Friday, January 02, 2009

Living in the new year

Being in a relationship like this one is not always comfortable. Often, in a conversation, with almost anyone here, there is a lurking but well disguised request for help, often money. We begin to sound like broken records (anyone remember those?): you must ask your bishop, who will ask our bishop, and the bishop will work with the committee to see what can be done. There is a sinking feeling in the gut when the request is made. We are often seen as pockets, when we want to be so much more. There would be many opportunities here for micro-loans if they weren't seen as handouts. These last few quiet days, we have had a chance to be honest with some of our friends about helping in other ways than money. They are not easy conversations.

There was an announcement at the hospital today that all staff who want to stay are going volunteer. The Board of Directors is trying to work out a memorandum of understanding with the Government of South Sudan. If they can make it work, GOSS will pay some salaries. The Board hopes that GOSS will give preference to workers who have stayed on as volunteers during the interim while the hospital cannot pay them. There seems to be an Italian NGO in the wings which would help the Church administer its part of the operation of the hospital. It might be that all that is needed from us is encouragement to flexibility in negotiating the memorandum of agreement, and a few desparately needed items in the meantime.

We have had good opportunities to talk to people about issues. Debbie S had an important conversation with Bishop Bullen about homosexuality. Most Sudanese think homosexuality is a sin, and if one repents and asks forgiveness all will be well. Debbie stressed that many people in America believe people are born that way, that it is not a choice, that God has made a person one way or another. This seemed genuinely new information to him, but he took it into careful consideration. One step at a time. Also, a young Moru woman who lives in the Church compound came last night and peppered us with questions about family planning. Seems like under previous administrations, the hospital had not been forthcoming with information. Again, here is a real opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of people.

Still a lot to process, but we will come home with much information to throw in the mix for how future trips might run, and what the needs are.

Dan Handschy posting for Joe Chambers.

1 comment:

Lisa Fox said...

I remember about a week ago, when Debbie was pondering whether you all would ever be able to move beyond being "honored guests" and predictable chats and move into genuine conversation. It sounds like that is happening, and I am grateful. I can imagine some of these must be difficult, but I know you are being held closely by the Spirit.

And, of course, you are all very close in my heart and prayers.

Peace, my friends --