Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The last two days have been really busy. The team has been doing a lot of teaching and listening and taking inventory.

Yesterday morning Emily and I both had a lengthy conversation with a group of 25-35 year old church leaders. We were initially told we would be speaking to the youth, so we were a bit surprised when we showed up to see about 25 young adults. The group of mostly men were interested in speaking about life as Christians living in Southern Sudan compared to life as Christians living in the U.S. We spoke about politics, AIDS, action and service, and even managed to sing each other a Christmas song in our mother tongue. Emily and I chose to sing a verse from Silent Night, and in doing so we managed to impress ourselves. It wasn't so much our individual voices that gave us ideas of becoming a touring duet vocal group around Lui Diocese, but the combination of our voices and the fact that we were able to remember the words to the song gave us ideas of stardom!

The fruitful conversation was wrapped in deep theological reflection. The stories we told about our own cultures enriched our understanding of one another and allowed us to feel the love of Christ at work. The deep faith and belief in the Moru people is astounding. It's simply inspiring to be introduced to a way of thinking and living that is so devoted to Christ. It's something so foreign to my eyes that it is hard to believe.

We stressed the importance of the future elections that will decide much of Sudan's future. Each one of them seemed to have a grasp on the political climate and when asked if they were planning to vote, they instantly responded with a resounding yes. But we stressed to them that their work was not just within the group and within the church, but in the unchurched in the community in which they live.

In many ways we are discovering that our cultures have more similarities than differences. Certainly Missouri doesn't suffer from post-war conditions in a tropical climate with no electricity, running water, or adequate heath care, but we do share deeply our desire to learn more about each other and to invite God into that relationship.

Along with Emily and my conversation yesterday with the "youth," Dan and Robert spoken with the candidates for ordination, who will be ordained this Friday, about church administration. One of the topics of conversation was about church insurance. Dan proposed a way that the diocese could come up with their own insurance policy by each individual church agreeing to help the other churches equally if something were to go wrong. The only difference is that the policy would not require each church to purchase anything, or pay a premium or deductible when they made a claim. Dan's obviously on to something! Today Dan and Robert spoke with the ordinands about stewardship, which looks a lot different in the economic conditions that plague this country. Here, stewardship is about so much more than fund raising. Tomorrow, Dan and I will speak to the ordinands about preaching.

Debbie, Deb, Tammy, Emily, and Nancy all attended a special Mother's Union meeting today, where they shared in prayer and stories. Their work here is very powerful and should be known. Emily will post more about this meeting later (hopefully tomorrow), and share with you some of the incredible interviews that she has had with some of the women in Lui.

More to come for sure. I will post pictures tomorrow.


P.S. The roosters are obnoxious.


--eg said...

It's been really interesting to read posts about conditions in Sudan while our house is being slowly buried by 2+ feet of snow. Merry Christmas!

Lisa Fox said...

LOL! Bob Towner and I fell into the same trap in 2006: We were told we would speak to the youth, but then had a group like yours -- young adults who are the "youth ministers" in the diocese.

It sounds like you had a wonderful session with the youth leaders, and I am happy to hear your report.

I love your account of the duet with Emily. I can imagine that!

Your stories are wonderful to read, Joe. I am truly glad that your schedule is allowing you to spend significant time with the people -- to dwell with them and engage in substantive conversation. This is all very good to hear!

Yes! I, too, was humbled and amazed at the stories they told and the deep faith and belief I heard. I agree: It's deeply moving and inspiring.

I'm intrigued by the conversation about church insurance. Why do othey need "insurance"? To protect one another if churches are destroyed? or what? This is a new concept for me regarding the Lui churches.

Thank you for setting aside time to do this blogging! I am grateful to hear your stories.

P.S. I suppose one thing has not changed: Yes, the roosters were ever obnoxious!