A letter from Aliamma George in Sudan
"To everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1
The rainy season has started here and people say that it will stay up to November. It was very heavy for a few days with thunder and lightening. The activity of our city was paralyzed during the heavy rains. The transportation of food items is hindered, so fruits, vegetables and other eatables cannot be brought to the markets and food shortage is experienced. Since the roads are not paved, water stays on them and thick, pasty and sticky mud holes are formed, and the two-wheeler carts drawn by donkeys or horses are stopped. The taxis, three-wheelers, buses and trucks also get stuck with the thick and pasty mud. The small coffee shops where ladies make a small income are on hold. The schoolchildren go to school in their uniforms but keep their shoes or flip-flops in their hands since it is difficult to walk on slippery streets. Some people who are able to buy them use rubber boots.
One of our friends told us he did not realize his boots were stuck somewhere and he walked with socks in the flowing water, and then went back and got the boots. The mud is so thick and pasty, when you lift your legs, boots will not come up with you! We are getting used to it and able to move around to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to us. During the rainy season, the flies and mosquitoes multiply. The water comes from Nile River and is yellow in color. Some filter the water and some use some chemicals to purify it. On rainy days 60 percent of the people walk with bare feet since that is the only practical way. The virus, bacteria and parasites can reach the homes easily. Health teaching is emphasized whenever and wherever possible, and they are very receptive. Improvement is expected in the near future.
The season may be changing, but God's work is going on in a powerful way here. Even though it is rainy season, the church membership is increasing; there will be at least 30–40 new people joining each congregation each Sunday. Last Sunday we went to Neur Congregation, where there were about 1,700 people attending. They walk, and some will bring an extra second set of clothes to change into if the first set is soiled on the way! When they reach the church, they start praising God together in one accord—male, female, young and old, teenagers and children! Jacob gave the sermon and many people came and thanked us and mentioned that they were blessed. The governor of our state was one of them.
Let me give the account of one conversation with our student, Mr. D, which will tell about the impact of the PC(USA) mission in Sudan. Before the war there was a PC(USA) missionary in Mr. D's village. His mother was the first one in the village to accept Jesus Christ. His father was not interested in it as he was a magician and did not want to turn away from that. So the mother brought up the three sons. The first son became a governor in his state and is retired now, enjoying a Christian life. The second son is a pastor and serving a Presbyterian Church of Sudan (PCOS) church. The third son is Mr. D, who is an A student. He is our class leader, and his wife also is in the same class. They want to serve the PCOS when they graduate in order to make positive changes in people. Mr. D had job opportunities to work in restaurants in other African countries, but he would prefer to be an evangelist or pastor.
I would like to add an incident that happened two weeks ago when we were walking home after our language training. There were about 20 girls in uniform on the market road fighting in a big group, trying to pull each other's hair, etc. There were onlookers from the small roadside markets enjoying the fight. We just clapped our hands and said, "Stop the fight right now." The girls looked at us and went in different directions, some smiling on their way. They listen to foreigners! On another evening, two boys were fighting on the street, one trying to break the neck of the other one. We stopped them, but then before we turned away from that street, we looked back and saw they had restarted the fight. We clapped and shouted, "Stop it." They listened, then went in two directions laughing and waving their hands.
I am happy to report about a new development here. The city started picking up trash in a big truck twice a week from the main streets. I had just taught in the class about the dangers of trash everywhere and mentioned to many people about the need to collect it to prevent diseases. That prayer is answered, and the next step is clean water, a working post office and a bank. We tried to send an important registered mail but it came back from Khartoum after a month. A friend tried to send a post card three months ago that has not reached here.
We are hoping for good changes after the new government is formed on July 9, 2011. Please pray earnestly for the smooth transition. Last Sunday at the church the governor gave details of the formation of the new government on July 9 and requested prayers. Thank you for your support and prayers.
"With God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1.37
Jacob and Aliamma George