Sunday, June 28, 2009


(Bishop Bismark logging on for the first time from his office)

I am posting this from the brand new Internet connection at the ECS offices!

Michael and I learned a lot over the past two days while assisting with the installation. I even had a troubleshooting lab practical where one of the engineers installing the system deliberately caused problems by moving connections and changing settings, and then he watched as I diagnosed and repaired the problems. I really enjoyed working with the team that came to install the Internet and computer network. Our very own team leader, Michael, was appointed the Information Technology Officer for the Mundri Diocese, so it was very beneficial to be involved with the installation so that we have some idea of how it all works.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Construction 101

The materials for the water tower have arrived! Kyle and I have never welded, so Michael taught us everything he knows. We started practicing by building a simple work bench. Our welds aren't pretty by any means, but they hold the metal together.

Before the welding started, we had to mark the cuts we needed on the angle irons for the workers that are assisting with the construction. Kyle and I measured and marked the angles and lengths based on the sketch Michael gave us of the work bench. After all the cuts were done, we looked at the pieces and realized that something had gone wrong. There was no way these pieces were going to fit together to make a square. All the angles we had marked were completely wrong! We had a good laugh for several minutes, "put our thinking caps on", and marked all the angles again correctly. Good thing we started on the work bench for practice before starting on the water tower.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Land of Milk and Honey

(Local Honey)


(Looking at the Jur Bible with Jacob)

Last week Kyle and I had the opportunity to join Pastor Paul (a local pastor with a passion for young leaders in the church) and the Sharlands (missionaries with CMS from Lui) for a youth (young adults) conference for the Mundri Diocese. The conference took place in a village called Domeri, which is in the beginning of the land of milk and honey. Domeri is about a 4 hour drive from Mundri, and it is much more remote and rural than Mundri. As we drove, we left the area where Moru Miso is spoken, passed through the area where Moru Codo is spoken, and entered the region where Jur Modo is spoken. The conference was organized to provide training for youth leaders from different churches in the area, and we were expecting about 15 participants. When we arrived in Domeri on Wednesday night, we realized there were many more people gathering for this teaching. In the end, some of the sessions had up to 150 people in attendance. We spent four days in Domeri listening and learning about Sudanese culture and the issues facing the youth in the church. There was teaching on topics including the role of youth in the church, how God speaks to us, agriculture, marriage and sexuality, problems facing youth in the church, and much more. We also enjoyed local food including fresh natural honey complete with wax.

Zipporah’s Story

In Domeri I met an older woman who was overflowing with joy. Her name is Zipporah, and she doesn’t speak a word of English and can’t read in any language. We had the privilege of hearing her testimony which was translated for us into English. She became a Christian in the early 1960’s through a dream and was one of the first Christians in the area. In her dream there were many people dressed in white who told her to learn the Word of God. She told them that she cannot read, and they replied that she should find a way. She then learned the Word of God orally. She never went to school because of family responsibilities, and in one of the teaching sessions she stood up to say that although she has the body of a woman, she has the voice of a man to proclaim the Word of God. She has a beautiful smile and was always ululating and rejoicing.

Where is Ecclesiastes?

A few of the attendants of the conference had Bibles in Jur Modo, but we quickly learned after some confusion as the location of Ecclesiastes that their Bible translation has not been completed and only has the New Testament, Genesis, and Exodus. As I spoke with some of the men that had Bibles in Jur Modo, I also learned that it is written in very high language that is not commonly spoken by the local people or taught in school anymore. The Arabic Bible that is available is not in the local dialect of Arabic. A Jur Modo Bible costs 1 pound at the local church, which is the price of 10 cigarettes for comparison, yet most people involved in the church do not own Bibles. As I was preparing a short morning devotion, I was struck by the thought that I can read and understand scripture in more than one language and I have many translations available to me, yet I do not read and love Scripture as I should. I have no excuses, and we were encouraging these young adults to try to read scripture even if they do not understand the written language well or have someone read and explain Scripture to them if they cannot read well. There were a few who were eager to talk to us about Scripture and asked thoughtful questions, and others who appeared defeated by the challenges before them.

Jur Culture

We had a lot of opportunities to learn about the local culture, but there is one moment that stands out. Many of the young men were sharing the process by which they get a wife and how premarital sex and adultery are part of the culture in this area. Then in the midst of this discussion an older man stood up and spoke boldly for a few minutes. This man said that everything the young men had been sharing is not the traditional Jur way from before the war. It was a poignant moment.

Pastor Paul

During the four days we spent in Domeri, we had the opportunity to hear many testimonies shared including Pastor Paul’s and several of the participants of the conference. Pastor Paul has an incredible testimony of perseverance and following God’s calling. He is incredibly gifted with youth ministry and had the participants laughing, singing, and sharing their thoughts openly. Even as we were driving away from Domeri, Pastor Paul was leading us in singing praise songs with a huge smile on his face despite being squished in a car with 10 other adults.

Lost in Translation

We had a lot of laughs during the week, especially related to translation and miscommunication. Many people were having a hard time understanding Kyle and me since we speak American English and not English English like David Sharland who is British. Everything was translated between English, Juba Arabic, Jur, and Moru Codo depending on the situation. On Sunday when David was preaching, the church was packed. There were people sitting in the windows and in chairs just outside the church walls as well as under the trees next to the church. He was preaching in English with a translator into Juba Arabic, and at the beginning of the sermon for a few minutes there was a man ducking his head under the thatch roof to hear the Arabic and then ducking his head back outside and shouting a translation into Jur as loud as he could for those under the trees. Someone asked him to stop after a few minutes because it was distracting, but it was an amusing sight.

Encouragement from God

My four days in Domeri were a great blessing. I learned a lot about Sudan. I also learned a lot about ministry from the Sharlands and got to hear about many of their experiences as missionaries in Africa over the last 20+ years. I was deeply encouraged during my time in Domeri, especially by the desire for teaching and understanding, perseverance through trials, and deep faith I saw in the lives of many of the youth attending the conference. It was an honor to hear their stories. In addition I gained a better understanding of the needs and opportunities for ministry in the rural villages that could accompany bore-hole repair. On the last day of teaching David prayed that the teaching would not fall like dust once the conference ended. I pray that things that God taught me during those days in Domeri would also not fall like dust.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Moringa and More

cooking with meat from the market


0ne of the rips in our tent

Wind Before the Rain

Before in rains in Mundri, the winds sometimes pick up and blow rather violently. Twice since I have been living in the tent, the winds have picked up in the middle of the night enough to wake me up. This is the cue to get up and shut the large window in the tent which has to be shut from the outside, if not you risk having to close it once it is pouring rain. The winds against the tent make quite a lot of noise and can be pretty creepy, especially the night that I was alone in the tent since Larissa was in Lui for the week. The last heavy rain in Mundri didn't have much wind before the storm, but it made up for it with wind during the storm. Our tent did not fair so well during this last storm. The tent is still standing, and our beds and clothes are still dry, but there are two large rips in the walls of our tent.

What is the What

Recently I finished reading What is the What, a fictional retelling of the story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Everyone on the team has read the book. It was a heartbreaking story that was told honestly. Despite the horrors that are shared in the book, it message is hopeful. I HIGHLY
recommend that you read this book.

Shepherd's Pie

For my cooking night last week I decided to make a modified version of shepherd's pie. It started out by heading to the market to buy meat from a cow that had been slaughtered earlier that morning. I brought the meat back to the house and cut it up into large chunks. Then I pulled out the meat grinder and made it into ground beef. It was my first local meat experience, and all in all it went pretty well. I am learning to cook in a whole new way. Yesterday I went with Kyle to the market to buy maize and have it ground at the mill into corn meal. We are all learning to make substitutions for what is available and make things from scratch.

Moringa: A Very Useful Tree

We are lucky enough to have a moringa tree in our yard. I had learned about the uses of Moringa for water purification in college, and Kyle and I got to try it out this week. We have also been using the leaves and flowers for cooking. It is remarkably nutritious and tastes great. One afternoon I was sitting on the porch with the mortar and pestle we bought grinding the seeds to make a water purification powder, while Larissa and Kim were picking the leaves and flowers off the stems for dinner that night. Larissa made delicious Moringa crepes that she learned how to make from the Charlans, missionaries in Lui.

Email Working

Just another quick note: My email is now working properly albeit slowly. I was having some technical difficulties since I arrived in Mundri, and I am so thankful that the problems have been resolved so that I can stay connected with friends and family.