Thursday, November 27, 2014


We had a great Thanksgiving celebration with our team yesterday! Here are some pictures from the day.
Here is our team! We had a great day cooking together and eating together. It was nice to start making "holiday memories" as a team.

Our food spread! We each made a few items. We had chickens, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole; stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce (that Justin's mom sent in packages. Such a fun addition!), rolls, watermelon, and cabbage salad. Since we are limited with what we can purchase here, some of these items were from the States, some from Uganda and a few from here. Someone sent paper plates and napkins in a package to the Wallaces and I have to admit, I was SUPER excited about this! Since we do copious amounts of dishes on a regular basis, it was a nice treat to have festive, throw away plates :).

Our dessert spread consisted of two mulberry pies, two pumpkin pies, cookies and brownies.

A happy team with fully bellies :).

The beautiful sunset that God painted for us at the end of the day. We have so much to be grateful for! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Thankful Heart!

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him, tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.” Psalm 105:1-3

I have been reflecting on how thankful I am this week, and in light of Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I thought I would devote a blog entry to my gratitude.

I have been overwhelmed by the goodness of out God over our past two months here in Mundri. Our transition has not been easy, and trust me, we still have our moments of frustration and irritation with living here. However, overall, we are beyond grateful of God’s grace and patience with us in this time. He is such a faithful God and has provided for our needs in so many ways. Here are some things in particular that we are grateful for:

Our staff (minus Justin and Scott) dressed up for Anna's
Greek God/ Goddess birthday party
1.     Our teammates. It has been very helpful to transition to life here alongside our team. The Wallaces moved here 3 weeks before we did, and Justin came a couple months before them. For the most part, we have all been going through similar adjustments together. Larissa and Scott have both lived here for many years, so it has been beyond helpful to learn from their wealth of knowledge about life here as we have been adjusting here.

Will and Larissa after killing a
snake- even more impressive
than killing big spiders!
2.     Freedom from fears. I was scared about many things before we moved here. I think Satan was having a heyday trying to discourage me and make me think I didn’t have it in me to succeed here. However, God has continued to remind me of truth over and over again while we have been here. He has spoken our calling to me many times and I have been more and more confident of our purpose here. I have been surprised by how strong God has created me to be and how much I have been able to adjust. What a good father! I’ve even become quite the spider killer- who would have thought?! ;)

3.     A husband who kills spiders. Okay, so I know that I just said I am quite the spider killer… and I am. However, I have my limits. When a spider is beyond a certain size, I simply yell out, “HUUUUGE spider!!!” (with a squeal) and my manly husband comes quickly (with his flip-flop already raised in the air) and smacks it dead for me. Yeah, I married well :).

4.     Will. Not only does my studly husband kill massive spiders for me, he also deals with my many emotions- which deserves quite an award! Will continues to amaze me with his ability to trust the Lord in new places and adjust to whatever God calls him to. I’m blessed beyond measure to married to such a Godly man, and for that, I am grateful everyday.  

5.     A new church community. Will and I have started to attend a church that is very close to where we live. We have felt extremely welcomed and accepted into this church family and we are very excited to get to know all of them more as time goes by. We can’t communicate very well with many of them yet, but that will come soon.

6.     Our language helpers. Mary and Francis have both been such an answer to prayer! They have been a huge help with language, but also have both become our friends. We are grateful for our time with them each week.

Look at that smile! These kiddos are just beautiful.
      7.     The children in Mundri. I have a huge heart for children. The more that we travel around the world, the more I realize that children are children no matter what culture they come from- and to me, that is such a wonderful gift from God! The children here are beautiful, fun and energetic and I have loved starting to get to know some of them and simply just tickling and smiling at others. Children are such a gift to this world!

8. Reminders of God’s beauty. God has continued to remind us each day of His beauty. One way that he has done that is through the beautiful sunsets and sunrises that He paints here. They are truly breathtaking and have been a great reminder of His presence in this place.

I hope that you have time in this week to reflect on what you are thankful for. I hope also that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. We will be celebrating with our staff tomorrow by cooking a Thanksgiving feast. I will try to post pictures of it soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Visiting Francis

Visiting people is a big deal here. It’s a great way to get to know people as you see them in their most comfortable state of being at home. You get to meet their extended family as most people have both immediate family and, at times, distant relatives that are connected through some web of people but casually referred to as “brother” or “sister” living in the compound.

A group of people who live on Francis' compound
I, Will, had the privilege of being invited by Francis, my language helper, to visit him and his family at his compound. After a few weeks of trying to find a time that worked we settled on this past Tuesday. Knowing what a big deal this is culturally I was very excited to have this opportunity.

Many things could be said about my visit, however, what I want to focus on is Francis and his family. Simply put, they are some of the most strong and sacrificial people I’ve ever met.

To help you understand, I should back up and explain my visit.

First, it is a 3.5-mile hike, one way, through the bush from town to get to his house. Not on a sidewalk or road but on a trail at some points about one foot wide with bush touching in the middle blocking your way. My teammate, Scott, had to go with me to show me the way as there are several turns and small rivers to cross.

Second, Francis explained a couple weeks ago, “There is too much water for you to visit now. It would take too long.” Now, after completing the hike, I understand why. With the small rivers, mentioned above, parts would have been covered in water with no way to pass without getting wet. Francis wanted to save me from this experience and even as I pushed he would not budge.

Finally, he wanted me to wait so they could prepare. Yes, prepare for my visit so they could offer the best of what they had.

Scott and Obracko walking on the path to Francis' house
After making the 3.5-mile hike with Scott and a new friend, Obracko (not that you would know, but I totally butchered that name) we were greeted by a happy Francis and the rest of his family. Francis is not married, but like most people here, he lives with his family that includes 3 sisters and all their children (maybe 12 total).

We drank local hibiscus tea while sitting in his tukul and after an hour or so I started thinking we would probably leave soon as Francis needed to get in to the market and man his store.

3 hours later after a huge lunch of linya (local food often made with maize or sorghum with the consistency of playdough), chicken (having chicken here is a BIG deal. The fact they killed one for my visit made me feel very humbled) and local peanut butter with honey mixed together, and after singing and dancing (okay, Scott and the kids danced, I could barely move after lunch) and after being fed fresh papaya we were finally ready to go.

Francis walked with us back to town and I was struck by the strength and sacrificial giving he and his family have.

Strength as he, and any of his family, walks 3.5-miles any time they need to get to town and then turn around and go back. To put this in perspective, next time you go to the grocery imagine having to walk there, only buy what you can carry in your hands or on your back/head and turn around and walk home. They are strong people! Not only in physical strength but also in a quiet resilience that has never been required of me.
Will's language helper, Francis

Sacrificial giving as he, and his family, sacrificed one of their chickens for me. They took what is of great value here and used it to serve and welcome me. I was so humbled because I’m usually looking for ways to NOT offer my best of anything so I can have it. I just tried to think of a way to put this in perspective but I can’t. It’s so far out and has so many layers (such as, I have no idea the last time any of the children at his house had chicken) I can’t even begin to help you understand the sacrifice they showed and the humility I was struck with.

I got a taste of what I imagine it is like for the Kingdom of God to come to earth through Francis’ strength and sacrificial giving. May we offer those same things to people knowing we are all in deep need of the Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven.”  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This is a “Part Two” of my blog post from October 29. If you did not get a chance to read that entry, you can read it here.

God has continued to have me on a “stripping away” process. Shawn gave a short message at our Sunday night prayer time and it brought more clarity as to why this process has been so difficult to me. He discussed how when we are stripped away of our outer layers, we are exposed. There’s no longer a disguise covering us. We’re out for everyone to see.

I was under the impression that this process has been painful because I have nothing to run to. No escapes here. As I mentioned in the “Stripping Away” post, all of my comforts are gone. However, now I see that the reason it pains me so much is because I can no longer hide behind anything. When my escapes are taken away, I have to deal with my true self. And you know what? I don’t always like my true self. I don’t always like facing the judgmental thoughts I can have towards others or how impatient I can be outwardly and in my heart. I would rather not have to face the root of why I try so hard to put on a good face or need to always try so hard to “not offend” or create conflict. I would rather cling to things that are comfortable than have to come face to face with these sins or my emotions and pain. When my escapes are gone, there is a grater chance of others seeing the real me. And that is scary.

So here I am, with nothing to do but deal, face-to-face, with myself. I have to face the things about myself that I would rather have kept hidden from everyone. It’s like ripping the Band-Aid off a wound. Sometimes, I would rather just leave the bandage on so that no one has to see the gross wound. However, the wound can’t heal fully if the bandage is always kept on. It needs to be exposed. It needs to be brought to the surface to that the healing process can truly continue.

But here is the good news.

Since I have Christ in me, I not longer have to look at myself without looking to Christ! Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Because Jesus died for my sins, my face is never covered with shame- even when I face my sins. I can face my exposed self, and repent of my sins without shame and with the confidence in knowing that I am forgiven.  Praise Jesus!

I don’t want to undermine the difficulty of the process. Just because I know that God has forgiven my sins, doesn’t mean that I don’t still have to face them and work through them. However, it leaves me with hope. Hope that this process is worth it. Hope that even if I don’t figure things out perfectly, I am still a forgiven child of God and He loves me just as I am. It also leaves me with hope that He is in this process with me. He will help me work through the thing that come up when I am exposed and can no longer hide. He is with me in this process and for that, I am very grateful.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hoping on Behalf of Others

South Sudan has only known war. With the history of violence and war, the people are understandably, fearful and untrusting. We have heard many stories of hope (which I’m sure we will share more of over time), but overall the remnants of war still very much exist here- especially in regards to fear.

I was reading in Isaiah recently and this verse stood out to me:
“No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise”.  Isaiah 60:18

As soon as I read this, it became my prayer for South Sudan. Oh Lord, please do not allow violence to be heard here any longer. Do away with ruin and destruction in this place. Allow this to be a place of salvation and praise!

When I started to pray this over South Sudan, I realized that someone who has endured the decades of war that have gone on in this country (and formerly, in Sudan) might have a hard time believing this could be possible. After all, when you have seen the evil that has taken place first hand, it seems more difficult to imagine it could be conquered. I believe this is why God calls His people to intercede on behalf of others. As an outsider to the history of the war here (meaning, I didn’t have to experience it first hand), I am able to believe in faith that God can overcome the evil in this country. I believe His love can conquer the history of evil in this place.

1 Corinthians 13: 6-7 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, ALWAYS HOPES, always perseveres.”

I believe that a huge part of our role here as missionaries is to have hope for this country.

My prayer for our time here is that we would be able to intercede on behalf of South Sudan and remain hopeful that good can and will conquer evil. I think a large part of our purpose here is to remind people there is hope- and to believe this for them when they cannot believe it themselves.

Would you please join us in interceding on behalf of this nation? Please pray for peace in place of war and destruction.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Joys of Family

This week I have had the joy of learning how to introduce our families to people here in Moru. Will and I both brought photo albums of our families here for language learning. I was able to visit a friend of Larissa's on Monday and she told me how to introduce every person in my family using Moru phrases. It has been by far, my favorite Moru lesson yet! I learned how to say, "I will tell you about my family" and "This is my mother, her name is Nancy", "These is the children of my sister, their names are...", "This is my brother-in-law", etc.

I went into the market today for a lesson and was able to show the album to some of my new friends. While I was talking through each picture with my friend, Joy, several other people gathered around to "see my family" as well :). They kept giggling at my Moru attempts and saying, "leyin jekye"(beautiful!) to each of the pictures. My mother-in-law, Gloria is holding their dog Buddy in one of the pictures in the book and they all giggle when I point to him and say, "kokye" (dog). They think it is really funny that she is holding a dog and that the dog has a name. One person even exclaimed, "What are they feeding this dog? He is so fat!" haha. The concept of feeding animals here and having them as pets is very foreign.

Talking about our families to people here has brought me so much joy this week! I guess it has been a tangible way of sharing more about myself with the people I am meeting here. It was so exciting to hear them repeat the names of each of our family members and hear their attempts at our American names. When I was finished telling Joy (pictured above) about my family, she exclaimed, "Now I know everyone in your family!!". I know that she isn't even close to "knowing" them, but it made me feel special knowing that she felt more connected to me by hearing about my family.

So, to my family, I have felt close to all of you this week by having the joy of telling my new friends about each of you. You are all "leyin jekye" and we miss you all very much. Next time we chat, I can tell you how I introduce you to others in Moru :).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Walk to Town

Happy Sunday! This morning, Will, Justin and I walked into town to go to church. It is about two miles from our house to town. I took some picture along the way to be able to show you a little more of what Mundri looks like.
 On a side path before reaching the main road.
 This is the main road through town. Whether you are walking, biking, or driving a car/ motorbike, this is the road that you take. 
 It is the end of rainy season here, and you can see how the rain effects the dirt roads. Where Will is walking (left) is where cars drive and where Justin is walking (right) is where bikes/ motorbikes ride.

You start to see more people and shops/ homes as you get closer into town. 

I didn't get a good picture of "town" today because you have to be careful of taking pictures where there could be military around. Currently, there are TONS of semi-trucks lining the streets in town (yes still dirt roads). They are parked there and have been for several weeks. The roads to the towns they are going to are so terrible because of rainy season that they have to wait in Mundri until the roads are better. 

I hope this gives you a little better of an idea of what Mundri looks like. I will try to take more pictures in town when I get more comfortable with where I can and can't take pictures. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I, Will, had the opportunity to go fishing a couple weeks ago. Shawn, our team leader, and I went with some young men who live nearby. We walked behind our property to a river. At this point in rainy season the river looks huge, however, during the dry season it will completely dry up.

We tried our hand at fishing the local way, which involves simply a small stick, some fishing line, a hook and a small bobber. After baiting the hook with a worm dug up from the banks of the river you simply threw the line in the water. To real it in you just pulled on the line, no “reel” needed.

While Shawn and I had no luck what-so-ever in catching some of the younger kids did. Five fish in all that they were able to take home and eat for dinner. In the future we hope to go to the larger river nearby and try to catch bigger fish.