Anyway…the blog David said I had to write

Sudan_blackboard Posted by Yei 2013 on Sun, 20 Jan 2013 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I haven’t a clue what day of the week it is although there was talk at breakfast that it was possibly Saturday. Sitting under the shade of a mango tree, uploading photos to the Connor website, a gentle breeze disturbs the pages of my notebook.

A chorus of ‘Praise the Lord’ fills the air – somewhere out of sight a mission group is singing. An obese yellow ant drops from the branches above and is hastily brushed off my arm.

This is not a typical day at the office for a Diocesan Communications Officer (at least not in Connor, perhaps in Down and Dromore??!!). Instead of looking out at St Anne’s Cathedral I am looking beyond the gates of Yei ECS guesthouse where a sudden blast of hot wind has whisked the dust off Old Mission Road into a furious orange fog.

At home, my family, friends and the hardy people of Connor are battling with snow, or perhaps it has already turned to rain. Here it is 38 degrees in the shade.

Yes – I would be envious reading this too, but there are actually some disadvantages of such heat – swollen ankles, chaffed skin and the constant feeling that you have turned into a melting, dripping blob to name but a few.

But enough of the moaning. What a privilege to be here, in a place where the people have suffered so much yet look to the future with such faith, where everyone I meet greets me with a smile and a handshake.

I leave the mango tree beside which sit incongruously a satellite dish and two solar panels, and head across Old Mission Road. The road is peaceful despite an increase in trucks and motorbikes. Inside a grass roofed tukul in the grounds of the Yei Vocational Training College, Bishop Alan is talking to 35 enthusiastic pastors from across the large Diocese of Yei, men and women of all ages, with joyful faces and voices full of energetic praise.

Bishop Alan leads them in a chorus of ‘Father we adore You.’ One of the pastors is recording the Bishop on his mobile phone. How far Yei has come since my last visit – a bustling town centre, a market bursting with food, computer suites, motorbikes, electricity poles, children eating crisps and slurping fizzy drinks. There are mobile phones everywhere and people are determined to share their email addresses. Oh, and another big difference – very few soldiers. There are many other changes, they will come to me later.

Bishop Alan continues his talk. The pastors listen intently. This is a real Bishop singing with them, dancing with them, yes, even acting the edjit as he appears in my eyes to connect with them seamlessly.

It’s later now. Judith is giving her talk to youth leaders. She has begun a team building game involving balloons and cling film. The challenge is to use these to make a chair. Things are not quite going to plan, the heat is making the balloons pop soon after inflation. Effervescent as ever, Judith refuses to be deflated. Using only cling film a chair is created, strong enough to bear the weight of trainee Mary and even the Rev Andrew (who has been dieting all week perhaps in anticipation of this moment.)

A bunch of local children receive a surprise gift of the leftover balloons and the session continues. Soon it will be teatime and we will dine royally on meat stews, rice and spiced vegetables.

Everyone brings great value to this team. I cannot lead prayers or preach sermons but my hope is that by following everyone else with my camera and posting photos online the people in Connor and friends of CMS Ireland will get a flavour of the important work the team is doing here in Yei as the partnership between the two dioceses is strengthened and relationships developed and nurtured.

[Karen – January 19th 2012]

Comments

Campbell dixon said Mon, 21 Jan 2013 09:54AM
Thank you Karen for the updates, please do not turn into a 'melting, dripping blob', your children need you ! (and so do we). Bishop Alan dancing!! Now that's something to have recorded - was he wearing blue suede shoes!! Great to learn of all the changes and your (team) activities - we remember you all daily here at St Annes. By the way it's freezing, wet, and no one is sitting out under a Mango tree here(or any other tree for that matter!). Blessing to all Campbell

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