Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mission in Africa Week 5

Here are the highlights for Diantha from the week:
Sunday at Yei Church (see photo): Phyllis Hankins has been teaching people to bring offerings of food from their garden if they don’t have money, to help support the pastors and teachers for the church’s schools (who are all virtually unpaid). People are now starting to respond. Saturday at Diantha’s health workshop for 43 United Methodist women, we gave them each 8 bars of soap, sold in a row, and suggested they could give one bar each to the church and the school. Sunday, one of the women who had attended this workshop brought a big tub of her peanuts and a dozen ears of dried maize wrapped in a hand embroidered cloth. After church the pastor auctioned it off (which was a lively scene) for about 4 times their value. Apparently other churches do this as well. The only way the church’s schools here can pay their teachers is to charge school fees, and the people in the rural villages are subsistence farmers, without much cash. Money was donated so each school has a blackboard and chalk. They have little else (no books, etc.). Their determination is inspiring.
Monday we had a chance to visit another health clinic, this one run by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with German doctors. It is a secondary health center, and has one of the few dentists here. They are building a unit to house about 15 more patients overnight (they already have 4 beds.) The private clinics are very well run.
Bishop Wandabula is our bishop from East Annual Conference (which includes 5 countries: Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi!), and he is based in Kampala Uganda. He came for a visit this week. It was very successful. The church at Yei held a great reception, with the children singing and processing. He was very supportive of the difficult work that Boo and Phyllis have been doing, of our proposed work, and also held a meeting with the local pastors where he answered their concerns point by point, firmly backing up Boo as the District Superintendent (see photos). Friday we traveled 26 miles to Lasu near the Congo border which houses 9,000 Congolese refugees for ribbon cutting celebration. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the UN High Commission on Refugees, and other NGO’s had built several school buildings, latrines, drilled wells, and updated the government health center. Now it is the best equipped health center (many sit without money for staff or medicines), and includes a midwife and birthing center. They said the original water holes were shared with gorillas. That’s the closest we’ve come to wild animals here besides the tropical gecko that lurks outside our bathroom window snapping up mosquitos. On the way to Lasu we stopped in to see 2 very isolated Methodist churches. Mama Kamisa at Gwiria was so excited to see the Bishop and wanted us to come to her house up on the hill. She has helped start 4 churches, and is about 70 years old and very lively. She is raising her arms in joy in the photo. We also had a blessing of the bore hole which was made possible by Holston Conference offerings. Twenty six miles does not seem like much in the US. Here however, it is not an easy trip. It took over 2 hours in the land cruiser in a very lurching ride. There are places which have become impassible where people have made a little detour side road. A torrential downpour began just before we left, so parts of the road were like a river, (see photo) totally covered in water and Boo who was driving couldn’t tell where the ruts were. A few times the wake from the water splashed on the hood of the land cruiser (it is made to drive through water). We made it back safely, but very tired.
Another highlight was Betty receiving her bicycle (see photo). She is about 17 years old, and in the 9th grade (the war or poverty disturbed many students’ education). A Holston Conference church is supporting her high school fees and her food as well. She is already an outstanding leader in her church. When her mother was ill, she took over her position as United Methodist Women’s leader.
We are waiting for the roads to clear up before visiting more rural churches, and in the meantime are visiting some of the other NGO’s here who are doing similar kind of development in the villages, to learn from them and find out what the local resources are.
We really appreciate any little notes you send us, and updates on your lives.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mission in Africa: Week Four

Sunday 12
After the church service at Yei UMC, which includes three “hot songs” during which we dance (actually, jump), we walk across the soccer field to the two new school blocks, which form a U shape with the one old one that I remember from a year ago. Phyllis and Boo lead a dedication of the new school blocks, with Phyllis playing an adaptation of “Bless this House” and then going around to each of the classroom doors to anoint them and pray. In the late afternoon, we go to the weekly prayer group/Bible study on Mark, which this weeks focuses on going out in mission with a minimum of possessions and knowing when to persist and when to shake the dust off your feet and move on. I'm supposed to lead the study next week.

Monday 13
With most of the visiting team we go the Logobero United Methodist Church, which had to relocate when a local tribal clan decided they wanted the land the church was on. Even Boo and Phyllis haven't been here; we go as far as we can get the Landcruiser, then Isaac Sebit leads us up a narrow path for a mile, over frequently wet ground, two streams spanned by wiggly logs, to a wood-and-thatch church they built in two months. Boo introduces each person and when its my turn to talk, I give my usual summary of what Diantha and I hope to do by working alongside each congregation/village to help them make a plan to address their biggest needs, and provide specific help in health, agriculture, and microenterprise. The pastor responds by thanking me for my “sweet words”, which I understand to mean our approach of listening and working beside them, as much as the concrete help we hope to bring. We worship by dance-jumping a second day in a row, and as the worship winds up we see dark clouds gathering and thunder. We stand up to go but are not allowed by the pastor, who shouts to the “kitchen” to hurry up: they have lunch planned for us, and by gosh we're going to eat it! So as the clouds burst and rain drips through the thatch down our necks, we accept their hospitality with a smile and eat the posho (corn mush) and chicken stew. The rain stops right before we start back down the mile-long path, which is much more slippery now and the puddles are bigger. The streams we have to cross are much bigger and the logs more slippery, so a couple of us visitors end up stepping into the water despite help from 2 or 3 Sudanese men. We make back to the Landcruiser, and home, a little wet but unhurt.

Meanwhile on Monday Diantha is spending the day at the Yei General Hospital as part of Africa ELI's community service day for students from Yei Girls Boarding School. She has been asked to do a training on the use of bed nets to prevent malaria; as part of that training, she leads the students in a skit to show hospital patients on how malaria is spread and the importance and means of preventing it. With the students, she helps present bed nets and soap to expectant mothers on the maternity ward. The contrast between this local government-run hospital and one of the exemplary clinics run by an Episcopal mission group that Diantha visits is like night and day. The Episcopal clinic has 12 or so beds for overnight admissions. They have just opened at new children’s ward, (there are no pediatricians here), and are preparing to open an eye clinic (the only one here; another clinic has just started the only dentistry clinic). They see sick patients for the equivalent of about $2. Many people in the villages cannot afford transportation to come, nor the fees and medicines, as they are struggling subsistence farmers. All of their staff are well trained, which actually is a novelty here. Plus the grounds and the buildings are clean. In contrast, the government does not have enough money for services, so the government hospital is abysmal. In fact most missionaries recommend people do not go there, as it is poorly staffed; sometimes people may wait, admitted, for 3 days before anyone sees them. To Diantha, it seems third world; families must cook, clean, do laundry for and care for their patients; some latrines are there for the several hundred people on campus, but are not always used, which is the predominant custom in the bush. While she is there it rains heavily; the children’s ward includes a screened-in veranda with no shutters, so all the mothers have to take up their children, mattresses and belongings and rush inside; there is an inch of water left on the rough unswept concrete floor. On the positive side, there is a nurse there on duty, who has gloves on and is administering medicine; there is a container of water outside for hand washing. Mothers in the maternity ward keep their babies and bedding clean. Inside are about 40 beds, up next to each other, with only 1 mosquito net. Diantha leads the students in carrying out a skit to show how best to keep mosquitoes out.

Monday night my calves are really sore from two days of dance-jumping.

Tuesday 14
Four of the six visiting team members fly to Uganda, while two stay a couple more days. I (Steve) attend the weekly security briefing at the compound of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). This week there are reports of tribal conflicts over roads, about 30 miles away; an increasing problem with crashes between the “Boda-Boda” motorcycle taxis in town, and an unsuccessful attempt at robbery at another NGO compound foiled by a guard. I'm relieved there are no new reports of attacks in Sudan by the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group) though there is news that the second in command in the LRA has relocated from Darfur to Western Equatoria (the state just west of ours.)

We get a call from David Muwaya saying that Bishop Wandabula is coming this Thursday instead of next Tuesday, so we call the Sudanese United Methodist pastors to alert them that he may come by their Thursday meeting at the end.

Wednesday 15
Today is “International Democracy Day”, a day I didn't even realize existed while I lived in the U.S., though during the day-long speeches in the center of town there are many references to developing an accountable system of democratic government and a balance of powers like the U.S. I look around and realize I am the only U.S. citizen at the speeches. At suppertime we have a birthday party for David Muwaya, one of Bishop Wandabula's staff who happens to be in Yei, along with Fred and Libby Dearing from the team, and Pat Hipp who is hear helping with Africa ELI. We have a truly scrumptious meal with beef stew, rice, cabbage, green beans, fresh pineapple & bananas, chocolate brownies, and banana cake,

Thursday 16
This is the day Phyllis teaches the pastors English, and after that Diantha is going to give them a brief workshop on handwashing, so Boo and I drop them at the Yei UMC compound across town. Diantha takes with her the “tippy-tap” I made the day before, from a 5-liter plastic juice container, string, a stick and and a bar of soap; you hang it by the handle from the tree, tie a 1-meter string to the (capped) spout and a stick to the other end , and make a hole in the side a little below the spout so that when you step on the stick it tips the whole thing enough for a small stream of water to come out the hole. And there is a bar of soap hanging by a string on the tippy-tap too. These can go near latrines and kitchens to promote handwashing.

After we drop Phyllis and Diantha, Boo and I start toward the airport to take Fred and Libby Dearing to catch their flight. On the way to the airport we get a call from David Muwaya saying that Bishop Wandabula has missed his flight and will come next Tuesday instead. We say goodbye to Fred and Libby and head back to get Phyllis and Diantha only to find that a large dump truck is stuck in the only passable stream to get to the compound. So we walk in a half mile to get them and walk with them back out to Land Cruiser.

In the evening Diantha continues her preparations for the Saturday workshop on health with the United Methodist Women, and after talking with Boo and Phyllis I write up a proposal for funding a series of trainings and meetings at the village churches, our work for the next 4-5 months.

Friday 17
Di meets with 3 of the Yei UMC women to plan a special lunch for the Saturday health workshop that will illustrate balanced nutrition. I study Arabic, research an obnoxious weed that's a problem for farmers growing grains, prepare to lead the Sunday night Bible study, and try unsuccessfully to set up the brand new printer we bought in Uganda on our way here. Apparently, after several emails back and forth with tech support, there is a problem with the power supply. Too bad the only place I could possibly take it is Kampala, Uganda.

Saturday 18
I go with Diantha to help her with the workshop she is leading; 43 women show up representing 14 of the 17 Sudanese United Methodist churches, an excellent turnout! About 8 women bring their nursing babies. Diantha is glad she had lots of experience planning for the county leadership program back in Tennessee, and also the WASH (WAter, Sanitation, Hygiene) local training she had her second week here with Sudanese community health workers. But still this workshop represents a big unknown for her, as communication is different here, and she is just getting familiar with how people think, and their customs. All in all the workshop seems to go well. The women report a lot of sanitation related diseases; many places do not have latrines; little access to clean water, and little use of handwashing especially with soap. Some of the challenges are that they can’t afford soap and have to carry water on their heads. At the end the women start asking questions about the causes of various diseases, and shared a few of their traditional beliefs. One was that leprosy is a curse on a family because the grandfather has committed murder. They also misname many diseases, so she will have to do research to find out exactly what diseases are prevalent, but they named diarrhea, vomiting, malaria, and polio, malnutrition. We have heard from other medical missionaries that there is some Vitamin A deficiency. The women ask for another workshop with a nurse or doctor who could explain more about the diseases and answer their many questions, and we tell them we hope to arrange this. Some of the churches they come from are 20 miles away; one young mother had walked 16 miles to come. Cell phones don’t reach the rural areas and there are no land lines or postal service, so we rely on sending messages to the churches through the weekly pastor’s meetings. United Methodist churches in the U.S. have raised enough money to buy each pastor a bicycle, so that will help them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mission in Africa: Week Three

Steve and I are taking turns writing the blog entries each week.; it is my turn (Diantha) to write the blog entry for our third week. We are thankful for friends and family. We have had a few live Skype (free phone over internet) sessions with video with some family members. Totally amazing. The internet is somewhat on and off depending on clouds blocking access to the satellite. My laptop, which is several years old, apparently isn’t up to date enough to receive the more modern Wi-Fi from the UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) office; we are living 50 yards from them on their compound in their guest house, shared with Boo and Phyllis Hankins (click the photo link on this blog page.). I’m using Steve’s email address as it is easier to access and has our complete address book. Request: please become a “Follower” to our blog to get an email reminder when we have posted something new.
There is a team of 6 people visiting from our home Holston Conference. Steve is helping a lot with errands for them. They are here primarily to supply furnishings for the new guest house which is being built. It will be the residence of Boo and Phyllis, with guest rooms and a bunk room to also house visiting teams (up to 14 people). It is a short 5 minute walk from where we are, along a grassy lane (see photo of how Yei feels rural). The donor, Rev. Linda Bird Wright is here. It is nicknamed “Captain’s House” in memory of her late husband, who was an airline captain. Linda is receiving ongoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, and has scheduled this trip between treatments. She is truly an inspiration to us.
Steve has been the busiest one this week, as I was under the weather for several days with some little bug (better now). There is little ready made furniture here, so we just set up the 5 foot wooden table he ordered as book shelf and desk for two! We are both able to go to the weekly pastor’s meeting in Yei, along with our team, where Steve describes how to avoid a snail infestation in the garden (see photo). The easiest way is form a 2-3 meter cleared margin around your garden, and then pick them off by hand; they don’t like to cross open soil. We know an agriculturalist at the Christian Reformed World Relief Council here who donated hoe blades, and peanut and sorghum seeds to give some to each church. These are some of the things they have been asking for. It is time to do the last planting of the rainy season. In the rural areas, most people barely survive by subsistence farming, though they can't cultivate quite enough land to feed themselves and sell the excess. The land is quite fertile, but all labor is by hand tools.
We visit two rural churches along with the team. They present their list of needs, which as usual includes the need for a better shelter than the open thatch roof (especially from the rain), which now houses the church as well as nursery students (with spill over seating under the trees). You should hear the clapping when they were told they will each have a covenant relationship with certain Holston Conference churches (represented by the team), who will help them with the cost of building a “permanent building”, especially for the “iron sheets” (ie corrugated metal roof). Church members will be asked to provide river sand, rocks, home made mud bricks, local logs and some labor. At Ligitolo United Methodist Church Pastor Cosmos Ali is given candlesticks and candles, and a ceramic chalice and paten for communion (photo.) Churches have a simple table in front with a tablecloth, and sometimes prayer cloths hanging from the rafters, so the gifts represent an elaborate addition. They also receive a photo album of them taken at a previous team visit. I would imagine most people have never seen a photo of themselves. Adults and children alike gather around and laugh out loud at themselves and their friends. As at every church we visit, there are sick people who come forward with their needs. The abandoned mother, whose child’s school fees are paid by Holston, has a horrible toothache. Looking inside her mouth, I see half the tooth is eaten away by a cavity. Fortunately one of the clinics in Yei has added a dentist, the only one here. It costs about $10 to get a tooth pulled, so she is given the money. It turns out she doesn’t have the $2 also needed for a round trip on the taxi motor cycle. I am struck by the realization of how many things I am able to afford for $2 or more, and what a privilege access to health care is. In many villages, they do not have local pharmacies, and it would be too far to walk to one. We give her all the Tylenol we had in the medical kit in the land cruiser. When folks see we have medicine we were approached: “I have had a headache, fever and vomiting every time I eat for two weeks. I went to the hospital, but I am not better “. “I also have a headache”. The Tylenol was gone. Some could afford to go to the clinic. The hospital does not have enough staff, nor well trained staff to really treat disease. The local non-profit clinics are better. We have also been given used eyeglasses by churches to hand out. People flock to the land cruiser. They have to just find a pair by trial and error (reading glasses are the most popular). One teenager has infection in both eyes. Another gets glasses so he can see the blackboard. While there is a new opthamologist at a clinic in Yei, few of them can afford the fees or the journey; I think about the fact that I have been wearing glasses since I was 7 years old and would have a poorer education without it. While we are at the churches, I also help get the names, photos and stories of some of the orphaned children, who are living with relatives (see photo). Libby Dearing is on the trip; she is part of the team looking into having an orphanage built here. A good many of the children are wearing tattered clothing; many if not most I am sure could use more food as well. The families in the villages don’t have money to pay the school fees, which pay the teachers, nor to bring much in offering to pay the pastors. They are being encouraged to bring garden produce. Pukuka church has a few ears of dried corn hanging from the ceiling. They are proud to show that they are starting to do as they are being taught!!
An additional highlight, especially for me who loves stringed instruments, is hearing a large and small odungu (see photo) accompany the choir. The strings tuned to the same scale as we use, and the notes of the chords are plucked rhythmically (but not like a guitar strum); the sound sort of reminds me of a thumb piano. We usually think of Sudan as a place of poverty, but it is rich with cultural (and spiritual) riches like these.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mission in Africa Week Two

Saturday, August 28
Yesterday (Friday) was very unusual. We'd planned to visit two churches, but got a call that there had been two incidents of shooting and everyone (not just foreigners) were advised to stay at home. Actually, we felt well taken care of since three people called us and three others dropped by to check on us and update us about the situation. Apparently one was a domestic dispute in which a Dinka husband-to-be argued with his fiancee's family about marrying his wife sooner than originally agreed even though it would cut short her education; when the family disagreed, he shot and killed 9 of them. And in a separate incident, a Dinka soldier shot and killed his Nuer superior because he had been disciplined for drinking and drug use. We stayed and worked at home, and heard UN helicopter landing at the nearby UNMIS compound; later found out top GOSS (Government of Southern Sudan) officials from Juba had come to handle the situation and that both shooters had been caught. We praise God that things were handled in a way that did not fan the flames of the traditional Nuer-Dinka rivalry, and that it is being resolved by rule of law rather than the rough justice that prevailed during the war and has sometimes still occurred though the war is over.

Elias from UMCOR was supposed to take the Landcruiser to Uganda yesterday to pick up up a backup generator for the Hankins new house, but was delayed until today because of this situation. He left early this morning. Phyllis is not feeling well so we pray for her. Rev. Isaac Sebit comes to talk with Boo, and gives me a lesson on his motorcycle (a brave and generous man.)

Sunday, August 29
Since the Land cruiser is in Entebbe to pickup the backup generator, we are walking or “footing” as they say here. We took the opportunity to go to church with our UK missionary friends, John and Poppy Spens, who help the Martha Clinic and build primary schools. It is an ECS church (Episcopal Church of Sudan) with 3 services, and we're at the English service. Poppy apologizes for the formal liturgy, but we tell her there are United Methodist churches that have a more formal liturgy than this. The sermon is on Psalm 121, about God being our only, and reliable, source of help! Good reminder. Diantha and I go to the missionary prayer fellowship on Sunday evening for the second time; the crowd has doubled since last week and there are 12 there. John Spens leads an excellent Bible study on Mark, the passage when Jesus is asleep in the boat when the storm arises. Take home point: fear is the opposite of faith. A difficult lesson to really incorporate and practice, but Amen.

Mon, August 30
Since the Landcruiser is on its way back from Uganda and still not here to day, there is no way for us to go to yet another 2 churches we had originally scheduled for today. Also, Diantha has discovered she has the chance to take a free week-long train-the-trainer workshop being offered on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (one of her main focuses for her village work), and the workshop is being held only a 30 minute walk away. So we postpone going to the churches. Tally: we've been blocked from 1 church by road problems, 4 by last Friday's security situation and the way it changed the schedule, and now we'll skip yet another 2 because Boo and Phyllis and Diantha have persuaded me it makes much more sense to go to the villages at a later date when Diantha can go too. I'm eager to get on with our initial visits to churches, but I have to (reluctantly) admit they are right. I must not only be flexible about changes in the schedule, but also must be patient with how much longer things take! So I go do something fun; I go visit the Principal of the Crop Training Center, David Bala my friend from 2 previous trips, and have a great talk with him. He gives me excellent advice on how to handle the snail problem that is devastating the crops in two of the churches we met with. David also offers me free papaya starts to share with the churches, and free chaya cuttings (chaya is “tree spinach”, a perennial with edible leaves that have more nutrition than spinach.) And David also gives me very good advice on which motorcycle brand will be best to buy for riding out to the villages. We agree to try to travel together to meetings of the USAID agriculture group in Juba. When I walk back to the UMCOR compound, Elias pulls up in the Landcruiser with not only the generator, but all the luggage Diantha and I had to leave at the East Africa Annual Conference Office! We were expecting to get it a week later! What a day of blessings!

Tues, Aug. 31
While Boo takes Phyllis to the airport to fly to Uganda to meet the team coming in tonight, I go to weekly security briefing with Flora from UMCOR. The briefing is just down the street a short walk at the UN High Commission on Refugees compound. When we walk in there are four UN uniformed personnel from various countries, five other NGO/mission foreigners like me (two Americans, two UK, one Norwegian) and about eight Sudanese representing various NGOs. We learn details about the Friday security incidents, and also that the phone tree to inform NGOs was only partly effective; plans are made to improve it. Later while Diantha is still at her training Boo and I make 3 visits to the drivers license office, finally find it open, and in one short hour have licenses for Diantha and I! Then we go and with much silent prayer I buy a motorcycle, the same brand David Bala recommended, and ride it home still praying. I only stall twice; its controls are different than the one Sebit taught me on, but I finally figure it out with no major mishap. The first time I stalled, in the market area, a young man ran over and helped me get it started (answer to prayer?); I appreciate his help, especially since half a dozen of his friends are watching and laughing! When I get back home I practice riding in the UMCOR compound for about 2 hours. Prayer is great, but practice helps too.

Weds, Sept 1
Today we drop Diantha at her training early in the morning at the ECS Guest House, and double check the reservations there for the team coming in this weekend. On to the bank where I get the paperwork to open our checking account, and to the market where we finally find motorcycle helmets the right style and size for Diantha and I. Back at the house, Pastor Isaac Sebit comes and helps us divide up the 400 lb of sorghum and peanut seeds that have been given to the United Methodists from the CRWRS (Christian Reform World Relief Service.) Using our luggage scale, Sebit and Boo and I fill 17sacks of equal weight of peanut seed, and another 17 sacks of sorghum seed, one of each kind of seed for each church. CRWRS has also given us good hoe blades, two for each of our churches. We'll give the seed and hoe blades to the pastors next at the pastor's meeting. It's hard hot work today, but it feels GREAT to do something concrete and immediate for agriculture in the UM churches. Most of what we will be doing this fall is a long-range planning session at each church and a first project coming out of that, but we need to mix the long-range with some short-range. It is still planting season, so these seeds and tools will come at a good time. We get done just in time to grab a cold coke, Skype with Danny Howe, and then I jump on the new motorcycle to go pick up Diantha from her workshop while the sky thunders and threatens the usual evening downpour. Its the first time I've ridden the motorcycle a mile with someone on the back, but all goes well and we beat the rain. Thank God for a productive, good day.

Thurs, Sept. 2
The exciting and inspiring days of work in the villages, the part of my service here that I enjoy so much, is inevitably founded on days like today of tedious detail and errands: setting up our bank account, setting up our budget and financial record-keeping on the computer, buying a chain and padlock for our motorcycle, shopping for groceries. One exciting thing is arranging to get parts for a grinding mill (hand- or bike-cranked) sent to Kampala so it can be manufactured and we can buy one and try it out to see if its feasible for the villages; this was one of the high priorities of 3 of the 6 churches we visited last week.

Fri., Sept. 3
I have a completely free day until 3 pm, so I set out walking ½ mile to the compound for the Christian Reformed World Relief Commission. High of the day: great talk with Nate at CRWRC not only about their group's excellent work in village agricultural development, but the real scoop on the other NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) and government agencies involved in agriculture. My list of the NGOs I've identified is now longer than the list of plants and animals I can identify. I called two other key agriculture contacts and set up meetings with them. Low of the day: the brand new HP printer I bought in Kampala will not install on my computer or make copies.

Sat., Sept 4
Today the team from our home Holston Conference arrived: Rev. Linda Bird Wright, Delphine Swanson, Jane Robinson, Joy Robinson Schultz, Libby Dearing and Fred Dearing. They are here to head up the purchase of furnishings for the new Hankins house/guesthouse for visitors and mission teas (mainly the first four people listed) and Libby and Fred are also here to work on the future orphanage project and the present school situation. We'll go to Ligotolo UMC tomorrow morning for worship, and from then on Diantha and I will pretty much devote the next week and a half to helping with the team. We'll probably be able to get the rest of our own household shopping done as we spend time in the market helping them shop for the Hankins house. And we may be able to squeeze in a few meetings with other mission groups and NGOs as we try to get a full picture of work already going on like ours.

Today Diantha completed her WaSH (Water and Sanitation and Hygiene) training. The purpose was to train 16 people from three area villages to be Sanitation and Hygiene promoters. This is organized through a Christian NGO, Across which is doing many things we hope to do so we will visit them too to learn more. We'd tried to take the WaSH training in the U.S. twice, and were stymied both times; but it turned out for the better since by doing it here Diantha learned a lot about language, and learning styles and approaches, and also about local culture and situations: many people must get drinking water from contaminated rivers and boil water if possible; many people do not have latrines; some have pits with a simple or no structure . She'll get to put these things into practice when she does a local training on September 18 to which women from all the Sudanese United Methodist churches have been invited.