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A letter from Nancy McGaughey in Sudan

March 31, 2010

Greetings in Christ!

What a wonderful week this has been, and it is only Wednesday!

I started with a special Palm Sunday celebration in church. I was not aware f the tradition and went expecting a “normal” service! Was I ever in for a surprise! To start with, there were over 300 people in church. Attendance has been down lately, more around 100–150, due to disarmament going on in the area. Many people had taken a dried leaf from palm branch and fashioned it into a cross. They were holding them up and waving them during the songs. There was an air of festivity — I cannot wait to see what Easter celebration is like. And for sure this Sunday I will take my camera with me.

Photo of a group of people, most of whom are wearing blue shirts and holding papers

Graduation of our 22 community health worker students.

Yesterday was the graduation of our 22 community health worker students. I had been concerned that a couple of the students would not graduate, but in the end they did well on their final exams. Again there was an air of festivity. Friends had sent some balloons to help decorate for this and it turns out I was the only person who could blow up the balloons! One can get a little lightheaded blowing up over 30 balloons! But it did look nice. Despite all the campaigning going on, several people still came. As is typical, there were many speeches, but most people kept to the 10 minute limit. And a few, like me, did not speak quite so long. The students all looked very “sharp” (their word) in their new uniforms and I was proud of them. Last night it was quiet and a bit boring with no students around. It felt a little like the day after Christmas — there is so much anticipation and preparation and then it is over! Time now to start preparing for a new group in June.

One of the nice things that happened yesterday was that my Dinka sister introduced me to my Dinka father. She is the one who gave me my Dinka name — Ajak Manyang. The “Ajak” is from her side and then each “foreign” woman that has come is given the name of one of the clans. Mr. Manyang happened to be one of our guests so I got to talk with him a bit (through an interpreter of course). He seems very nice and is the “paramount” chief in the area. He said when he is less busy (which I take to mean sometime after the elections), he would like to visit his daughter, so I welcomed him. The man sitting next to him introduced himself as “your uncle.” I guess he is somehow related to “my father.” I am looking forward to getting to know these people better.

Sudan elections are to be held in a couple of weeks. The first free elections in about 24 years. People are busy everywhere with campaigns and election posters are plastered everywhere. They are even on vehicles, side and back windows and I even saw a couple of vehicles in Juba with campaign posters on passenger side of front window! Please pray for safe, free elections and for the candidates God has chosen to win!

The last few days temperatures have been 110–114 degrees, and I didn't realize it until today. Does that mean I am adapting to the climate??? Probably not, just that I was too busy to notice! :)

Have a blessed Easter!

Nancy

“You pray in your distress and in your need, would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”
—Kahil Gibran

The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 47

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