Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's not about us...

Yesterday afternoon we headed to Skaneatles, NY to celebrate 5 years of the Duk Lost Boy's Clinic in South Sudan.  It was a fundraiser for the clinic, and we figured, "Why not?"  Not only is it for an immensely good cause, but it's for South Sudan - and we may meet some people that have a heart for S. Sudan and big purses (just being real, here...)

Well, it turns out that Shawn and I are a lot better at hanging out at that table with the Lost Boys and their families and talking about the life in South Sudan as opposed to here than we are at schmoozing with the donors.  In fact, I have not felt more out of place in a LONG time!  ;)  But it was a good time, and it did do something very important for both of us - it reminded us of why we were called to all this to begin with.

Support raising is a crazy time, let me tell you.  If you have never had to do it - be thankful! It is constantly on our hearts and in our faces as we have meetings with our support coach (whom I adore) and  see people that know what we are doing and always get asked the questions of "What percent are you at?" and "How much longer?"  (If you know the answer to the last one, I would love it if you would clue me in!) We also are in the middle of preparing in other ways - like the training that I went to last week.  So I spend a week talking all day about what my life will be like (as if I have a clue) and yet it seems like it is all so far away, and so contingent on money.  Sigh...Yet in it all, God shows just enough to let us know we are on the right path and it is about his timing.  (More on the free house, our move, and a few other things in the next blog!)

And we really hate asking people for money!  I have gone through this each and every time I have to call, email, or have a face to face with someone about supporting us:  "Lord, give me strength and favor," sweat up a storm, feel sick to my stomach, find a reason to put it off, think about it all day, finally just do it to get it over with, relax for a few moments - until I realize there's always the next phone call, conversation, or email.  It has not been a process that either Shawn or I have found thoroughly enjoyable!

Yet this weekend, last night especially, I was reminded of WHY we are doing this.  I have been nervous about asking people to give money, because in my head I have been thinking that I am asking them to give US money.  And yes, to a point that is true.  We need you to give money specifically to us so we can do this work that He has asked us to do.  Yet it is so much much more than that.  We need you to give money for the people of South Sudan - a country where they are finally starting to rebuild after decades of war.  In talking to some of the guys last night, and re-watching the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us" this morning, I cried as I saw boys as young as RJ and Andrew walking thousands of miles to escape being killed (like their families were) or being made into soldiers.  They were in charge of each other.  They lived together in refugee camps on the border of their home country, yet never able to go back because of the war.  They didn't know if anyone else they had loved and lived with was alive or not.  They had watched rape, killings, beatings, and torture.  And they were not the only ones.  This was how the majority of this country lived.

As I talked with them last night, I asked if they had been back since it was an independent country.  Most had not - and admitted that they would not even know their own country now, but they were working hard here to help those that were still there.  They were making money to help build medical clinics, buy mosquito nets, get schools built and teachers trained, to help with the infrastructure of the country.  They are desiring to see it built up and healed - both physically and spiritually.

And so are we.
That is why we are going.  Not the adventure of living in another place - though there will always be a part of that.  Not the "easy living," that's for sure!  Not because we are insane (though we may be slightly) and can't seem to settle in one spot.  But because the Spirit whispered in our ears and our hearts about this place and these people that He loves and wants us to love, too. And we are now asking you to listen as He whispers to you about this love.

So, while I may still get nervous to ask about money, I will do it.  Because I am not asking you to fund a crazy dream of mine, I'm asking you to join this adventure of God's that we are all a part of.  And I will be unapologetic about asking you.  Because really, almost all of us can give a little each month to help those who can't help themselves yet in South Sudan.  So be prepared - and start praying about your part in this! Thanks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hello from NC

I am sitting here in my room in Marion, NC on my new friend (and roomie for the week) Audrey's computer.  I intended to get on and blog about all that I have been learning at this training, but honestly, most of it is still a jumble in my mind and I am processing so much info.  So I will let you know a few basics about what I am learning here...
CHE (Community Health Development) is something that I new very little about before coming here.  I understood that it was a preventative training - one to help educate people in healthy living things and ways to improve their lives.  The official definition in our handbooks actually says, "broad based first-tier community health balanced with spiritual teaching." For those who still don't quite understand that definition - let me give you a very basic example:  Lack of clean drinking water in a community causes many illnesses and deaths.  One thing a CHE would do is to help people identify the issue, help them determine ways to fix it and help them find local resources and come up with a plan.  The whole idea is to get a place to own the solution themselves and then to take that and pass it on to others.  Oh - and the most important part - with each physical lesson comes a spiritual one.  Holistic, mind/body/soul healing and health.  I just realized today that this is what has been happening down at Oak's cafe in many ways.  
I am actually being trained to train others...though at this point it feels very vague.  That means that my role would eventually be to train myself out of a job as people locally take over and gain confidence and own the community's spiritual and physical health and development.  Again, that is simplified (and probably not even totally correct since we are still learning!) but the basics.
And as I have sat with people all week who have the same missions heart and understanding of this world as I do in many ways - and actually "Get me" when it comes to an intense desire to be back in Africa - it has been good.  I have made new friends, am learning new things, and wondering each day what our life will look like as it plays out in South Sudan.  Will I actually be able to implement any of this eventually?  Will I be able to do anything at all?  When we use examples of the communities that we are going into, it feels overwhelming and (sometimes) hopeless as I look up info on S Sudan, talk about my limited knowledge of it and even more limited time there, and focus on a few of the issues there that a CHE  could look at.  There are times of doubt and fear - yet even more times of excitement of wonder.  Ahh...this crazy life. 
So, for all of you praying for me this week - thank you.  I appreciate it!  And keep it up!