Life is a privilege. This was brought home to me just recently when a pussycat that escaped the talons of five kites in the morning and the fangs of a pack of dogs in the afternoon, succumbed to the clutches of an owl in the evening. In many ways, this is an illustration of the fragility of life here. A guard, whose teenage son was up and about one day, was seemingly rendered totally non-responsive overnight and dead within a few days after being released from hospital. An uncle of a coworker was spared when a bullet stopped millimeters away from his heart…but the same bullet had apparently grazed his spinal cord on entry and he may be paralyzed for life. This is reality and an accepted part of life here. There are no arguments with God.
But this acceptance has not dampened their zeal for a better life. While they do not lay any blame at God’s door for their suffering, they know that He has something far better for them than what they have had up until now and they are hungry for that. Dr Wendy reports that all her teaching on health, hygiene, and nutrition has been implemented among the Opo with visible results! We just hosted a teaching team from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA who taught pastors and lay-leaders from the whole region. Some travelled for five days to get here, but they came and soaked up all they could while they were here. Our senior Anuak priest says that one of the reasons the church is growing so quickly among his people is because of the good teaching the leaders are receiving. The desire to learn is palpable and the implementation of the new information almost immediate. Everything is shared with everyone who will listen.
Life is a privilege and it is a privilege to live life in Gambela.
The Jesus Film has been shown several times to different Anauk audiences as well as the Opo. But this did not stop them wanting to show the film again over the two Christmases – yes, two Christmases – the Western Christmas (Dec 25) and the Ethiopian Christmas (Jan 7)! Unfortunately, for the Opo the film is not yet in their own language, but they watched it in Nuer and in Amharic anyway. Pray for the showing of this film…it is now in an area where there are quite a few unreached and unengaged people groups. Pray that the message will be well received and pray also for the protection of the equipment. Theft and damage are other realities we are learning to live with.
I am continuing to plan ahead for the opening of St Frumentius’ Anglican College this year. As the books are all in English, I will be teaching two English Grammar Intensive courses, the one from1 – 26 June and the second from 3 - 28 August. God willing, we will be in the US for July to meet with individual partners and churches, and also to spend time with friends and family. Right now, the beginning of the first Semester will be 31 August 2015. There is still much to be done, decisions to be made, and funds to be raised, but we are moving forward, Praise God!
Items for Praise:
New personal support is still coming in!
New churches are being planted among an up to recently unengaged people group!
General acceptance among our immediate community among whom we live – children that once ran from us now run up to us chanting, “Big brother has come!”
The beauty of the area – we have found a path that leads all along the Baro river through many villages and we have made many new friends (and seen our first “Nyang” or crocodile!).
Items for Prayer:
Protection for us all – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritual, relationally, financially.
The upcoming visit of a team from South Carolina: February 1 - 8
The upcoming Clergy Training: February 2 and 3
The upcoming Mother’s Union Training: February 4 and 5
Thank you all for your prayers, your financial support, your emotional support, and your correspondence! It is always such a joy to know that someone is thinking of you even when you are so far removed physically.
Tons of love and many blessings.
Johann and Louise