Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nairobi, Entebbe, Nairobi, Machakos

To all my faithful readers, I know that it has been way too long since the last post. You were left hanging with Kelly and I in Nairobi during the election riots. Well, since that posting, we moved over to the home of an AIM missionary couple, Dick and Linda Stiansen. There, we were WELL taken care of—-watching Anne of Green Gables, eating salads, brownies, and three bean salad, and saw 2 movies at the theatre—- I am Legend and The Bee Movie. Yeah, although the news was portraying some pretty horrific stuff, things were actually quieter than the media made it seem. Don’t get me wrong, this election incident has definitely hurt Kenya’s reputation and too many bad things happened to too many innocent Kenyans; but what actually went on around here and what the news was showing you all back home were different. However, thank you for your thoughts and prayers for us as we were there.
On the 8th January, we flew to Entebbe and stayed with the family of an AIM Air pilot, who was originally to pick us up by vehicle, but were advised not to drive up through Kenya, so we flew and they picked us up from the airport. We only stayed there a night before we all drove 27kms into Kampala for our Central Region’s conference, were we stayed for 5 days. There, we as a Sudan team was able to share with the rest of the region what we do and the same with the people from Rwanda, Uganda, Chad, CAR, and the DRC. It was interesting to hear everyone’s stories and their struggles with cross-culturalism. We also had a keynote speaker lead us through the book of John, chapters 14-18. Two things that hit me the most were:
a) 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone [his disciples]. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus himself did not come as an evil dictator forcing this new religion on people, but instead he gave teachings, offered liberation, and then prayed for people to understand. Missionaries definitely get a bad wrap because of some of those during the time of colonialism who aimed to proselytize and westernize. But the truth is, Jesus himself did not wish for any forced conversions and as Christians we know that, and as a newer class of missionaries we have learned to identify what is our western world view and what is our Christian view. They are completely different from each other. In some cultures men wear short mini skirts and paint their nails—as westerners, that seems a bit strange, but its not necessarily strange in the “kingdom culture.” The kingdom culture is what I talk about with my friends in Ikotos when they get started on cultural differences and right from wrong. I just tell them that I’m not after being an American nor a Sudanese, but a member of the nation of God. Its hard sometimes to separate what we view as right and wrong as westerners and what God actually states, and not being judgmental of others’ world views. So, that is what I am constantly thinking about here, what about you all?
b) The other thought I had in reflection to the lectures was that we all were put on this earth to accomplish a goal and how many of us do nothing to work towards that goal (John 15). Many of us are dead, useless branches, going about our own business and not our assigned business. (I don’t want to get too much further into this thought because I have a lot to say on this matter and how that reflects world-wide poverty, but if you would like to discuss more, please email me. Although, feel free to read that chapter and tell me what you think.)
So, the conference was refreshing and on the 14th we flew back to Nairobi and Carolyn, another AIM missionary, picked us up from the airport to drive us to Scott Theological College in Machakos. Currently, that is where we still are and will be until the 5th of February. We are helping with the children’s ministry while the adults are undergoing Africa-Based Orientation. All is going well for the most part, except for some kind of illness I have picked up. At first we believed it to be malaria and was treated for it with a round of pills, but the symptoms persisted so I went to a lab to get evaluated. We know for sure that I have a bacterial infection and have been on antibiotics, but I am still having a lot of stomach trouble. For over a week now I have been border-line anorexic/bulimic because of the illness. So that’s not all that fun, but on the bright side I did go to a wildlife ranch for a night and saw many giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, etc. (sorry no lions or cheetahs).
Sometime around the 8th or so of February I will be back in Ikotos with my students and friends, along with the Scotlands again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Update on Kenya's violene and USAID officer killed in Khartoum

In order to keep friends, family, and all readers updated on the current news of the places I am, I have provided links to 2 different articles from the BBC. The first one is what happened yesterday in Kenya, whereby a church in Eldoret was set on fire, containing 30 people taking refuge within its walls; and the second article is about the USAID officer killed yesterday in Khartoum, Sudan. This might mean a pull out of Sudan, from the US, but I don't know. Either way, this does not concern our safety in South Sudan. Thanks for all your prayers for Sudan and Kenya.

Current news on Kenyan Violence **Note: just to remind everyone, we are away from any of this crime and are taking precautions to maintain our personal safety.

USAID Officer Killed in Khartoum **Note: I would like to point out that this statement: "Anti-Western and anti-US feelings are running high in Sudan, because of Western criticism of Khartoum's policies in Darfur, correspondents say." actually refers to Northern Sudan only and NOT South Sudan where I live. The people in South Sudan are VERY different from the Northerners and have extemely different sentiments.