Much More Than Just Another Morning

Saturday had arrived. It was almost light, so it must be 6.30. The martins, as they had each morning, weaved among the pillars before settling briefly above Mavis’ door. The watery sound of other birds could be heard above a cricket’s. During the night a cat had raided the leftovers of our meal, the debris of which now lay on the floor. The vultures would have taken their share too.

The vehicle arrived and we made our way to the airstrip for 9.00, as directed. Another African Saturday was getting going, little changed over centuries. Women were collecting water, others were going about their business, some bicycling, some on motorbike – and with landcruisers for the few. A dog and a cow eyed each other at a safe distance before carrying on their way up the road.

By 9.30, more of those with whom we had spent the week joined us. We loved them in their generosity of heart and hospitality. Praying with them had allowed us deep into their painful lives. We too had opened our hearts. The sessions on forgiveness had been poignant; ‘all of us have had terrible experiences’, one underlined. Real friendships had been the fruit.

Michael and Abraham re-lived David’s illustration of the Christian life without the Holy Spirit; pushing their motorbikes. Memories of dancing were vivid. This had usually led into an energetic jumping up and down on the spot in pairs (‘we can keep it up for 2 hours’.) A memorable moment had been when two ladies continued their ‘shuffle’ dance as they made their way from under the mango tree to the kitchen!

By 10.00, the Cessner was circling to check the runway was clear. The traffic was stopped; it landed. We taxied to the far end, taking off just above our friends. For at least 5 minutes, none of us in the plane said anything.

TOM GILLUM

New Vicar At St John’s

The wait may not have been as long as another World Cup football triumph, but 29 years is still a long time. It ended on Sunday, before a good congregation, as Tom made his oaths and was duly instituted by Bishop Paul as Vicar, and then inducted into the real, actual and corporal possession of the Parish Church and benefice.

VAT Refund

At Brian’s initiative and form filling, HM Custom and Revenue office this week paid £11,432 by way of VAT reclaim on much of the work done to the church building this year. This unexpected bonus is great news – thanks to Julie Howells, from the Revenue and of course to Brian.

Under The Mango Trees

Children called out, ‘How are you’, running up to shake our hands, extending our walk from Guest- house to Cathedral. It was Monday morning, the first day of the Mundri Diocese Youth Leaders Conference. It did not take long to see where delegates were gathering: under the mango trees, in the Cathedral compound. Not many were there by 9.30, but the choir certainly was, reinforced by 4 large loudspeakers defining the meeting area.

We (SOMA team; 5 UK, 1 S. Sudanese, 1 Kenyan) sat down. Lenin was on video camera, a tall, very dark and serious looking man. He also had a warm smile, faithfully remaining at his station throughout. The Rev’d Repent Abraham, the Diocesan Secretary, (called Abraham; what might a child make hearing yet again, Repent!?) stood in for Bishop Bismark, who could only be there briefly, on 2 days.

Each day began with worship – with strong PA help. The computerised backings took some getting used to. We shared around the teaching (translated into Juba Arabic.) We each spoke a bit about own Christian experience. We gave opportunity for the delegates to do the same and we prayed for them. Oliver had injured his ankle playing football, under- estimating the seriousness. By the end of the week, he had more movement,

There were tea breaks (with yummy doughnuts one day) and a hot lunch for 70, appearing effortlessly, it seemed, all done on a charcoal fire.

After lunch, there were groups to discuss key issues facing their Youth. There may now be peace, but this is not an easy time. The family, traditionally central, is under great strain. Youth unemployment is high. The church, rather than seeming out of touch, could hold the key of hope for the future.

TOM GILLUM

Christmas Fair

The fairy lights had stayed up, and the Hall’s rest had been short before the Fair was being set up. We had, in the meantime, over 140 people at the Christingle Service. There was the usual bustle at 2.00pm, as the door opened; and who should be there, but Santa, present in hand! The smell of mulled wine from the kitchen and then of a bacon butty being eaten (by Steve) in the Hall drew attention to the great food. Old favourite stalls were there; the books stall did well; and so did the new stall trading jewelry. £500 later we went home – and all unsold was given to Fara and the Shooting Star.

Steve Dray