Friday, December 3, 2010

Referendum Registration

(Photo courtesy of Abara registration center)
The 3 week period of voter registration for the referendum on whether to divide Sudan into two countries, closes next week. Completion of the registration is critical for conducting the referendum in a timely fashion, which is very important for maintaining peace. Most voters will be voting for only the second time in their life. The first election in a generation was held in April of this year (see article).

The referendum, which will be several days of voting beginning on January 9, allows southern Sudanese to decide whether they remain a part of a united Sudan, or whether South Sudan divides to become it’s own country. As part of the Comprehensive Peace agreement, a regionally autonomous government, the Government of South Sudan, was created in 2005. It has it’s own elected President, and Legislative Assembly, as well as all it’s own ministries. In order for South Sudan to gain independence in the referendum, 60% of registered voters must turn up for the polling, and 50% plus one, must vote for separation. Most polls show that a vast majority of southerners favor separation.

There were many logistical problems in the April elections, which may be repeated or intensified because of the late conclusion of registration. There are also outstanding issues between the northern and southern governments, like border demarcation, self determination for the transitional areas north of the border, and ownership of the oil rich Abyei area.

The Episcopal Church of Sudan encourages all of it’s friends and partners around the world, to join with us in praying for a peaceful resolution to the referendum.

Links for More:
BBC Article
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, and Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Register to vote together

Thursday, November 18, 2010


In July, when I was visiting the village of Panyikwara Abara, where I go often (article), my friend Pasca had just given birth 3 days previous when she hosted me in her house. Her husband Charles who is now a theology student, used to be the Archbishop’s Chaplain, and we traveled on many trips together last year. I have been blessed to become a friend of their family!

In Pasca and Charles’s area, the tradition is to name baby girls on their 4th day. So on the second day of my visit, I was given the amazing news that the baby girl would be named after me “Robinsida”. I was especially surprised, because while I like my name, most people here don’t like it, because it is considered a man’s name (and gender neutral names are extremely rare). So lucky for Robinsida, my name was altered to make it properly feminine.

I finally got to take a picture with Robisida when I was visiting this week. She is growing so fast!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Normal Life

My last monthly update, went out as an opinion piece on the Episcopal News Service.

Click Here to read it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Down but not Out in Ezo

I recently got back from a trip out to the edge of Western Equatoria near the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). This is the area that has been terrorized by the LRA rebels for two years now. My friend Buck from the diocese of Virginia and I traveled together.

Ezo has long been in my thoughts and prayers. While the ECS has 7 dioceses that have been affected by the LRA, Ezo has been hit the hardest, and the longest. They are placed right at the border junction of Sudan, CAR, and DRC. The people on both sides of the border live in a remote area far from any of their centers of government. Though they have different nationalities, they are the same ethnic group, and share a common language and history. The LRA have been active in that area, flitting between the countries, and causing widespread panic and suffering. In the village of Ezo alone, 35 people have killed, 59 abducted, 3,000 refugees from DRC have come, and 25,600 people from the surrounding rural area have been displaced into the village. Many more have been displaced throughout the region, with well over 100,000 displaced all together. People who were successful farmers, who were able to provide for their families, are now hungry and suffering greatly from disease and poor living conditions, reduced to squatters in stick and tarp shacks, so close together there is no room to farm.

When people do try to return to their farms, they are targeted by the LRA. The LRA strategy seems to be that of maximum displacement. They leave an area for a time, and just when people begin to think it is safe, they strike again. They are not rebels by the normal definition. They have no political agenda of their own. They are terrorists in the extreme, who mutilate their victims, and capture children to force into their army. They are the worst kind of hired mercenaries imaginable. When we met with the county commissioner he said, “We do not mean to fight the LRA, we do not mean to fight anyone, but we are forced.” The Ugandan, Congolese and south Sudanese military forces have been trying to work together to stop they LRA but have not yet been successful.

The conditions in the refugee and IDP camps in Ezo are terrible. People have no space, and disease is spreading rapidly. In the refugee camp they bury at least one person a day. They showed us the growing makeshift graveyard. The week before our visit, the church lost two important women leaders to sudden illness, one quite young and one old. The entire church compound, the cathedral, the office, even the bishop and his wife have been displaced. The cathedral is meeting under a tent, and the bishop rents a small house in town, surrounded by other displaced people. It has been 3 months now since the last LRA attack on Ezo, and the people are hopeful, but they worry that the LRA will return at the time of the referendum (January).

Despite all that they are suffering the people of the diocese of Ezo continue to worship together and work together for a better future. Their compound, which they had to abandon nearly two years ago because of LRA attacks, they continue to maintain, to keep the rapidly growing forest from reclaiming. Church members go back to slash weeds, and maintain the buildings. The bishop took us there to show us the progress they have made. They even continue to work on the construction of their new brick cathedral, and construction of a new primary school. “We built the school with bricks in one hand and ammunition in the other,” the bishop said. Even under the threat of attack, the people continue working together, taking the risk, hoping and trusting that their efforts will make a difference.

The people were so happy to have Buck and I visit. It had been nearly two years since their last foreign visitor. They asked me to preach at the Sunday service. “We always ask our visitors to share the word of God with us.” I preached about the Kingdom of God, and about how nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. There were presentations by four different choirs, one of which was a choir brought together just to compose a song for us. Buck and I were adorned with garlands of flowers around our necks, and greeted by each member of the congregation.

Later in the evening there was a presentation which included a short play by the Mother’s Union, speeches, songs, and dance. The Mother’s Union did a dance with grass skirts, and asked me to join them. I was given a grass skirt too, and we danced together. It was wonderful, a true outpouring of joy. They called me “Mama,” which I considered a great honor. And though we don’t speak the same language, their outstretched arms beaconing me to join them in the dance said it all.

I have been to all but one of the southern dioceses now, and I have seen so much displacement and suffering. Ezo, as I had long suspected, has the worst displacement, and the worst suffering. There is so little I can do to help the people of Ezo, or the people of South Sudan. The agriculture projects and training I’m working on require stability, and will take time. But sometimes it is enough to risk, to go, to be present with people in the time of their suffering, to bring them greetings and prayers from friends abroad they didn't know they had, to let them know they are not alone or forgotten.

The people of Ezo remind me yet again, that hope and love and laughter and life go on even amidst the most profound suffering. The bishop said, “Everything that has a beginning has an end.” This too shall pass. The peace-loving agriculturalists of Western Equatoria will one day return to their farms, and build their nation.

Please join me in praying for the dioceses affected by the LRA:
Diocese of Ezo, Bishop John Zawo
Diocese of Nzara, Bishop Sammuel Peni
Diocese of Yambio, Bishop Peter Munde
Diocese of Ibba, Bishop Wilson Kamani
Diocese of Maridi, Bishop Justin Badi
Diocese of Mundri, Bishop Bismark Avokaya
And those hosting the displaced:
Diocese of Yei, Bishop Hilary Luate
Diocese of Lainya, Bishop Peter Amidi

Monday, October 18, 2010

Archbishop's Advocacy Tour

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul is currently on an advocacy tour of the UK and US.

He and Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, held a joint press conference at Lambeth Palace.
Read about it Here.

He visited the UN and met with Ban Ki Moon.
Read about it Here.

He preached at Trinity Wall Street on October 10
Sermon video Here.

The Episcopal Church USA materials on a Season of Prayer for Sudan:
Click Here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Celebration in DWT

I just got back from another great trip to the Diocese of Western Tanganyika (Kasulu, Tanzania). DWT, the Diocese of Gloucester in England, and my home diocese, El Camino Real, are part of a 3-way companion diocese relationship. The relationship began two years ago, and has involved visits, projects, study of scripture, and mutual prayer. Every person who has been involved in the partnership has been changed by it. It is a beautiful example of our common love and unity in Christ.

I got to visit DWT twice last year, for the initial partnership visit, and to help with a solar cooking workshop. The visit last weekend was for the installation of the new bishop of Western Tanganika, Bishop Sadock Makaya.

The celebration took place in the Cathedral in Kasulu, full past bursting point with at least 2,000 people in attendance. Eight choirs performed songs composed for the occasion. It was an epic six-hour event, an outpouring of celebration for the beginning of a new ministry. Bishop Sadock is a deeply spiritual, humble, and joy-filled servant of God and leader of his people. It was a great honor to be there for the event, and to represent our partnership, along with Archdeacon Robert from the Diocese of Gloucester (photo above).

I have been a lot of places for short and long term mission work, but my visits to DWT stand out in my mind and heart as some of the most special. The nature of our partnership, it’s basis in hospitality, conversation, trust, and friendship, and it’s commitment to equality in partnership, continue to inspire and amaze me. The fruit of this partnership is the stretching of each of us beyond our paradigms, not only to engage but to love deeply those who differ from us. It’s not about fixing anybody or changing anybody, it’s about journeying together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Bwana Asifiwe!! (Praise the Lord!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Season of Prayer

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (in the USA) has declared a Season of Prayer for Sudan.

I announced this at our weekly staff devotions this morning, and it was greeted by great applause from the Provincial staff of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. As we engage in prayer here in Sudan, it is encouraging to know that brothers and sisters in Christ in the US and other places around the world are praying with us.

CLICK HERE for resources, prayers, and action suggestions.

for the Episcopal News Service Article about the call to prayer

Below is an interview with the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori, recorded live July 28, 2010. Skip ahead to minute 25:50 to hear her speak about Sudan and the season of prayer. (from

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Links

The Episcopal Church, Mission Personnel have a blog, featuring articles from missionaries around the world: CLICK HERE

Jesse Zink, a former member of the Young Adult Service Corps, and renowned mission blogger, is visiting Sudan right now. See his insights and photos at: CLICK HERE

The Mission Personnel website (of The Episcopal Church), has been updated with video interviews of missionaries, including myself: CLICK HERE or see below.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Fruit of Hope

The tension between hope and fear, sadness and joy is a very present part of life in the mission field. But I find this year that I see the patterns of hope more clearly, and I want to share a particular story with you.

The very first week I arrived in Sudan (Feb 2009), I visited the village of Panyikwara, in Magwi county. I wrote about it in my first update. The people had just returned, only months before, from more than a decade in refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda. Everyone was hungry, some were starving, their houses were basic stick and tarp constructions. There was very little planted. The people were desperate. The land they were on was so fertile, and they were farmers, but they hadn’t arrived home in the planting season. I was so deeply saddened by their desperation, and I remember being galvanized by Bishop Bernard’s (their bishop) words, “We hope that hunger will not be a problem with these people next year.”

I returned to Panyikwara at least 16 times last year. (It is about 4 hours away from Juba.) The Province (of the Episcopal Church of Sudan) has land there, and the Archbishop wanted me to start a pilot project. Unfortunately there were banking problems with our funding partner, so the farm was very small, and not able to make a profit. Only 20 families were involved, (in a larger community of 23,000) but they did receive training, and some were able to grow excess food.

After that very first visit, when I saw a rainbow and remembered that there was always hope, it seemed to me that every time I looked, the hope kept growing. Slowly the stick and tarp structures were replaced by well-built sturdy mud huts, some even made from bricks. Shops sprung up along the road with metal roofs, more and more crops were planted, people’s nutrition improved, a health clinic was built, a pharmacy was built, the market grew, some houses with metal roofs were built, people were wearing new clothes, more people had rubber boots instead of flip flops, and last month some people watched the World Cup on a generator powered satellite TV connection… The changes are endless. These are signs of progress, signs of development, hope made tangible.

Yes, the people of Magwi county received help from outside. They were given some assistance by the UN High Commission on Refugees, and other refugee organizations built wells, and the clinic. But the progress came down to the people. The people did not give up hope. Even though they were hungry and tired. Even though people like me showed up with dreams of big projects only to deliver very little, still their hospitality and their hope and their work ethic did not wane. I did not know that progress like this was possible in such a short period of time, to go from severely impoverished, completely aid supported, to self-sufficient in one year (and a drought year at that!)

This is not the story everywhere. I have seen other places where people cannot hold onto hope, where division and hatred, the fruit of war, continue to keep them in abject poverty and conflict.

I had nothing to do with the success of the people of Magwi. I made mistakes, promising them things and then backing out. But they forgave me, and continued to welcome me into their homes and their lives. I got to be the privileged witness of the miracle that has happened there, the fruit of their hope and faith. Last week, I asked our farm supervisor if the people in Panyikwara were proud of how far they had come in a year. He said, “how can we be proud unless someone tells us we have done well?” And in that moment I was so honored to get to be the one to slap him on the back and say, “well done friend!”

I know that back home things are tough, so many people have lost their retirement, their jobs, their homes, their farms. But the real tragedy is when people lose their hope and their faith. We are all victims of the chances of our lives, but we can always choose love, faith, and hope, and that makes all the difference in the world.

“And now, faith, hope, and love abide, and the greatest of these is love.” (1Cor 13:13)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Episcorific is an online magazine by and for young Episcopalians. I wrote an article in the current edition. Page 5
Click Here to read.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recording Peace

One thing I love about working for the Episcopal Church of Sudan, is that whenever there is a big event, it’s all hands on deck. It is for that reason, that I found myself, the Agriculture Consultant, taking minutes at a peace meeting in Rumbek last week.

The peace gathering was an important event. The two regions of Greater Bahr al Ghazal and Western Equatoria have been having some conflict over the past year. It is another chapter of the age-old conflict between cattle keepers and farmers: Cane and Abel, Jacob and Esau, ranchers and farmers… Oklahoma the musical… even in Western culture we are familiar with the concept. The cattle herders of Bahr al Ghazal were bringing their cattle into Western Equatoria for grazing during the drought, trampling crops while they were at it, creating conflict and violence in the communities.

The peace event brought together representatives of the state governments, one Governor, many local chiefs, church members, and the bishops from the two regions. Through three days of lectures, reports, discussions, and sharing, the group came up with a list of very progressive recommendations for the communities and the government. Including such hot topics as, lowering bride prices, encouraging intermarriage between tribes, and limiting grazing areas.

The participants took this work very seriously and engaged openly and honestly with each other in dialog. One participant was a farmer, and she had been shot and nearly killed by a cattle herder, yet she joined openly in group discussions with cattle keepers.

I was tasked, as the secretary, to work with a smaller committee to draft the statement for the conference. We worked late into the night to prepare the statement for the next day. But we struggled to think of a good way to open it. Finally, with a nod to Thomas Jefferson, we start with the word, "we"… and the rest just flowed.
“We are deeply grieved that violent conflicts among the southern peoples continue to tear apart our communities and threaten our future…”
(Click here to see the full statement and resolutions).

The Churches in Sudan were instrumental in bringing about the peace agreement that ended the war in 2005, and the Episcopal Church continues to play an important role in the living into that peace. The Church and its leaders speak prophetically about peace and what it takes. Peace conferences like this one have been hosted in other places, and will continue to be hosted, and the bishops on the ground will continue to work with their people on peace and reconciliation.

While my purpose here is agricultural, I was so blessed to get to be the recorder of some of the history being made here on the front of peace.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It’s a Tractor!

The long awaited arrival has finally taken place! The Episcopal Church of Sudan, Department of Agriculture, is now the proud owner of one Massey Ferguson 290 model, 82 horsepower Tractor, complete with plow, disk harrow, disk planter, and trailer.

A great big thank you to the United Thank Offering (UTO) for the grant which purchased this tractor!

UTO is an Episcopal organization in the US, which gives grants to dioceses all over the world. Wherever I have been in the world or at home, I have seen the great work of UTO. They are best known in the US for their “mite boxes” which people put coins in everytime they are thankful for something in their lives. But don’t just give coins, if you are really thankful, write a check!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Look out, no brakes!

“Torit is just on the other side of that next mountain.” -Bishop
“But bishop, you said that about the last two mountains.” -me
-- insert twinkling grin -- “Don’t worry, it’s very close.” -Bishop
“You’re just afraid I’ll start driving faster aren’t you?” -me
-- grin-- -Bishop
“I love my job.” -Buck

You might think that driving on a road that was more like “off-roading” with hardly any brakes would be exciting. But it was the proverbial “are we there yet?” experience. It took us more than 7 hours to drive 80 miles.

Luckily for all my passengers, Buck continued to buy and feed me packaged cookies throughout the journey, keeping me sane, and driving very very slowly.

I had the pleasure of traveling with Buck this month on two equally exciting trips. (You may remember that Buck, from Virginia, was one of my first traveling companions when I came to Sudan). Buck loves his job, and is good at reminding the rest of us to love our jobs too, even when we are hot, and tired of driving so slow.

I should quantify “exciting trips”. The combined maintenance requirements on the vehicle after one week with 32 driving hours was: two full sets of shock absorbers, and new brakes.

We spent several days in the Diocese of Ibba, 10 hours drive from Juba. We learned of the great progress the kids at the local school have made (the 8th graders toped the state exam!) and the hopes of the diocese. I got to put on an agriculture workshop. Buck’s sister got to teach some art and social studies classes. We ate termites (one of us thought they said “turnips,” it was dark), and we returned with the very prestigious gift of a live goat. Yes, a live goat, in the back of the car, with the suitcases. “Little Buck” has become a bit of a pet, though we are looking for a new home for him, as my housemates and I are a bit tired of being woken up early in the morning by incessant bleating!

Our trip to Torit, was a bit more car-maintenance focused. Though it was a joy to sit and chat with Bishop Bernard as we waited for brakes to get fixed. We also got to do some walking around Torit, and got to see the progress they have made, and the tremendous hope for the future they have, great dreams, and great potential!

Should you know a diocese or parish somewhere that is looking for an overseas partner, Torit and Ibba are two of many dioceses in Sudan that are a great partnership opportunity!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The elections finished last Thursday, and were conducted peacefully. We thank God for this!

People were so excited to vote for the first time in their lives, and see a democratic process in their country after so many years of war. Despite delays, long lines, roster mistakes, and logistical problems, voters showed extreme patience and commitment to the democratic process. So many people proudly showed me their inked fingers, proof that they had voted.

People in Sudan were praised by international elections observers for their civic spirit, pride, and hospitality. Observers also noted many problems in the elections, but described them as an important part of the peace process.

Now we pray for a peaceful response to the results announcement. The Sudan Council of Churches hosted a prayer meeting yesterday, and the Cathedral was packed with people, praying for peace. Please join us in continuing to pray for peace!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Agriculture Students

It has been my joy this year to have an addition to my usual duties. I am now teaching agriculture one day a week at Bishop Gwynne Theological College. The students are all pastors, and the focus of the class is an introduction to improved sustainable agriculture techniques for subsistence farmers. We do both lecture and practical classes where we work in my demonstration garden. We planted vegetables today, I’ll post pictures when they start to grow!

Next semester I will be teaching agriculture extension methods, so that when they return to their parishes, they will be prepared to do agriculture extension work with their congregations.

The students are enthusiastic about the subject, and are wonderfully joyful, prayerful people. They already are, and will continue to be tremendous leaders in their congregations. I have so enjoyed becoming part of their community, and joining with them daily in prayers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pray for Peace

Please join the people of Sudan in praying for peaceful elections, and peace at the time of the results announcement. The election will be April 11-13. Tomorrow, people will gather all over Juba to pray for peace.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Vigil

Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen in deed Alleluia!

The Easter vigil began just as dusk was falling. It was a “bring your own candle (and holder)” event. Most of us had fashioned candle holders out of cut-off plastic bottles filled with sand. It was wonderful to watch the light of the pascal candle grow as it spread from person to person, until the whole cathedral, full of people, was glowing.

The joy grew as the service continued. The candles burned on, even when the lights were turned back on. The joy finally burst forth on the final hymn “I’m so glad that Jesus set me free.” It was as though a dance-party broke out. No one wanted to stop singing, there was dancing in the pews and dancing in the aisles, and people danced out of the church with their candles, still singing and shouting and dancing even as they gathered on the cathedral grounds. I stayed to dance with the choir, and when the chorus finally ended, people outside were still dancing and shouting and greeting one another.

From the steps of the Cathedral I could see the crowds of people with their candles still burning walking out into the dark streets of Juba, carrying the light of the risen Christ!

The joy of Easter is more than palpable. The joy of Easter changes everything, and it cannot be contained!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

Sometime on Good Friday afternoon, my sacred heart Jesus key chain (in psychedelic colors) disappeared off of my key ring. I am expecting to find it on Easter.

Holy Saturday is a waiting time. An in-between time. The work of the cross completed, the promise of resurrection soon to be accomplished. It is an echo of the waiting in our lives, waiting for and working for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

God is holding Sudan now, in this waiting time before elections. God is holding each of us whenever we struggle or despair. We have an endless source of love and peace, wrapped around us and in us. All we have to do is turn and remember.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

From Good Friday, it is sometimes hard to see Easter. As we focus on the suffering and death of Christ, we are reminded of the suffering and death that continues to happen around the world. And the way that we continue to turn our hearts from God, even after Christ’s sacrifice.

In the midst of the dry season, it is difficult to remember that the rain will come. In the midst of hardship or sickness, it is hard to remember that this too shall pass.

In south Sudan, the dry season is giving way to the rainy season, the trees are coming back to life. This photo is of one of my moringa trees, just a little tree when the dry season began, it lost most of it’s leaves, but it is coming back to life now. It’s leaves are a symbol of hope, not just for the return of life to the land, but also because they can be used to treat malnutrition, and strengthen the immune system. All of my moringa trees survived the dry season.

It is an uncertain time here as we await the coming of the elections, which begin the first Sunday after Easter. This time too shall pass, and there is much hope as we pray for peace.

Today we contemplate just how far our God was willing to go to bring us, his wayward children, back into his loving embrace. Let us humble ourselves before God, who gives life to the world.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

The Maundy Thursday service this evening was lovely. It was a combined service of the English and Arabic congregations. It was a small service for the cathedral, about 100 people.

The power is fairly unreliable here, and it went out just about the time that it was getting dark. As the fans shut down, the temperature quickly climbed into the high 90s inside the cathedral. The more pressing problem at that point, however, was being able to read the prayers. There followed a series of flashlight offerings to the priest, each one slightly better than the last. First a key chain light, then I offered my cell phone/flashlight combo, finally a proper flashlight showed up in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer. Somehow, the flow of the service was unbroken!

The nice thing about the power going out, was that the candles behind the altar were lit. I love the light from candles, in our culture, candles are associated with spiritual things. But candles here are for practical use. You light candles when you don’t have power, so why would you light them in broad daylight, or when there are electric lights?

Before the power went out, nearly everyone had their feet washed by the priests. I love the foot washing service. It is such a good reminder of our calling to humility in service, and that we have to both serve, and allow others to serve us.

I have had my feet washed on several different occasions while visiting villages. After sitting down in a circle with the hosts, several women will come with a basin, a pitcher, a towel, and sometimes a pair of plastic flip flops to wear while your feet dry. After walking a dusty path in the hot sun, it is such a wonderful feeling to have your feet washed, and the kindness and care that it represents is even more wonderful.

Such is the kind of service Jesus calls us to. The intimate and humble acts of life, the kindness and care we show to each other.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Wednesday

Today began with a morning Eucharist at the Cathedral. The reading was the parable of the vineyard owner and the bad tenants, who beat up and kill the messengers he sends. (Mark 12:1-12)

Having studied viticulture (grape growing) in college, I always love the parables about vineyards! But like all parables, it isn't actually about the vineyard. It is about God's love for humanity, and our determination to reject God's messengers, even Jesus himself.

How are we like the tenants in the vineyard? We probably don't beat up or kill the messengers of God, but how often do we take time to listen for that still small voice? How often are our prayers a laundry list of what we want rather than a time to be in the presence of God?

Once when someone asked Mother Teresa how she prayed, she said that she listened. And when they asked what God said, she replied that God listened too.

Today has been unexpectedly busy for me. I didn't taken any time to listen, until I sat down to write this. It is so easy to get caught up in what there is to do: Things to type and photo copy, proposals to write, budgets to finish, a tractor to order (yay!) This evening I feel the still small voice beckoning to me... come let us listen.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Tuesday

Today there was a Town Hall Peace Forum, organized by the Episcopal Church of Sudan. It was a major event, sponsored by the UN and covered by all the Juba media outlets. Christian and Muslim leaders gathered to pray for peace and to encourage politicians and voters to conduct themselves peacefully during and after the elections.

Representatives from the parties were given a chance to respond and they pledged themselves to peaceful elections.

I got drafted to take the minutes for the 5-hour event. There is nothing like minute-taking for lengthening one’s attention span!

It was so encouraging to hear people from different religious affiliations, parties, organizations, and the government, all speaking passionately about peace.

Jesus calls us to follow him, to work for justice and peace on earth. The body of Christ is alive and well in the world today, we are not alone. The battle is already won! We know the ending of the story. The Prince of Peace will reign!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Monday

I wish you all a blessed Holy Week! I’m going to try to post a reflection each day this week.

This week, we reflect on the way of the cross, as we prepare ourselves for a triumphant Easter.

We are an Easter people, forever transformed by Jesus’ triumph over sin and suffering and death. And the way of the cross quantifies that triumph.

All over the world today there are people living in hopelessness, oppression, fear, hunger, disease, depression, exploitation, abuse, neglect, pain, and addiction. Jesus is with them, and he is with us no matter what we face. He has already trod where we are going, he has already suffered what we will suffer. And he has redefined our lives. We are not citizens of this world but citizens of heaven. We have been given eternal life. But the story does not end there.

We are called out into the world to be the hands and heart of Jesus. To touch the untouchable, love the unlovable, to cross the barriers in our society and in our hearts that divide us from each other. We are called to love- no matter what! And it is the “no matter what” that defines the power of love.

On Palm Sunday, we processed into the cathedral waving neem branches we had plucked from the trees around the cathedral (not many palms around). The branches also proved useful for shooing flies during the service, and fanning ourselves since the power was off. Mama Janet, who was preaching, reminded us to open the gates of our hearts to welcome Jesus in, waving our branches and shouting "Hosanna!" And she told us, once he is welcomed, we should make him a place there so that he might stay forever.

We do not need to rely on our own strength. Jesus is with us, the Spirit is in us.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back in Juba

It has been a joyful week of re-connecting with friends and coworkers. Juba has grown in my absence. There are two new paved roads, and new billboards. There is a large new fountain. There are campaign posters plastered everywhere, heralding the coming elections in April, the first democratic elections in a generation. The Church is busy, encouraging peace during elections time.

Please join us in praying for peaceful elections!

My work this year will be similar to last. I am continuing to assist the Archbishop and the Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan to develop an agriculture department. This year I will be training someone to replace me, and hopefully implement some large-scale production projects. I’ll also continue with training of trainers, curriculum and systems development for the department, and advising the dioceses on agriculture issues.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Home Visit

I just finished a wonderful, 10 week, visit home. It was great to get to spend time with family, see friends, and visit my supporting Churches.

I want to say a special thank you to the Churches who had me for a visit:
St. Luke's, Atascadero
St. Luke's, Hollister
St. James, Paso Robles
St. Martin, Davis
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Visalia
St. Benedict's, Los Osos
St. Richard's, Lake Arrowhead
St. John's, San Bernardino
St. Francis, San Bernardino
St. Barnabas, Arroyo Grande
St. John the Baptist, Aptos
St. Jude's, Cupertino
St. Stephen's, San Luis Obispo
St. Anne's, Middletown Delaware

And thank you to my diocese, El Camino Real, for all your support and prayers!

It was wonderful to get a chance to share stories from Sudan, and reconnect with all of you.
I'm sorry that I wasn't able to visit everyone, and I hope to see you next time!

I am excited to be returning to Sudan to continue my work with the Episcopal Church of Sudan on agriculture projects.