A letter from Nancy McGaughey in Sudan
April 21, 2012
Greetings in the Name of Our Risen Saviour!
I wrote a letter last week, but before I could get it sent, my computer crashed. Well, not exactly crashed, but the screen is not working, so I cannot see/retrieve anything. These are the times when you realize just how far away from things you are.
On the minds of most people here in South Sudan is the recent fighting along the border and the rhetoric between the North and the South. No one wants to return to war. Neither do they want to lose the long-sought-after independence. It has affected the availability of and price of items in the market. It lies heavy on the minds and hearts of the people. It is the focus of our morning prayers each day. Please join us in praying for God’s peace to come to this nation.
The Monday of Holy Week I received an invitation to preach at the church in Panawach. This was unusual for several reasons. First because it was to preach two weeks later—I have never had so much notice. Second, the church is not near here—it is across the river, on the way to Rumbek. Third, I was aware of only one person I knew who went to church there and the invitation did not come through him. I agreed to go but wasn’t really sure just why I had been invited.
Last Sunday we arrived at the appointed time—almost. It was a little after 9 a.m. After being welcomed, we sat under a tree. Around 10 a.m. we were ready to start. I went with the pastor, deaconesses and other leaders to pray and then start a processional into the church. A bishop from a neighboring diocese was visiting—unofficially. I was a little concerned about preaching in front of such distinguished guests. Before the sermon the lady pastor made a few remarks. She said she had attended a training at Across last year. One day I led a devotion on seven prayer points to peace, and fighting did not occur. As there were some disputes going on in their area she decided I should come to pray for peace there. This was a bit unsettling. I did not remember leading prayer that day, I certainly did not recall what the seven prayer points to peace were, and my sermon was on the gifts of the ressurrection—peace, joy and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were very gracious, accepting my sermon and even presenting me with some local water containers. I enjoyed worshiping and fellowshiping with them. It also made me more aware of how people remember things I say!
In March I had the privilege of traveling around South Sudan (Juba, Malakal, Nasir, Akobo and Pibor) with a group from the PC(USA), the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. We visited offices of Presbyterian Church in Sudan in Malakal, spent time with fellow mission co-workers Rev. Debbie Blane and the Georges, Jacob and Aliamma. The fun and fellowship on these trips is always great. Plus I get to meet people from different areas.
IT IS NOW OFFICIAL!
While visiting in Pibor (the last point on our trip before returning to Juba), it was announced to the church gathering that I will move there the latter part of this year. The people of Pibor are of the Murle tribe—another new language to learn! They were so welcoming. When we met with church leaders about what needed to be done before I could come (building of latrine and bathing place), instead of the usual questions about who would pay for building materials, etc., the pastor simply asked, “How deep do we dig the latrine? Will four meters be enough?” As we were boarding the plane to leave, one of the pastors said, “When you return you will receive your Murle name.”
When I return I will work with the church there in starting a program called CHE (community health evangilism). I am excited about the move and the new work, although not necessarily about learning a new language. But there are still many things that must fall into place before making the move—getting a tent to live in, setting up solar power for my computer, phone charging, lights (something I know nothing about and have not had to deal with while with Across), learning to cook on charcoal (even lighting charcoal without lighter fluid L), and things I have not even thought about yet.
As well, there is packing up, leaving Adol and Across, and saying goodbye to my friends here. When I announced my plans in morning devotions it was very quiet, then one friend said, “Bad mouth, bad mouth.” I think that is the Dinka English for "bad news." They did thank me for giving them plenty of time to pray that God would change His mind and leave me in Adol! Despite my promising to return and visit and even call from Pibor, they say it will not be the same. Leaving these people I have come to know and love will not be easy, but I look forward to God’s promise “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Please keep these things in your prayers.
Grace and Peace,
The 2012 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 94
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Hugh this is my e-mail address, sorry for the delay
As you can see, our last names are quite similar. Whether they are pronounced the same way is another matter. Your name was passed along to me by my cousin who is very active in the Marsh Creek Pres. Church in Gettysburg where you spoke recently. His mother was a McGaughy, my father's sister. I would like to have your e-mail address in order to maintain contact. Hugh McGaughy