Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Images

A few images from my last few weeks in Mundri

Beautiful fabric in the Mundri market a few weeks before Christmas

A toy car make from old milk powder tins and other garbage


A truck coming through the dry season dust at sunset


New teak branches growing out of the old stump

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-3


Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Celebrating Thanksgiving in Mundri with many of our friends


The women on our team a little less sweaty than usual after our Thanksgiving dinner


Highlight of the day: Each person sharing 5 things they thank God for
(One written on each finger of the construction paper hand)

I appreciate and have grown to love the ways our team celebrates holidays, birthdays, goodbyes, and other events.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jupiter and Fireflies


Last week after Scott's birthday party it was a particularly clear night. We were still energized after some karaoke singing and coffee ice cream that was not decaf.

There was a particularly bright object rising in the East so I got out my telescope. It was Jupiter and the four moons were very clearly visible as well! It was a lot of fun to hear Gaby and Liana's joy in seeing the details of Jupiter including the stripes with their own eyes for the first time. Even the adults, including myself, were pretty excited.

Over the last few weeks I have appreciated the fun we have as team. Sometimes it is coordinated, and sometimes it is spontaneous. Singing karaoke ballads, a rousing game of Boggle, cooking a meal together, looking at Jupiter in the night sky... team fun takes on many forms.

After we saw Jupiter, I printed out the equatorial star chart for November and saw that just a few days later the Leonid meteor shower would be visible. We brought out chairs and stretched out on the hammock looking at the night sky looking for meteors.

It was a hilarious endeavor. We were all staring intently into the sky, and someone exclaims "I saw a meteor!" followed by "Never mind, it was a firefly..." The fireflies in Mundri fly pretty high, so it is still under debate whether anyone saw any meteors, but we saw satellites and LOTS of fireflies.

In the dry season especially in Mundri, the night sky is spectacular!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More on Penn State

Just thought I would share this blog post from a campus minister in State College. Even if you didn't attend Penn State, I think it is worth reading. It was encouraging and convicting to me personally.

Repentance & the Penn State Cult

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughts from a Nittany Lion


Living in South Sudan, I was a little late in hearing about the "Penn State Scandal" as it is has been called by the media. Of course, I tend to read news relating to my alma mater, Penn State.

First let me say, that I have read some about all the events and discoveries of the last few weeks, but I may have missed some information. We don't have TV, and I have only read a small selection of the MANY news articles.

Second, I am not going to write anything here about the details of what allegedly happened at Penn State. If you are not informed about the details, please find a reliable news outlet and read a few articles before considering the rest of what I will write here.

Third, as usual, these are my own comments, and not the opinions of World Harvest Mission.

Now for some of my thoughts...

The alleged crimes that took place at Penn State have seriously shaken many people who know Penn State and have lived in Happy Valley. The allegations are disturbing. I have been thinking about why a scandal like this hurts so much.

I long for the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ. I long for Biblical justice, which is not just justice that puts right wrongs that come about by the sins of men and women, but I long for everything to be in state of right relationship where wrongs don't have to be put right.

Jesus has a special place in his Kingdom for the weak, for the fatherless, for the widow, for the poor, for the oppressed, for children, and for the marginalized in our society.

This scandal in particular affronts these longings. The weak were attacked, and the strong were selfish and greedy, and that hurts. It is right to be saddened because this affront to God's design for His Kingdom.

The sadness and pain that I feel at hearing about the scandal at Penn State, should be same sadness and pain I feel at all brokenness including the brokenness in my own heart. When I don't defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, when I don't rescue the weak and needy, I sin. My heart is full of selfishness and greed. It may not be as visible and offensive to American society as the selfishness and greed of those involved in the scandal at Penn State, but still I sin against God.

The good news is that God is at work in my heart and in the world restoring broken things. There are foretastes of the coming Kingdom now on Earth. They aren't always easy to see amidst the brokenness. When I see these foretastes like a student body coming together in a candle light vigil and praying for the victims of this scandal, I remember my hope that all things will be made right. I know that everything sad IS coming untrue.

As the "Penn State Scandal" continues to unfold in the media, I pray for the victims, the weak, the children, and all those who had a special place in the ministry of Jesus Christ on Earth. I pray for all whose hearts have been affected by this scandal. I also pray for those who are accused of crimes related to this scandal.

If you have been praying for the victims of the "Penn State Scandal", you may also consider praying for the weak, fatherless, widows, poor, oppressed, children, and marginalized around the world and in your own neighborhood. God asks us to take up their cause, to defend them, to rescue them, to do justice and love mercy. I know I sin and fail in doing justice daily, but I pray that God would give me his eyes and heart for the weak and oppressed.

Psalm 82: 3-4
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Micah 6:8
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Traveling Beyond Mundri

Over the last few weeks we have ventured outside of the greater Mundri area to learn and see how God is at work in South Sudan. Rainy season is ending so the roads are drying out, but I was still VERY thankful for our tan Land Cruiser, the winch, and low 4-wheel drive.

This is another longer post that could have been three separate posts. Hopefully the mega post won't become a habit... I did divide this post into three sections by town, so hopefully that will help all of you who are reading. I hope you enjoy the details of our travels.

GARIA:

Our first trip was to Garia which is about 30 miles outside of Mundri town. It took us a little over two hours to reach this rural community.

One of the teachers from Mundri Secondary School called Suleman that I know well was our guide. Garia is his home place, and many of the people we met were his relatives.

Since I'm guessing you won't be able to make out the words in the compressed picture, the sign reads "Garia Medewe Farmers Group Association: Agricultural economic empowerment for Garia Medewe Boma Community for better livelihood improvement".

The people living in Garia have been blessed with incredibly fertile land. I was so encouraged by the things I saw and heard during our day in Garia. I was thankful for the warm welcome we received. I was also thankful for the friendships I have made during the two years I have been living in Mundri. I am thankful that my friends have been willing to take the time to tell us about their work and invite us into their families.

When we arrived after a long drive, we were served very fresh boiled cassava and hibiscus tea. Yum! We sat in a circle and went through the introductions, we prayed, and we listened as the men in this farmers group told us about the work they are doing and how it has impacted their families and the community.

To be a part of this farming group you must first agree to farm at least 4 feddans (close to 4 acres) individually to provide food for their family. The land farmed as a group is in addition to providing the basics for your family. The crops from this group farm will be sold and the profits can be used for community improvement, to provide food for community celebrations or funerals, to help a family who has suffered a tragedy, etc.

We also visited a privately owned farm in Garia where 2 square kilometers is being farmed. The community of Garia leased 25 square kilometers of fertile land to a business man. Part of their agreement includes the stipulation that this businessman will pay salaries for several teachers from Uganda for the local primary school. There is also a monetary part of the lease, but the community of Garia is using the resource that they have, fertile land, to improve education, health care, and other public goods. Another 25 square kilometer parcel is in the process of being leased with the condition than the businesswoman will pay the salary for a clinical officer for the health center.

The men shared that one of their biggest challenges is the road to Garia. We had just experienced that challenge ourselves. It is very hard for them to get their crops to market. Rather than waiting for the government to fix the road (which is in the plans, but South Sudan has A LOT of roads in need of improvement and with a brand new nation the process may be slow) or appealing to outside donors, this community has contacted other communities along the road and they have made plans to work together to improve the road themselves.

In Moru culture, if you are visitor, you do not typically bring a gift, but you leave with a gift to take home to your family. We left Garia with a bounty of pumpkins, cassava, and maize! We were truly thankful for the generous gifts.

I praise God for a great visit to Garia.

As for our own journey, we only got stuck in the mud once, which was amazing considering the condition of the roads to Garia. Caleb took this picture just before setting up the winch to pull us out.

KAJO-KEJI:

A few days later we started our 5 day journey to Kajo-Keji and Juba.

It took us about 11 hours to reach Kajo-Keji from Mundri. Let me tell you that the whole day spend in the Land Cruiser on very bad roads gives you quite a core workout as you are using all your stabilizing muscles to try and keep from banging your head against the side of the car.

We had to ford several rivers. I kept thinking of Oregon Trail. =) In the picture above you can see the man-made stone ford.

We came upon this refrigerated truck stuck in the mud. There were many moments when we came to stretch of road like this one and stopped lock the hubs for low 4 wheel drive then looked for the most recent tire tracks and make a choice...left or right... We choose left in this case and made it through with Michael's skillful driving.

The weather in Kajo-Keji was beautiful. There were mountains and it was cool. I even wore a light jacket in the mornings and evening.

We were welcomed by the Bishop of Kajo-Keji and the coordinator of the PAP (Participatory Awakening Process) Program which they call CCMP (Church Community Mobilization Process) in Kajo-Keji.

We got to meet many people whose lives and families were changed by the Bible based training which helps people to identify the God-given resources available to them and work for the development of their families and communities. The former Bishop of Kajo-Keji pictured above showed us his pineapple farm which he started after he participated in some of the trainings. He has been able to build a latrine on his compound and start building a permanent house made of concrete blocks with a tin roof from the profits of his pineapple farm and the other projects he has started as a result of the training.

We came to Kajo-Keji with Salah Reuben, the PAP (Participatory Awakening Process) Coordinator for Mundri. Salah has started these trainings in the Mundri Diocese. We traveled to Kajo-Keji to learn from communities where the program has been going on for over two years and has been very successful. Check out an old blog post about Salah and PAP if you want to hear more.

We also got to have some great conversations with the Bishop of Kajo-Keji and consult on some water projects he is planning. We met the principal of the local Bible College and learned about the church microfinance institution from the two men have been running the program.

I liked this picture of a pineapple just beginning to form, so I thought I would share it with you as well. We saw beautiful things in Kajo-Keji, enjoyed the cool weather, but most of all heard stories of God at work in the lives of men and women.

JUBA:


After two days in Kajo-Keji we continued to Juba to do some errands and have a few meetings. I can't even describe what it feels like the moment you transition from the dirt road where you have been tossed to and fro for the last 5 hours to the paved roads of Juba. The car is quiet, not by American standards since the diesel Land Cruiser is no hybrid, but after hearing the tools and luggage being bounced around for hours, it is a beautiful thing for your ears and muscles to have a break on the newly paved roads of a growing city.


South Sudan is getting its own country code for telephones (+211). Billboards around town show advertisements from companies proud to be operating in a new nation.

I was so thankful to have a tour of Juba University while we were visiting. Most of the students in my class at Mundri Secondary School hope to attend Juba University. Registration for next school year was happening while we got our tour, and I ran into several prospective students that I know from Mundri. A senior lecturer from the university who is Moru by tribe and is related to many of our friends graciously answered our questions and gave us a tour of the campus.

We ate great food in Juba overlooking the Nile river. Larissa and I took this roommate picture on the bank on the Nile. Yesterday I realized that I will be leaving Mundri in less than a month. I am sad to moving out of the house I have shared with Larissa for the last year and half.

Riding home to Mundri the car we pretty packed. We did some shopping in Juba for things you can't find in Mundri and got a lot of AMAZING produce. Mangoes were in season in Juba. We also got pineapples, green beans, zucchini, apples, and lots of other things we don't find often in Mundri. We also got three oscillating fans since ours died a few weeks ago and dry season is well on its way in Mundri.

On our way out of Juba, Michael checked prices for construction supplies now available more readily in Juba. Juba is growing.

It was a great 5 day trip across South Sudan. I am thankful for all your prayers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Road Trip


Tomorrow a group of us will head out on a four day trip to Kajo-Keji and Juba. Traveling in S. Sudan has it's difficulties including getting stuck in the mud. Please pray for our travels over the next week. Here are some specific ways you can be praying.

  • Pray that we would love each other well as we will be in the car together for over 20 hours traveling on pretty bad roads.
  • Pray that we would be learners as we visit projects and institutions in other towns.
  • Pray that we would be able to encourage the men and women we meet as we travel.
  • Pray that God would provide opportunities for us to pray with people.
  • Pray for the errands we have planned to get done in Juba.
  • Pray for the Land Cruiser and for Michael as the driver.
  • Pray for our health as we travel.
  • Pray for the logistics of our travel. (lodging, not getting too lost in Juba, finding the people we are planning on visiting, etc.)
We had a very successful trip to Garia last week. Garia is a very fertile area about 30 miles outside of Mundri which ended up being over a two hour drive. God blessed that trip as we learned about agricultural projects and community development.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thoughts from Life in Mundri

Every time I drive on the rough roads of S. Sudan I think of Isaiah 40:3-5.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Yesterday we were told that the road was "a bit" as we drove the 30 miles from Mundri to Garia. It took us over 2 hours to get there with Michael's skillful driving in the Land Cruiser through mud and over deeply rutted sections. We only had to use the winch once. After four hours bouncing around in the car, all my core muscles were sore.

There are so many things I have grown to love about Mundri including the way red dirt roads carved between lush green trees in the rainy season and golden grass in the dry season with a light blue sky and the bright equatorial sun above.


I will be leaving the place I have called home for the last two and half years in only six weeks. I will be heading towards my parents and great friends in America and moving away from my teammates and dear S. Sudanese friends. Saying goodbye is difficult on both sides of the ocean.

God has truly blessed the last couple of months. I don't mean to say that it has been pleasant and easy path. God has been my guide through suffering, sadness, questions, and fears, through rejoicing, beauty, and redemption. I prayed for a deeper understanding of the worries and suffering of my Moru friends, and God answered my prayers.

God continues to be at work in my life showing me the depth of my fears and how destructive those fears can be to the kind of love that comes from a transformed heart. This verse is currently written on the white board in my room.

Isaiah 43:1 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.



I am so thankful to God that I have been accepted to Masters in International Development program at Eastern University for the Fall of 2012. Today I am starting to look more closely at all of the financial aid paperwork. Education is expensive. I am looking for ways to pay for tuition, considering where I can live, and figuring out how I am going to pay for my food, gas, and text books. Through this process I can't help but think of the students in my class at Mundri Secondary School.

On Tuesday I asked my students how I could be praying for them this week, and one student asked that I would pray that they would have all get a good meal for dinner (with meat and vegetables and not just carbs). Some of my students have parents or family members that pay for their education and feed them, but most work after school hours and on weekends making charcoal, working as hired labor in a garden, or selling some food in the market to make money for school fees, food, and lodging. They can't take loans. They have no savings. Many don't know where their next meal will come from. They also asked me to pray that they would pass their exams and against their laziness when they choose not to study or work.

To say there are MANY differences between my life and the lives of the students in my class is a huge understatement. Yet there are also MANY similarities. There is good news for all of us in scripture.

1Peter 5:7 Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.

I am thankful the dear friends God has brought into my life in Mundri. Bethany reminded us during a prayer time that even for those who may feel competent at making friends in the US, God is the one who is at work providing deep friendships cross culturally despite language barriers and many other challenges. Personally even in the US I wouldn't consider making friends one of my gifts, and I am thankful to God for the many amazing friends I have all around the world.

This week a good friend of mine in Mundri is grieving. As I sit, pray, and cry with a friend, I identified with Jennifer Myhre's words from her blog.

"Looking left, my heart protests the way God allows suffering in the lives of people I love. Looking right, I see the privilege of walking through a hard and dark valley with friends this week." ~ Jennifer Myhre

http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com/2011/10/two-views.html

Isaiah 53:3-4 [...] man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief [...] Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;

I guess I could have made several separate blog posts, but these are just some of my thoughts from life in Mundri this week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

One Sunday in Mundri

A group of 5 men from the US arrived in Mundri on Thursday. Already their presence has been a blessing to our friends and to our team!


Matt preached on Romans 1:16-17 this Sunday at Okari church.



After church we joined several church leaders in the payat where they had prepared a delicious and very generous meal for us to share. The man pictured above was a soldier in Anyanya 1 (the first Sudanese civil war) and he along with another older church leader told the stories of the history of the church from its beginnings in the 1930's. They told stories about the congregation running to the bush during both wars. They told of how God protected villagers who fled to the bush during the second Sudanese civil war from sicknesses like malaria, typhoid, diarrhea, etc. The second Sudanese civil war was a time of death, looting, torture, and a lot of suffering, and yet they praised God for how he kept the community safe from diseases that are still so devastating in South Sudan. Then we prayed together.

This picture of two of the women from Okari reminds me of how some of the women in my Bible study in Richmond might pose for a picture after church. =)

At 5 pm our team gathered with our visitors to sing worship songs, heard a word of encouragement from Steve, and shared testimonies of our weakness. Scott Will prepared a feast for us to share including three types of lasagna! We shelled some ground nuts and had some great conversation.

I could write a lot more about just this one day in Mundri, but those are the highlights.

I praise God for all the different ways I encountered Jesus this Sunday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Candlelight








While in Kenya I bought two drinking glasses at Kitengela glass hoping to use them for candles because of their beautiful color. They are hand-blown and made from recycled glass.

Yesterday was a quiet Saturday night, so I lit my candles and sat down to read a book. When I saw the light coming through the glass, I couldn't resist getting out my camera and taking a few pictures.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pray for Schools


A new nation means lots of changes for secondary education.

New Curriculum:
South Sudan has printed a new syllabus for secondary education aligning itself more closely with the Kenyan and Ugandan curriculum.

Extra Year of School:
Secondary school will be four years (S1-S4) rather than the three year secondary program that was previously in place.

New Secondary Completion Exams:
As far as I have heard, there is still no South Sudanese exam in place for students who have completed S4 for university entrance, but that will hopefully come soon.

This is year of a lot of transitions for South Sudan. Changes will come slowly. Many schools are still teaching from the old Sudanese curriculum that comes from Khartoum and are not offering S4. Many students are hoping to sit for the old Sudanese national exam upon completion of S3 this year and apply to universities rather than continuing at one of few schools already offering S4.

This year in particular has been difficult for schools, teachers, and students with so many changes happening all at once. It is a complicated situation.

Some teachers who were employed before the school year started decided to take other jobs and replacements have not been found. In South Sudan as a whole there is a shortage of qualified science and math teachers, so those classes in particular are not being taught. Even teachers who are around are not always in class to teach because they are growing their own gardens and providing for themselves and their families. In a community that suffers a lot of death, there are also a lot of funerals which means teachers miss their classes. Sometimes it seems to me that everyone in Mundri is related, and the men who are teachers are often important in their families and expected to attend the burial as well as the church prayers which usually follow a few days later.

Students are paying their school fees, but are often sitting in classrooms with no teachers, particularly the math and science classes. School fees can range from $30 - $75 a year depending on the school, which is a lot of cash for young men and women to come up with every year. Some students are even willing to study on their own when there is no teacher, but schools typically only have one copy of the text book for the teacher. The students can't afford the expensive text books ($10 - $15 each if you find them in stock which is rare). Even if they could get textbooks, it is not ideal since the text books from Khartoum can be confusing and often contain mistakes. When I taught Physics at Mundri Secondary School I ended up buying a textbook from Uganda to supplement the book from Khartoum.

I feel for all parties involved.


The headmaster has struggled to put a roof on 1/3 of a building destroyed during the war so the S3 Science students who were previously being taught under a mango tree can still have class when it rains. I am so thankful for that roof as I teach. The challenges that face the school are many.

It really makes me sad to walk in to my class at 2:10 in the afternoon at Mundri Secondary School and hear that the students only had one other teacher come in and teach for 40 minutes that day.


This afternoon I am heading back to Mundri Secondary School to teach my practical science lab course to the eight young men in the S3 science track. These men want to be doctors, engineers, agriculturalists and environmentalists. One young man is even studying science because he enjoys it, but hopes to be a pastor. Most students choose the easier arts track. Today we will be looking at a small solar powered car and learning about solar panels and motors. I'm excited! Solar panels are everywhere in South Sudan with the equatorial sun being used to pump water, run computers, power lights, etc.

Pray:
  • Pray for the schools in South Sudan.
  • Pray God would give me eyes to see how He is at work in a difficult situation.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide me in encouraging the headmasters, teachers, and students in Mundri.
Thankful:
  • I am so thankful for the headmaster of Mundri Secondary School who has welcomed our team in to his school to teach. I am always amazed at his persistence and resourcefulness as he finds a way to continue rebuilding a school destroyed by war.
  • I am thankful for the teachers who teach up to 100 students in a class under a hot tin roof in the heat of Sudan.
  • I am thankful for the students who come to class all day and try to do some work in the afternoons to get enough money for school fees.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Calling All Bricklayers!


One of the books I am currently reading is Wars, Guns & Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places by Paul Collier. Not exactly the best bedtime reading, but thus far a very interesting book especially since I am living in a post-conflict democracy.

I am not endorsing all of the opinions of the author, but I thought this quote was interesting.

"Post-conflict situations need squads of bricklayers, plumbers, welders, and so forth, who set about training young men. Unfortunately, it is too mundane for the development agencies to organize it. We need Bricklayers Without Borders."

So if you are a bricklayer, plumber, welder, mechanic, mason, contractor, etc., you should consider applying to the World Harvest Mission South Sudan Team! Join us in partnering with the local church and community in Mundri to bring hope through gospel-centered healing, development and discipleship.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trade-Offs

*photo credit to Kim Berger, little black dots are all weevils*

This morning at breakfast, Bethany and I were discussing the trade-offs we make when buying food to bring to Mundri. In Uganda we buy some food that is not available in S. Sudan. This last trip we bought enough to last four months which is the next time someone will be able to shop in Kampala. We stood with our list in front of the oatmeal. You have two choices for oatmeal in Kampala.

Choice 1: The box of rolled oats. Much cheaper. Probably already has weevils (a small beetle) happily eating the oats in the box.

Choice 2: The very well sealed tin of quick-cooking oatmeal. Double the price of the box oatmeal per kilo. No bugs.

Bethany came up with a great oatmeal plan while we were loading one of our many shopping carts with tins of oatmeal. We decide to buy about half of the oatmeal we expect to use in four months in boxes and the other half in tins. We think we can kill the weevils that are already in the boxes by putting them in the freezer for a few days, and we will eat the oats in the boxes first. If we kill the weevils already in the boxes we can hopefully stop them from multiplying. When the weevils are still alive you can get them out by putting the oats in the sun since the weevils will surface and leave the food. However once dead, you just need to deal with them in the food. If the oats in the boxes are totally inedible, we still have the tins.

We have to make a trade-off between price and bugs.

This morning Bethany and I discussed how the freezing was working and the current state of the oatmeal in the boxes. When I make my oatmeal tomorrow morning for breakfast, I know I will be picking out the dead weevils that float to the top once I add water. Any I miss are just a little extra protein. A few weevils doesn't phase either of us anymore. We think our strategy is working out pretty well. =)

Anyway, just thought I would share a little glimpse into our breakfast conversation. =)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lately


So it is kind of hard to see what is going in the picture, but there are LOTS of cattle walking down the main road in Mundri town. This has been a pretty regular sight for the last week as cattle herding tribes are being escorted out of Mundri and back to their traditional homelands. Families have been walking along side their cattle with all their belongings packed up and balanced on their heads.


This also created cattle jams on the main road. It usually takes me about 15 minutes to bike to Mundri Secondary School to teach my practical science lab class, but this week it took about 45 minutes as I passed herd after herd of cattle. I probably passed about 700 cows while weaving in and out to avoid their huge horns, the mud puddles, potholes, and the cow patties left on the road.

This morning Liana, Gaby, Larissa, and I helped our friend James mud the walls of his house. It was a lot of fun! We haven't quite mastered the technique of the wrist flick and knuckle punch, but James came along after us to make it beautiful. There will be one more coat applied once this layer dries.

As soon as we finished the Hai Salaama community water project we knew the tank was undersized. Today Michael and Caleb replaced the small 500 liter tank with a much larger 5,000 liter tank.

Michael welds high up in the air.

A group of children gathered to watch Michael, Caleb, and the water office staff work. I came in the middle of the day to drop of some forgotten supplies and take some pictures of the tank raising, so I took a bunch of pictures of these cute children while I waited for main event.


The tank raising makes a pretty dramatic picture. =)


It may not seem like a big deal, but there is now a second gas station in Mundri town! Concrete blocks are being made all around Mundri town as new buildings go up. The crisp new currency is being exchanged in the shops and markets. Prices are going up for basic things including water. The price each compound has to pay per month for water from a borehole has just doubled from 5 pounds to 10 pounds. It isn't surprising since the price of fuel has gone up as have the prices for most imported goods including spare borehole parts. We have seen some fluctuation in the US dollar exchange rate, but nothing extreme.

Well those are just a few pictures from the last few days and some of the news from Mundri town!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meet Salah Reuben


video

I have been wanting to post this clip of our friend Salah Reuben sharing about the Participatory Awakening Process (PAP) program in Mundri for a while but I couldn't get the clip to load in South Sudan. Now that I have landed in Uganda, it was finally possible!

Salah works with the Mundri Diocese as the PAP Coordinator, and his office is just a few doors down from our offices, so our team has gotten to know him well. He is very passionate about this program specifically as well as all the different ways God is at work in Mundri.

In Salah's own words, "PAP teaches the community to discover their own situation and transform it using God available resources." The curriculum for this program is rooted in scripture. For example, Salah tells the story of God feeding the 5000, but he focuses on the disciples bringing what assets they had (five loaves and two fish) to Jesus. Salah also talks about how all the excess bread and fish was gathered up and those resources were not wasted.

Salah asks that we would pray that people in Mundri would get to know God more deeply through PAP. Pray that Christians would learn to live a holistic life and learn self-reliance as South Sudan moves away from dependence.

Salah also asks that you would be praying for him personally. Pray that God would provide for Salah's financial needs as he desires to help pay for the school fees of his younger brothers and sisters, build a house, and get married.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Out With the Old, In With the New


Over the last few weeks we have started to see the new South Sudanese Pounds in Mundri. In the next week a team will come to Mundri collect the old Sudanese pounds (top note in picture) and exchange them for the new South Sudanese pounds (bottom note in picture). The South Sudanese pounds have a picture of Dr. John Garang de Mabior on the front and are completely in English in contrast to the Sudanese Pound which is in English on one side and in Arabic on the other side.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Propane




Over the last two years living in Mundri, I have learned a whole new rhythm for preparing food and many new skills. I learned the art of the substitution. I learned to improvise based on what is available on any particular day in the market. I learned how to make yogurt and then how to use yogurt as a replacement for cream cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, and various other ingredients. I learned how to grind meat by hand and then decided that I never want to grind meat again. I also learned that I will grind meat and put extra effort in to preparing special birthday and holiday meals for our team.

When we arrived back in Mundri in June, our propane supply was very low, so we all learned to cook dinner over a charcoal burner. We still used our limited propane for breakfast and lunch though. A few weeks we got another large tank of propane from Juba which allowed us to go back to cooking all our meals on our propane stove. Cooking with charcoal takes a lot of extra time and planing. The whole process of lighting the coals alone takes me about 30-45 minutes. Hopefully as I pick up more pointers from my Sudanese friends, the lighting of the coals at least will happen more quickly.

Well yesterday, on Gaby's 9th birthday we ran out of propane completely. It was a sad moment. We all knew it meant a complete shift in the way live life in Mundri daily. By God's mercy, I had already finished cooking Gaby's birthday dinner when the propane ran out. His request was sushi (with no raw fish of course), so I cooked earlier in the day so that I could put the food in the refrigerator to get cool before dinner. Karen had also already prepared a dessert to enjoy while our team watched Avatar: The Last Airbender to prepare for today's Avatar themed birthday party. Karen was going to make peppermint patty's but after a few necessary modifications because of the empty propane tank we had ended up having peppermint patty filling in a bowl topped with chocolate chips. It was DELICIOUS!!! Who knew you could make homemade peppermint patty filling using potatoes. =)

It rained last night cooling things down in Mundri so I slept in sweat pants and a hoodie as well as under a fleece blanket. This morning it was still cool so many of us took advantage of the cool weather on a Saturday morning to sleep in. Once I got up, the cooking started. The first task of the day would now be to light two charcoal burners. We got a tea kettle on one burner for coffee and on the other I made up some oatmeal. After I ate my breakfast, I decide to make some pancakes that we could eat for breakfast cold over the next few days in the hopes we could keep water hot in a thermos overnight for coffee. We still had some left over hot water, so we took advantage and made some more yogurt which is now sitting in the warmer. Then Karen started the process of making brownies for Gaby's party today. Michael borrowed back the charcoal stove we had given the Bishop last year when we got the new propane stove, and he got more coals started. Our team practice to use coals while they are hot, so while the brownies were baking, Liana joined me in the kitchen to make gingerbread. Not the morning I had planned, but I enjoyed making gingerbread with Liana as well as reading while flipping pancakes and drinking my morning coffee.

In about 45 minutes we will be having Gaby's birthday party. I am thankful that despite the empty propane tank, we were able to make the foods that make him happy.

  • Please pray for God to provide propane for our team. Also pray for us as we adjust to a new rhythm of cooking with out propane which will be far more time consuming and require more planning.

On a side note, just thought I would also share a funny propane related language confusion moment from last week. I heard while I was in the market practicing my Juba Arabic that there might be propane in another market a little farther down the road. I walked down to the next market not knowing exactly where the shop that had propane was located. I started asking around to see if anyone knew where I could buy propane. Well I was having trouble communicating "propane" since I didn't knew the Arabic word, so after several attempts when people brought me kerosene and matches, I finally drew a picture of a propane tank and told them they are usually red tanks. Well one shop keeper very enthusiastically told me he had what I wanted and went to get one for me while I waited at the front the of the store. I was so excited that I had found propane in Mundri! Well, when he came around, he was holding a fire extinguisher. I had to laugh. It did sort of look like my picture (my drawing skills aren't great).