Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank You

“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 118:28-29

In the last week I have been around a lot of young children including my precious and beautiful niece. I have been reminded that at a young age children are taught to say please and thank you upon receiving anything. Being the week of Thanksgiving I thought more about this idea of being taught to say thank you after being given something more than I might normally. Even now my heart still associates thanksgiving with gifts. When I use these words 'thank you', it is typically after I have received something. This something isn't necessarily a gift but even things like time, help, or other expressions of kindness. This practice also carries over to my relationship with my heavenly Father. When I see my Father blessing me and giving me the desires of my heart, it is easy to say thank you. But when God’s goodness is not evident to my eyes, the thankfulness does not come as naturally. However, I am learning that faith and thanksgiving go hand in hand. I may not see all the wonderful things my Father is doing, but I have faith that He is always at work pouring out is grace, love, and mercy into my life and the lives of others. I have faith that God is faithful all the time and his promises are sure, therefore I can have a heart that remains thankful. And even when my eyes of faith become a bit hazy and I don’t see what the Lord is doing or understand it, I can remember that God is God, my God, and his love does endure forever, that in itself is enough to be thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hello Snow!

I knew I was in for a climate change arriving back in the U.S. in November, but I thought I would have a few weeks before the freezing temps would hit. Instead as I got off the plane last week I was welcomed by 37 degree wind. And then just days later a fun blanket of early winter snow. It is hard to imagine that just a couple of weeks ago I was sleeping under just a thin sheet and now at every house I visit I look for the seat that has a near by blanket to wrap in. I am thankful for gloves, sweaters, warm boots, and very thankful that my mom does not mind blasting the heat. Some are saying we are in for a harsh winter, but for Seattle that could mean just a few inches of snow on the ground :o). I don't mind having an excuse to stay in the warm house drinking hot tea and just enjoying its simplicity.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Goodbye Mundri

Goodbyes are never easy, but I am learning that hard goodbyes are good goodbyes. As I sat with my friends in Mundri not knowing when I may see them again and feeling the sadness weigh in, it was a reminder that God allowed me to invest in this place, to love many, and to be loved by many. The goodbye was hard because Mundri became my home and my teammates and Sudanese friends became my family. The goodbye was hard because the Lord used Mundri to change and transform me, to teach me about dependence and community, to show me that I am not any less needy than my African brothers and sisters. The goodbye was hard because the future is unpredictable both for me and those I love in s. Sudan. And the goodbye was hard because I loved living in a place that was simple yet challenging. I loved riding my bike up and down the dirt road everyday wondering if a big truck was going to pass and leave me coated in dust. I loved greeting everyone as they passed. I loved going to the market a few days a week to by fresh veg. I loved entering a classroom as the students sang their greeting song. I loved sitting with friends as they served a cup of tea. I loved waking up to the sounds of chirping birds and falling asleep to the pitter patter of rain on the tin roof. I loved laughing with teammates and Sudanese friends as we exchanged African English phrases. I loved planning and carrying out teacher trainings with my teammate Bethany. I loved sitting with my small group girls as I read them books and they got new glimpses into the world and saw new pictures of their Creator. I loved cooking for my teammates every Monday night. And I love the many many things I have learned through my time in Mundri. So even though the sadness of the goodbye is still heavy, I am thankful for the hard goodbye because it means that Mundri was not just this place I lived in once upon a time, but was and will always be a home to me.

Me and my small group girls after our last meeting together

I felt very loved by my teammates as they threw me a wedding recpetion themed goodbye party

On my last Sunday at church I introduced my mother and grandmother as well as said my goodbye

This is Pastor Paul and his family which includes my good friend Nagenti and Regina one of the girls in my small group

This is my Moru family the Morris family. I spent my hours at their home playing games, eating good food, having sleep overs, learning language, and having lots of laughs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hellos and Goodbyes

Hellos and goodbyes are a constant in life for all, but I do have to say for a missionary there are many seasons where they seem never ending. Last Friday Nov. 5th I took a road trip with some of my teammates to Juba where we picked up my mother and grandmother. None of us had been to Juba by road and the stories we heard from others of police checks and few helpful people were not encouraging. However, God opened the way and the trip could not have gone better. I was excited to walk into the Juba airport and watch my mom and grandma come through customs with no problems or hassles. It is funny to think that their introduction to Sudan was Juba, a developing city in s. Sudan, full of people, traffic, NGOs, and expensive lodging that is not what you pay for. But although the amount of money that pours into this place is astounding, we were thankful for a great Mexican meal on the Nile, ice cream, a chance to walk into a small supermarket, and wonderfully smooth paved roads.

Once we arrived back in Mundri, it was time for the goodbyes to begin. Hello mom and grandma, goodbye Mundri. As hard as it was to say hello and goodbye in the same week, I am thankful that my mom and grandma were there to move around with me as I sat with friends, shared words of appreciation, prayed with them, and said goodbye. Through that time my mom and grandma were able to see how the Lord has truly blessed me through my relationships in Mundri.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I think most would agree that Autumn is a beautiful season full of color, change, and smells and tastes to delight in. Even though we live in the blistering hot south Sudan, we too are enjoying our fair share of Autumn beauty and reaping the benefits of the harvest. As most of you head to the pumpkin patch to pick out your bright orange pumpkins, we head to the market where we too find dozens of yellowish/green locally grown pumpkins. However, we have yet to carve jack-o-lanterns, but we have been making delicious goodies such as pumpkin bread, scones, cookies, pumpkin soup, and other pumkin delights. My teammate Scott has been pretty committed to making Sunday dinners all things garden. He and Larissa both have their own gardens on our compound and because of this we have enjoyed fresh salads and other fresh veg for the last few weeks. This last Saturday I went with my friend Mary to her garden and helped harvest sesame seeds. This involved bending over in the blazing sun, and cuting branches of sesame seed until I had a big enough bunch that could be tied together and hung to dry. I would say I successfully cut about 20 bunches. Aside from the heat, it was a great day and I'm thankful for a small taste of harvesting season here in s. Sudan. Here in Sudan the leaves may not change into beautiful Autumn shades, we may not have crisp cool air, or be able to drive to Starbucks to enjoy their pumpkin spice latte, but we are thankful for this harvest season, for the abundance found in the market, for the gardens that have been blessed immensely by this years rains, and for the reminder that we are a part of an even greater harvest.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You Are Special

“Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is false identity- an illusion! Loudly and clearly he says: ‘You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.’ Henri Nouwen- Here and Now

In the last few weeks I have become very familiar with the book You Are Special by Max Lucado because I have read it both with the teachers at our training and with my small group. For those of you who are not familiar with this book, it is about a village of wooden people who were all made by the same woodcarver, Eli. Everyday these wooden people move about giving each other stars (good) and dots (bad) according to their talents, beauty, and gifts or the lack there of. The main character, Punchinello, was covered in dots because he could not do any of the things that earned stars. Because of the bad marks he had been given he began to believe that he was not a good wooden person. However, one day he met a wooden person who had no marks and she told him to go and see the woodcarver. Punchinello finds out that Eli thinks he is very special and that he should not care what the other wooden people think. The moral of this story is that we too are special and we should always be looking to our heavenly Father to tell us who we are.

No matter what town, village, or country we live in we are all human. Just like the wooden people in this book we move about giving one another stickers with our words and actions. We try to tell others who they are and we also begin to believe ourselves that we are who the world tells us we are. We fall into traps and then stoop to finding our identity in success, popularity, and power. But just as the quote above says, Christ came to announce that we are children of God and that our identity should be found in Him alone. God tells us He loves us no matter what and that we are all very special. It doesn’t matter if we are extremely successful or beautiful by the world’s standards or possess lots of wonderful things. God’s love for us never changes. I enjoyed seeing my friends here relate to this book just as much as I do and now we even go around telling one another that we are special because God made us and we are His.
Here I am reading the book to my small group.
The girls made a mirror decoration that will remind them they are special every time they look in the mirror.

Here is one of the girls telling the story to her siblings using the book to show pictures.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Making Pancakes

In the last couple of weeks the girls in my small group have been enjoying the book Mama Panya's Pancakes about a Kenyan women who plans on making pancakes for her and her son, but then her son invites all of his friends. Yesterday I brought all the necessary ingredients which can actually be found locally, and together with the girls we made pumpkin pancakes. I introduced them to the flipper and it was pretty hilarious to watch them try to flip the pancakes. They had a great time laughing at each other and themselves during the process. And then of course the great thing about cooking lessons is that you get to eat the final product. Others on the compound also lucked out because they were in the right place at the right time. Maybe now pancakes will begin to show up in Mundri town.