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

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.