Thursday, August 29, 2013

Familiar and Changed

Flying over Mundri, I could already see some of the changes that had taken place over the last year and half. There were more tin roofs in town and a lot more organized gardens.  The second thing I noticed is that the main road in Mundri is A LOT worse than when I left.

It is easy to spot the changes, but starting with Bishop who picked us up at the airstrip, I noticed that one thing has definitely not changed, and that is the happy, welcoming greetings of my friends in Mundri.  Even as I sit in my room and write this post, I can hear James Wani's familiar happy laugh across the compound. Some things will never change. =)

Over the next few days I got settled back into daily life in Mundri, greeting friends, slowly remembering Moru and Juba Arabic words and phrases, fixing bikes, making sorghum tortillas, buying food in the market, sweating while biking down the red dirt road, and driving the Land Cruiser or more accurately, stalling multiple times in town on my way to church and developing an audience waiting to see if I would manage to get the car into first gear. In the end a shopkeeper came and parked the car for me.  =)

So many things are familiar, but a lot has also changed.  My role on the team has also changed significantly. And so a new season of life in Mundri starts for me.  It has been such a blessing to step back into friendships that have survived my long absence, particularly at Mundri Secondary School (MSS).  Tomorrow will be my first meeting with the young women who are students at (MSS), so please pray for me as I consider what God would have for our time together each week.  

Traveling Mercies

Thank you so much for your prayers as I traveled!!!  Everything that could go right, did go right!

Here are just a few traveling tidbits:

I really do dislike packing, but I've honed my skills as I have racked up the frequent flyer miles.  And yes, I'm the girl who wheels enormous trunks in the out doors of the supermarket to use the large scale.  =)

After four long flights, I was so happy to be greeted in Uganda by the familiar smiling face of my favorite Ugandan driver, David.

The next morning six women from the South Sudan team piled into the Hilux and headed to Fort Portal for the weekend to celebrate Bethany's birthday and connect with some of the WHM Uganda team.

These pictures don't do justice to the stunning beauty of the crater lake and the tea plantation at dusk.

Even when small things went wrong, God provided little mercies to make it right again.  For example, when I realized that my sunglasses were broken, I happened to be standing directly in front of an eye glass shop in Kampala!  I was able to get them repaired in about 15 minutes for for about $2.  =)

My week in Uganda was a real blessing, but very busy with lots of travel and errands.  I am so happy to be back in South Sudan now, unpacked, and jumping back into the familiar rhythms of life in Mundri!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Out of sight...

Out of sight, but hopefully not out of mind.  =) 

There are so many truly wonderful things about the missionary life, but it comes with its challenges.  In particular, I long for more stability and continuity in my friendships.  En masse communication through blogs is great, but the reality is that it is not a substitute for personal connections.

This desire is by no means unique to missionaries.  We were created for relationship.  But as I prepare for yet another transition, the obstacles to deep relationship start to feel insurmountable.  Time differences and bad internet connections are just the tip of the iceberg.  

And just to give credit where it is due, my family has done a wonderful job at pursuing me and persevering through the obstacles as I move from place to place!  In fact, I have often been the one who has failed to put in the work to overcome the obstacles to maintaining friendships across oceans.  

Sitting down over a cup of coffee may not possible, but there are several things that are possible that help me feel less isolated from my friends around the world.  Really I just wanted to say that while these suggestions may seem small to you, they make a BIG difference to me when I'm in South Sudan.  

1. Send me actual mail! When the MAF plane lands with our team's mail, there is nothing quite like the joy of finding an unexpected letter or package.  Packages can take months to arrive, but letters arrive much faster! Just keep in mind not to include anything that can melt in packages, and if you aren't sure (i.e. dark chocolate), best to put it in a zip-lock bag.  =)

World Harvest Mission
c/o Christine Olmeda
PO Box 355

Mail can be expensive, but the rest of these options are free!

2. Send me an email or reply to my prayer letters.  Let me know what is going on in your life.  You don't need to have big news to write. Send me a link to a news article that made you think of me. Ask me questions, including any questions your kids may have about South Sudan.  Send me a quote from a book or sermon that encouraged you.  Or just say hi.  =)

3. Comment on my blog or facebook posts.  Let me know that you are praying or thinking of me.  Let me know your own thoughts!  Be a part of the conversation.  I love learning from my friends.

These things can be a huge encouragement to me! I know that I am supported by the prayers of so many people around the world, but sometimes I start to believe the lies that run through my mind and I can begin to think that I've been forgotten.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

AT Water Quality Testing: Suggestions Welcome!

My week at ECHO reminded me how much I enjoy appropriate technology solutions to problems!

For the last year, I have been focusing on international development, which I have loved, but there are moments when I have really missed science, engineering, and hands on experimentation.  So even though I won't officially be involved with the water ministry when I return to South Sudan, I am thinking experimenting with appropriate technology solutions for water quality testing as a fun side project if I have the time.    

After observing a demonstration of ECHO's biosand filter, my first though was that I wouldn't drink the water.  I know how biosand filters work, but the engineer in me wants quality assurance.  The same goes for most of the other popular appropriate technology water treatment methods.  

So here is my question: 

Does anyone out there know of any appropriate technology solutions for water quality testing? 

The research I have seen uses expensive testing techniques and requires a full lab.  I'm sure others might have more faith in biosand filters than I do, but if I wouldn't drink the water, I have a hard time recommending it to anyone.  I have also seen resources that recommend always using a disinfection tablet in conjunction with biosand filters, which is great if they are consistently available and affordable.  If you need to use a disinfection tablet in the end anyway, it seems to me like a biosand filter isn't really necessary since simple sedimentation and filtration would probably be enough to prepare the water for disinfection.  So for a lot of reasons, I want to know if there is a way to determine water quality beyond just measuring turbidity that doesn't require sending away samples.  

Ideally the testing could be done with only materials purchased or found in East Africa.  

I welcome any and all resources, suggestions, thoughts, crazy ideas, etc.  Send them my way! I haven't done much research on the topic, so maybe the answer to my question is already out there, which would be awesome.  No need to reinvent the wheel. I'd love to learn! 

Friday, August 2, 2013


I had the opportunity to spend the last week studying tropical agriculture for development at ECHO.   Here are just a few pictures and quick captions.

 One day for lunch we had a salad that contained 34 ingredients fresh from the global farm! 

Mount Victor at ECHO (elevation 24 feet) demonstrates agricultural techniques that can be used on mountainous terrain.   Different sections of the farm are set up as examples of various tropical climates including the climate most similar to South Sudan.  

  I learned a lot through the classes, but the best part of the week was connecting with and learning from like-minded individuals.  

The global farm was a truly beautiful place to explore as I meandered through the different pathways.  =)