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Archive for the ‘Sudan’ Category


I felt like I needed to cap off a few of my recent random blog topics:

 

First of all, the voting in Sudan concluded peacefully, with an estimated 99% of South Sudan voting for independence!   But, the “official results” of the election won’t be released until early in Feb.  This article explains some of the issues that could still affect the election’s outcome.  I still find it hard to believe that President Omar al-Bashir will give up the resources of the South without a fight.  I am continuing to pray …

Of much less international concern–we took our house off the market!  Plummeting real estate prices and inconvenient (and fruitless) showings made me a cranky camper.  The last straw came when I was in the middle of a wii workout, still in my jammies, when the doorbell rang (it was 9 a.m.).  A harried real estate agent, her client in tow, stood on my front porch wondering if I’d gotten the memo that they wanted to see my house that morning?

I hadn’t, but did a manic sweep of the place and bugged out 15 minutes later.  Still in my jammies, I drug Scout around the block, both of us shivering and slipping on icy sidewalks.

After some discussion and prayer, Greg and I decided to take the house off the market.  We will remain open to offers–a gazillion people tromped through the place the past six months–but it seems pointless to keep it listed with prices steadily dropping.  We saw on the news last night that Portland was one of the nation’s worst real estate markets right now!

So, we are going to focus our energies on getting the house ready for grandchildren–we’ll take out the pool, put in a greenhouse and raised beds (and maybe get a chicken or two–right, honey?)  God is still our realtor, and if He brings us a buyer, I’d still be very happy to downsize.  He led us to this house before it ever went on the market–He can certainly do that again!

Speaking of grandchildren, Ramona is five months old now and doing great!  Greg and I get to babysit her every Friday–and it has become the highlight of our week.  She’s the cutest, smartest and sassiest baby on the planet–and I can only say that until baby Wani arrives some time in July.

Candyce had a rough first trimester, but felt a lot better this past week.  She and Steven have decided to move back to the YWAM Salem base this spring as they prepare for the little one’s arrival.  They plan to train and lead teams from Salem to Sudan for the next few years, then eventually move back to Steven’s homeland.  You can read more about their adventures on her blog.

Someone recently asked me if I’m still running, but our sodden northwest weather has turned me into somewhat of a winter couch potato.  The last time I ran in my vibrams, my feet got so cold that I couldn’t feel them by the end of my jog!  And I just can’t get excited about running in anything but my toe shoes–they really are kind of magical.

But spring is just around the corner . . .

 

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I have never been to Sudan–but I have such a compulsion to pray for the country these days.  It is my son-in-law’s homeland . . . and my unborn grandbaby has Sudanese blood coursing through his veins.

Tomorrow begins a vote that will decide the country’s destiny–will the Christian south secede from the Muslim north or will Africa’s largest country stay united?  This article accurately sums up what is at stake in this election.  Two weeks ago, a prayer ministry for Sudan posted this informative bulletin.

Steven is heading to Seattle tomorrow to cast his vote.  I assumed he would vote for the South to secede, but he told me he was voting for unity.  Steven fears that, if the South secedes, the Christians in the North will face increased persecution.

“There will be no help for them,” he told me.

Steven is from South Sudan, but spent six years at a refugee camp in the North (Khartoum) and has personally experienced his share of persecution.  I love that he is not just looking after his own interests–his family still lives in the South–but he has a heart for all of Sudan.  In fact, he and Candyce–and baby Wani–will probably move back to the North someday to be agents of God’s love and peace.

So please pray for the peace of Sudan!  If you feel moved beyond prayer, here’s a link that offers short term trips to one of the most vulnerable areas.

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“As I stand at the brink of a new year, I find myself still waiting. Still straining to hear His quiet voice say, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” Still scanning the horizon for mileposts to point the way. Still wondering if our future will ever come into focus . . .”   from last year’s New Year’s post, 2010 vision.

Boy howdy, did things ever come into focus this past year!

If 2009 was a year of waiting, then 2010 was a season of receiving.  Just thinking of all His good gifts to us this year makes me feel like a spoiled child!  I am so undeserving . . .

We married off our last daughter to a very godly man–God gave us sweet Ramona–we got to visit Africa and Alaska–God led us back to Abundant Life!  Those are just the highlights; there really are too many blessings to recount!

I believe that 2011 will be a year of speaking up.  The verses I want to camp out on for  the next 12 months are:

Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8,9

I just finished reading through the Bible this year, and if there’s one theme that is close to God’s heart, it is defending the defenseless.  I’m not sure how He intends to use me this coming year–but I’m confident it will be one wild and wonderful ride.

Anyone want to join me?

PS:  A good resource to jump start your heart is Kimberly Smith’s blog.  She speaks up with boldness and compassion for the most destitute people on the planet.

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The book I’m currently reading, “The Hole in our Gospel” has been quite sobering.  And eye-opening.  The author basically describes poverty as a lack of not only material goods–but also a lack of options.  The truly oppressed have little opportunity for choices.

Think about all the choices I’ve made today–and I’ve not yet crawled out of my warm bed to dress and start the day.  I chose what time Greg would bring me my morning latte.  I chose to take an aspirin to relieve my headache.  I chose to use indoor plumbing to access drinking water (and take care of other needs).

I chose to put on my very expensive glasses so I could check all the emails and other messages that came in during the night.  I chose to read several Bible passages online and then share my insights with my online bible bus stop buddies.   I chose to turn on the heater to take the chill off the room and put on my fuzzy robe while I sit in my cozy, dry room and listen to the rain falling outside . . .

Shortly, I will get up and choose which outfit to wear to the garden and then Home Depot today.  I will choose what to eat for breakfast from a well-stocked pantry.   I will choose to drive my miata to the store of my choice to get more grub . . . all these choices will happen before lunchtime today.

Over 26,000 children will die today because of their lack of choices.  The basic necessities of life that we take for granted are not an option for these kids.  Clean water doesn’t exist; nor does food, shelter, safety or medicine.  Even if the kids survive, education and jobs are rarely an option.

My dog has more choices than these children do . . . and Scout will most likely be alive at the end of the day.

I know that many of us have “compassion fatigue”–the numbness that shrouds the heart in our affluent, choice-laden culture.   We are so bombarded with statistics and images of the dead and dying around the planet that we feel impotent–and very distant–from each day’s new disaster.

So we make the choice to just look the other way . . .

Our recent trip to Africa put faces to the statistics and I can no longer look away.  I  recently made the choice to sponsor a little girl with AIDs, and my small investment will help Kevin choose a better future–and God willing, a longer life.

You can choose, too.  If you don’t know where to start, I know a lot of precious children at the Uganda Jesus Village in Kampala.  Make Way Partners is another ministry I support–this organization helps to rescue women and children from unspeakable abuse in the Congo and other regions.

Our choice to get involved will enable others to choose life.  We can choose to make a difference.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Isaiah 58:6,7

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I tend another garden at a plot graciously provided by a church up the street. A few months back, a handful of hopeful gardeners put up fencing around the plot, tilled up our little bits of earth in our appointed spots, planted our seeds and starts and watered and waited.

Yesterday it was more like I waited and watered.

While the community garden was well-designed in most aspects, we’ve had water issues from the get-go. I hear rumors of some kind of underground irrigation going in, but for now all we have is a series of hoses connected together to transport our water from its source–a faucet right in front of the church office–to our garden, which is several hundred feet up a grassy incline.

This patchwork hose has been an adequate solution until recently. Since it runs across the church parking lot, the hose takes a lot of abuse from passing cars, and our current hose sports a small geyser when the water’s turned on. Not only does this voluminous spray soak the parking lot, it reduces the water flow from the end of the hose chain to an annoying trickle.

This was the case when I arrived at the community garden last night. Blessed woman that I am, I have two plots to water. One in the upper left quadrant, the other just a few plots below on the left. I quickly realized that the wee trickle from the hose would not be sufficient for both plots–if I wanted to get this chore finished before I leave for Alaska on Friday.

But I came up with a plan–I placed the hose in strategic spots where it gave the surrounding veggies a good soak, then trotted down the hill to a pond not far from the garden and filled a 5 gallon bucket with water to lug back up to the second plot. After dumping the sludgy, tadpole-filled liquid on my thirsty beets and corn, I raced uphill to the first plot and repositioned the hose between the tomato and pepper plants. I repeated this process at least a dozen times until my vegetables were sufficiently watered (my apologies to all the tadpoles who gave their lives in the process–but you will make good fertilizer). It took me over an hour to accomplish what I normally finish in 15 minutes!

As I lugged the heavy water bucket up the hill, I remembered some of the stories the somali girls told Danielle about life in a refugee camp. Their dad made a garden, they said. The girls described how they watered the garden with drinking cups filled to the brim. If they did not make these long, oft-repeated trips in the searing heat to water their plants, the crops would die and there would be no food. Once, the girls told Danielle about a pet kitten their dad had given them. When food got scarce, however, the kitten starved to death, becoming part of the inevitable food chain.

I’ve found myself becoming a bit irritated with the somali girls lately, and my sweaty exercise in manual watering was a good reminder of where they’ve been. I’ve learned from experience not to place a cupcake-filled platter in front of them. Each girl will devour five apiece, then stuff a few more in their pockets for later. I’ve watched the younger girls take mouldering, mushy apples from my fruit bowl and try to hide them in a coat pocket as they go out the door.

Even though they now live in a land of plenty (comparatively speaking), they still aren’t certain there will be food to eat tomorrow.

On my fourth hike up the hill, I decided to always have my fruit bowl filled with fresh produce when the girls come . . .

Musing about Africa and water and life made me think of Stephen as I carried another bucket and emptied it out on the cucumbers and canteloupe. I injured myself during this haul, scraping my big toe on a rock and making it bleed. I barely dodged two angry bees and got so thirsty I momentarily considered drinking out of the presumed lead-saturated hose.

And in my minor discomfort, I wondered about the conditions Stephen faced as he trekked miles through the jungles to take the Living Water to those dying of thirst. Oppressive heat, lions, snakes, bugs, the LRA, lack of food and water, lack of sleep . . . any one of those would cause me to turn back home. And yet this young Sudanese man, compelled by the love of Christ, forsakes all comfort and safety on a regular basis to share God’s love with strangers.

I prayed for my future son-in-law as I made my journey to the watering hole and then back up the hill one last time. And I asked the Lord to help me ever be mindful of his sacrifice and discomfort as he follows the One who had no place to lay his head.

My garden watered, I hobbled–covered with dirt, sweat and blood–to my little red car and headed wearily for home. Upon my arrival, I made myself an iced latte and then took a shower before checking my email in my nice, air-conditioned house.

The grime washed away, but my garden revelations stayed with me–and even prompted me to make a donation to a wonderful ministry in Sudan, called “Make Way Partners.” Check out their website–God is doing amazing things in North Africa.

I love that the Lord used a thirsty garden plot in Oregon to turn my heart to Africa!

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