Thursday, July 24, 2008


Well here is the deal. I do have a whole lot to write right now but I am in Botswana, yesterday was my birthday and life is freakin good right now. We flew into J-Berg yesterday and took a bus up to Gabarone where we are now. While we were in South Africa the communist party decided it was time to protest and the busing system went on strike... somehow we made it out safe and on time. All I know is that there were a lot of signs that read "Socialism is the future" and so on. Well peace out. Oh yeah it is gorgeous here and Ana and Jess rock and got us a sweet pad.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jumbled thoughts from Southern Sudan Part 1

*Note: Northern and Southern Sudan are two different countries in their own right.

It is a country in chaos. A nation that is split and doesnt want it any other way. A people that seeming see no hope in the future of their state. North and South in conflict as we speak.

For the past ten days I have been in one of the most remote parts of Southern Sudan. I have been living among the Dinka people with the mission of Film and Photography assessment of the primary (elementary) school system there. In one word it is devistating. -- As a westerner sitting in my apartment in Manhattan, Kansas informed that this would be my summer plan the ease of changing an education system ran ramped through my nieve and ignorant mind. From the outside, 5000 miles or so away, building schools and mobilizing teachers seems like such a simple ting to do. Raise the money, buy the materials, hire the workers, build the schools, train the educators. Sounds simple enough.

What I didnt realize what I was not informed about is the difficulty to do anything in a country at war. Technically speaking in 2005 a peace treaty was signed between North and South Sudan in reality there is no peace. It is a war stricken nation that is in many ways (and literally as of today) still at war. Fundamentally there us a huge problem in Southern Sudan, it is completely dependent. A country that relies completely on surrounding countries, to produce, provide, deliver all goods and services. No one trusts anyone. The government works against the military, the military against the people, the people against the government and yet somehow they are trying to work together to be the "new Sudan," the south free from the Arab rule of the north. In the least it is dysfunctional.

Schools are needed that is a fact but they are the least of the problems there right now. Everyone is sitting on their hands counting down the days until 2011 when the peace treaty ends. Waiting for 2011 when more than likely their world will be flipped upside down againand the overpowering rule of the north will somehow seize control of the natural resources of the dependent defeated south and civil war will ensue.

How do you help a country that doesn't seem to even want to help itself? That answer I don't believe I will ever have.


As the journey itself to Turalie, Southern Sudan:

Exhausting. 10 days with no power or running water. 10 days of eating with our hands. 10 days of being engulfed in what I am convinced is the slowest paced culture in the world. 10 days of living with the Dinka tribe. 10 days with not a lot of english. 10 days of experiencing just how hard it is to do anything in Southern Sudan. 10 days of dealing with the SPLA. 10 days of living in a mud hut.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

quick thought on civil/rebel wars in developing countries

I don't think I ever quite grasped what civil war does to a developing country until I landed in a country that is in the middle of one today. This morning I arrived in Sudan and imediately you could tell that this place was unlike any other country that we had been in siince arriving in Africa. This is a nation, solely because of rebel insurgents and lack of any organization in the government, is completely dependent on surrounding nations. Sudan grows none of its own produce and hardly raises any of its own livestock, which in turn makes everything very expensive. No one works here because the government is paying people a monthly stypen so that they won't refugee themselves to neighboring countries.
All day long in the states we here about the Sudan and darfur and it never really clicked. It always seemed everyone on this side of the world fought eachother or in this case themselves. But it is different when you are here, we are still in the south tomorrow we fly up to central Sudan, tonigt we are still in a part of the country that hasn't seen conflict in quite some time but because of the nonesense in the the north everyone is suffering. Because there is a war that is going on due to rebels and corrupt government everyone suffers. This country is struggling in more ways than one that is for sure. I am in l Juba the capital of southern Sudan and there is no public power, the only people who have power are on their own generators. The capital city! This is real now, that's about all I know to say.

*I typed this on my phone that could be the reasoning for missing letters and more horrible than usual grammar and spelling.

made it

we are across the border and in Sudan. I will write this evening about the flight and the day this evening when/if I get a chance.

PS we are staying in a hut!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Even Now

Even Now by the band Foolish Things is the theme song for this blog post. Definitely a song along with Psalm 13 by the band Shane and Shane that has hit my heart hard (If you get a chance read Psalm 13, I am confident that it is a chapter that resonates with everyones heart at some point in their life, just meditate on it and let it penetrate, trust me).

This week was probably one of the hardest weeks that I have had in as long as I can remember. I have been sick, the most sick in recent memory, I am 5000 miles from home, and I am dealing with some junk that I will neither explain here or wish upon my worst enemy. For the last four and one-half weeks I would be lying if I was to say that I knew exactly why God brought me to Africa. I would be lying if I was to say that I didnt have some sense of doubt about the grace, goodness, and true beauty of God... that is just pure honesty. My life goes in cycles like most, cycles that are full of the highest highs that can never be disrupted and lows that feel like they are too large to get out of. Also like most I have the uncanny ability to see God's love and trust his grace when the highs are high, but really have complete failure to "praise him through the storm."

So I am in a foreign country trying to understand God's purpose. Trying to figure out His reason for the series of events, the situations He has brought into my life. While writing even this short blog post and listening to this song (Even Now) on repeat it is starting to hit me... He brought me to a place, where all I can give is love, I have nothing else, no other resources to dispense here. Love, the key ingredient that I throw away first at the sign of struggle.

Here is a perfect example:

This week I was on a bus to Kigali, Rwanda that left from Kampala, Uganda at 1am, in Africa they book buses to standing room only capacity. I was sitting next to my friend Megan who was making the trip to Rwanda with John and I along with four other friends of ours serving in the same diocese as us. The lady in the isle next to Megan, assigned to standing room only, decided that it would be more comfortable to sit on Megan's lap than stand for nine hours (Note: the Africans that ride buses dont always smell the best). Long story short, it was very inconvenient and extremely uncomfortable, we were scrunched more than usual and the lady was being very rude and talking about us in Lugandan to her friend all night long (in a very high volume), and constantly creeping further onto Megan's lap.
I had two choices at this point. 1) To get over/empty myself, meaning I could accept the fact that I live in an over comforted society and that a few hours of conveniencing someone else with my inconvenience wouldn't be the end of the world... more or less showing Christ through my actions. 2) Get really pissed off and say stuff I shouldn't have and feel completely violated because I am uncomfortable even though I am the one with a padded seat and am going on a two day vacation to Rwanda.
Of course I chose option two.
The first thing that I throw away in times of inconvenience is the one thing that God brought me to this continent to figure out how to use; Love. I have now realized my purpose here, now it is time for me to put it into practice... no matter what, no matter when, no matter how bad the situation seems to be. God is here, and loves... Even now!
Trouble came, broke your door
Crushed your name, robbed your poor
You feel He's gone, fast asleep
All has gone wrong, you're in too deep

He hasn't left you out to dry, even now
You haven't left his watching eye, even now
So children sing it when you don't see how
My father's worthy of my hope, even now

The feelings gone, you're wondering
If you heard Him wrong, if He's listening
The same old fear, the same old haze
Is God's not here, is His hand raised

Could this be the part of any good plan
Seems to be falling out of His hand
He hasn't left you out to dry, even now
You haven't left His watching eye, even now
So children sing it when you don't see how
My father's worthy of my hope, even now

When you're broken, don't know how, even now
When you're tunnel's still dark at the end, even now
His children don't know how, but know their father's out this time
So hold his hand, hold up your hope

He hasn't left you out to dry, even now
You haven't left his watching eye, even now
So children sing it when you don't see how
My father's worthy of my hope, even now

Even now, even now, (resolve)...
God has a plan even when we think He doesnt even know we exist. That is why i am so pumped that I serve an awesome, amazing God who never gives up on me. Even when I doubt, when I disobey, when I cant figure out what the hell is going on, even now! Life sucks sometimes that is just part of it, I guess it is time to get over/empty myself.

We serve a big God who doesn't give up, who never forgets, who loves even the unlovable, who is HUGE, who never goes away, who knows us better than even we do, a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine. We serve an omniscient God with complete and total power... EVEN NOW! (Matthew 10: 29-31)

*I realize that this post was all over the place and probably didn't make a whole lot of sense, and those of you who did, thanks for bearing with me.

**Update: John and I are leaving for Sudan on Sunday, July 6th for 10 days to do some film and photography work for the Manute Bol Foundation. We are definitely anxious and excited for this journey but are definitely requesting your prayers for protection, wisdom, health, peace of mind, ability to love and sanity. We will be without running water and power for 10 days in central Sudan... YEAH, we are flippin' excited. This is what we have been looking forward to for the last 5 months. If we get good footage and can put together some good material, a village with 200,000 people will get the proper funding to build a school building... We, us together, you and I, my supporters and friends are educating Sudanese, providing them a future. How cool is that!