November news..

Spens Posted by John and Poppy Spens on Tue, 03 Nov 2009 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Dear friends and family,

November has begun and we only have a few weeks remaining before we return to the UK for the month of December. October was extremely busy and we both felt sometimes that we had more on our plate than we could manage.

The mobile clinic was launched with large numbers of people flocking to receive medical treatment wherever it stopped. Keeping it stocked with medicines and ensuring that enough staff were on board was a head ache and it may not have been too clever to start the new service in the rainy season! Twice the vehicle got stuck in mud and several days we cancelled the service as the roads were impassable. But clearly the service was appreciated and necessary and people are getting a better service than existed before. Once they reach the village, the staff set up their surgery in the back of a church and they remain there for about 3 hours before returning to Yei.

School construction is progressing well, with contractors now on site in three different villages. We hope that two of the schools will be ready before Christmas and that the third one will be finished by Easter.

We have hosted several visitors in October. Edward Chase from Winchester is with us for two weeks, teaching students each day and then mending a wide range of different machines from laptops to ultra sound equipment, fini compressors to the window of our car! We also hosted Rev Peter Marshall for one night, whom John had not seen for 47 years. Peter knows Poppy’s sister Frances who said he should visit us when she knew he was coming to Sudan. What Peter didn’t know was that John had met him before at a Swanage camp in 1962, when John was a boy and Peter was on the leadership team. John couldn’t remember much about Peter except the marvellous conjuring tricks he used to do at the last night entertainment. Both John and Peter were converted through the preaching of John Eddison. We also had Andy Foster from Winchester to stay for 4 days during his half term. Andy’s work is to train teachers and he joined us to assess how best we might help the teachers of the schools to develop their skills further. So it has been a busy time but most enjoyable, assisted by the goodies that both Edward and Andy brought us in their luggage!

Last month, John preached twice in the Cathedral and last Sunday was the guest speaker at a Scripture Union meeting. Both of us attended that meeting which was for young people from many different schools and churches. We reckon it was the liveliest we had attended in Yei. It was great to see young people enthusiastically worshipping the Lord and praying fervently together and John spoke on the verse that featured in Chariots of Fire (as well as 1 Samuel!) – “Those who honour me, I will honour”. There was a good response with six young people indicating they wanted to start the Christian life.

The banking situation continues to cause difficulties. Although in our last letter we told you that the Nile Commercial Bank now had access to funds, we did not appreciate that the funds would be both irregular and little. For the last fortnight, it has had no money at all and when we can cash a cheque, the maximum amount is $500. Poppy reckons it will take her many months to withdraw the clinic funds bit by bit. In contrast, the Kenya Commercial Bank in Yei is operating well and international transfers are getting through in just over a week.

This month we will be arranging for some more boreholes to be drilled, arranging for the new Lainya clinic to be fenced and equipped, arranging more courses for teachers and PTAs, finding places for a midwife, a Clinical Officer and a laboratory technician and generally keeping all the other programmes on course and within budget. Our donors have different requirements and we spend much time preparing narrative and financial reports for them, either monthly or quarterly.

We are so grateful for your prayer support and would list the following as our current prayer requests.

1. Thanks that the bank stays open and patience as Poppy makes many visits to withdraw money.
2. For our safety and security, particularly as our new responsibilities involve more travel within Sudan than previously; also for continued good health.
3. For daily strength for our work with the Diocese of Yei to develop health services for rural communities, to train teachers and health workers, to project manage the building of some village primary schools and lots more!
4. For the implementation of these large project proposals in partnership with the Diocesan teams, to include good relationships with donors and contractors;
5. For CMS Ireland as it seeks direction following the death of its Director of Mission, Ian Smith;
6. For the management of the Yei Vocational Training College and for its new Principal, Canon John Kanyikwa.
7. For our family, including Andy and Kate in their new responsibilities as parents and for Davey and Erin starting their married life together in London and for Richard as he continues working in London;
8. For opportunities to teach the word of God to churches and youth groups in the Diocese.

With our love, John and Poppy Spens