Saturday, July 30, 2011


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).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Books, Movies, and Sermons

A few of the things I have been reading, watching, and listening to over the last six months:


The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer and Phil Smith

I got the book for free at a lunch organized by HOPE International. Aaron, a friend of mine from WEPC, is with HOPE in the Dominican Republic and he was back in Richmond for a few days in the spring. Check out his blog! The book focuses on microfinance but also addresses broader issues in international development.

Don't Bother to Unpack: Sudan 1959-1964 by Dorothy Lowe

This book has been passed around our team for the last year. It is an account of five years Dorothy Lowe lived in Mundri with her husband and three children in the early 1960's. This book has been so encouraging to me personally. Dorothy is a very honest author and talks about the struggles and challenges she faced during her time in Sudan. There is also some beautiful about seeing pictures of people and places I know in Mundri taken by missionaries living in the same community decades ago.

I Married You by Walter Trobisch

Most of the women my age that I am friends with here in Mundri are married and have many children, so as I have been getting to know them and hearing about their experiences, this book was recommended to me. The book is based on the experiences of an American pastor and his wife who are invited to Africa to speak on marriage.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward

A fun kid's book that I read while traveling. =)


Of Gods and Men (French w/ subtitles)

Based on a true story about a group of monks living in Algeria during the time of Algeria's civil war in the 1990's. I could say a lot about this movie, but instead I will just recommend you watch it for yourself.

Jane Eyre (2011)

I HIGHLY recommend the new Jane Eyre! Of course, if you know me you know that I am always up for a good period movie.

Adjustment Bureau

A romantic thriller with a science fiction slant and themes of predestination makes for a good choice for team movie night. A little something for everyone.


Tim Keller - A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

I have listened to this sermon twice in the last few months. "There is nothing easy about [...] being followers of the servant [...] who care as much about the broken and battered person and their need to have the love of Jesus in his heart as to systems of injustice in the world." - Tim Keller. It should be available for purchase at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Learning Juba Arabic

I have been spending a little more time recently learning Juba Arabic. One of the places that I have been practicing and learning new words is at church on Sundays. The sermon is usually preached in Moru and translated into Arabic, but the rhythm of translation gives me a few moments to write down notes of what I have been hearing in Arabic and look things up in a dictionary. Later in the week I can ask someone to help me with the words I have picked up at church. Usually if I listen for repeated words I can get a sense of what the sermon is about especially if I put those key words together with the scripture passages.

Today the Juba Arabic translator spoke really clearly so I picked up quite a few words, but I always smile when I hear a word repeated a lot and then I look it up to get a better idea of topic of the sermon only to find out the word is "of", "and", "then" or some other commonly used word. Today I learned the words for "truth", "fear", and "tiredness", along with a few other words. Right as we were leaving church I also learned how to say "His/her name is _____." My current technique had been to say "My name is _____." while pointing to the person I was introducing.

I am supplementing this sort of informal vocab acquisition strategy with a language learning curriculum with weekly lessons that can applied to any language. My Juba Arabic is still small as I would say here, but it is growing slowly slowly.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Know My Guide

Today I bought a one-way plane ticket back to the US for December. It feels like I just got back to Sudan, but in the last month a lot has happened including South Sudan becoming the newest nation in the world! I doesn't feel right to be making plans to leave already, but with international travel, buying early makes a big difference, so here I am booking flights and registering for a missionary debriefing program.

I have been feeling the uncertainties in life on so many levels this week. I got sick, so stayed around the compound instead of moving around Mundri on my bike. It rained the day I was supposed to teach my first science lab skills class at Mundri Secondary School, so it is postponed to next week. I'm making plans to attend a debriefing and renewal program when I return to the US not knowing for sure where I will be living or what exactly I will be doing at that time. I am making tentative plans to live near the graduate program in international development to which I am applying, not knowing if I will be accepted or if God will lead me in some other direction by next summer. I didn't really even know what I would be serving for dinner this morning until I walked through the market and found four avocados and brown lentils so we are having lentil burgers with guacamole.

There are times when I just roll with the uncertainties of missionary life, but this week I have been noticing it a bit more than usual. Being sick at home for a few days probably has a bit to do with that since I had a lot more time to think. Some of those thoughts were unhelpful thoughts as I was feeling guilty about not being able to do the things I had planned. It seems that when I'm sick enough to be slowed down, but not so sick that I that I can't function at all, it is so much easier to believe lies and heart idols abound. Karen and Bethany prayed that while I was still sick God would give me good rest, time for prayer, and good quiet times with Him as my body recovered, and again I was encouraged by the women of my team in my unbelief.

So today as I make plans for being in the US early next year and I am feeling torn between not wanting to leave Mundri, missing my friends and family, and knowing that for now God is leading me towards grad school next year. Today also the lyrics of a song our team sings often are running through my mind.

"I do not ask to see the way
My feet will have to tread;
But only that my soul may feed
Upon the living Bread.
'Tis better far that I should walk
By faith close to His side;
I may not know the way I go, but oh, I know my Guide."

Well that was just a little view in my thoughts today. Kind of scattered. I pray that if you are feeling the uncertainties of life and your thoughts are also scattered you would cling to the truth that we know our Guide.

A Persistent Tree

Last year I planted some Moringa seeds on our land in an area that was pretty rocky. There isn't much good soil on our land, so I thought I would just try and plant the trees and see if anything would come up. Well some of the trees started growing, but because of the heat and the rocky soil, most died. Those that survived were very stunted.

Well this year when I came back to that same plot, I found many Moringa trees growing. Some were even over three feet tall. The picture above is of a persistent little tree that kept growing even thought it was under a huge rock!

The rains have started in Mundri over the last two days (Praise God!), so I am back in that section of our land weeding, removing rocks, and creating rain barriers so that the rain doesn't just wash over the trees but the water will collect and soak into the ground near the trees.

I know very little about agriculture, but I'm experimenting with herbs this year and trying to revive the Moringa trees I planted last year. I am even trying my hand at transplanting some things Larissa grew last year that are growing too close together.

Parable of the Sower

As I have been trying to revive the Moringa trees, I have been reflecting a bit of the parable of the sower and other agricultural parables.

Mark 4:5-6 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

I sowed sees last year on rocky soil because that was the soil I had and just as Mark 4 says the plants were scorched and withered because they had no root.

Moringa trees are known to tolerate poor soil and the seeds planted last year were still in the ground. Even while I was away for five months and the ground was unattended, the tree still kept trying to grow.

Mark 4: 26-29 “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

God is growing his Kingdom and God brings rain and grows the plants and provides food. Too often I am filled with pride and think that I am the one growing the Kingdom. I may not say it aloud, but if I search my heart, those thoughts are there. If I am not filled with pride because I believe I am the one growing the Kingdom, then I am crushed when I think the Kingdom isn't growing because I am getting my worth from success in ministry. I so often act like orphan instead of a beloved child of God.

Well now I am here to try and assist the Moringa trees in growing. I don't really know what I am doing, but I'm trying to remove the barriers like thorny trees and rocks, and I'm giving the trees water when it doesn't rain.

Mark 4:16-19 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Looking at the end of the parable of the sower, the seeds sown on rocky ground fall away, but perhaps if God has His servants at work digging up the rocks and removing the thorny trees, God will grow even the seeds sown on rocky soil.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Scripture For A New Nation

These two texts were shared by friends on the occasion of South Sudan's independence. The first was shared by Rev. Paul during prayers at the church on the eve of independence. The second was shared by Roger S. during the independence day celebrations.

Acts 28: 1-6

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Honestly when the text was read, I wasn't sure where Rev. Paul was going to go with it. He shared that South Sudan was finally going to be independent after many many years of war and trials. He said that South Sudan has survived the shipwreck, but now even with independence there was still a snake. He called men and women of South Sudan to shake off the snake. Shake off poverty. Shake of disease and sickness. Shake of hunger. Shake off a lack of education. Shake off all the things that will continue to attack South Sudan even now that it is an independent nation. I wish you all could have seen the congregation joining Paul as they all swung their arms to shake off the snakes attacking South Sudan.

Job 14:7-9

“At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant."

Roger has a long history with South Sudan. He was living in South Sudan as a child in the 1950's for Sudan's independence. He was too young to remember that day, but his parents told him it was a day of apprehension for Sudan. He lived in Mundri for many years, learning the local language, planting gardens, and even marrying a Moru woman. He now lives in Nairobi with his family, but was welcomed back to share on this occasion.

Roger said that the first independence for Sudan was a day of apprehension, but that this day, independence day for South Sudan was a day of joy!

In coming back to Mundri, he visited a piece of land that once was his garden. Many teak trees he planted had been cut down. As he looked closely though, he saw a new shoot growing out of the old stump. That new shoot would not be like a tree grown from a seed but would benefit from the roots from tree that had been cut down. He said that July 9th, 2011, South Sudan's independence day, was like the scent of water for the new nation and that new shoots would grow up from the trees that had been cut down. South Sudan has a foundation to build on and will be stronger for it.

Roger was pouring forth wisdom during his entire speech. Karen and I were quickly trying to scribble down notes. He shared a lot more, so keep your eyes open on our blogs for more wisdom from Roger.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dancers Who Dance Upon Injustice

"Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring Your hope
Songs that bring Your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice"

These song lyrics came to mind this morning as Karen, Acacia, and I joined our South Sudanese brothers and sisters in local dancing on the day of their independence. Karen and I were nearly in tears at one point. It was a JOYFUL day in South Sudan. Each tribal group had their own circle where they were singing and dancing in very unique styles.

These foot shakers make a beautiful noise as the women make small quick steps in a circle around the drummers.

Many of the Moru style dances involve tiny but very quick foot movements, which in Sudan can produce quite a large dust cloud.

This was the Moru-Kodo circle where they are using local animal skin drums, milk can drums, gourd shakers, and animal horn horns.

The Mundari dancers were quite spectacular. These pictures just don't do these men justice. They were repeatedly jumping incredibly high. Mundari men are also typically very tall many being over seven feet tall making their dancing even more spectacular. We did not join in on the Mundari dancing, but I was serenaded at one point.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vovô Moacyr

On the 26th of this month my grandfather, Vovô Moa, turns 90! My grandmother, Vovó Dulce, turned 89 earlier this year.

I wish that on that day I could be in Santos, Brazil celebrating with the rest of my family. I wish I could be there to give him and hug and kiss and tell him that I love him in person. Unfortunately I can't be there. Even my mom and dad won't be able to make the trip from the US for Vovô's 90th birthday.

There are many blessings that come with being a part of a very international family, but there are also many sadnesses. I am thankful for the opportunities I had to travel internationally as a child and learn three languages. I am also sad that I have not been able to spend much time with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins in person. I usually see them only once every two or three years.

Bethany recently posted a picture of some of the first missionaries leaving on a boat for South Sudan in 1905. They left their families not knowing when they would next hear any news from home. My cousin sent me these family pictures from my grandmother's birthday. I am so thankful that missionaries today, even South Sudan, have internet and decent cell phone connections. I can receive pictures by email. I can talk to my parents Skype to cell phone for a reasonable price. I hear news from my family and friends.

I am hoping to speak with my grandfather by Skype sometime closer to his birthday. My grandparents don't have internet, so it is more complicated. Please pray that all the details would work out.

Happy 90th Birthday Vovô Moa!