was stirred by the sad stories of poaching and abuse of the baby elephants I asked the Lord to strengthen my commitment and compassion for His children in Sudan.

My hope is that you and I will crowd around the the feet of Jesus praying that we will be who He wants us to be as we come alongside the people of South Sudan who need to see, hear, touch, and feel Jesus.
On Monday I'll be making a trip to Sudan. Jeff and Christine Stanfield (pictured below) who currently work at Tenwek are exploring ministry opportunities in Africa. I'm so excited to show them around! Our first stop is Akot where we'll visit some of the folks we've been able to minister to there.
Brian and Debbie Mutai are newlyweds and will be joining our trip too. The Mutai's are Kenya missionaries with the Africa Gospel Church working in Sudan. Debbie is a Physicians Assistant who did her internship at Tenwek Hospital. She has been working at a clinic in the western part of South Sudan and this year was joined by Brian, her new husband. Since the rainy season has started they are unable to get to their ministry site and have offered to join Mango Ministries until their airstrip is usable. After visiting Akot we will travel to Lui where I worked three years ago. They have expressed a need for medical and development assistance and Debbie and Brian will be a great addition to the work there.
There are many details in planning a trip to Sudan. It has been exciting to see God orchestrate the details and pave the way forward. I ask for your prayers this next week that we will be a sweet aroma for Christ in Akot and Lui.

Joseah will be flying back to Akot on Monday also. He and 2 friends working in Sudan have had an incredible experience attending the Samaritan Strategy Vision Conference and a Community Health Evangelism Training of Trainers course. Please pray for Joseah, Clarke, and Simon as they put the things they learned into practice . . . they are jazzed!

Two weeks from tonight I will be at the airport in Nairobi waiting to fly out at midnight. Whew - a lot will be happening between now and then. Pray that I'll use my time wisely as I wrap up things here and prepare to share with you all during the activities listed below. I'm excited to see many of you.

Meet me at. . . . .

June 13 Trinity UMC, Mullica Hill, NJ

June 19Breakfast Buffet at the Kountry Kitchen in Elmer, NJ. Email me if you want to make a reservation. Find details in the previous blog.

June 20 pm – Zion UMC, Egg Harbor Township, NJ

June 24 – 27WGM celebrates 100 years of ministry. Join us in celebrating at Indiana Weslyan University, Marion, IN. Register now! http://www.wgm.org/wgm100

July 4Strathmere UMC, Strathmere, NJ

July 9 – 11 Teaching at the Cooperative School of Christian Mission (of UMC) on Sudan at Georgian Court University, Lakewood, NJ

July 12 – 16Champion Migration Strategy Workshop, WGM headquarters, Marion, IN

July 18Hope Christian Fellowship, Woodbury, NJ

July 19Sicklerville UMC VBS, Sicklerville, NJ

July 29Erma Campmeeting, Erma, NJ

August 1 am – Bird-In-Hand UMC, B-I-H, PA

pm – Ennisville UMC, Huntingdon, PA

August 2 – 7Rawlinsville Camp Meeting, Quarryville, PA

August 8 Seashore Campsites, Erma, NJ

August 15Tabernacle UMC, Erma, NJ

My prayer is that our team will be an encouragement to the body of Christ in Sudan. I appreciate your prayers and financial giving that make it possible for us to touch the lives of the Sudanese.

Shalom,

joy


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Today's forcast: both rain and shine

The past 2 months it's been raining like crazy in Nairobi and it's starting to rain in Sudan. This morning Nairobi started out surprisingly and spectacularly sunny. Mid-afternoon it was gray and raining. Then I realized it was sunny above with dark heavy clouds all around. And now, at sunset, it's drizzling outside my window and I can see the sun on the horizon. The weather today pretty much sums up this past year! I'm glad the day is ending with just a drizzle and a clear picture of the sun on the horizon. I know I will face challenges but they will not overcome me as I keep my eye on the Son.

On Saturday, June 19th whether rain or shine I'll be at the Kountry Kitchen located on Route 40 in Elmer, NJ for their Breakfast Buffet and ready with an update of Mango Ministries. Will you join me? I need your reservations by the end of May - only 2 weeks away. Cost is $7.75 for adults and $6.75 for children (6 – 10). If space is available after 1 June cost will be $8.75/7.75. All payments will be collected at the door. Welcome from 9am with breakfast served at 9:30. See you there! Email me with your reservation if you'd like to join me for breakfast.

Joseah and several of our partners working in Sudan will be attending 2 weeks of seminars beginning tomorrow. The first week is the Samaritan Strategy Vision Conference and the second week is Community Health Evangelism. Both of these teachings have made a huge impact in my life and ministry. Pray for the facilitators and each participant to understand the principles of transformational ministry in ways that will positively impact their ministries.
We are still in the process of looking for team mates to join our Transformational Development team in Akot. We're looking for committed men or women who have training in education, agriculture, health, development, and Christian ministries who want to build relationships with Sudanese and help them realize the Kingdom of God in their families, churches, and communities. We're looking for people of different nationalities to join us. If you're interested or know of someone who might be please check out the available job descriptions with Mango Ministries. Pray as we connect with potential candidates in East Africa and pray for more missionaries.

Thanks for praying for our Sudan Board meeting. It went very well and there was much helpful discussion as we continue moving forward in this new ministry. It was followed by an Africa Regional Leaders meeting which was also thought provoking and helpful. The leaders who are currently in Africa are pictured below.

I'm in the process of arranging both a medical and an exploratory trip to Sudan in the near future. Trip logistics are always a challenge. Pray for each detail that needs to be worked out and for each person traveling to be led of Jesus as they share His light and love with the Sudanese.

Thanks for standing with me in prayer and with your financial support during times of both showers and sunshine.

Shalom,

joy




Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flexibility


My body is definitely feeling less flexible as the years go by but fresh fallen snow (on my last HMA) still calls out for me to flex my muscles and make snow angels! Despite the encroaching signs of aging God seems to be prodding me to greater flexibility in my thinking and activities. From revelations that God is so much bigger than I think He is to lots and lots of changes to our plans for ministry - my journey in Sudan has certainly been a stretching exercise.

When Reuben Kirui joined Mango Ministries last May 1st I thought he would be with us for a long, long time. I never imagined I'd be looking for another Development Officer this soon. But I am. Please continue praying that God will send us his perfect man or woman to fill Reuben's shoes as team leader in Akot.

When there are no reports of gunfire from Akot for a week or so a sense of security seems to come over me and I breath a sigh of relief. I think, "Good, it's over, everyone is going to get along now! The team will be free to travel around and the community can concentrate on important things like planting crops, school, and church activities can proceed instead of everyone's focus being on survival." But Sunday night in Akot there were gunshots fired, someone was injured, and the community once again is fearful and movement is limited.

Please pray for an end to the fighting, regardless of the reasons which are many (cattle raiding, disputes over elections, disarmament, tribal fighting, etc.) and for people to concentrate on living together in harmony. The insecurity has impacted our teams ability to travel around in our target communities and people's availability to engage in dialogue and activity.

Pastor Martha tells a story at her church after the first Storytelling Seminar

Today Joseah and Simon are conducting a follow-up seminar to the Bible Storying Seminar held last October with 25 church leaders. Pray that all who attend may leave with a renewed enthusiasm for sharing scripture through stories, digging for the treasures within, and opportunities to encourage others to apply those treasures, or Biblical truths, to their lives.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit former Tenwek colleagues, Len and Cindy Ramsey, who are now involved in a medical ministry on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. I had a wonderful time seeing their ministry and discussing ways to strengthen their ministry. I'm thankful for opportunities to visit, encourage, and share and learn from fellow missionaries in an effort to strengthen our Kingdom activities. Pray that I'll be a Kingdom networker: taking full advantage of opportunities to share experiences, resources, and insights.
Please also pray that I will be able to exercise my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical muscles so I'll have maximum flexibility in East Africa's ever changing landscape.

Thank you for your prayers that strengthen me and the impact Mango Ministries is having.

Shalom,

joy


"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow." James 4:14