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Don’t Look Back

A Letter from Jim and Jodi McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan

September 2020

Write to Jim McGill
Write to Jodi McGill

Individuals: Give online to E200385 for Jim and Jodi McGill’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506718 for Jim and Jodi McGill’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)


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Hello dear friends and family,

We are so glad to announce that Niger opened its airport in August, so after four and a half months apart Jim has rejoined the family at Mission Haven.

While it is wonderful to be together as a family again, it is difficult to be away from our brothers and sisters with whom we partner. With our partner, we have established a new nursing school and a training and demonstration Centre. Jodi and the kids left Niger on truly short notice in the middle of the lockdown and was unable to say goodbye. By August however, churches were open, and most activities were back to normal, which allowed Jim to have time to be together with friends and colleagues.

There are many adjustments to be made when we return to the U.S. and one significant difference is how we drive. The Niger dust storms in June and July foreshadowed the flooding rains in August, which caused driving in Niamey to have more than the usual challenges since rain filled the deep potholes. We never knew if a puddle was an innocent puddle or if it was covering a hole deep enough for the water to enter the air intake valve of the vehicle. Jim always had to get out of the car to wade through puddles to make sure they were not too deep. Now he has had to deal with 70 mile an hour Atlanta traffic.

We are praying for both those affected by the wildfires burning in the western U.S. and the many in Niamey affected by the flooding of the Niger River, which has displaced people and destroyed homes and businesses along the river. The university where Jodi taught English and its neighboring hospital are flooded, the Sahel Academy, that some of our children attended, and many other schools, churches, and mosques are ruined. The EERN Bible Colleges at Aguie, which is a 12-hour drive east of Niamey, was also affected. People have lost not only their homes and livelihoods, but their health, health care, and education opportunities for their children. Flooding is also impacting areas in South Sudan. Our partner in South Sudan, the Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency (PRDA) is looking for funding to help those affected by flooding in Pochalla, near the Ethiopian border. Pochalla is a village where manual drilling has been introduced, and where we are partnering with Presbyterian Hunger Program and the South Sudan Mission Network to bring safe water to families.

Following the COVID-19 response of the EERN, funded through World Mission in cooperation with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), Jim had time to continue building up the demonstration area for the SMART Centre. Due to the depth of the hand-drilled well at the Centre of 28m (90 feet) we were unable to test many of the manual and suction pumps that we produced locally. Therefore, for purposes of demonstration, we built a cistern using local cinder blocks and galvanized wire that is only about 8 feet deep. With the cistern, we can demonstrate the EMAS pump that allows pumping to heights of 20 feet above the well, as well as several other affordable pumps. We have also built latrines that are being used, so that people are able to try before they buy. Different filter models are on display so that visitors and customers can determine which filter at what cost will work best for their home situations.

The EERN nursing school has had a month break and is gearing up for its second semester soon. Now that the COVID restrictions have been lifted, the school is advertising and actively recruiting new students. Jodi has been sharing about the nursing school’s inception, mission, and goals with a few congregations and is hoping to share more after the new students begin in October. She has been in contact with a few nursing schools in the Atlanta area to look for connections between schools and to learn about equipment options. To maintain her RN and Nurse Practitioner licensing and certification, Jodi has been volunteering again at free clinic in downtown Atlanta and is enjoying and updating her skills for the few days a week she is there. Jodi supervises nurse practitioner students as well as sees patients and shares those supervisory experiences with her colleagues in Niamey as they plan their next steps when the students begin their clinic practical sites.

Since our youngest two children attend tenth grade virtually, and our two middle just-graduated- girls contemplate what to do in their immediate future, a devotion we recently read from “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young seemed to reflect what was going on within our family, communities, churches, and countries – whether it be in the USA or Niger or South Sudan. “When you are going through hard times, you tend to look back longingly at seasons when your life seemed easier…. looking at them through rose-colored lenses. Even your prayers reflect this yearning to go back…But this is not My way for you! …Sometimes I take you to places you would rather not go, but this is My prerogative as your Savior-God. I am also your Shepherd. …I am tenderly present with you each step of your journey. As you stay close to Me, I show you the way forward. Little by little, I turn your darkness into Light.” (Psalm 18:28)

We are trusting in the leadership of the Shepherd during these times to turn the darkness into light.

Thank you for financially supporting us.

Jim, Jodi, Michael, Jason, Salome, Selina, Joseph, and John

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