Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Home Again

I arrived in Seattle right on time last night to be greeted at the airport by my entire family. They tried to sneak up on me but that was a little difficult as Carol was carrying a bunch of "welcome home" balloons.

Thanks for staying abreast of my adventure in Africa during the past few weeks. I'm trying to think about how I will answer questions about the whole experience. I'm sure there will be opportunities for conversation but let me sign off on this blog with the following excerpt from my journal dated March first.

The mornings in Africa begin with a mixed chorus of dove's cooing and rooster's crowing. The air is cool and refreshing to the lungs. Small birds with sky blue bodies flit from twig to ground and back looking for breakfast.

Only two days separate me
from the plane that will take me from Yabus back to Nariobi. I wonder what I will remember from my time in Africa. First will be the people, their smiles and singing. Their joy in the midst of such a difficult setting is hard for me to understand. Simple survival is a chore. Add years of war on top and life should be unbearable.

Yet, somehow the spirit of these people grasps the dusty, cracked land in which they live and the hand of God and pulls the two together. The Sudanese clearly understand what rebuilding their country will entail, and yet, they do not lose heart. And even though I have but glimpsed the tenaceous spirit of these people - as much as I do understand, I want to take back to America. The Dinka, Uduk, and Mabaan people don't readily speak of the horror and autrocity of war. The potential for tribalism to continue to divide the country is self evident, but instead of despair, they talk of sing of hope. Even when they are silent, you can still see hope on their faces or in their eyes. I wonder if I were in the same circumstances if I would have a Sudanese sized hope. I feel weak and insignificant next to these people. They fully understand how to rest fully on the rock in the midst of the storm.

A few days ago Anter prayed, "Our ears are tired of hearing gun
shots and our feet are tired of running to safety." Peace is possible when people like these stop looking out merely for their own interests and also look out for the interests of others. Someone might shoot me if he wants my shirt unless I first say, "Here take my coat as well." A man who lives with abandonment as if to lose his very life will in the end save it. This way of living in the world makes absolutely no practical sense to those who rob the poor and leave them for dead. The teachers and students in the Sudanese Interior Church Secondary School are learning to practice these truths and will take what they have learned back to their villages to become leaders of hope for the future.

Grace and peace to you.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 18+ Beyond Africa

I've been traveling again. Flights from Africa to London (2 of them) also went without a hitch, and my luggage arrived with me in London of Friday. I've been learning to ride the "Tube", London's subway, and spending long days sight seeing. The downtown area is full of people, it seems almost twenty-four hours a day. Although, I don't know first hand after around midnight.

I've stayed a bit out of town in the community of Ilford to save money. Today I move to Paddington, a large central transportation hub, to be close to the Tube stop that will whisk me off to Heathrow tomorrow. Thankfully it is sunny today but pretty cold. Yesterday I rode on the top of a double decker tour bus and nearly froze. The temperature differential between Yabus and London is nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I understand Seattle/Bellevue area is a bit chilly again as well. Hopefully they have restocked the deicing fluid at Sea-Tac so I can land Monday night. Maybe I'll land before the white stuff is all gone!

I look forward to seeing everyone soon. I leave you with a few transition pictures.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 16-17 Back in Nairobi

We made it back to Nairobi. It took most of the day Tuesday. This time we flew both 2 1/2 hour flights in a small 15 seater. After a while it was a little claustrophobic. However, the scenery in Kenya was green, lush and mountainous.

I will be here today and tomorrow (a safari is planned tomorrow morning). Then Thursday night I fly back to London and will be there for some site seeing for three days. I'm looking forward to seeing you all next week. I arrive back in Seattle on Monday evening the ninth. Below are some last pictures from Yabus.

Termites are a real problem in Yabus. They eat anything wooden which makes it difficult to build any type of buildings.
Here is the whole gang at the compound in Yabus.

The Village of Yabus from the air.

The compound from the air.

P.S. Today is an important day on the political scene in all of Sudan. A decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) could cause major stress to an already fragile climate. Click here to read an article about the decision from the BCC.

Grace and peace,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 14 & 15 - Last Days in Yabus

My recorder playing friend Thomas . . . see below for details

The feast I prepared . . . four loaves of bread . . . whew! An Itialian treat - Chicken Alfredo.Finally the garden is complete. Now we're hoping for a lot of vegetables. Phalice will have to send me a picture when they are full grown.

This is my last day in Yabus. The last two days have been very busy. Yesterday, Thomas and I played recorders in church. Thomas works in the other SIM school in the compound. It is an accelerated primary school for adults. He is a short-term missionary from Switzerland. It just so happened we both brought our recorders to Africa, and he even had some music.

On Sundays the cooks for the compound have the day off. Phalice and I volunteered to cook the Sunday dinner. After scrounging around in her food trunks we discovered we had enough for a small feast. I made four loaves of French bread and baked them over charcoal embers in a big aluminum “oven”. Chicken Alfredo was the main course along with Ramen Cabbage salad. We had quite a few dried apples so we made crisp in the same oven and used vanilla pudding on top instead of ice cream for obvious reasons. I worked from right after church at 12:30 to about 6:30 pm.

It’s cooler today for the first time. In fact, last night was even “chilly”. The cooI temperature was just what I needed to finish up the garden by surrounding it in chicken wire to keep the roaming flock of chickens at bay.

Just before noon Eli took me four wheeling to a huge rock a couple miles from the compound. We climbed to the top, and I got a panoramic view of the whole area. A thick haze hung over the horizon so we did not see far, but it was beautiful none-the-less.

Tonight we celebrate another birthday. James, a teacher in the secondary school, turns 30 today. For me the celebration will be bittersweet as tomorrow I fly back to Nairobi. I’m sure I will need a few weeks to process this whole experience. I’ll keep blogging as it will help me be accountable to think about what has happened over the past few weeks.

So the landscape of the Sudan is dry and hot during the dry season and wet and muddy during the rainy season. Eli said from this rock the whole scene is very green when it rains.
So I climbed to the very top! No problem!

Grace and peace . . . next post will be from Nairobi.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 13 - Saturday

Phalice takes herding cattle very seriously!! She'd also kill me if she knew I put this picture on the internet. . .

Gone fishin'

You may wonder what this donut is for. Well ladies, you'll be glad to know that it cushions your head when carrying a heavy load.

That's it for today . . . just pictures as I'm working hard to finish Phalice's garden.

Grace and peace,

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 12 - End of Week Two

This is Camerra, a missionary from India. She teaches Bible, is learning to play the guitar and has an amazing smile & heart for the Lord
Sudanese children find ways to recycle discarded items into toys.
An early pickup game of soccer with a few young boys from the village.

In my spare time I've been hunting cow pies. Interestingly enough it is so dry here that it is easy to pick them up by hand. Reminds me of growing up on the farm, but we used pitch forks to clean the barn. I found two buckets full for Phalice's garden!!

As I wrote the first part of this entry, it was the hot part of the day, over 100, and I was sitting on my small patio under a thatched roof. I've been gardening all morning trying to get Phalice's garden up to snuff before I leave next Tuesday. So I picked up two buckets of donkey and steer manure, installed a drip irrigation system, and weeded the whole thing. I need to put up a fence to keep the chickens out. I'll take pictures of the finished product. Reminds me of a passage of scripture from Luke 13:

6Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'

8" 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' "

Adding a little fertilizer, if you think about it, is buying us some time - preserving the wait time as Earl Palmer would say. Eugene Peterson has a lot to say about this parable in his new book, Tell It Slant - I highly recommend it. You wouldn't think that putting a little manure in a garden was the Lord's work . . . but maybe that small act will have spectacular results in green, fresh vegetables . . . splendor in the ordinary stuff. (End of sermon)

I've been here nearly two weeks. I'll only have one more day, Monday, at the school. I fly back to Nairobi next Tuesday. It is hard to believe I've been here for two weeks of school. It's also hard to believe it snowed in Bellevue yesterday. Can anyone overnight some of the white stuff to Yabus?

I can't deny that it will be great to be home, but I'm going to miss the people from this school.

Grace and peace,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 11 Pictures

Here is another picture of "professor" Praise and I. He wanted to try on my specs.
Stephen is a missionary from Nigeria teaching at the school. His wife and two small children are here as well. (His son Praise is pictured above.)
Barnabas, the oldest student in the school and an elder in the Yabus church.
This is James a teacher in the school. He teaches business and history.
A few of my essential tools while working in Yabus, my water bottle with improvised cooling sleeve, my straw cowboy hat, my Bible, and below it a journal.
A pretty spectacular way to end the day . . .