Monday, October 7, 2013

an attitude adjustment

In the past two weeks I've been struck with the irony of the African security situation.

As I oversee ministry activities in South Sudan, a country that has a history of 50 years of war and insecurity, I'm always thinking about security.  Are the staff safe?  What is happening politically that could affect the security situation?  Are supplies getting in?  Are the roads flooded to the point of being unpassable.

The rainy season that is winding up has caused massive flooding in South Sudan this year

Or even just, Where is the President?  Two and a half weeks ago on a visit to Tonj I found that I was surrounded by gun carrying soldiers who were jumping out of technicals (camouflage colored pick-up trucks with mounted machine guns) while we, the passengers, walked onto the stiflingly hot tarmac to load our plane.  No jetways in South Sudan!  All because the President of South Sudan was in the area and possibly at the airport.

We expect to hear gunshots in South Sudan.  We expect to hear news of cattle raids and people being injured and killed.  We expect it because it happens.

But in Kenya, where I live, we do not really expect to have 'security situations.'  Despite being at war with Kenya's neighbor to the east in Somalia.  Despite US Embassy warnings about potential unrest and recommendations to avoid large gatherings and to be aware of our surroundings.  Still, we, or should I say "I", do not expect there to be insecurity.  I open my purse so the female security guard can peek in every time I go into my local shopping mall to get groceries, or buy airtime, or to grab a bite to eat.  Theoretically she is looking to see if I have a gun in my bag.  But still I do not expect that anyone will actually carry a gun into a mall intent on using it to kill and destroy.  To make a political statement.  I have the "it can't happen to me / us / this country" syndrome. But two weeks ago it did happen.

I have been told that Kenya made headline news in America as the terrorist attack on the WestGate shopping mall was reported.  Thankfully our WGM missionaries and colleagues are safe.  But many have died, many more are physically injured, and thousands are shaken to their bones with the reality that all is not right in the world and . . . . THE UNIMAGINABLE CAN HAPPEN TO ME / HERE / NOW!

For 4 days I sat at my desk scanning the internet for news.  BBC, the local Kenya news outlets, Al Jazeera, twitter.  I tried to work . . . tried to catch up, especially since I had been in South Sudan the week before making me even behindeder.  But every hour, or was it every 15 minutes, I just HAD to check and see if there was more news.  I desperately wanted to know what was happening across town.  Unfortunately news was not all that forthcoming which made the search for news all the more desperate and urgent.

And thus passed a week of watching and waiting.

To be honest, I'm pretty tired of being on the edge of my seat, waiting for something bad to happen.
I am glued to email, the newsfeeds, and twitter, waiting for news that something else is going wrong in the world or at least disrupting all my meticulous plans that enable the forward motion of Mango Ministry activities.

I'm sure it is time for an attitude adjustment.  It's so easy for my world view to slip into a Western and secular view that looks at what is wrong.  And there's always something wrong going on in the world, isn't there? Instead I want to focus on the way Jesus sees the world and on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  (Philipians 4:8)

One of the things on my 'to-do' list today is to write my monthly report for WGM Headquarters.  As I'm scanning through the monthly reports sent to me by Adhanom, Tiana, Margit, Nathan, and Bonnie I am absolutely reminded that God is good and He is at work in South Sudan!  

He is there.
His people are sharing Jesus.
He is working in the hearts and souls and physical lives of people.
His Word is powerful.

Bonnie Anderson, an FNP, is spending 5 weeks at the In Deed and Truth Clinic (IDAT).  She is challenged with the varity of patients coming to the clinic but also loves the fact that each patient receives prayer.

Bonnie prepares to inject a scorpion sting with lidocaine

Nathan Hitchcock, an Emergency Room Nurse, is spending 6 months in South Sudan at IDAT.

During a trip to 'downtown' Tonj Nathan found a friend

Margit Mueller and Tiana Duncan are Community Health Empowerment faclitators in Tonj working with In Deed and Truth.  Pray as they use CHE to build relationships in the community and encourage lives based on Biblical truth.

Adhanom (squatting) teaches CHE participants about Farming God's way to increase crop yields.

The Tenwek Cataract Team is in Aweil this week holding a clinic.  They're off to a great start having done 31 surgeries last Saturday.  

High 5's with a satisfied patient from a cataract clinic in 2012

God is using each of these folks to further His Kingdom in South Sudan!  Excellent!!

I only carry water on my head for photo-ops!   Thankfully I have many creature comforts in the home I have been blessed to live in here in Nairobi.  Despite the fact that I don't have to carry water from a bore hole I am feeling burdened with the load of work I am carrying.  Please join the Mango Ministries team in praying for wisdom as we plot out the best way forward.

I don't know how to say this bigger, with more emphasis, and with more weight:

I am extremely grateful for each of you!
In addition to the people pictured above you are co-workers with Mango Ministries.  You are an important component of empowering South Sudanese to transform their communities and beyond!   I feel your prayers.  My ministry is sustained by your giving.  And I'm encouraged by your notes and cards.  Thank you!


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