Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fall 2014 Mission Most Successful Yet!

Members of our Fall 2014 Mission recently returned from South Sudan exhausted, yet in awe of all that had been accomplished in only a few short days. Hope4Sudan Director, Lauren Pickens, was quoted as saying this team trip was probably the most all-encompassing and successful trip to date. Their limited time was jam-packed with major medical treatment, immunizations, training seminars, and even craft-making with sponsored children.

This team was blessed with members from varied professions and walks of life – retired, in highschool, in full-time ministry, in the medical profession, and in all sorts of other secular fields. What a joy to see them using their unique gifts to ensure that the different components of the mission flowed smoothly! Pickens said this was definitely a special team who were not only dedicated to working long, hard hours in difficult conditions, but who also had genuine fun while doing it!
The Team!
In group meetings with the South Sudanese, as well as in one-on-one conversations, it is estimated that over 100 persons made personal commitments to Christ on the trip. A total of 503 persons received medical attention, and 124 were given life-saving vaccines.

(For more details on how this mission operated, see article “On to Kapoeta!” below.)

Record-Breaking Donations! 

Many thanks to Susan Goodwin, Evelyn Harlow, and Dr. and Mrs. Carey for coordinating the donation and transportation of medical supplies and equipment for this trip! Also thanks to Crosslink, Kingsway, and Blessings International, each of whom were very easy to work with and most helpful in procuring for us all that was needed! Approximately 2,600 lbs. of medicine and equipment was donated for the work of Hope4Sudan this fall. Over 1,000 lbs. of that was carried into South Sudan by the recent team, each member using at least one suitcase (and some many more!) in order to get the load transported. 

This year's donations were record-setting not only in weight, but also in value. Through the contributions of individuals, churches, and charitable organizations, medicines and supplies worth $820,000 were designated for use among the peoples of South Sudan!

Educational Challenges of a War-Torn Land

The recent wars and ongoing clashes in South Sudan have, among other detriments, resulted in a large number of South Sudanese just beginning to seek education in their adult years. On the Hope4Sudan compound, for example, many of the students in primary levels are between the ages of 18 and 24 years. This creates a dilemma for teachers who are roughly the same age in some instances and who have government curriculum geared towards young children. Older pupils easily lose focus and interest in classrooms where materials seem so elementary on one level and yet so far above them in another.

This fall, team members Cheryl (South Africa) and Irvina (Oklahoma) took on the challenge of conducting a Teacher Training Seminar for the Hope4Sudan teaching staff. For two days they discussed and examined issues like the one above, giving insight and counsel to educators who have had little to no opportunity for quality training in the nation. 

Irvina sharing insights with the H4S Teaching Staff

Although quiet in the beginning, teachers were soon bubbling with questions for Cheryl and Irvina, eager to glean insight and counsel from the team members’ varied experiences in both school and ministry settings. “Learning Styles & Temperament” was the teacher’s favorite seminar topic, along with a discussion on how to test someone’s “Readiness for Learning.” It was likely the first time local teachers had encountered such information, as they were encouraged to see each student not just as a unique individual but as an individual with unique, God-designed skills, aptitudes, and learning preferences. 

Empowering Children to Learn & Grow

Hope4Sudan partners with People to People to provide feeding programs and child sponsorship in South Sudan. On the Fall 2014 Mission, three team members worked with the students of Hope4Sudan Primary School to write letters and make crafts for all the generous sponsors back home. One of their special craft projects was a bracelet designed with their traditional black-and-white beads, strung on the threads pulled from local food sacks.
  Girl stringing traditional beads onto a
plastic, feedsack thread
During this one-day People to People focus, Irvina Parker, Evelyn Harlow, and Rylan Brown interacted with approximately 100 children, all of whom were eager to join in the fun.

Irvina Parker, IPHC’s Girls Ministries Director, said this was her most memorable time out of all the work she’s done with H4S. She recounts a brief story from her time with the students in the following paragraph:

“Toward the end of the afternoon, we were down to a small group of perhaps six guys and four girls. …I started singing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know.’ They joined in on the chorus and we began about an hour of singing together–sometimes in English, sometimes in Toposa. Mary would stop and explain to me what the words meant (even when they were singing in English). She wanted to make sure I knew the message of the songs. 

"Tears were flowing down our faces as we worshiped God together. Watching Mary that afternoon let me know that the efforts of the last several years of Hope4Sudan are paying off. Mary is not only learning the English language in her school, she is developing a relationship with Jesus as her Savior! In a culture, where girls have little value (other than their worth of the dowry when they marry), my heart was touched to see Mary's progress. And I saw that same spirit of worship in all of the students that stayed with us to the end of that afternoon.”

Evelyn Harlow pictured with the youngest children
to participate in the craft and worship time

The Boys, The Businessmen

There are nearly twenty Toposa boys living full-time on the Hope4Sudan compound. It could be argued that these young men, ranging in age from 8 to 21 years, are the lifeblood of the place. They bring jokes and laughter, questions and homework, wrestling matches, soccer games, stories and songs to an otherwise much quieter environment. In their time outside of school, church, and sports, they are working hard on still other things – primarily that of honing their native skills. Beading, carving, metal jewelry-making, knife-fashioning, bow-and-arrow crafting…all have their place. Luckily, our team got to experience some of the benefits of these developing skills on the fall trip! Team members shopped from the variety of items gathered and made by our own boarding boys.
Robbin tries out a
bow-and-arrow set!

Following in the Footsteps 

Missionary heritage was an unusual thread connecting several members of our Fall 2014 team. David and Irvina Parker are second generation members of an IPHC missionary family. Caleb Pate represented the third generation of IPHC missionaries to Africa. And Martha Ann Carey, Lathan Duncan, and Cheryl Turner (siblings) are also the third generation of an IPHC missionary family to Africa.

For Martha Ann, Lathan, and Cheryl, this trip marked a very special reunion – the first time all three of them were together on a mission trip to Africa since growing up on the continent many years ago. As Lathan prepared for the trip, he remarked, “For me, other than the opportunity of serving the people of Sudan, it will be a special time of serving with my sisters, Martha Ann and Cheryl. …I know of two people in heaven (Mont & Florine Duncan) who will be celebrating!”
Duncan Family - Left to Right: Florine (mother), Cheryl, Lathan, Montgomery (father), & Martha Ann.
Photo credit: "You Gave Yet Africa Calls" by Florine and Montgomery Duncan 
Martha Ann, with her husband Terence, own and operate Carey Clinic and Specialized Home Nursing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Missions is a big part of their lives as they use their skills for ministry on various overseas trips each year. Lathan, with his wife, Lynn, serve as associate pastor of Celebration Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And Cheryl, with her husband, Ernest, live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they act as Africa’s Continental Directors for the IPHC. Cheryl is also a teacher by trade and uses her education as a ministry tool wherever the Lord opens doors.

Martha Ann commented regarding the role their trades took in this particular mission, “I thought of us representing the three ministries of Jesus – preaching, teaching, and healing.”

The fourth generation of this beautiful family was represented in yet another team member, Duncan Carey, the teenage grandson of Martha Ann and Terence. 
Left to Right: Lathan, Cheryl, Martha Ann, Duncan & Terence

On To Kapoeta!

After spending two days on commercial airlines and the third morning being shuttled into Kapoeta on charter missions flights, team members finally arrived in South Sudan. Arrival day was spent touring the compound and preparing the H4S clinic for the following day. Job assignments were given and medications sorted and bagged before the team finally settled into Mango Camp, their new home for the next five days.

Early morning found the team arriving back on the Kapoeta compound. Members watched as school children walked in the gate and filed into their assembly for morning songs. Then, off to work! The team divided – some to make crafts with the students and to update the People to People child sponsorship information, and the rest to operate the clinic. During the course of the day, over 100 sponsored children were interacted with and 169 patients were treated and prayed for by this team of only 16. In addition to these activities, Cheryl Turner assisted by Irvina Parker began hosting a two-day teacher training for H4S staff that same afternoon.

The next day, Cheryl and Irvina partnered together to teach the remaining sessions of the training while the rest of the team headed out to the bush to another Hope4Sudan Compound in Naakwa for a full day of mobile clinic. They were flooded with people in need of medical attention and, in a span of just four hours, managed to treat and pray with 157 villagers. 

Mobile Clinic Site in Naakwa
On the morning of the third day, the team loaded up in the “bograt” truck (see photo) and drove to the middle of a cluster of villages. An abandoned school there was turned into a temporary clinic, paving the way for 177 tribesmen to receive free healthcare, as well as spiritual counseling. On arrival back to Kapoeta, the young men living on the H4S compound provided the mission team with an opportunity to buy Toposa souvenirs, some they had collected and others they had crafted themselves. That evening, three members – Duncan, Lee, and Pickens – returned to the compound to counsel and pray with young tribesmen who recently took leadership of the church.