A letter from Rachel Weller on home leave from Ethiopia
What a great time to visit the U.S.: just as the leaves are in their magnificent fall glory! Michael and I came to the States the first week of October for two meetings in Dallas and Louisville. Then we had the privilege of telling the story of what God is doing in Ethiopia to folks in Santa Fe Presbytery in New Mexico—our first time to Ghost Ranch, the Presbyterian conference center there. And now I am writing from North Carolina where we are enjoying our family—especially Myles Parker Weller, our first grandchild, the son of our oldest son, Brian, and his wife, Sheila. The wonder of a new baby outshines the beauty of the fall colors. We feel very blessed to have been given this time to be here.
In Dallas we participated in a gathering of PC(USA) mission workers to consult about how to do mission “Better Together.” A process called “Open Space Technology," a lot of energetic discussion, many reams of newsprint, and several boxes of markers and tape were used to talk about the future of mission in the PC(USA). Presbyterians across the spectrum collaborated to begin to make a plan to encourage Presbyterians to become actively involved in alleviating poverty, fighting injustice, and sharing the Good News.
We flew to Louisville for a week of regional liaison training. I have recently been assigned to work with Michael as an “administrator” to keep up with logistics especially while he travels. It is always a pleasure to get acquainted and reacquainted with our colleagues who work around the world and learn to see God through the eyes of the nations.
Then, since we were already on the continent, we agreed to spend some time in Santa Fe Presbytery telling the story. That was our first time in the wild West! It is strikingly different from eastern Virginia, western Pennsylvania, or western Ethiopia—our usual stomping grounds. Besides enjoying the fascinating geography, we enjoyed wonderful encounters with more people interested in what God is doing around the world. Telling the story of God's unfolding presence in the world is invigorating, giving us energy to return to Ethiopia to continue our part in the story.
Thursday morning, before bright and way too early, we will leave the Raleigh-Durham airport to make our connection on Ethiopian Airlines for Addis Ababa.
From there we will probably be going our separate ways. While Michael goes to South Sudan to connect with our mission co-workers and partners, I will return to Gambella to begin in earnest working on Community Health Evangelism (CHE) programs. Your prayers for guidance and wisdom as we make connections are welcome.
I will be teaching a class to students at the Jack Jordan Bible School on the compound of the church where we live. That is not the way CHE is designed, but I think it is a good opportunity to present the idea of servant leadership and to encourage theologians to become community developers. I plan to make trips to the three clinics, Adura, Pokwo, and Gilo, under church supervision, and to work with the communities to take "ownership" of them if they want them to continue operating. The Pokwo and Gilo communities already have had gatherings to begin thinking about that idea. Many of you are praying already, so please continue to pray that they follow God's leading. In the past the three clinics have received their main funding from the PC(USA) through accounts that no longer exist or are soon to be depleted. In addition, the Ethiopian government has been building a health plan for the past several years that should reach most people. The reality, however, is that the plan is not materializing as clearly as it is written on bureaucratic papers. Finally, I have been told a number of times that the church-related clinics offer a Hope that, even with the best medicine and equipment, the government clinics do not. So our prayer is that God will guide the communities as they work out what their role should be regarding health.
Michael's visits in South Sudan will involve visiting the PC(USA) mission co-workers there.
Nancy McGaughey and Sharon Curry are hoping to begin new CHE programs and to arrange decent housing situations in Pibor and Akobo, respectively.
Debbie Blane recently returned from six months of interpretation assignment in the States and is readjusting to the complications of life with limited electricity, Internet connection, and water. She is teaching at the English branch of the Nile Theological College in Malakal, South Sudan.
Jacob and Aliamma George in Malakal have been very busy in the communities of Malakal, organizing CHE programs, and recently they were invited to hold a revival service in the prison there.
Last week in Yei, South Sudan, Nancy and Shelvis Smith-Mather welcomed their first child into their arms six weeks sooner than expected. Nancy had been scheduled to fly to the States the same week. A trained midwife was in Yei to make sure everything went as well as possible. The baby and mom are both well and getting good care in Nairobi now. God is good.
To read more about Dallas II, or to read letters from mission co-workers (including this one) go to: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/world-mission/ and click around! (Try going to “Presbyterians at work …” and then “find a mission worker” to find specific people.)
Thanks for joining us in God’s mission in Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan
Rachel Weller, for the two of us
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 95
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 107