Monday, May 25, 2009

Kyle's Blog

For another perspective on the things we have seen and learned over the past few weeks, check out Kyle's blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pictures from Sudan

Larissa's sunflower
Inside an old secondary school building

Old secondary school in Mundri

MAF plane we took from Kampala to Mundri

Local food we had in Bari
Goats on the main intersection in Mundri in the morning

At bore-hole drilling site (soil samples from every meter of drilling are on the ground)

Hand pump and jerry cans
Exploring the land where we will be building our houses.
Team picture after church.

This is the inside of the tent Larissa and I share.

Larissa and I live in this tent next to the main house.

Afternoons in Mundri

When we are in Mundri we have lunch around 1:30 or 2 PM which is cooked for us at the church compound. Since we are still in the process of moving to our permanent housing, we do not have internet at our current compound. We often bike over to MRDA (Mundri Relief and Development Association) to use their internet, mostly just to download and send emails or post on our blogs.

Since Ian returned to the US last week, there are currently 6 adults on the team. We each have a night to cook dinner for the team and then one night a week we go out to dinner at a local Arabic restaurant. Then those that did not cook participate in the clean up and dishes for the night. It has been great as a new team just getting to know each other to have dinner together every night.

In the afternoons we take the clothes that were washed that day off the line put each person’s clothes in their cubby in the main house so that everyone’s clothes get back to the tukul or tent. Emelia is the wonderful woman who does our laundry and the morning dishes on the weekdays. After dinner we often continue our conversations, play a game, watch a movie, sing worship songs together, read something aloud together, or have individual time to ourselves.
On Sunday, we go to church at the Episcopal Church. There is a shorter and smaller English language service that we attend before the Moru service which follows. Once a month the services join on the week that communion is served. Michael will be preaching at the English language service for the next few weekends doing a sermon series on the Lord's Prayer, which we are also studying during our team meetings on Wednesday afternoons. At night if Larissa and I are going to sleep at the same time, we pray together, which is a wonderful way to end our days especially during the time when we were both sick. (We are both feeling much better now, praise God!)

I hope these last three posts give you all an idea of what my days a like here in Mundri. I am learning a lot and growing in my dependence on God. I hope this gives you a picture of everyday life in Mundri.

Learning about Water

Last week Kyle and I met with the math teacher from the secondary school and discussed their needs and opportunities for us to be involved with teaching or tutoring math, chemistry, and physics when we are in Mundri and not working on water projects. Hopefully this time could line up with the time that Michael is teaching at the Bible College in Mundri. After the peace agreement in 2005, secondary schools transitioned back to being taught in English instead of Juba Arabic. The primary schools are taught primarily in Moru.

Yesterday we traveled about 3 hours to Mbara with some local pump mechanics to observe two pump repairs. The pump mechanics live here in Mundri and the supplies for repairs are located in Mundri, but they have no transportation to villages in Mundri county, so we provided the transportation traveling with them in the car that we share with the church. Many people in Mundri are working without pay or with intermittent pay such as teachers, doctors, pump technicians, and other community service positions. They work as much as they are able without pay, but many of them are also growing crops outside of the city to make a living. The water commissioner and pump mechanics, for example, may only be paid when an NGO partners with them for a certain project. This makes the situation difficult for the villages in Mundri county that are remote and don’t have any trained technicians or spare parts. When their pump breaks, they do not know how long it will be until someone will be able to come and repair the pump. In Mbara one pump was broken for 4 months and the other for 3 months before they were repaired. There is no real preventative maintenance performed, so something as simple as a loose bolt can eventually lead to the catastrophic failure of the pipe or drive shaft.
When we were talking to some people from the community in Bari, where we observed the bore-hole being drilled last week, we heard again that when a bore-hole is broken, people will walk to the river to get water. The river water carries many diseases and causes significant illness in the community. Last week when we spoke with the Mundri water officer, he gave us a good picture of the water situation in Mundri. He said that it is not uncommon to wait over two hours in Mundri town for water. There can often be over 100 jerry cans (5 gallon water containers) lined up before yours when you arrive at the tap or borehole.

We are continuing to learn and observe the local water situation and provide some assistance including the use of equipment and transportation as we pray about what our long term involvement in water projects will be in Mundri and how the gospel will impact our ministry, relationships, and interaction with the communities. Very soon we will start work on the water tower on the property that World Harvest is sharing with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Our permanent housing will be built on this property soon.

Mornings in Mundri

I have been living in Mundri for a full two weeks now. From the first day I landed in Mundri and for the first full week, I felt sick most of the day. Now that I have learned a little bit about everyday life in Mundri, I will give you a picture of what an average day is like for me. I get up around 6 AM and write in my journal or read for a while. By 7 or 7:30 I venture out of our tent to take a shower, which is outside next to the pit latrine, and get ready for the day.

It was pretty hot my first week, but it is has cooled down quite a bit as rainy season is starting. We have had a few rains already, but as of now they are short bursts of relatively moderate rain. Mundri is lush and green with new plants. The area is relatively flat and the soil is great for agriculture. Many people in the community are involved in planting crops and gardens now, including Larissa who is planting all sorts of things in our yard.

In the morning everyone gets breakfast in the house on their own schedule. Karen starts school with the kids and some of the everyday chores get done in the morning. It is very dusty here, so sweeping is a daily task. The trash goes out to the compost, burn pit, or non-burn trash pit. The water filter is refilled as necessary, and someone may make yogurt or cook some granola in the sun oven. If we need food for dinner, someone will go to the market to get meat from the butcher, tomatoes, cabbage, eggs, sugar, flour, mangoes, onions, garlic, hibiscus for tea, milk powder, tomato paste, rice, lentils, beans, pasta, bread or pita, and many other basic food items. Occasionally we can also get pineapple, bananas, citrus or other fresh fruits and vegetables. It seems that every time we go to the market, there are more things available.

During the days I have been meeting with people from the community, working on small projects around the compound, observing work being done by other NGOs and local water technicians, or just learning about the local culture and community.

I haven't started structured language learning yet, but I am planning on dedicating one day a week to learning Moru and some basic Arabic so that I can communicate with the people who are using the hand pumps, gathering the water, serving as the pump caretakers, selling goods at the market, and living as our neighbors. I am praying that I would build relationships with some Sudanese women, but a relationship cannot function on the three phrases I know. Everyone is so excited and encouraging when I say the few phrases that I have already learned.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Weeks In Sudan

We made it safely to Sudan! I have been adjusting to the new food, climate, culture, and many more new things. I am staying in a safari tent next to the main house with Larissa. The tent is spacious and cools down at night more than the main house, but it also gets very hot during the day. Larissa and I pretty much stay in the main house during the day to avoid the heat of the tent. The rest of our things arrived several days later, including my bike. Having a bike has made moving around Mundri a lot easier. I also have my own sheets on my bed, which somehow makes it feel more like my home.

Last Friday was my first full day in Mundri, and my birthday. I was feeling pretty sick most of the day, but I had a great birthday all the same. I got a lot of wonderful and practical gifts from the team. The night ended by watching an episode of Gilmore Girls in the yard in our movie theatre, which consisted of a bookshelf with a computer on one of the shelves and plastic lawn chairs in a half circle. A few days later when I was feeling a bit better, Karen made me an orange cake from my mom’s recipe which was delicious and reminded me of home.

Michael, Kyle, and I had a great meeting with the local water commissioner and learned a lot. As we were meeting with him, a report of a broken hand pump came into the office. It was only about a 5 minute bike ride away, so we went out to look at the pump and talk to some people from the community. We arranged to meet with the local pump mechanic two days later and bring Michael’s welding machine to observe the repairs and weld a crack. It was a great learning experience. The mechanic had a tremendous amount of experience and did a lot of the repairs by sight or feel. After a few hours of repairs there was water coming out of the pump! We also had the opportunity to observe a borehole being drilled in Bari. Bari is about 12 miles from Mundri and a little over an hour away. This bore-hole is likely the last bore-hole that will be drilled until the next dry season.

Praise God that in the last two days I have been feeling a lot better and I have regained my energy!