A letter from Lynn and Sharon Kandel serving in South Sudan
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Things have changed for us here in Juba since we last wrote to all of you. We have each started our own jobs! This means that Sharon is doing what she can to help in the church offices with the treasurer and logistics for missionaries. Lynn is working with the Education Dept. of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) as a logistics person with the building of schools for the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP).
The Education Dept. has broken ground on the first school building! It is here in the outskirts of Juba, in an area called Jebel. This is a congregation from the Murle tribe that has been working with the Education Dept. and is now working with Lynn to build a permanent classroom building for their 250-300 students. Because this is the rainy season here in South Sudan this was the only place the church could work and it has been great to have the first building close to us. What a great way to figure out how this will work for places further from Juba. It has been a challenge because as soon as Lynn figured out the cost for things and talked with the school leader about what could be done with the money they had, then the exchange rate changed drastically and now things cost a lot more.
Even so, everyone involved, Education Dept., the Murle congregation and Lynn figured out a way to make the original plans work and are hoping by the end of September there will be a nice new building to be used for two classrooms. Lynn feels God may have led the Education Department to a man who could possibly be the supervisor on other buildings for the SSEPP. This man, Tiro, is from the Murle tribe and has experience building both in Khartoum and here in Juba and attends the Murle Presbyterian church here in Juba.
At the church offices one day I (Lynn) saw a large pile of books written by Desmond Tutu on forgiving and forgetting. This started a conversation on whether one can forgive and not forget and what does a person do with the memories of hurts that have been inflicted. It is not an easy thing to forgive and it was agreed that while a person may not be able to forget, it is best to not dwell on the hurt but look forward instead to what good things the future can hold. I am humbled and amazed at the willingness to move forward by people who have had their homes destroyed, family members killed, livelihoods ruined, and no opportunity for schooling.
Sharon has been going to the PCOSS offices to help out however she can and for the most part that means reading over things, suggesting clearer or more effective wording, explaining what is wanted by way of different forms and proposals for different organizations, and laughing a lot with whoever is in the office. There has also been the opportunity to help out at Nile Theological College with email issues and to work with the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program on their reporting. It is a challenge with some of these since Sharon herself is still learning what all is wanted and needed by all the different organizations.
We are feeling God’s presence here in very real ways—from keeping us healthy to finding cousins here in Juba (Sharon) and feeling safe. God is good and walks with us through our daily lives. God blesses us with wonderful Christian friends and challenges us with situations that only He can guide us through. While sometimes we wonder what our purpose is, we know that God is leading and all we have to do is follow.
We walk or take the “bus” everywhere, and this has given us a chance to meet and talk with people we would not have if we had our own car. I admit that sometimes it would be nice to just get in a car and go instead of walking the five minutes to the bus stop, but then we would not have so many fun conversations with people. What an opportunity to just observe people in their own setting. We feel experiences like these give us a closer connection to the everyday lives of the average South Sudanese person.
Peace is still an elusive thing here in South Sudan. People seem to be holding their breath waiting to see what will happen, and yet at the same time they are forging ahead with their lives. Please continue to pray for these wonderful people and their land that holds so much promise.
Thank you for your prayers for us as we have been making the adjustments to life here. Those prayers mean so much to us and we know that when we are discouraged it is your prayers that hold us up. Thank you for the letters, emails, jokes and pictures that have been sent to us—it means a lot to us that you take time to connect with us. Thank you for your financial support, without which we could not be here, and we ask that you continue to support us and walk with the people of South Sudan.
Lynn and Sharon Kandel
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 139
Read more about Lynn and Sharon Kandel’s ministry
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