Friday, October 17, 2008

Beginning Again

I have exciting news to share with you. I have signed up with the Episcopal Church to be a missionary again. I have a possible mission placement, doing agriculture work in Sudan. I leave on Sunday for a two-week trip to Sudan to discuss and interview for the placement, and to get a feel for the goals, challenges, and working conditions. The position is based in Juba, which is the capitol of Southern Sudan, working for the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), which is a province in the Anglican Communion. The ECS has more than 4 million members, which is almost double the number of people we have in the Episcopal Church USA. I will be assisting the church to develop agricultural programs. It is a very challenging job, as Sudan has many different climates: desert, grasslands, mountains, forests, and the largest swamp in the world. Sudan is the largest country in Africa (the size of the US east of the Mississippi river), and is bordered by Egypt, the Red Sea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, and Libya.

Sudan has been in and out of conflict since it's independence from Britain in 1956. The peace agreement currently in place was signed in 2005 between the north and the south (the Darfur region in the west is still in the grips of conflict). The peace agreement gives the southerners the ability to vote in 2011 to become their own country. I have heard that this is an exciting time for Southern Sudan, after so many years of conflict to be working toward the birth of their own nation. However, the obstacles they are struggling with are huge: insufficient food production, water, medical care, schools, infrastructure, as well as societal issues like: racism, slavery, and dealing with extreme poverty, trauma, and tragedy. I have heard that 7 out of 10 women in Sudan are widows. As the peace holds, refugees are returning to Sudan, and with them increased need, especially for assistance starting up farming.

I am passionate about sustainable, subsistence farming. If you can help people to become self sufficient, with sustainable techniques (like mulching and composting), you help them to insulate themselves from fluctuations in the world food market. Steady food supply, and the ability to provide for their children gives people hope, and promotes peace.

After I return from this trip to Sudan, at the beginning of November, I will begin my preparations to leave for a year, which includes fundraising, and additional training in semi-arid agriculture and tropical livestock production. I am planning to begin my next assignment February of 2009.

Once again, I am beginning a journey, and inviting you to join me on it! Without your prayers and financial support, my work would not be possible. After I return from my trip to Sudan in November, I will post on my blog ( information about my experience, photos, a video, and a proposed budget for the year. If you feel called to financially support my work in Sudan, you can make a tax-deductible donation using the instructions at the end of this email.

I have participated in several exciting mission projects this spring and summer, including: short term youth mission trips to Nevada and Honduras, a trip to El Salvador, working for the Mission Personnel Office, presenting a workshop on tropical agriculture at the Everyone Everywhere mission conference, and writing a handbook on tropical agriculture for the Mission Personnel Office. You can read about all this on my blog My letters from Liberia are still posted on my blog with pictures, and I also have a final report, and financial report from Liberia posted.

In such uncertain financial times, fears are plaguing our country, and one reaction people have is to focus inward, on their own lives. But I think that in such times, our need to touch the rest of the world is even greater. My work is equally about helping those I go to serve, and about changing the lives and perspectives of those who send me through a shared experience. We have much to learn from those who have survived great loss, and from those who live in poverty. Jesus calls us to reach out, with what we have, and with our very lives. To touch others, to love, to serve, and to be transformed. This is the path I believe I am being called to, I hope you will join me! But even more than that, I hope you will find in your daily lives, the Love of God, drawing you ever outward into the world around you.

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