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.