25 February 2012

Aroboya! (thank you)

From Thursday:

Thank you for your prayers thus far. I am happy to be writing to you from home, Mundri, S. Sudan. Travel here went without a hitch and my first day was not too terribly hot. Yesterday was a little warmer (105 inside), but Larissa (my teammate and housemate) and I had a great time greeting in the market and doing some shopping for the singles' food supply. I can't get over how different it is here as compared to Bundibugyo, Uganda where I spent my last term. More on that later.

market remarks:

- "she looks like the wife of Michael" (aka Karen Masso - our team leaders)

- "she has a body that looks like mine - it is fat" (great, thanks, it's good to meet you too :) (actually is a compliment coming from an African...)

- "thank you for coming, we don't have enough people working there (at the health center) our children are dying."

- "Thanks be to God for bringing you here."

- "We hope God brings even more of you to come help us here."

- and then the best was the "ay yi yi"s and huge smiles and hand shakes they gave Larissa when I managed to greet them and tell them my name when they asked in Moru :) it's the little things :)

Aroboya to God for his timing as well. Yesterday, the youngest member of our team, Gaby Masso (9 1/2) was pretty sick. Fever, vomiting, and add those things to the heat and you have a recipe for a dehydrated disaster. After making my first consult call to Jennifer Myhre in Kenya (former team leader, friend, and the pediatrician I worked with in Uganda) to ensure I was thinking through things correctly and to check on the correct volume for a fluid bolus, etc., last night I put an IV in the very brave little guy and gave him a bolus of IV fluid. Checked in on him in the middle of the night, flushed his IV to make sure it would be patent this morning if we needed to use it, and thankfully this morning, things have improved a bit. His belly still hurts a lot, so please pray for him to be back to his usual 9 1/2 year old boy energetic self :) Thankful to be able to be here when it happened, and slightly intimidated by the task of being the one to make health decisions like these. Thankful there are doctors and friends, people who *really* know what they're doing, just a phone call away :)

Will write more soon, hopefully, but wanted you all to know I was here in one piece.

Update: Saturday 25 February

Gaby is doing much better. He got 4 boluses over the course of 3 days and this morning is up and around on his own a little more, talking and laughing a bit more and looking more and more bright eyed every day.

I am every day learning a few more words in Moru, slowly by slowly as they say. The first day I was headed to the market and almost felt like I was going to hyperventilate with fear and intimidation about the task of language learning ahead of me. Larissa prayed and we headed out. Since, God has been gracious and I have been more content with the "slowly by slowly" approach to taking on just a few new things everyday, or just reviewing the things from the day before...just putting one foot in front of the other instead of putting my head up and trying to see the next 12 months out in front of me.

hopefully I'll take some pictures around our compound and town in the next week and get them up for you to see for yourself a bit of where I am.

20 February 2012


Well, tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow I fly into S. Sudan.

Hard to believe the time has come, and simultaneously feels like it's about time!

I'm ready to settle down after 2 months on the go. I'm excited to see my WHM Mundri friends and family. I'm excited to meet the S. Sudanese that will become my Mundri friends and family as well. I'm nervous about starting over in a new place. New language(s), new team, new way of life, new climate, new culture, new everything.

Nope, nix that. Not new everything. There is one thing that is the same. My God. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, He is the same.

On the flight from Philly to, well, what was supposed to be to London and ended up being to Amsterdam, I put my ear buds in and listened to my iPod for a bit before drifting off for a bit of sleep. When embarking on new things, I often like to listen to music that is rooted in my past, music that reminds me of my history, where God has brought me from, how faithful He is. We didn't listen to much Christian music growing up, but we did listen to James Ward. I have one of his albums on my iPod and the tears started to flow on the plane when Rock of Ages came up in the queue.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.

The other anthem for this phase of life is this old Spiritual I grew up singing:

I want Jesus to walk with me:
I want Jesus to walk with me;
all along my pilgrim journey,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.

In my trials, Lord, walk with me;
in my trials, Lord, walk with me;
when my heart is almost breaking,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.

When I’m in brouble, Lord, walk with me;
when I'm in trouble, Lord, walk with me;
when my head is bowed in sorrow,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
The Spiritual Emphasis speaker at the CMDA conference in Kenya kept saying, "If you remember one thing, remember that before your feet hit the ground in the morning, ask God, "Can I walk with you today?'" I suppose I do agree that life is more about us walking with God than Him walking with us, but you get the idea, right? Me and God. Walking the roads of S. Sudan together. A friend in Philly had the same image as she prayed for me. Seems like a good one.

Coveting your prayers.

08 February 2012

"we are diverting to Amsterdam"

ahhhhh, international air travel. I love it. I really do. the people watching in airports that can tell you so much about a place, the figuring out how to maneuver to where you want to be in airports you've never been in, the anticipation of what movies you might get on this particular flight, leaving your luggage at the ticket counter and not having to pick it up until you reach your destination, the complimentary mini bottles of wine :) love it.

truth be told, however, I'm really not much of a fan of my plans being changed. But, TIA so I've had to get used to it. And it's actually a lot easier for me, when I know I really have absolutely nothing I can/could have done to avoid it.

So, 6.5 hours to London on Saturday night. My lovely sister had dropped me off, helped me get my luggage to the counter, and even rearranged/ditch things for later delivery when the pieces were, of course, overweight...risking coming VERY close to getting her first ticket on the car that was just moments into being in her care...crying with me as I hugged the last of my stateside people before heading off to yet another life...she rocks...but back to the 6.5 hours to London.

I read the first half of my first library loaned Kindle book - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time...great book, by the way, but more on that for another time...I ate food, drank a glass of red wine with my lasagna, and attempted to watch Moneyball but drifted to sleep - finally pulling out my red inflatable (yes, inflatable) fleece neck pillow that's amazing for just a time as this - and got maybe an hour of shut eye before it was time to eat again and get ready to land...or so we thought.

Our captain announced that our landing at Heathrow would be delayed for at least a half hour due to bad weather (mist and a bit of snow) in London. no problem. Next announcement about a half our later - "Heathrow has closed and we are diverting to Amsterdam"...hm. the next several announcements were harried messages from the head bursar on the flight who was obviously totally unsure as to what the plan was for all of us and feeling a bit pressured by that...

well, long story made short, when we got off the plane, we were instructed by a BA staff person which baggage claim to reclaim our luggage from and then which ticket counter to go to in order to find out how we would eventually reach our final destination. It turned out there were approximately 3 other jumbo jets full of people coming from such places as Bangkok and Sao Paulo, who were told the same thing. This makes for a long line. A VERY long line. But I get ahead of myself.

You will note that we were told to reclaim our luggage. In the end, this was the WORST part of the ordeal. I had a LOT of luggage. 5 years worth, to be exact. Including a bike box. I wasn't sure I was going to get it all onto one trolley, and was imagining how in the world me myself and I was going to manage 2 luggage trolleys...well, it all fit on one trolley. just barely. the bike box was perched on the outside edge, lying horizontally...well, that didn't really fit through the doorways so I had to turn it so that it rested vertically on the edge...but that in fact was impossible for me to see over, soooooo imagine me maneuvering this luggage trolley with approximately 300 pounds of luggage through the Amsterdam airport peering around each side every few seconds and proceeding VERY slowly so as not to mow anything or anyone down in the process...sheesh. Only once did I lose the bike box off the front of the trolley and luckily no one was injured in the process!

I managed to make my way very slowly to the ticket counter where I waited with all the others from my flight. We were on the first or second of the 4 or so international flights with BA that arrived unexpectedly and that meant we got to the front-ish of the line. I still waited about 4 hours in that line...and the people at the back of the line...I'm not even sure they made it to the counter before midnight....they had at least 12 hours of waiting ahead of them, and that's only to find out WHAT your new travel plan was - which may well include a lot more waiting. 2 lonely, strung out BA people at the counter trying to rebook 4 flights worth of people to their correct destinations. They deserved an award...but instead got mostly hateful looks from angry passengers...

My rebooking included BA putting me up in an airport hotel overnight and getting out on a KLM flight in the morning to Entebbe by way of Kigali. There was no skating on the canals of Amsterdam as my dad imagined, only conking out for a night of sleep in a hotel room that looked like an IKEA catalog :) The flight was smooth in the end and even better movie arrangements! It's the important things, you know? :)

I arrived at MAF guesthouse in Kampala without a hitch, but alas, there was no power. A shower by candlelight and a bed was just fine with me, and waking to do final packing and heading to the airport again to head to Kenya the next morning meant a short night.

But here I am in Kenya and the rest is history! Thankful to be here and see some of "my people"...old teammates and new, and learn a bit more about this endeavor that awaits me in S. Sudan!

01 February 2012

paying the biggest price?

Moms. Hands down. It's the toughest job on the planet I think.

I just had to say goodbye to mine...for a long time...not easy. But harder for her.

It's my humble opinion that in this missionary endeavor, mom's pay the biggest price, and might I even dare say, in life in general?

It's a tall order, grow a human being inside of yourself. Bring it to life "on the outside," provide it what it needs to sustain life independently from you, and then eventually watch them make decisions for themselves and how they will sustain/maintain their own life *on their own* whether you approve or not, ushering them out into the world, wishing you could protect them from harm but knowing you can't....having to watch as they make mistakes, creating their own opportunities for harm, in addition to watching them endure harm from others by no fault of their own...hoping that they are strong and courageous and then having to endure the ramifications of the risk inherent in actually being strong and courageous...or so it seems...

sending your child away, no matter how old they are, to another part of the world, no matter where that is, is heart wrenching I think...that same child you once attempted to provide for and protect, now totally outside of your realm of influence...instead, you do what? you learn to pray. Maybe this is how so many women become such people of prayer...

For my mom, physical danger is not really the concern that it is for most mom's...she is more concerned about the emotional toll, the challenges of the heart she knows are waiting for me on the other side of the pond. She's right. It's not a question of whether or not they will be waiting, it is a matter of when exactly I will meet them. And they will be heavy. She knows the weight of heart heavy things, and she longs for the day when she, and those she loves will be free of them. Me too.

More than dads. More than friends. More than siblings. It's hardest on moms.

In any case, here's to mom's of missionaries and the prices they pay! Here's to their prayers of faith and hope and sometimes desperation. Here's to the day when goodbyes will no longer be necessary! Here's to my mom! I love you!