Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last Week in Mundri

I am leaving Mundri one week from today. I have started to say goodbye to friends like Jomima and Silivia (pictured below), and I am sad. It is a going to be a busy week as I visit friends, attend celebrations for the new year, wrap up things at the water projects, and pack up our houses. I am also really excited that I will be seeing my parents in two and half weeks!

Please pray for me this week as I prepare to leave Mundri! Pray that I would have good times with God even in the busyness of this week. Pray for my goodbyes.

Pray for me in the next weeks after I leave Mundri. Pray that I would have time and space to process everything that I am feeling and thinking. Pray for me as I travel from Sudan spending a few days in Uganda and London and then finally arriving in Florida. Pray for me as I transition back to life in the US.

I am keeping this short, but I wanted to quickly share my prayer requests, because I need prayer!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Last night Larissa and I needed to decompress. I had been grading Physics exams all afternoon and Larissa was working on her expense reports, and we were both mentally spent.

Since it was just the two of us for dinner, we scrounged up some leftovers, and then moved into the living room for a pretty perfect roommate relaxation night.

I set up the projector and DVD player, and we put in disc one of the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.

I sat down to enjoy the movie and finished giving myself a pedicure. There are few things I enjoy more in Sudan than the feeling that my feet are clean. They don't stay that way for long, but it is still worth it, especially with the Shea It Isn't So Foot Cream that Linda brought for us!

About half way through disc one, we paused and decided to bake Andes mint chip cookies together. Yum! We watched the rest of disc one while enjoying warm cookies and cold drinks (milk with ice cubes for Larissa and cold water for me).

Now that it is the morning, Larissa is off to give her Biblical Counseling exam, and I am off to deliver the Physics grades to the secondary school.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Basketball in Mundri!

Basketball makes its Mundri debut!

I'm not sure what to call the whole assembled thing that John and Phil built. Is it a goal, a basket, or a hoop? Whatever it is called, we are very thankful for all the hard work John and Phil put into bringing basketball to Mundri! John was drenched in sweat after digging a hole over a meter deep into the hard Sudanese ground to support the weight of the iron pole and solid mahogany backboard.

We have been playing with the Bishop's children who are in Mundri for their school holidays. After only a few days of practice, Bishop's two teenage sons have already passed my limited basketball skills. =)

Monday, December 13, 2010


During this season of Advent, we have been taking turns preparing an Advent meditation for Sunday evenings. We sing Christmas carols together and light the candles of the Advent wreath. Bethany and Larissa have also been busy in the kitchen baking Advent cookies every week with real butter flown in from Kampala specifically for Christmas.

This Sunday was bittersweet for me for a lot of reasons. We are now a team of four people, and since John and Phil had been our guitar players in Michael's absence for the past several weeks, it was hard to not to miss them. I was also missing the Masso family, Kim, Melissa, and all the voices that have been a part of our Sunday worship in different seasons of our team.

This week I lit the candles in the Advent wreath, and as I was moving around the wreath I was hit hard by the realization that after we light the Christmas candle I will have only a little over a week left in Mundri. The wreath seemed more like a painful reminder of the fact that I will soon be leaving the place I now call home.

As we continue to pray for peace and justice in Sudan in this season of Advent, I was also filled with hope and joy as we sang carols about the Prince of Peace.

O come, Desire of Nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid thou our sad divisions cease,
And be thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

During dinner we were listening to Andrew Peterson's album called Behold the Lamb of God: the true tale of the coming of Christ. If you haven't heard it before, I highly recommend you buy the album. I was encouraged especially by the song "Deliver Us" which was inspired by the years silence between Malachi and the New Testament.

"Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
These shackles they were made with our own hands
Our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give
So Yahweh, break your silence if you can "
~ Deliver Us, Andrew Peterson

Anyway, those are just some of my unrelated thoughts from the third Sunday of Advent. I pray you will all encounter Christ in new and real ways this Advent season!

Okari Church

Bethany and I attend a small church called Okari Sub-Parish Church. It is mud building with a grass roof and mahogany 2x4's as benches. There are strips of African cloth hanging from strings running up and down the church in bright beautiful colors. There are A LOT of kids at church every week. About 80 adults attend most Sundays. Okari is now our church, and we are not considered visitors.

Last Sunday Bethany and I were running a bit behind schedule. Usually we aim to leave on our bikes at around 10:30 realistically leaving at 10:45 to get to church at around 11. We arrived at church last week around 11:15. After we were seated, the pastor paused to tell us the verses for the old testament and new testament readings that we missed. Church was well underway. At Okari church the preaching is usually in Arabic and translated into Moru. I sometimes get a few key words, but usually I don't understand much. I am so thankful for the pastors at Okari, who usually call my name and give a one or two sentence summary of the key point of the sermon in English just for my benefit.

Today Bethany and I were surprised when we arrived at church. Good thing Bethany had learned the Moru word for surprise last week! We actually got to church at 10:55, and there were only two or three people sitting in the church building. Shortly after we sat down in the near empty church, a van filled with young adutls from Mundri showed up. It was the drama team who had come to Okari to perform dramas about HIV/AIDS and about the referendum. Then we saw the Sunday school kids processing towards the main road, and after asking around, we found out the commissioner of Mundri was coming to church today (pictured above). When his car got close, the commissioner got out and walked the rest of the way to church surrounded by all the children singing welcoming songs. We sang several Christmas carols in Moru this week including "I Saw Three Ships", evidence of the long history of British missionaries in Mundri. I didn't understand much of the speeches given by the commissioner and other community leaders, but I did catch that they were encouraging everyone to get radios and listen to the new radio station called Miraya FM which broadcasts in English and Juba Arabic. It has been big news around town for the last several weeks. Church ended like it does every week with everyone lining up outside the church to greet all the other church members by shaking hands, kind of like a receiving line. Bethany and I left before the dramas because we had a team Advent celebration planned for that afternoon.

During the church service, Bethany were surrounded by a group of children who are now pretty comfortable with us. Sometimes children are afraid of us at first. The activity for this weeks church service for several of the young girls was to compare their hands to my hands. They found all my birth marks and freckles and traced patterns between them with their fingers. They were also fascinated by the Japanese fans Bethany and I always bring to church to help us cool down after the bike ride.

That was just a small glimpse of the past two Sundays at Okari Church.

If you see me at a church service in the US, you might convince me to demonstrate the hand shake dance or the hand warming three clap applause which are both typical at church in Mundri.

I am so thankful for Okari church, and I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my church family!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Team Blogs

I am so thankful for my teammates in Mundri! You may already be reading all their blogs which are linked to my blog, but I wanted to highlight a couple of recent posts by teammates.

Dedication of the Hai Salaam Water Project:

The Daily Diversion: A look at a typical day in Mundri:

Papparazzi: A photographer visits our team:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BNTC Water

John has been hard at work on the Bishop Ngalamu Theological College water project over the last few weeks, and water is now flowing into the tank! Praise God!

We learned a lot from the Hai Salaam water project, and we are still learning a lot about working as water engineers in Mundri, Sudan.

At BNTC instead of building a new tank, we rehabilitated a tank that was abandoned on the college campus. The picture above shows John and Michael checking out the structure a few months ago. I was on the ground since I am afraid of heights. =)

I took this picture of the tank yesterday. It may look like the tank just got a new coat of paint, but I can assure you that there was a lot more to the process getting the tank ready store water and connecting the water pipes the tank.

We started by removing the riser pipes and hand pump from the borehole. Some of the pipes in the borehole were the blue PVC pipes we brought to Sudan last year as a trial. It turns out that the pipes crack often when the water office staff use their normal tools to remove pipes from the boreholes.

Kids gathered around us as the work continued for most of the morning.

John did the final wiring on the solar panels on the roof of a building near the borehole. For now the wire crosses from the roof over the road to a large tree and then goes down the tree into a trench in the ground. In the future we will probably bury the wire at a depth of at least 1 meter under the road.

On work days it seems that usually around 1 pm just when you think you can finish all the work before lunch which is around 2 pm in Sudan, something goes wrong. As the pump was being lowered into the borehole, it got stuck about half way down. It wouldn't go any lower, but it also wouldn't come back up. We stopped the work, prayed, and sent the water office staff to town for their lunch break. After confirming in the final depth of the borehole to be sure we hadn't hit the bottom, we decided to just pull really really hard until the pump came back up. Praise God it came back up, because I really have no idea what we could have done if it was truly stuck. We found that a metal hook that is attached to the pump was too wide to enter into the lower section of the borehole. The hook is used to tie a safety rope to the pump so that if the pipe breaks the pump won't fall to the bottom of the borehole, and you can then raise the pump with the rope.

We bent the hook into a flatter shape, and then the pump was lowered into the borehole with no problems!

It was almost 4 pm by the time we got everything connected and water started flowing out of the tap. Well, it was trickling out. We have some troubleshooting to do over the next few days since it seems that we have a problem with the connections at the solar panels.

This morning we were at Hai Salaama for prayers and to dedicate the Hai Salaama water project in the name of Jesus Christ. BNTC is near Hai Salaama so John rode over on his motorbike and there is now water in the storage tank!

Praise God for the water that is flowing at BNTC! We still have to build several taps and dig several hundred more meters of trench, but it is always a great moment when water starts flowing into the tank.

Thankful Hands

I am so thankful for our Thanksgiving celebration!

Jomima, Mary, and Silivia who all attend Mundri Secondary School joined us in giving thanks to God. I love laughing with these women!

The day started with James and John killing the turkey we bought a few weeks ago in Juba. I will spare you the pictures of the turkey while it was being prepared.

The final product was truly a thing of beauty and it tasted fabulous!

We had a true feast! Many of the foods we served are available locally, but are prepared differently. I was truly thankful for pumpkin, which is currently in season in Mundri. I was also thankful for cranberry sauce which came from America thanks to Linda and Ginny!

After dinner we took a break from eating before serving the desserts. We took that time to write 5 things we are thankful for on each of the fingers of the construction paper hands.

Collectively we thank God for...

Family and friends in Sudan and in America
The Thanksgiving feast
Cool nights and rain
Every living creature
God's patience
Games including Bananagrams, Dutch Blitz, and Settlers of Catan
Singing and laughing
Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God
The gift of life
God's provision
Jesus Christ who died on a cross for our sins
Beauty in Nature
Cold showers
God's blessings
For the opportunity to study at a school
Differences in people and cultures around the world
A stable marriage at home
God's love for us all

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow

We sang this hymn last night during our half night of prayer. The lyrics have been running through my mind all morning.

“I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow”
by John Newton

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Importance of Rest

Living in Sudan over the past year and half, I have grown to see the importance of rest. I am not talking about just physical rest and sleep. After over four months in Mundri, needed emotional and spiritual rest beyond my usual weekly patterns of rest. My thoughts were always scattered and anxiety was building in my heart. It was becoming more difficult to love people and show grace to others as I was increasingly impatient and judgmental. It is so easy for me to fall into patterns of unbelief when things are so crazy in my mind and heart that I am not spending good times in relationship with God.

Praise God because he provided for me to go to Arua, Uganda for a week or spiritual renewal and rest. I spent the week at the beautiful home of a missionary couple we know well. I read books, prayed, journaled, took naps, and had good conversations with Heather and David. At the end of the week, I was ready and excited to get back to Mundri.

Things are in full swing here in Mundri. We are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow with many of our Sudanese friends. The kitchen will be a flurry of activity as we take turns using our one small oven until we serve the food. Saturday we will be gathering with many members of the Hai Salaam community and the water office staff for prayers and to dedicate the water project in the name of Jesus Christ. Our Sudanese friends are registering to vote in the referendum at locations all around Mundri. We may even be replacing the hand pump at Bishop Ngalamu Theological College with a solar powered submersible pump this Friday. John has been working hard with a team of Sudanese men to get this project completed.

Looking at the calendar today, I was struck by the fact that I will be leaving Sudan in less than six weeks. This also means that the referendum for independence is scheduled to happen in about seven weeks. Please pray for peace and justice in Sudan. Pray for us as we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our Sudanese friends.

If you are looking for a book to read over the holiday season, here are few books I have read since I arrived in Sudan that I would recommend.

When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
What is the What by Dave Eggers
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Friday, October 29, 2010


Yesterday we installed the solar panels and the submersible pump at Hai Salaama. Today we are heading back to fix some leaks and install the float switch. Check out these pictures from yesterday!

Everyone posing with the submersible pump (except for John who took this picture)

Putting in the submersible pump

Water flowing!

Fixing leaks in the late afternoon

Some of the kids that we watching us work

A jerrycan for every size person =)

Monday, October 18, 2010


Our team is going to miss the three Masso children dearly as they are heading back to the US for the next seven months.

Gaby is just so cute, and he knows it.

Even when Gaby puts on his Jedi fighting face, he is still cute!

Liana is wearing a dress she designed and sewed herself.
She even taught me how to sew last year.

I love these two pictures of Acacia.
The first captures her natural smile and warmth.
She didn't know I was taking the picture. =)

This is her classic awkward face as she wonders why I am taking a picture of her swinging.

There are five TCKs (Third Culture Kids) on our team. The three Masso kids have spent most of the lives in Africa. Gaby even calls himself African American since he is an American born and raised in Africa. Last night as we celebrated the Masso as a team, we were playing a game that required everyone to answer questions written by other team mates. One question read "What is your favorite African English word or phrase?". Acacia answered that she can't tell the difference between African English and American English which makes complete sense for her.

It isn't uncommon to find TCKs living and working overseas as adults. Larissa and I are also TCKs in different ways. I have a unique connection with my friends that are also TCKs. I could ramble on more about TCKs, but that isn't the point of this post.

The Masso children are returning to America for the first time in three years. Pray for these three wonderful little people as they go back to a country that their parents call home.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Group Photo!

Above is a picture of Bethany and me on Saturday with women from the secondary school after I told the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. You can see some of Bible storying tapestry behind us. We also did a physics experiment using a piece of string, a straw, some tape, and a few balloons. I really enjoy doing hands-on activities with these women.

Here is another group photo from the last week of John, Phil, and me with the men on staff at the water office after completing the solar panel rack for the Hai Salaam water project. You can make out the structure which is painted silver behind us. It looks simple, but it required a few days of cutting angle irons, welding, etc.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jesus Calms the Storm

On Saturday mornings Bethany and I hold a club for women who are students at Mundri Secondary School. Typically we play games, tell a Bible story, and do a science experiment each week. I love getting together with these women, and I always have so much fun!

*What happens when you hold a flame under a balloon?*

Two weeks ago I told the story of Jesus calming the storm. I like this story because it shows so clearly the power Jesus has over creation, but I also like it because I identify with the disciples in their unbelief.

I know God and have experienced His faithfulness and loving care for me. Still I don't believe. I don't trust. I have little faith. I am in a season of life when many things are uncertain, and my tendency is to be anxious. I am thankful that Jesus is patient with me when I struggle to believe and trust. There are moments when I wish Jesus would instantly calm my heart the way he calmed the storm, but I praise God for the ways He has worked in my heart slowly as I grow in trusting Him.

This week I am learning the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead which I will tell to the women on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I woke up early on Tuesday morning for our usual 6:30 AM women's prayer and it was already drizzling. It was the first day of computer classes for the staff of Mundri Secondary School, so I was a bit flustered by the rain since the school is a twenty minute bike ride from our compound. When the rain let up, I got on my bike and headed towards the school with a white board strapped to the back of my bike.

It was a smooth bike ride until I had to turn off the main road. The side road was a huge mud pit! I tried to bike through, but after slipping a few times, I decided to just get off my bike and walk the last mile. There were lots of students on the road walking to the nearby primary and secondary schools. One skill I still have not mastered is walking through the mud without getting muddy. Some of students helped me by pointing out the firm paths that I should take, but I was still doing a lot of slipping and sliding. Thankfully I never fell!

I showed up at Mundri Secondary School with my hem six inches deep in mud. I imagine I looked a bit like what Elizabeth Bennet must have looked like when she showed up at Netherfield. If you didn't already know, I'm an Austen fan. =)

Once I got to the school, John was already there teaching his Physics class. He managed to bike the whole way without getting muddy. John got the generator started after about 10 tries. It is a pretty massive generator and difficult to start.

I taught the first group of teachers starting with the basics. It was a fun class, and the teachers are very eager to learn. There is a wide range of previous computer experience ranging from teachers who have never used a computer before to those who have had training in Microsoft Word and Excel. Around lunch time, the generator ran out of fuel. John and I ended up teaching the remaining two groups of teachers computer basics by drawing a computer screen on the white board I brought. We will be teaching all the teachers every Tuesday, so hopefully they will all get more practice actually using the computers next week.

I really appreciate the relationships we have built at Mundri Secondary School. The teachers are great, and I enjoy all the time I get to spend there with the staff and students. To give you an idea of what the student body looks like here are a few statistics. There are 218 students and only 46 of those students are women. All of the full time staff are male. There are 75 students in John's first year Physics class.

Because of the rain that had continued on and off most of the day, Michael came in the Bishop's car to pick me up from the school. I was so thankful for the pickup and not having to walk through the mud which was much worse after the continuing rains. Well after loading by bike on top of the car, Michael realized the car was stuck in the mud. The teachers came running over to give us a push. Somehow in this process I managed to get even more mud all over my legs and skirt and the teachers still looked relatively clean.

We got going, and then after a few meters we were stuck again. The teachers came running over and gave us another push out of the mud and this time the teachers watched as we drove down the road in reverse to make sure we didn't get stuck again.

There is a list of African proverbs on the wall of the BNTC office. At the end of the day I thought of the proverb that says something like "when you pray for rain, you also pray for mud".