Day 5 – Terekeka

24 01 2013

While you all enjoyed 9 degrees F this morning, we hit 109. It was hot.

A summary of what we accomplished today. All trusses and purlins are in place and we’re just awaiting the metal roof panels. Should be here late tomorrow. We should still get all 3 classrooms roofed by the end of the trip. All 3 vehicles are working again. The children’s dining hall was painted today. We built a couple metal doors.

My favorite time in South Sudan is sitting in the payette in the cool of the morning drinking Nescafe and awaiting the sun to rise over the Nile. We also had my favorite meal this evening: fried chicken, potato wedges and a cucumber/tomato/onion salad. Oh and rice and beans. Not a big surprise.

Baby Joseph is getting better and holding steady. We were able to pray over the baby during our 4:00 pm Wed worship time. Tara shared her testimony with everybody.

Lori and Tara finished making bracelets with the boys today.

AJ, Tara and Lori will give another room of boys their fluoride treatments.

It looks like I’ll get to go swimming in a 20 foot in the air water tank tomorrow. How convenient that I’m the only one that seems to be able to fit in the hole at the top.

We dug some postholes for the soccer goals today…we did that during the worst heat of the day. The boys used them already.

It is such a blessing to come on this trip. I’m grateful to Kim, my wife, who is willing to stay back and manage our business while I’m here.

Todd Pierpoint.





Day 4 – Terekeka

24 01 2013
Volleyball!

Volleyball!

Lori with some lovely girls

Lori with some lovely girls

kids' dorm in bunked

kids’ dorm in bunked

Clowning around

Clowning around

Pumping water

Baby Joseph with IV

Baby Joseph with IV

My spots don’t rub off. Yes, the beads are for you. Will trade American fish for Sudanese fish…

The morning began again with sweet voices of praise to God and continued as children held our hands all the way to the gate. Their very simple gestures are such a blessing! Pastor Joseph, Lori and I set out for visiting the local villagers at nine. Along the way we greeted each person with an open hand and a smile until we stopped to talk with Grandfather. Grandfather rose from his log, opened his hand and when Pastor Joseph asked if we could tell him a story about God he moved quicker than his old bones suggested he could and grabbed his Bible. Together we read of God’s faithfulness in sending Jesus to us. We were sitting in a field much like the one the shepherds were in when the angels appeared to them and told them of Jesus’s birth. Grandfather listened, holding his Bible close, he could not read it easily because of his failing eyes, but with his heart he understood. His face shone with joy with the simple act of fellowship. He asked for us to pray for his church; that Christians would come together and fellowship, encourage one another and remember the stories of Christ. We shared a story together, asked God to bless this man with truth to share with his grandchildren and neighbors. Will you continue this prayer, to bless a man we will only know in Heaven?

We continued on the trail and passed a church that rivals any I have seen in Europe! The simplicity of the stripped, smooth logs serving as benches made neat rows under the broad arms of a shade tree. The alter was also made of logs and so simple you could imagine our Savior right at home. Just beyond was the next cluster of tukles (huts) to visit. Here Mundari women and children came out to meet the white skinned visitors. When they heard that we had a story to share they began to call the neighbors from the adjoining cluster of tukles to come listen too. Chairs were placed under the shade of an enormous tree and we sat down, while our hosts and their children stood. First, I began with pictures of my family. I am a wife, a mother of sons , a sister and someone’s child just like them. The family structure and community is very important here. As they were looking at the pictures I was asking and listening to Holy Spirit as to what to share with them. Next, I began to talk about the tree we sat under, how strong and tall the tree is. This particular tree is used for shade, medicine, and several other purposes. Its roots go down deep and drink from water that cannot be seen. Jesus had shared a similar story with the woman at the well -of water that quenches thirst so that those who drink are no longer thirsty. What a relatable story to these women and children who must carry Gerry cans many kilometers each day for water! They can perfectly balance these forty pound cans of water on their heads. We then asked if anyone needed prayer and we prayed for Salina who was sick. Someone from home sent us with many beaded key chains which we then handed out as a gesture of friendship. The Mundari wear black plastic rings about their necks, ankles and wrists. It was on these that we attached the beaded chains and they became pendants. Thank you for sharing your love with those in Terekeka! Truly this gesture has been well received and has opened doors.

Now the sun was very high and it was well beyond time to return home. As Pastor Joseph, Lori and I began the trek back, Pastor began to share how the people here think. Many are “Christians” because they are not Muslim. Many do not understand a personal God but rather place culture higher than God. His prayer is that people will understand that a relationship with Jesus not only brings salvation but an abundant life! Lori and I learned so much – thank you Pastor!

Along the way, we were yet again stopped by some women, who were very curious about the white visitors. They rubbed my neck to see if I was painted. Would my spots come off? They began to rub Lori’s hand; perhaps this was a new kind of paint that made women really white and with decorative spots (freckles). Turning our backs to Pastor Joseph, Lori and I showed the women our stomachs. We were soooo white that they jumped back a foot or more and squealed with a mixture of amazement and fright! This quickly turned into peels of laughter as they realized how “ugly” we are.

Close to home we were called in for a visit by the Fish Monger. This fisherman and his smoking fires are just outside the orphanage. He wanted his picture taken as a memory. In fact digital cameras are a wonderful way to establish rapport and elicit many giggles and smiles! Happy to oblige, we took his picture and were treated to a tour of his fish smoking operation. He shared that at the moment he had few fish….hmmm just like the fisherman Peter. Another story began about Jesus and His provision for us. He said he did not know our friend. The conversation changed but Pastor Joseph has more seeds to water in the coming days. Please pray for the harvest and workers to go out into it.

On a lighter note, the fisherman traded a few small, smoked fish for some American fish—thank you Charlie Tuna! Now, the sun was truly high and the two hour trek had become four. Fish in hand and a bag much lighter for handing out beads and drinking a gallon of water, we walked through the compound’s gate and immediately had our hands held! Lunch was just minutes off so Lori and I quickly decided to offer our new found bounty of fish to our fearless leader Buck! Going with the fish/water theme, Buck came to supper in his swim trunks…hmm another trip to the Nile?

Our afternoon was just as full as the morning teaching VBS, making bracelets with the older girls, giving fluoride treatments, greeting and blessing the house mothers, helping with the monthly accounting and giving Baby Bero physical therapy. The progress on the school continues and the Lord’s protection is ever present- I think Pastor Todd is part monkey! Pastor Todd was forced to play hide-and-seek in one of the boys rooms-think wide eyed and herding cats! Fighting viruses everyday but not the snotty nose kind, Steve has managed to cure a couple of the laptops here despite the very intermittent internet service. Yikes, does anyone have a couple of Apple laptops they could donate?

The work here at Harvesters cannot be underestimated or perhaps thought of just fondly. Yesterday, baby Joseph was brought to the gate. He is failing to thrive and is severely dehydrated, with only a poorly equipped grandmother to care for him. Kim was reluctant to let the baby leave but the grandmother needed a day to collect her things. She left with milk to feed baby Joseph and we prayed that he would survive through the night. Today, baby Joseph and grandma returned and at this typing he has been bathed, given an IV by AJ and is safely sleeping in Gideon’s bouncer. Just as God protected Joseph in the pit and the Pharaoh’s jail, He has seen fit to protect this Joseph by bringing him to a place of love and care. If I ever wondered if the support of this work were truly needed…well how much is a single life worth?

We are not wrestling against flesh and blood but we are in a battle! Since our arrival both vehicles have broken down and several other things have gone awry. Yes, life in South Sudan is difficult but these occurrences are untimely and Kim and Lance have asked for prayer. Onward Christian soldiers…will you lift up Kim and Lance as Aaron and Ur did for Moses while in battle. Please consider their many needs and the numerous needs of the children here.

Blessings,
Tara Ferguson





Day 5 – Yei

23 01 2013

The Best Shower in 18 simple steps:

P10402951. Turn on the light and look for large arachnid. If there is one present, reconsider a shower tonight.
2. Make sure the window that is just a few feet from the road is properly covered.
3. Place a wash tub under the shower.
4. Step into the wash tub.
5. Turn on water to get wet. (This tends to be tricky if someone else has showered because once the water is hot, it is hard to control the temperature. Of course if you are first or last to shower, you will probably not get any hot water.)
6. Now Karen asked me to add this step—if there is a dirt dobber above, crouch down to rinse so as to not agitate the beast. Karen knows they don’t sting, but she doesn’t want it to come anywhere near her.
7. As soon as you are wet, turn off the water.
8. Now time to wash from head to toe. (here I personally tend to get lots of soap in my eyes so I hope I remembered to put my towel within reach.)
9. Wash feet again. Remember I am standing in the tub so my feet have been soaking throughout the entire process to help clean them.
10. Wash feet again.
11. Decide that you don’t mind dirty feet after all. 😉
12. Step out of the tub and dump the dirty water.
13. Place the tub back under the shower.
14. Add laundry to the tub.
15. Step in with the laundry.
16. Turn on water.
17. Rinse yourself while marching on your laundry. This is the wash cycle—hot/warm/cold depending on how successful step 4 was.
18. Turn water off and slide the laundry to the corner for soaking until later.

CONGRATULATIONS! Time to dry off enough to put on your clothes, but staying wet enough to keep cool.

20130123_161800VBS is an all-hands-on-deck activity. We will continue with VBS every morning from 10:30-12ish through Friday. Lunch is a relaxing time of sharing stories, eating, laughing, planning, and sharing some more. This afternoon Mindy and I took 4 boys to the church to prime the outside. Of course, every time we turned around more children showed up to paint (this is the Harvesters way). I won the prize for messiest painter. I don’t know how everyone else stayed so clean. Todd and Brent built and repaired dressers, drawers, and shutters. Karen and Terry met with all the female staff for a story, snack, and to present scarves as gifts. The ladies looked beautiful decked out in their new scarves. Donald spent the afternoon cleaning up Jane’s laptop. Then my regular 4 o’clock appointment–hand clap rhymes with kids sitting under the mango tree. Kids (boys as well as girls) line up to take their turn. I usually get in a good 30 rounds before it is time to get ready for dinner. Donald tried the rhymes today, much laughter followed. Tonight everyone (excluding me) went out for home visits in the village.

What a time I am having here in Yei! Every day is full, but never rushed. Yes, it is hot but the only time I felt overheated was painting the sunny-side of the church this afternoon (That is why I didn’t go into the village—I made myself stay and rest). Yes, it is dusty and dirty, but that has not bothered me at all (much to my surprise). I am overwhelmed with joy here. I feel I can relate with the quote from Eric Liddel in Chariots of Fire when asked why he runs, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Sending my love to Emily & DC, IV, Joshua, Daniel, Jessica, & Chloe! Miss you all and will see you soon!

Blessings,
Kristie





Day 4 – Yei

22 01 2013

Before I tell you what is happening here, I want to let you know the team in Terekeka do not have Internet connection as good as we have it here.  Plus, there may be some limits on the plan up there which restricts them a bit as well.  But we have been in contact with them, and they are doing well (as their previous posts report).  Continue to pray for them as they are dealing with extreme temperatures.  But what an experience they are having which I am sure will bless you when they get the opportunity to share.

20130122_113738Here in Yei, we are beginning day 5 (I think).  I want to give you a little taste of some of the things I experienced yesterday.  VBS has been a lot of fun.  First, if you know me, you would laugh if someone told you I were going to be involved in a VBS any where.  But here, I have been able to help my wife (Kristie) with the crafts, I have been able to help Todd with the opening song (that fun version of Happy and You Know It), and I have had the opportunity to lead the Interlude (which I had never before done until this week.)  The only way I can describe any of this is to say AWESOME!!! It chokes me up just thinking about it all.  Yesterday, I went to the back of the group to lead the Interlude so that I could be dancing with the cool boys who behave much like our cool boys back home and don’t participate.  But they started getting into it with me.

We spent the afternoon digging more holes for posts (Todd, me, and some boys), painting posts (Todd and Mindy), working with the house Mama’s (Terry, Kristie, Karen and Mindy), and hiding from Todd (me).  😉  While it is hot here, it is nothing like they are reporting in Terekeka.  So, we are able to work without too much problem from the sun.  Todd also repaired a few drawers from dressers and even a dresser itself.  His biggest moment was repairing the door handles to the Payette!  He’s very handy that way.

20130120_175705After dinner, we all got to go to different home cells.  A home cell is basically a small group led by students.  Completely led by students.  At the one Kristie and I attended, it was a family.  They were about 4 older people and 12 kids or so.  It was fun giving them candy.  They are either very polite and respectful children, or they are very shy.  They don’t rush at you as soon as they see you have candy.  They simply wait their turn, and take one or two pieces.  It was awesome to see! We also got to bless the family with some meat.  Prepackaged meat, but meat nonetheless.  I suppose it is a very good thing we have learned to do meat this way because it lasts longer and is transportable across an ocean.

20130122_144541Then, came the biggest part of my week so far (and maybe for our whole time here.)  Pastor Pooshani asked Karen and me to lead worship during the Tuesday prayer meeting.  I only know 4 songs well on the guitar, so, those are the songs we did since Karen is awesome everywhere.   Every Move I Make, Lord I Lift Your Name On High, Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord, and Amazing Grace.  The kids knew them all well already.  So, by the time we got started, it didn’t matter if I knew how to play them or not because they were leading us.  AWESOME!!!  By the way … you should hear these kids pray.

It’s time to close.  I’m not sure who our next blogger will be, but whoever it is, I can assure you they will have a great story to tell.  It’s impossible to be here and not have a great story.  If you are one of those considering, my encouragement comes from a John Piper quote about missions.  He says there are only 3 responses to missions.  “Go, send, or disobey!”.  I say, “Go, send always, go when you can on short term opportunities, or disobey!”  How about that.  Just get on one of these and get over here.  God will open your eyes like never before!

Go with God,
Donald





All God’s Creations – Yei, South Sudan

22 01 2013

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Hello Friends & Family,

As we move into our fourth day here at Harvester’s, I wanted give everyone a look into the many beautiful children’s faces in and around the Harvester’s compound.

Beginning at the upper left:

Emanuel Boy, Jellus, Victoria, Thomas, Maria, Lucia, Noela, Moses & Isiah (Center)

 

“So remember Your people, Remember Your children, Remember Your promise, Oh God”

Your Grace is Enough – Chris Tomlin

Thank you to ALL for your prayers…

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

-Todd (better known to the children as EMANUEL)





Day 3 in Yei

22 01 2013

Hello Friends and Family,

What an amazing day and it simply couldn’t have started more beautifully and God honoring. At 6am the bell rang for the children to wake and by 6:20, although sleepy eyed and sniffly, they all quietly enter the chapel/dining hall. Babies are carried in by children not much larger than the little ones they carry, while the others shuffle through the darkness to find their seats. Worship was opened by one of the older girls. The reverence and depth of their prayers is humbling. The room becomes a hum of children thanking God for their sisters and brothers, the staff, the food and of course their nation and those around them. Having been here before I knew the best was yet to come as the children began to sing to God just as the sun rises. I’ve never heard a more beautiful sound and I’m certain I never will again, at least not on this earth. (Check this youtube video for a sample of the singing … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVoRV87hXE8)

After breakfast the children quickly did their chores as they eagerly awaited VBS. As I walked around the dorms I noticed a large group of children huddled (just as back home, when things become too quiet, some thing is going on that probably shouldn’t be) well sure enough those children (all 30+) were stoking a fire to burn fallen teak leaves. In seconds it roared beyond their heads and they just kept adding more. They gave new meaning to playing with fire. But as I watched them it became clear they knew exactly what they were doing, they knew just where to stand as the wind/smoke blew and as always they were watching after the littlest of ones. Did I mention the age of these little fire starters was just 3-8, yet they have instinct and maturity beyond their years.

A little later in the morning VBS kicked off. Kristie has prepared the lessons for the week highlighting the early years of Moses. Pastor Pooshani invited several children from the village (who came dressed in their Sunday best) which quickly brought the numbers to 230. Karen led the sessions in music while the whole team along with the older children led the classes, crafts, games and more. Don and Todd made us all belly laugh as they led the dance at the end.

By early afternoon the temperatures were a mere 100 in the shade. Todd, Don and several boys worked on replacing the benches under the shade of the mango trees while 40+ children cheered them on. Brent led some of the workers in a personal finance class and Terry led the gals as we worked with the housemothers, cooks, and cleaners on mending skills. We quickly learned several of the mamas couldn’t see so the ministry expanded to fitting them with donated reader glasses. Their expressions were priceless as they giggled at each other but then proudly picked up their projects ready to learn with a “fresh set of eyes.”

About this same time we noticed a woman running down the street crying out. The older girls explained that someone had died. Shortly after that the funeral procession passed by. The body was simply covered and carried down the road. As the girls explained all this, I noticed in their voice a deep compassion yet a sad familiarity to it all. It is customary in this culture for families to beat a drum continuously for three days to stay off evil spirits. As I sat down to write this message, the generators are being turned off and the sounds of the night are coming to life. I pray I won’t hear the beat knowing the person’s hope and salvation was in Christ Jesus and no other.

Evenings are spent playing with the kids and providing dental treatments. They are surprisingly so excited to have their teeth painted. Only 140 to go – so much drool, so little time. We always end our days with a team devotional and prayer time. We all share similar callings and acknowledge that obedience to that call brought us here, for which we all are forever changed. If this too is on your heart, take that leap of faith and join the next team. There is such a need for every skill.

With Love,
Mindy

P.S. NO drums!! Praise God.





Day 3 – Terekeka

21 01 2013

Day 3 – Terekeka

Interesting day in the bush today.  Some learned that nothing in South Sudan as it appears.  Vehicles have proven a challenge.  There are demanding roads and environment to deal with.  The Toyota Land Cruiser has brake problems—parts should arrive tomorrow.  The Nissan Landy broke a tie rod end, a ripped CV boot, and loose sway bar end links.  Something happening with the suspension as well that we’ve not figured out.  The Landy actually broke down halfway between the orphanage and the new site where the school is being built.

Three of us (Buck, “Pastor” Todd and me plus Lance) worked on one school building. We got the 4 iron trusses in place and attached the purlins.  Only working before lunch on the jobsite since it’s so hot this time of year.  High today was 105 degrees.  In the shade. Fahrenheit.  Needless to say—hot.  Drinking lots of water and eating sufficient amounts of food to feed our increased caloric expenditure.  There are 3 school rooms.  We intend to get the trusses, purlins and roof on all three of those as they expect to open school in them either the 2nd or 3rd week of February.  Yes, next month.

Seems we have the right mix of people on this trip.  AJ is a paramedic who can care for us and watch our health.  Also assisting with the medical care of the kids (and adults).  A community care day is planned.  They made a trip to the hospital in the town (village?) of Terekeka.  All 2 rooms of the hospital.  (they also stopped by and bought some fresh bread—from a wheelbarrow!)

Tara is providing physical therapy for a youngster who has some problems with his legs.  She has prior experience with this in life and is pretty ideal for the task.  Think she’s genuinely enjoying laying hands on him.

Lori’s accounting and bookkeeping skills are in high demand.  (along with AJ’s knowledge of QuickBooks  is a huge load off Kim’s list of things to do.

I’m assisting with extending the wifi service on the campus (when the satellite internet is working—hasn’t been dependable these past 2 days) and tuning up some laptops.  They have 3 laptops only 1 of which is reliability dependent.  Trying to bring the other 2 up to snuff.  An incentive to the locally hired help (many of who live on campus) would be the ability to access the Internet.  I can also envision eventually the kids learning some computer skills.  A young adult with an education plus some computer skills would really help these youngsters in a career!

I guess the real purpose of today’s post (other than to fill you in) is to indicate that EVERYONE’s skills can be put to use here.  Even if you think you don’t have anything to contribute, you do. Really, you do.

Please be in prayer for our team. I am in awe of how God made sure our team remained healthy in order to deploy for this trip.  This was the first trip we’ve done that left during the height of cold and flu season.  We are in prayer still here for the 2 team members who couldn’t come on this trip for other reasons.

Additional prayer concerns are how much the HRTN Terekeka campus has grown in a short amount of time.  Lance and Kim have both confessed how they covet prayer for their encouragement and perseverance.  Lance indicated this evening how they really could use some long term missionary help.  Are YOU interested perhaps?  Grounds keeper, gardener, medic, admin specialist, construction worker, pretty much anything you can imagine.

Rest assured, the team is healthy and thriving.  And most definitely being blessed day by day serving draws us closer to Christ.  Matthew 20:26  “It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant”

Thank you all.  May God speak to you through us.

Steve Sokoly