Saturday, May 11, 2013

Celebrating Mothers

As Mother's Day is only hours away I wanted to capitalize on our collective interest in honoring our Mom's.  As  I coordinate and lead the many activities of Mango Ministries I come in contact with lots of Mothers.  Their roles are many and varied in this business of Kingdom Building.  Here's a glimpse of Moms in Missions

A big thank you to my Mom, Carol Phillips, as she and my Dad have given me their blessing to serve in missions.  Mom has always been supportive, if not exactly excited about where God has lead me!  That has resulted in lots of prayer, which is always a good thing. I could always count on getting letters from Mom when I first came to Kenya, years ago - way before email.  And now I've usually got an email  from her in my inbox with encouragement and news from home.  When I return to the US she always asks, "What would you like me to cook for you?"  Thanks Mom!  You and many other  Mom's of Missionaries are a huge blessing to those of us who are in ministry far from home!

my Mother, Carol Phillips

Some WGM Mother's are at the 'empty nest' stage of life.  While visiting South Sudan they take the opportunity to snuggle with other Mother's children.

Christine Stanfield, one of WGM's South Sudan Committee members

Other mothers are in the throes of child rearing and carry their small ones off to South Sudan with them as they serve in medical ministry.
Dr. Destinee MacLeod and husband Dr. Jono take little Zoe with them to Tonj

And then South Sudanese get the chance to cuddle with visiting babies!
Chloe, or is it Sophie?, Coppedge during a Biblical Storytelling training in Tonj
(sorry, Auntie Joy just can't tell you and your sister apart!)

And some Mothers have older kids giving them and their kids time to explore on their own.
 Jenny Roberts, wife of our eye surgeon Ben Roberts, helps out in the kitchen in Tonj

To round off her son's education Nate headed out to catch some supper in the nearby river!

Jenny's son, Luke, helped out during a cataract clinic leading blind patients from room to room.

Jenny also serves as her son's Teacher and continued the challenging job of home schooling - even during a visit to South Sudan.

Some mother's who work at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya leave their children at home with family and friends while they join Mango Ministries during our mobile cataract clinics.
Zipporah and Emily treating post-op cataract patients

And other missionary Moms live in South Sudan hosting many, many guests and short term visitors!
Suzy Kuj (center) , mother of 3, gives WGM'ers a tour of the In Deed and Truth compound in Tonj

Some mothers, like Helen, remain at home in Kenya caring for her daughters and praying for her husband as he ministers through Community Health in South Sudan.
Helen (on far right) is Adhanom's wife.  Her youngest daughter Shamna is on her Aunt's lap

Mother's Unions play an important role in most Churches in South Sudan.  

And of course Mom's carry out the same activities for their children all around the world. 
bath time

weeding in the garden to ensure there will be food for hungry stomachs

food prep - grinding millet

And ensuring there's enough water at home for drinking, cooking, and bathing. 

Unfortunately many Moms and Grandmoms in South Sudan are not able to help with these basic activities of caring for their families.  They are blind from cataracts.  

A daughter leads her Mom to have her bandage removed after having cataract surgery the previous day

Often the elderly are afflicted with cataracts but sometimes young people are as well. It was exciting to witness this young Mother examine the eye chart after her cataract surgery.  Next for her was seeing her child that she had never laid eyes on because of her blindness!

Moms and Grandmothers are so important to us.  Mango Ministries is blessed to have the opportunity to partner with the Tenwek Eye Team.  This year we have three trips planned.  Our goal is to bring physical eyesight as well as offer spiritual wholeness to hundreds of women in this hurting nation.  

Read a past blog post about this Grandmother's journey from being blind and destitute to restoration of sight, fellowship with her church, and contributing to her family and community. 

Will you consider giving a gift to a South Sudanese Mother this year?  For only $50 (thanks to financial help from a generous foundation) World Gospel Mission and Mango Ministries is able to offer sight giving surgery to hundreds of Mothers.  Will you make a commitment to pray for one of the Mother's who comes to us for help?  As you have been blessed will you consider blessing a neighboring Mother in South Sudan.  She will be most grateful!  To help financially checks can be sent to:  World Gospel Mission, P.O. Box 948, Marion, IN 46952-0948 for account no. 130-25791.  Or click here to give a gift online.  

Here is our 2013 schedule for Cataract Clinics:
June 4 - 8, Memorial Christian Hospital, Werkok, Jongelei
October 5 - 9, IAS medical clinic, Nyinbule, Northern Bahr El Ghazal
November 9 - 13, In Deed and Truth, Tonj, Warrap

Thanks to the many Mom's who send us off to serve the South Sudanese.
Thanks to the Mom's who minister in South Sudan, bringing the example of Godly families with you.
Thanks to the many Mom's who lift up the process of Kingdom building in prayer.
And thanks to those who pray and give financially in order to bless the Mom's of South Sudan. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Living better ~ Loving better

I'd like to introduce you to Denny and Angie Schwartz.  I met this couple years ago, so long ago I can't remember exactly when it was, when they came to Tenwek on a work team with their church.  The following year they headed up their own work team.  And later they came by themselves and worked with us at Tenwek Community Health and Development for 8 months.  

Gladys, Joy, and Angie and Denny Schwartz at Tenwek Community Health & Development, 2005

I've loved getting to know this family and seeing their commitment to missions in action.  Two months ago Denny traveled to Akot, South Sudan to minister with his church alongside the Akot Medical Mission, who we've worked with on occasion as well.  He's given me permission to share his thoughts with you from his recent trip.  His insights are spot on. 

"Why Do I go on Mission Trips? Yesterday I returned from my 6th mission trip to Africa. As I think about the details (and contend with the jet lag) of that trip I find my old answers to my question are not sufficient. I have visited Kenya 5 times and I fell in love with the beauty of the people and of the land. I worked on foundations well developed by a hundred years of faithful servants from around the world that answered the call to work there. I worked on projects that were fulfilling to me and beneficial to those I served. I never thought that any reason to serve could be more worthwhile than that.

Then I took this trip to South Sudan. I will just be honest – it is not a pretty land. It is a place that is deeply scarred from 30 years of brutal civil war. It is a people that have come to rely (maybe too heavily) on “assistance” from the global community. I confess – my primary objective on this trip was to provide “assistance” as well.

Then I saw the church. It wasn’t a building (most of the churches we visited met under a tree). It wasn’t the great programs being carried out by followers (although we saw a handful of critical projects such as schools, hospitals and community health programs being administered by followers of Christ). I saw the church when I saw her people – and I was encouraged by what I saw. As I learned more about the state of the small but growing church, I could see the impact it was making on the country of South Sudan. In a place that has known only war for 30 years and violence for even longer, it is the church that is changing that culture. It is the church that is encouraging its members to be responsible citizens of this new nation. It is the church that encourages it members to treat their spouse and children with the love, dignity and respect that God intended and not with the harshness that has been the cultural norm since these tribes were formed. It is the church urging her members to care for the many orphans and widows created by 30 years of war. It is the church that is encouraging parents to send their daughters, as well as their sons, to school. It is the church that is urging its members to not let their hands be idle but to work in all things as if working for the Lord. In short, the church is teaching the people to love better. And how are they doing this? By loving others as Jesus loves them.

There are many great “assistance” programs that are helping the South Sudanese to live better. But let me be honest; living by definition is not difficult. It only takes a heartbeat. Loving, on the other hand is harder. You must know what your heart is beating for. So, if you are still reading this extended post and you want a report of our recent trip then here it is. We tried to help people live better. We hope we helped people to love better. And I know that this (suddenly) beautiful church of South Sudan has taught me to love better."

Mango Ministries continues to love the people of South Sudan.  

Adhanom, from Eritrea, is building relationships with pastors and many others in Lakes State.  He is an encouragment to all he meets. 

Adhanom chats with some youth in Tonj

Whitney, from Alabama, continues to follow up with CHE participants and builds discipling relationships with several women and girls in Tonj. 

Whitney gets to know the girls serving kerekede in Tonj

Margit, from Germany, is at Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok to help and encourage the hospital Administrator and Medical staff.  

Billy, from Kentucky, is planning a follow-up Biblical Storytelling training in Tonj this July and is excited to hear reports that the pastors trained in March are telling stories and diving into the depths of the Word by themselves. 

Billy trains pastors in Biblical Storytelling from around Tonj

 Joanna, from Indiana, and Billy's wife, is mainly at home in northern Uganda with their 4 young daughters reaching out to African Moms and their children.  But she's not always at home!

Joanna teaches a lesson on Biblical Storytelling in March

Here's a story of transformation from this recent training: 
While the In Deed and Truth team was driving home from a mobile clinic a pastor, who we'll call Paul, who had been in the Bible Storytelling training started telling a Bible story that he had not learned from the training (which means he learned it himself!).  He did a great job asking questions and everyone thought he was finished when he started asking more questions at a much deeper level.  Whitney reported that it was amazing and God really spoke to her through Pastor Paul's presentation of the story. Not long afterwards a young man came up to Sabet (founder of IDAT Ministry) and asked, "How can I be like Pastor Paul? I love it when he shares a Bible story because it is so good. I want to share Bible stories like Pastor Paul."  

 Jen, from Michigan, is preparing to train trainers for children's ministry in Nyinbule in June.  

Jen meets the government school teachers in February while touring Nyinbule

Some of the local children who will benefit from a children's ministry

Sharon, from Nairobi, Kenya, is getting adjusted to the In Deed and Truth Clinic in Tonj as she uses her Clinical Officer training to minister to women and children. 

Mother and child receiving care from the In Deed and Truth Clinic

And my office is filling up with hundreds of eye lenses, medicines, 5 liter jugs of povidine, rolls of gauze, sterile gloves, and material to sew surgical drapes as we prepare to send out cataract and surgical teams from Tenwek over the next few months.   

Thank you for partnering with Mango Ministries through prayer, financial giving, and even going ~ as we assist/share/facilitate/teach/model living a better life in Christ.  Living better begets loving better!

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."  John 15:12