Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dear Friends and Family,
Well the year is coming to an end and I’m winding up things here in South Sudan for a Christmas break!  For most of you its wintertime and its cold outside, for us its wintertime in the sense it’s the time of the year when everything dies, but it's dry and VERY HOT! The temperatures have definitely increased even in the last couple of days. Our last rain was about 3 weeks ago and things are really drying up fast! Thank goodness the amount of mosquitoes has decreased! Malaria is probably the sickness we fight with the most here! I have been grateful that I have only had it once since I have been here! So for that I am grateful. This last month has been a busy one with two Community Health Evangelism (CHE) trainings. I would like to tell you some about both of them!
CHE Training #1 in Adol
The beginning of November we had our first CHE training in an area called Adol. We had 31 participants, a combination of pastors and other people who were also very involved in their local church. I was among the 4 facilitators teaching the lessons. We started out teaching them the basic CHE concepts and what CHE is all about. We introduced to them what their positions in their communities would be as facilitators! During the training they were able to collaborate with each other in making plans and goals to accomplish during the time till the next training there. We gave them ways to help make plans for something that they wanted to help change in their community. Some came up with the idea of finding someone to help put in a clinic, some thought of the need for wells. Some thought a school was the biggest need. It was interesting to hear the ideas they came up with. They were a talkative bunch and that made for some good conversations. At the end of the training we gave them lessons to learn and teach to each other so that they can be practicing when they go back home. They really enjoyed this! So we gave them both a spiritual lesson and a lesson about how to prevent malaria. The feedback we got at the end of this training was very encouraging, they told us that they wished that we could come back next time and teach them for a longer period, possibly 3 weeks. We are thankful that they were so excited about what they were learning and desired to learn more. We will be seeing this group again possibly in February.
This is just a picture of one of the lessons we were teaching the CHEs in Adol, about what is involved if you are to grow as a Christian.
I am teaching about how all the decisions you make have consequences. They can be good or bad!
The hut we are having as our classroom!

My friend Sharon and I before going into the surgery room :) 
 On arriving back to where I live in South Sudan, a team from Tenwek Hospital in Kenya came to do cataract surgeries in our local government hospital. This team did an amazing job with helping over 200 patients. I was able to go in and see one of the surgeries done but I was also present when the patients' patches were being taken off and that was just an amazing time. Some of these people had not seen for many years. Many of the patients were older but there was also a 12-year-old girl who had cataracts in both of her eyes because of malnutrition. That was so neat to see her open her eyes for the first time and although at first she was not able to see clearly, every day following the surgery she could see better and better! It was a blessing to be a very small part of this ministry and to see the way the Lord healed and used this time to reach out to these patients. I am thankful I was able to be here for that time!
This is one of the sweet men who just had cataract surgery. He was insisting I was his doctor because I am white, but what he doesn't know is that I am not even close to his doctor :) That's ok!
In the surgery room, looking through the scope at the cataract just being taken out!!!! WOW! What a site to see!

On one of my visits to a CHE community, I had the privilege of meeting one of the cataract patients. This was about 2 weeks later and he was at home with his family. This man was about 65 years old and had the biggest smile on his face. He was so happy because he had the joy of the Lord in his heart! You didn’t have to ask, you just knew! He was so sweet, he greeted us and then continued to tell us his story and how the Lord used this team from Tenwek to bless his life. He told us that he had cataracts in both of his eyes and that the surgeons were able to take the cataract out of his left eye. They told him that he could come back next year and they will take the one out of his right eye. After returning to his community after the surgery, he was asked to come to the elders meeting because they wanted to know what happened. When he got there he gave them the report that he could see and they asked him to get down on his knees. And they said ok, well we need to give thanks to the spirits. They had the witch doctor handy, But Duor said, “No, the people who were fixing my eye said that the only one who gets glory from my eyes being healed is GOD Himself.” And so he said, “I don't want to give any glory to the spirits.” And he left. WOW! Culturally that is huge here! Also the pastor told me that this man has been a strong believer in the past but He is really active in the Church now. So praise the Lord! This mans testimony is being used in a huge way in this area because of the Lord using the hands of these surgeons.

CHE training #3 in Tonj
The third CHE training that we had was done in the area where I live, here in Tonj. In this training we had 19 participants. All of them have been doing a lot of work in spreading the Word of God and CHE lessons in their communities. We have an activity that is a very big part of the CHE program called a "Seed Project". The requirements are that they have to pick a ministry they can do for someone in their community who isn’t a Christian and it has to only last a day or two, and we give this as homework after every CHE training we have. So that was fun hearing all the things that they were able to do. Some of them even did two because of the way the people in their communities were reacting. In the past months we have gotten a lot of rain and in one of my previous blog posts I wrote about there being a flood that was destroying many people’s homes and their vegetation. It was neat hearing that this was a great time to reach out into their community and help those who were not able to collect all their vegetation. Some of them took this opportunity to reach out and assist widows and children in need. Over the past months the grass has grown so tall that it was a lot taller than even me. So it would take over paths and walk ways. So one group decided to clear some paths from different homes in the community so that people could walk freely without worrying that they could not see snakes and other critters. I actually got to see this after they had finished and they were very proud! Although some people appreciate them for their hard work, some ask if they are being paid to do such a job. Some ask why they are wasting their energy when they have work to do at home in their own gardens. They simply reply that they have work to do at home in their own gardens. Or they reply that they are doing it to serve their neighbors and to show the love of Christ. It’s so fun to get to hear their responses and to be a part of this ministry!

On a home visit seeing the seed project where they cleared all the grass so that people could walk safely on the paths between people's homes!

The CHE's praying before they practice their lessons on each other!
Two of the CHE trainees, and I after we completed out third training!

This coming month I will be going back to Kenya and then flying to the States to attend a wedding of a friend who I went to high school with. I will be able to spend time with family over Christmas and the New Year’s. I’m grateful for this opportunity and thankful for the change of pace. I pray you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

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