Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Sudan

Hey Philly-area friends and family!  This weekend there is an opportunity for you to understand better what is happening in Sudan!


Nadus Films will be showing their latest film on the situation in Sudan in the Philly area this weekend. Liberti Church Fairmount, (meeting at the Berean Institute) Oct 30, 8:00pm.

You would also be able to meet the amazing Masso family, some of the missionaries we stayed with in Sudan.  Make sure you tell their daughter, Acacia, happy birthday!
 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From World Harvest Mission

Hi everyone,
We received this prayer request this morning from World Harvest Mission (whm.org) and want to pass it on to you because it echos our hearts:


"I need you to pray for the country of Sudan. The people of Southern Sudan will be voting about whether or not to formally secede from the North on January 9, 2011. Tensions are running high, and there are many questions: will the vote take place on time, and will it be free and fair? Will both sides honor the outcome?

We have ten missionaries and many Sudanese partners doing incredible work. Together, they are building water wells, strengthening the education system, and sharing the Gospel with hundreds of people.

Please pray that these elections are peaceful and that our team will be able to continue its work in the country."

This is serious warfare, people!  I will be continuing to ask you to keep it in the front of your prayers as we get closer to the January 9th date!  Thanks!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Compelled by the love of Christ

Last Wednesday was our very first night of Compelled- our new church plant.  It was wonderful!  Many of you were praying for our kick-off, and we could feel your prayers!  It did not go off without a lot of spiritual warfare, I will tell you that!  Many of our band members were sick, having bad dreams, having guitar strings break constantly, missing practice for one reason or another.  There were sudden meetings that sprang up that were not supposed to happen.  The copier broke and we literally laid hands in it in the name of Jesus so we could make enough music for all 13 people in the worship band!  (It worked, by the way!)  On Wednesday afternoon out of the blue I suddenly had a piercing headache like never before.  It went from my neck into my head and I almost blacked out.  Everything was tight and I thought I was having a stroke.  Shawn prayed for me and the intense pain went away.  As the night wore on I felt 100% better, but it was scary!  There has been nothing since, and even as it was happening I felt strongly that it was spiritual.
In one way this was an encouraging thing for all of us involved...the enemy was not letting us off easy, so there must be something good that was going to happen.  And it was a wonderful night!  A bunch of people came, the atmosphere was one on worship, and there was a lot of laughing and getting to know each other afterwards - and not one broken guitar string! :)
Please be in prayer as we continue this.  The "kick off" was not really event so much as a beginning of what we hope becomes a church that really impacts this community for Christ.  There seems be positive feedback, and I have heard that people are inviting people this week (apparently last week they were checking us out to see if it was worth inviting people too - I can't really blame them!)  But as was so evident last week, this is not about good music, yummy food, and fun - this a real battle because ultimately it is about leading people to the one true God and the free gift he has for them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's tonight!





Please be praying!!  Tonight is our kick-off!  See post a few below for details! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Uganda




Before we have our Compelled kick off on Wednesday, I decided I better get all my thoughts about Africa wrapped up!  (Well, not ALL my thoughts, but the ones I am sharing right now! )  ;)
We took our last MAF flight into Bundibugyo along with Robert and Chrissy.  It was amazing scenery - one moment you felt as if you could touch the mountains, then suddenly they dropped out from under us and we looked down into the valley at the beautiful green landing strip!  Did I mention that our plane this time was not a 10 passenger, but a 6 passenger?  It was a little crazy - and loud - but Samuel did a great job navigating it and getting us there safely!
When we stepped out there were hugs all around from the team!  It was a wonderful welcome, and we quickly got in the trucks and drove back to the mission.   From that time on we were pretty busy!  We visited the marketplace on Saturday with Anna and ate some yummy samosas; we went to the health center and watched as Travis did a few ultrasounds; I prayed for a young girl (and I mean young) who was experiencing a possible miscarriage; we saw a baby - the one survivor of twins- that was born prematurely and at 1 month weighed only 1.7 kgs; we watched as this baby's mom looked on in happy surprise as she was taught how to express milk from her breast and it squirted Travis; We went to Christ School - an amazing secondary school that WHM started and has been improving the chances of kids from this area getting an education that was worthwhile; we played games and laughed til we cried with Travis and Amy (We have already brought that one back to church!); we went with John to see the cocoa plants being harvest and sampled one bean fresh from the pod; we toured the rest of the farms and saw the goats and palm oil; we gazed in awe at the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and the range that was beyond us in the DRC just a few kilometers away; we went swimming in an icy cold waterfall coming from these breath-taking mountains; we found a rhinoceros beetle that I was glad was NOT alive; I very carefully entered the bathroom in the Myhres house expecting to see beady little rat's eyes each time (but was pleasantly surprised to never see them!); Shawn rode a boda boda (motorcycle) through the forest to a rural church that he was preaching at; we ate and ate and ate (I LOVE g-nut sauce and rice! mmmm) 
Bundibugyo was a fun time to see places and do things that we had not experienced before.  As we got to know the Clarks, the Johnsons, Pat, Anna, and new arrival Chrissy, we came to love this team that is spread thin but loving their lives in this jungle in Uganda.
In the coming weeks I will update you on things to pray for with both the Uganda and Sudan team, but if you want a better taste, or want to hear from them, please check out the blogs that are posted on my blog!
On the way back to Kampala we decided to drive so we could get a feel for the country and where we really were.  When you fly in and land in under two hours, it is hard to realize how far removed from everything this team really is!  But we drove for 3 hours on crazy dirt roads over the mountains to get to Fort Portal for lunch and where we were meeting David, the wonderful driver for the rest of our time in Uganda.  In Fort Portal (which reminded me very much of Malawi) we bought some gift for the kids, had lunch, then got on the road again.  David told us we would probably not see monkeys since it was mid day and he did not usually see many - but we saw monkeys and baboons for several hours of the trip!  Some came right up to the car when we stopped!  He was amazed, and we told him how much God enjoys giving us even these little gifts!  8 hours after we started we were in the American Recreation House and sleeping soundly in a comfy bed!
The next day we had David take us to see a few cool things - including the "Botanical gardens" near the airport!  It was extremely exciting to see more monkeys - different kinds, and even a black snake!  (David was not impressed with the snake!)  :)
I am thankful for this amazing time and for the chance to get to know these people in both fields that have left the comforts of home to do what God has asked them.  Thanks for all your prayers!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sudan



To try to put our experiences in Sudan in a blog that would make much sense to read is harder than it seems!  I am glad that I kept a journal throughout the trip, since the emotions and experiences in all the places we visited varied so much!
In those early morning hours that I lay awake in my bed in the safari tent that we were sleeping in,  waiting for there to be enough light to get up and move about without disturbing the rest of the mission,  God gave Shawn and I this verse:  Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast [that word again] because he trusts you. In the night when I woke up full of fear, my mind was not on Him.  It was on circumstances that seemed less than ideal.  It was not trusting in Him, but trusting in my flesh - and in my flesh there is not a whole lot to trust in other than failure, fear, and hopelessness!  
The first night in Sudan we floated off to sleep to the sounds of a party of some sort going on next door!  I do not know if it was a funeral or something good - it can sometimes be hard to tell if you are not familiar with the language and culture!  But I know it lasted all night! Each time I rolled over I woke up enough to realize that there was strange music and singing, I was under a mosquito net, in a tent, in Sudan of all places!  Good grief - what was I thinking?  :)  As usual, God was good, and despite lack of sleep and emotions running high, His grace was sufficient.
We had a wonderful time the night before getting to know the amazing team there a little and eating the most delicious black bean salsa and home made lime chips (Thanks, Larissa and Acacia!)  We introduced ourselves and told a bit about our lives, and they did the same - though I admit that thanks to my blog stalking I already felt I knew them!
Our goal on these trips was not the usual work-yourself-to-the-bone goals that we have when we have gone on other trips.  We were not there to build something, paint something, teach English, do a vbs, or any other type of typical missions thing.  We were there to get to know the team, see the ministry they are doing, and see if we (and our kids) could fit.  So much of the week was spent riding along to see what each of them were doing - anything from water projects, teacher training, pastoral training, formalities of ceremonies, church, or just visiting the market!  We spent hours talking and laughing and playing games, and just basically getting to know the world there.  Getting my butt kicked by 11 year old Liana in dutch blitz was, while admittedly humiliating, a good thing to do so I could picture my own 11 year old daughter here playing and laughing too!  Was it possible that life in Southern Sudan could almost take on an air or normalcy?
Michael and Karen are the team leaders, and I felt a wonderful connection with them from the beginning.  We spent hours talking through questions on both sides, doing "what if " scenarios, and being real and personal.  I loved that they live as if nothing is off limits and just want to be used by God in real and practical ways.  I love that Karen admitted she doesn't like cooking and that homeschooling is not always her cup of tea!  There was no pretense, and I felt I could be real and honest in all my many failings!
It was humbling to walk through town and not be able to even say hello! You do not know the times I wanted to say "Muli Bwanji!"  But I enjoyed the slower pace of the market, the delicious Arabic food we ate at the restaurant, the feel of the relationships that this team has made throughout the whole community in just two years.  I admit that I was also happy that the team is at the two year mark, and not the initial stages of cutting through the land, building the houses, being new to the area, and all the other "new field" things!  I will be willing to face that should the time come, but a little stability is nice!  :)
So we loved our time in Sudan.  When  the MAF plane came (and we were so happy to see the wonderful Samuel flying again) and we went back to Kampala, it was a little disconcerting to know that the next morning we were flying out to Bundibugyo to experience another week of new people, new language, new culture, and new food.  The only thing that was familiar was the guilt and sadness I felt about missing my kids, and once again I had to hand that over to Him!
More on the beautiful and breath-taking Bundibugyo to come...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010



Well, a week ago today we were getting ready to get on the plane and fly home from Africa...hard to believe that it has been a week already! We got home a little later then planed due to a few plane issues in Amsterdam, but still made it in time to get a little sleep in before the kids got home! This last week has been busy with missions conference, bonfires, practicing for Compelled (less than two weeks away!), catching up on sleep, and getting the kids back to where they need to be for school. Grandparents tried their best with school, but it is not easy homeschooling 4, and somehow the older kids work never got checked, so I was busy for several hours on Sunday catching up before school on Monday! I think today was the first day life started to feel more "normal" here again!

Many people have asked about our trip, and I am trying to decide how to write about two weeks in two different countries with an amazing array of people, foods, languages, experiences, and fun! I think this will have to be spread out over several blogs! :)

We landed in Entebbe, Uganda at about 9 at night. It was pretty simple getting through customs, getting our luggage, and exchanging money. The airport was almost empty that time of night other than the people getting off our plane. We came out into the night to find Lawrence, the driver sent from the AIM guesthouse, with our names on a sign. He had to go back into the airport to do something before we left, so Shawn and I stood in the night air, looked up, and breathed in deeply. We were back in Africa.

I do not want to sound overly romantic here...Africa can be dirty, poor, and chaotic. I mean, who knew that the smell of body odor and diesel and the crush of people could take me to a happy place? But honestly, it was like I was feeling my heart come alive again! The sky is amazing in Malawi, and it seemed to be just as big in Uganda. When we got in the car and drove the hour into Kampala, I thrilled at seeing roadside stands, fires burning with people gathering outside to eat, cows crossing the street with no thought to the traffic, and drivers going seemingly crazy but with a casual smile the whole time. I saw advertisements that were familiar - Celtell, Zain, and other cell phone providers. I always found it funny that there was so many ways Africa was cut off, yet even in the bush there was 5-bar coverage!

We got to the Inn and I was happy to see the bed with the mosquito net over it - a common site in Africa. I was tired and felt grimy, and looked forward to a shower and sleep. However, when I awoke in the night, the reality of Africa hit me. Crawling out of the mosquito net and using my flashlight because the power was out, I opened the bathroom door to see the biggest cockroach I have ever seen looking at me and scattering away. Lizards were crawling on the wall and making scurrying noises overhead (I am pretending that was the lizards, ok??) I was exhausted, away from my kids, and heading into the unknown the next day. And I was an emotional mess.

How could I go from such a high to such a low in that time? I did the only thing I could do - I woke up Shawn and had him hug me, then I prayed. I cried out to God to take away the irrational fears of the night, the guilt of leaving the kids, the tiredness of my mind. And you know what? He is sufficient.

I fell back asleep for a couple more hours, and when it was time to get up to get the MAF plane, I felt like I could see things more clearly again. I do not claim to always know what God is doing, but I am learning more and more that as I rely on Him, he makes each step clear. I want to see the whole path, and usually he only shows one step at a time. But with each step he shows, he gives the strength and grace to do what he asks. That night he was asking me to trust him with the bugs, heat, weather, plane trip, and my kids. Some were easier to hand over than others. But I am so grateful for a God who loves me that much!

More on this trip later...