Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Goat...

...(mentioned below) was definitely not eaten by me. There was no way that was going to happen. Something about hearing your food hours before that food is served, just isn't appealing to me. But I am thankful that goat fed many people, just I am not one of them. :-)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sudan | Day 5 (Sunday)

Whoa, this was a good day. This was a day that was unforgettable. I experienced 3 things in the first 5 hours of this day that I never imagined I would experience.

I wrote about this day very briefly here, but allow me to go into more detail because it was so good.

Let me start at the beginning, all of our rooms were in a row and we all slept with our windows open to let in the cool evening African air. Sunday morning at about 7:00 Heath and I woke up to a goat bleeting outside our window. It wasn't directly outside our window. But it was close enough to wake us up. No big deal though right? I mean we are in Africa. It's not unusually to hear animal noises.

Our normal routine in the mornings was, we would all get up and go outside to get ready, like "do our hair" and "make up". Because we didn't have electricity most of the day it would be too dark in the rooms in the mornings to see much.

So this morning, we go outside and much to my astonishment THE GOAT that was bleeting moments before, was now sadly hanging upside down from a tree 20 feet from me just having been slaughtered! You can imagine the shock from this city girl.

After several minuges, I was able to recover and move on with more shocking/amazing things that the day was holding for us.

We got ready and headed for church on the compound.
Our boys sitting in church.

Yes, they made us dance.

It was an amazing service with a lot of people. Our pastor spoke and 8 people came forward to accept Christ.
Corey snuck some video of them praying the pray of salvation.

Sudan | Bishop leading 8 people to Christ at Church from Janelle on Vimeo.

What was so INCREDIBLE was that these 8 people prayed the prayer and then we all went down to the river and they were baptized IMMEDIATELY! It was the coolest thing I've ever witnessed. And not only do they baptize them, but they have a party! After each one was baptize, the drums were going, the singing was loud and the oh the dancing! It was an full out celebration. Our pastor said it perfectly when he said he thinks us baptists are going to be shocked when we get to heaven and see how worship is done.

The 8 people being baptised, plus our Pastor and the Bishop walking down to the river!

The baptism PAR-TAY!

Our Pastor John! We love him! It was so amazing being on this trip with him.

The precious white girl is named Deborah and she is the daughter of one of the German missionary families that live there on the compound. It was the most precious, PRECIOUS sight seeing her running around with the Sudanese children!! Oh I could cry just thinking about it!

THEN, as if things couldn't get any better/shocking, one of the ladies who was just baptized told the Bishop that she wanted to totally turn her life to Christ and in order to do that she needed to BURN all of her witch craft charms.

So, we marched back up to the church and had ourselves a witch craft burning ceremony!!! Y'all...what an awesome day. I have goosebumps all over again thinking about how incredible this day was. We saw the Lord work in mighty, MIGHTY ways!

The Bishop throwing the charms into the fire!

Hanging out with the kiddos!

It was definitely one of the best and most interesting days of my life!

Oh yea, and goat was served for lunch that day. I am not joking!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sudan | Day 4 (Saturday)

This has been a crazy week. Last night was our Sudan team's testimony night at our church and I had to speak for about 7 - 8 minutes. I was so nervous that I was consumed with it, therefore I couldn't even think straight to update my blog. It was an amazing night! All of our team, but two, were there and it was so great to be able to relive it all together. Plus, there was an awesome slideshow that had us all crying. I'm going to try to figure out how I can upload it to the blog. Regardless, I hate that it has taken me so long to update y'all.

I also have to give a shout out to my hubby! Today is our 10 year dating anniversary!!! I can't believe we have been with each other for a decade now. It was 10 years ago today that I felt SO nervous all day waiting for 7:00p.m. to come. Heath picked me up in a fancy car that he borrowed from a friend. We went to Pappadeaux, then to a park (that he later proposed to me at) and then to a coffee house that is now sadly a Smoothy King. It was an amazing night. When he dropped me off at midnight, it felt like the night had flown by because we had so much fun. So here's to 10 years!!!


This day was a lot like the last post. We did basically the same thing. We left Saturday morning and drove to the first orphanage that the EPC and His Voice for Sudan built in Morobo, Sudan.

When we arrived, it was a very similar scene with all the orphans and widows singing and celebrating our arrival. Very special again! We loved it.

Sudan Morobo Opening Ceremony from Janelle on Vimeo.
These pictures are amazing and they were definitely not all taken by me. My good friend, Corey, took a lot of them and also my friend Jonathan that went on the trip took a ton. He took all the cool pictures with the fish eye lens. They are both amazing photographers.

After the welcoming ceremony, the Bishop gave us a tour of the campus and then we ate lunch.

The Bishop

Eating Lunch

After lunch we got to do a very cool thing. Our church donated money so that we could buy the Morobo orphans new shoes. So after we arrived in Yei, somebody took that money and went and bought 100 pairs of shoes. And after lunch, we got to fit each orphan with their new shoes! It was a really fun moment.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sudan | Day 3 (Friday)

I LOVED THIS DAY!!! It was one of the neatest days of my life!!! I am so excited for you to read all about it and finally meet some of these PRECIOUS orpans we got to spend so much time with.

When we arrived in the Sudan, we had a meeting with the Bishop, who is the person who started the EPC which runs the two orphanages we were going to see. The Bishop is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. Not only does he run the EPC, he practically runs all of Southern Sudan. He's very respected among the people and helps out Southern Sudan as much as possible. So it was a blessing to be able to be around him for week and soak in his wisdom.

At the meeting that first day with the Bishop, he let us know our schedule for the week.

This day he wanted to take us to the Lura Orphanage (where we would spend all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) for a tour and lunch.

That morning we took off in our cars and when I asked you guys to pray for our daily 1 1/2 hour drive to and back from the orphanage, I was not joking. This is what the roads looked like the entire drive.

The orphanage was really only 28 miles away but took that long. If you get motion sickness at all, I don't think you would have made it. Thankfully, not one of us got sick.

Our car broke down the first day, but this was the only day that this happened (until the last day when we were in Uganda), praise the Lord!

Jennifer, Corey and I taking a stroll as we waited for our car to get fixed.

But look at this amazing view we got to stare at for many hours while in the bumpy car!

The thing that happened that was SO neat and amazing was the welcoming ceremony the orphans gave us. I didn't really even think about if the orphans knew if we were coming today. I don't know why I didn't. So when we pulled up and were greeting by ALL 95 orphans and the widows that run the orphanage standing by the road already singing their welcoming song, we were all totally overcome with emotion. There was not a dry eye among us. It was a welcome beyond any welcome I've ever experienced and I'll never forget it for the rest of my! I get goosebumps all over again just thinking of how precious it was!

Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage 7-24-08 from Janelle on Vimeo.

This was our favorite song. It stayed in our head the entire week and you never knew who in our group was going to bust out with it at any moment in the day or night.

Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage Part II from Janelle on Vimeo.

Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage Part III from Janelle on Vimeo.

Are they not the sweetest things you have ever seen? It was an amazing moment for us all.

From there, the orphans went back to school because we came in the middle of their day. And the Bishop showed us around. We got to go to each class room and introduce ourselves and of course they did more singing for us, which we loved:

Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage Part IV from Janelle on Vimeo.

After we left the school, we were able to see the rest of the orphanage. Then we ate lunch there and left.

This is the part of the orphanage that the orphans live in.

This is one of the bedrooms. The coolest thing about this is that each room has two "mothers" that also sleep in the room! Which means that the orphans always have access to their "mom" even in the middle of the night!! Isn't that SO AMAZINGLY comforting to know?!

This is the Bishop giving us our tour.

Saturday, we did a very similar thing, but at the other orphanage in Morobo, which I will write about because it was as equally an amazing welcome as this one!

On a side note: Did y'all see who carried the American flag for the U.S. last night at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies?! Lopez Lomong is from the Sudan! Sadly he was ripped away from his family at the age of 6 by warlords. He was able to escape from them and found a refuge camp for misplaced boys in similar situations in Kenya. A family from New York adopted him and now he is a U.S. citizen. Since then though, he has been reunited with his family in the Sudan!! Isn't that incredible? Obviously, this story impacted me way more now than it would have 6 months ago. I was so happy that Lopez was the one choosen to carry our flag!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sudan | Day One and Day Two

Day one and day two are really just like one big long day filled with 20 hours of being on a plane. Not really sure when one day ended and the other began.

We had a very smooth traveling day to Sudan. I really don't need to explain how sad it was to say goodbye to Ella at the airport. Heath and I were both in tears. But the Lord was faithful and sustained us with His fullness of grace because we did great the rest of the time.

We flew from DFW to:

Our plane was awesome. It was one of those that has the personal t.v.'s for each seat with a good 100 movies or shows to choose from. Heath and I definitely caught up on a lot of movies we had been wanting to see.

We spent a few hours roaming outside the Amsterdam airport during our layover. It was just so cool knowing we were in Amsterdam even if we didn't get to really see anything.

Vernon, Me, Heath and Brenden

From there, we flew into Entebbe, Uganda. We had an overnight layover and stayed at this really AWESOME hotel. It was a treat!

This is a pic of Corey and I on the itty bitty plane we took from Uganda into the Sudan. We are smiling only because we got in the air okay. But moments before this, Corey and I were so nervous, I was laughing out of control because that's what I do when I'm nervous and Corey was laughing and crying. It was very entertaining for the rest of the team.

Our group on the plane.

The Nile River! Isn't that cool?

Hello Sudan!!! Our little plane flew so low it was like we got a little tour of Sudan before landing. I loved it!

If you look closely you can see the grass huts that everyone in Sudan lives in.

Again if you look closely you can see through the pilot's window the DIRT runway we landed on in Yei, Sudan. The DIRT runway.

Welcome to the room Heath and I lived in for 8 days! Sleeping under a mosquito net was definitely an experience. Sadly in my head, this was "roughing" it. But this is literally the nicest place you can stay in Southern Sudan. I grew to LOVE it! Especially since our whole team slept right next to each other and so we had endless amounts of fun at night and in the mornings.

More to come! Thanks guys for going on this journey with us! I can't tell you how much I fell in love with this country and the people we met! It brings me GREAT joy to be able to share all of it with you. So thank you!

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