Thursday, December 29, 2011

a word from my sister

Unexpected Journey

In mid-November I got an unexpected e-mail from Joy inviting me to accompany her on a trip to South Sudan in December.  In just four weeks I was able to get all the necessary arrangements made and was off for my unexpected journey to South Sudan.

"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."  John Dewey

I knew a lot going into this journey.  However, experiencing things gave a whole new meaning.

I knew it was the dry season and there were no paved roads.

I experienced dust billowing, almost blinding us, as a truck passed our vehicle on the road.  I also had the dust, dirt, and grim on the inside of my shirt to prove how dry and dusty it was.

I knew it was hot and clean water would be scarce.

I experienced walking back to the compound at 3 pm, draining the last of my water bottle and thinking, "How much water do we have left? Where will we be able to get more?  Will we have enough?  I'm really thirsty!"

I knew the Dinka people were friendly.

I experienced seeing a lady just hand her baby to Joy to hold.

I knew that the church is not a building, but the people.

I experienced church with the Aduel Episcopal Church of Sudan congregation.  All 400 of us worshipping together under a tree.

I knew that the night sky and the stars were brighter when there was no electrical lights around.

I experienced the brilliant night sky that was just amazing.  I had no idea the milky way was so was bright, clear and beautiful.  It was better than any planitarium I've ever been to!

I knew that the instability in South Sudan had taken a toll on the educational system.

I experienced seeing a school with walls riddled with bullet holes, with classrooms that were empty - no books, no chairs, no tables, no desks, no pencils, no posters . . . nothing but a chalk board (children walk to school with their chairs and use their laps for a desk - also students are grouped by grade level not by age so you can have a 20 year old in 3rd grade).

I knew that things don't always go as planned . . . . 
I experienced the stress and uncertainty of "will we make it out?"  We had a driver set to pick us up from Aduel at 1:30pm and take us back to Rumbek so we could fly back to Nairobi the next day (on the last flight out before Christmas),  1:30 no driver, 2:30 no driver but word that he'd be there at 3pm to get us.  3:45 and still no driver.  It's now time for plan B!  We had to find boda boda's (small motor bikes) to take us and our luggage to the main road (about a 45 minute walk) to wait for public transportation to get us back to Rumbek (about 1 1/2 hours away).  All the while the clock was ticking... we knew it would be dark by 7 and travel would be too dangerous after that.  

5pm and we're finally loaded in public transportation to begin the journey back to Rumbek - only 7 stops later and we safely arrived at 7:15pm.

I knew that South Sudan has incredible needs.
As we departed Adol, the compound manager said to me, "We don't need people to just send money, for true development in South Sudan we need them to come and see with their eyes." 

I experienced, with my eyes, the vast needs (clean water, health care, education, food, and infrastructure).  I also experienced how Mango Ministries is working with the people and churches of South Sudan to help bring development and transformation through Jesus.

by Linda Phillips

It was great getting to take my sister into South Sudan with me as we visited Adhanom before Christmas.  It's fun to see something that has become everyday to me through someone else's eyes and I trust you have enjoyed seeing South Sudan through her eyes.  

As we begin a new year will you prayerfully ask God if He is calling you to 'come see with your own eyes' the needs in South Sudan?  On this trip we were made aware of so many opportunities for serving Jesus in South Sudan.  Some of the needs are:  tutoring elementary level students, teaching basic computer skills, teaching English as a second language, sports ministry, working with women and youth, discipling pastors, and the ongoing needs for short term and long term medical personnel.  Email me if you'd like to discuss the needs and possibilities for serving with WGM's Mango Ministries in South Sudan.  

Thank you for your partnership during 2011!  God is answering prayer as we demonstrate compassion and facilitate the building up of God's Kingdom in this new nation.  

Peace ~


PS - if you're looking for an end of year gift that will help bring transformation to the South Sudanese check out the bottom of my December 2nd blog for several giving opportunities!

Friday, December 2, 2011

. . . . not again!!

It's been one of those weeks.  I wanted to get a blog update out last week but life got in the way.  Then this week it was number one on my priority list but again. . . . life got in the way. 

Here are a few of the 'divine' interruptions I had:
  • A painful farewell to a really good friend of 25 years who is retiring
  • An unexpected opportunity to visit with a Nuban pastor learning more about the suffering in Sudan and hardships in Kakuma refugee camp
  • I wrote an article for wgm's magazine The Call - look for it next spring
  • I wrote a ton of emails, despite the internet's on and off again temperament
  • Phone network bouncing all over the place creating many dropped calls
  • Failure to reboot my computer, a little hum but a black screen!!!!!
  • Thankful to be able to use an unused computer in a nearby office
  • Frustrating not to have my documents, pictures, or email addresses on this computer
  • What seems like constant power outages - it's not, it just seems that way
  • Issues with our back-up generator
  • Rain, rain and more rain
Unlike the uncertainty of my days and my sometimes whining attitide I have to smile when I remember how faithful God is.  Again, he is here, even in the midst of a seemingly bad day. 

Despite the fact that I've just spent a good amount of time complaining I hate to complain because I am smart enough to realize that I have nothing to complain about in the bigger scheme of things.  I see real suffering, hardship, and pain around me all the time.  These minor inconveniences are just that - minor inconveniences. 

As the Christmas holiday approaches the question I know I need to focus on is "What can I give Jesus for Christmas this year?"  I have been blessed in so many ways:  a supportive family, great friends, committed colleagues, a challenging ministry, a super support team, a great place to live and plenty of food when so many in East Africa are hungry and without shelter.  I am blessed!!

My plan for advent is to find ways to give gifts to Jesus through creative giving to others.  I'll let you know how that goes.  How are you celebrating Advent?  I'd love to hear from you.

If you're looking for ways to give creative gifts to Jesus this Christmas season read on for some exciting giving opportunities.

1. Community Health Empowerment training ~ What is CHE? 
"It is a church initiated, wholistic development ministry that trains and equips local volunteers called CHEs (Community Health Educators) to share God's love in their communities by bringing physical and spiritual teaching to the homes around them."

A group of CHE trainees learns how to build a safe stove

After sending 6 South Sudanese and our new staff Adhanom to Uganda this fall for session one of CHE training we think many more will benefit if we can take the training to South Sudan in 2012.  A gift of $500 will train one Community Health Educator by enabling us to fly a team of trainers to South Sudan and cover expenses for them and the trainees for 3 separate weeks of training.  Click here to give a gift of education and empowerment. 

2.  Help the Nuban Episcopal Church of Sudan in Kakuma Refugee Camp reroof their church
I mentioned all the rain we're having in Kenya this fall and you can imagine what it's like in this church when it does rain.  Would you like to assist these Sudanese refugees living in Kenya to reroof their church?  Give a gift for the roof online today! Pray for the many people who cannot go 'home' this holiday season!

3.  The gift of sight

The Tenwek Eye Team and Mango Ministries are gearing up for 2012.  Our goal is to hold two cataract clinics next year.  It breaks our heart when blind people get the message too late and miss receiving sight restoring surgery.  The need is overwhelming!

A gift of $150 will enable a man or woman to receive sight restoring cataract surgery, including the opportunity to hear about Jesus who loves them. 

4.  Joy's ministry needs

I've been blessed with a generous support team.  Thank you to all of you who make it possible for me to be a part of God's Kingdom building activity in South Sudan through your financial giving.  Gifts to my ministry account will go towards my support needs and various other ministry activities. 

If you'd like to give a gift through check here's how:
Send a check made out to World Gospel Mission to WGM, PO Box 948, Marion, IN 46952-0948.  Indicate which project(s) your gift is for.
1.  Community Health Empowerment (130-25790)
2.  Church Development (Kakuma roof project, 130-21790)
3.  Cataract Clinic (130-25791)
4.  Joy Phillips support & many other ministry needs (130-07338)

Let's pray that Jesus will show us some very creative ways to show His love to others this Christmas season.

O come let us adore Him,