Monday, January 25, 2010

Kitangi Creations

Inspired by Liana's sewing creations, a pattern Bethany brought, and kitangi fabric I bought in Uganda, I finished my second sewing project yesterday. I used the same fabric to sew myself a stocking for Christmas. This time I made a purse and a matching headband. The sewing machine is getting good use by our team.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Taming of the Shrew

Recently I have had several interactions with a shrew, not the metaphorical kind, but a real shrew.

I had been hearing something scurrying around the tent at night and scratching or gnawing at the tent floor and walls. I suspected a rat or mouse. I woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago and saw something with a tail moving around. The next night Michael set the traps. I heard them both go thwack in the night, and in the morning Acacia was ready and willing to examine the traps. One was empty with some footprints in the peanut butter. The other had trapped and killed what I would have called a rat by the description. Acacia, our resident animal expert, promptly informed me that it was not a rat but a shrew!

So I must admit that the only thing I knew about shrews before yesterday was thanks to Shakespeare. Even now I still say it looks like a rat from the pictures (I refused to look at the dead shrew). I am glad to have the scratching, gnawing, and general noisiness gone, but I would have been just as happy if the shrew had willingly relocated.

Friday, January 15, 2010

All We Had to Offer

All we had to offer was prayer.

There was a fire in Mundri at a storage container that sells fuel to vehicles on the main road. The fuel is stored in barrels and jerrycans in the container. We heard about the fire from Vicki, a friend who is a counselor for the ECS church. Her nephew recently started working at the fuel station in the last month. She received a call to say that he had been burned by the fire. Bethany and I prayed with Vicki at the office and then she left to go home and see him at the Mundri clinic. We followed on our bicycles a few minutes later. On our way back into to town we saw the thick cloud of black smoke filling the sky before we could see the flames. The flames were coming out of the front and sides of the container as the fuel continued to burn. We could feel the heat. There was a crowd of people watching the fire standing uncomfortably close to the container. We met Vicki at her compound and then walked with her to the Mundri clinic to see her nephew. We were still receiving bits and pieces of information about what had gone wrong. Her nephew lay in a hospital bed under a mosquito net in a hallway of the Mundri clinic. He had been given some medication, but his extended family was gathering around him to pray and make decisions about his care. He would need to be transported to the hospital in Lui which would a long painful journey for this young man. One of his arms was burned badly and he had less severe burns on his stomach, back, and hands. He looked frail for a young man who we were told is about 18 years old. Bethany and I joined his family in praying for this young man. We had nothing else to offer. We do not have a vehicle to assist in transporting him to the hospital. We have no medical knowledge to help the family make decisions about his care.

As all of this was taking place, my mind kept on running through all my past experiences with fire protection. Before I was appointed as a missionary engineer with World Harvest Mission, I spent over two years working as the first-call process engineer for the largest Nomex plant in the world. Nomex is a fire-resistant polymer that is made into clothes for people who work in high hazard occupations. I spent two years wearing Nomex coveralls myself while working in the chemical plant that produces Nomex. I have seen countless demonstrations of how the Nomex we produced protected people from devastating burns. Nomex is worn by military personnel, fire fighters, Nascar racers, and by industrial workers including those that work in the production and distribution of fuel. All my first hand knowledge of the benefits and protection that Nomex coveralls can offer were of no use to this young man, and it is unlikely that Sudanese young men like him will be protected by Nomex or petroleum industry standards in the near future.

All we had to offer was prayer, and that is the best thing that we could ever have to offer. If my identity was tied up in my performance, skill, or knowledge, it might have been a sad day knowing that I personally could do nothing to help this young man. Instead I praise God for the truth of Jesus Christ and the power of prayer.

"Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: 'Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now.'"
~ Oswald Chambers