Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birthdays Around the World

My first full day in Sudan last year was May 1st, which just happened to be my 25th birthday. At dinner, Karen asked me where I had been for every fifth birthday in my life.

*3 years old*

I was born in Stamford, CT
I celebrated my 5th birthday in Darien, CT
I turned 10 in Mexico City, Mexico
I was living in South Florida for my 15th birthday
I was studying for finals at Penn State on my 20th birthday
And I landed in Mundri, Sudan for my 25th birthday.

I turned 24 in Richmond, VA, was in Sudan at 25, I will be in Uganda for my 26th birthday, and I have no idea where God will lead me for my 27th birthday!

*lunch with the ChE girls for my 21st birthday*

I'm excited to see how God continues His story in my life over the next year.

Want to send me a birthday card or letter? If you mail it to the following address, I will probably get it in about a month at the WHM Retreat.

Christine O. c/o World Harvest Mission
101 West Ave. Suite 305
Jenkintown, PA, 19046

Bonus points to anyone not in the picture who can identify where we had lunch for my 21st birthday. =)

Friday, April 23, 2010


Yes, I'm excited about data. There are a few development and aid blogs that I read occasionally. Today on one of the blogs, I found out that the World Bank has given the public free access to data including over 2,000 development indicators for countries around the world.


Check it out if you are interested. They have data by country, and I briefly took a look at Sudan. Hopefully I will be able to check out more of the website when we are in Kampala with good internet. If you choose to look at the data about Sudan, keep in mind that statistics for Sudan as a whole can often be misleading because of the disparity in development between the north and the south.

I Saw the Light

...and so did all the termites!

Last night hundreds of flying termites flocked to the lights in our team house. It is hard to see in the picture, but they were everywhere! They were crawling on the walls, swarming around the lights, and in our cold water (which is a precious commodity around here). Michael fought back with a spray can of Doom, the very appropriately named insecticide.

Although I find the sheer number of flying termites disturbing and I am not a fan of insects flying around my head, I was in some ways happy to see the termites. The termites come out after the first rains of the season, and yesterday it rained all night and most of the morning. It was a much cooler day, which was such a blessing after several days of VERY intense heat and blazing sun. As we continue to pray for the rains and the growing season in Mundri this year, we praise God for a day of rain that soaked the dry, cracked ground. The other reason I was happy to see the termites is that termite paste is a local delicacy, and although I personally don't eat termites, I'm happy that our friends will be enjoying them soon.

Termites are so destructive in Mundri. They eat the mahogany and teak used for construction and their massive mounds sit in the middle of maize and sorghum fields. Even though for the most part termites destroy, the clay from the mounds can be useful, they make a good source of protein, and they are a welcome harbinger of the rainy season. So last night I was in some ways happy to see the termite infestation, but that didn't stop us from fighting back with Doom.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summer Projects

Summer in Sudan means summer interns. We are excited to welcome four interns to our team this year, two of whom are engineers. They will be a big part of the work we do as a team, and as we plan for the summer there are two funding needs that I want to share with all of you. I am praying that God will provide the funding for these projects in time for the summer interns to be involved in the construction, installation, and training related to both of these projects.

*long line at a hand pump in Mundri*

The first is the Sudan Water Fund. We have the funds to start a project which will turn a high yield borehole that currently has a hand pump installed into a solar powered network of taps. This will increase the water supply in Mundri town without having to drill new boreholes. It will allow one borehole to provide the water that 3-5 boreholes would supply to the community. It also has the added benefit of not requiring women and children to have to pump the water by hand since the pump is powered by solar panels.

Procurement of supplies is one of the largest chanllenges in Southern Sudan for a project like this one. We are planning to buy supplies while we are in Kampala in April, but we do not have the funds to buy everything needed for the whole project so we are currently planning on a smaller scale version of the project that can be expanded when we have more funds.

I am praying that in the next week, God would provide additional funds so that we can buy more supplies on this trip to Kampala to be able to complete the full version of the project while the engineering interns are in Sudan.

Give online at http://www.whm.org/project/details?ID=19202 or contact me by email at ChristineOlmeda@gmail.com to give by mail.

*Thomas, the headmaster, in front of the computers in unopened boxes*

The second project is the completion of a computer lab for Mundri Secondary School. Since you are reading my blog, you probably have access to a computer and probably own your own computer. It is probably high on the list of the requirements you would have when considering a school. At present there at 10 computers sitting in boxes at Mundri Secondary School and a generator sitting idle in the teachers' office. The computers were donated to the school, but the school does not have the funds to complete the wiring and build a secure room to house the generator. The cost of finishing the work to provide a functioning computer lab is about $2,000 US Dollars, which is not too much more than the cost of buying a decent computer in America.

*Hanging out with some of the teachers from the school*

Over the last year as I have been teaching Physcis at Mundri Secondary Schoool, I have become friends with the students and teachers. I have seen the teachers work to share their needs with the government and NGOs, and I have seen the community come together to collect some money for this project. Please join me in praying for the funds to complete this computer lab when the summer interns are in Mundri. The interns will be also be serving by teaching Physics at Mundri Secondary School and helping with a club for the students on Saturdays where we will share the gospel, teach critical thinking skills, and practice English.

You can give to the Mundri Secondary School computer lab project at http://www.whm.org/enter-a-desig by entering 11926 as the designation number, or contact me at ChristineOlmeda@gmail.com to give by mail.

*A tree planted before the war at Mundri Secondary School
The tree still stands but most of the buildings were destroyed*

Please also check out Bethany's blog to read about the need for latrines at Mundri Secondary School! I take it toilets would also be a requirement for any school you were considering.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Begone Unbelief

The idea of blogging is a bit strange to me sometimes. It can feel like I am making my journal public for everyone to read, which I guess I am doing since I adapted a lot of this post from what I wrote in my journal a few days ago. I hesitated to write this post, but I also wanted to share a bit more of how God is working in my heart through daily life in Sudan.

A few nights ago, it was HOT. I was trying to sleep. I tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable while wiping the sweat from my face with a bandanna. In the middle of the night when I looked at my clock and saw that it was only 1 am, I started to get really frustrated. It is in moments like this that my unbelief and sin surface so clearly.

I was frustrated that AGAIN I wasn’t sleeping. Even though the heat was the cause and it had only been two nights, after three serious bouts of sleeplessness in Sudan, two hot nights was enough to get me frustrated. Then I was frustrated that I was thinking about the fact that I wasn’t sleeping and that my mind so quickly considered that this might be the start of another bout of sleeplessness. Then I was angry with myself for not trusting God with my sleep, and I was upset with myself for not going to God in prayer at the beginning of the night when I couldn’t fall asleep. Then I started to try and reason with myself and God. I started thinking that I had already been through this, that the sleeplessness was over, that God had made His point already, that people had prayed for me, and that I was now sleeping, so why go back to this again. I wanted to say that I had done my part, and now God should do his part and give me sleep. What more could God possibly have to teach me through more sleeplessness. Messed up, right? Then I started to see the reality of my response and how quickly my heart sins. Once again I was not trusting in God or living like a dependent child of God. I had snatched back control of my life and I was frustrated because I had already gone through this little bit of suffering that had God for me and I didn’t want to be back there. I had prayed for my sleeplessness, the team had prayed, and even you may had prayed. It was supposed to be over (or at least according to me). At night, when I’m tired and not sleeping, when I’m hot and uncomfortable, when things are hard, more often than not, my heart first turns to unbelief, and I definitely don’t act like a beloved child of God. It was a bit later that night that I remembered God’s work in my life over the last decade including during a time of anxiety while I was at Penn State and in my call to Sudan, and I remembered God's promises in scripture. I am always amazed at how quickly my heart can turn to praise and repentance when I remember specifically how God has worked in my life previously.

I pray now that as I continue to learn to abide in Christ, in moments of unbelief I will see my sin and repent more quickly than in previous years.

Note: Michael has since installed the vent at the top of our dukul as well as the solar panel and battery which means I can run a small fan at night! Praise God!

One of my favorite hymns is Begone Unbelief, and I have included some of the lyrics below.

Though dark be my way,

Since He is my Guide,

'Tis mine to obey,

'Tis His to provide;

Though cisterns be broken,

And creatures all fail,

The word He hath spoken

Shall surely prevail.

His love, in time past,

Forbids me to think

He'll leave me at last

In trouble to sink:

Each sweet Ebenezer

I have in review

Confirms His good pleasure

To help me quite through.

Why should I complain

Of want or distress,

Temptation or pain?

He told me no less;

The heirs of salvation,

I know from His Word,

Through much tribulation

Must follow their Lord

The Making of a Dukul