February 13, 2012

"Agents of Change" - An Update from South Sudan

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Following is an excerpt from an email sent yesterday, February 12, 2012, by Walking Together volunteers Ike & Jennie Witteveen and Jake & Minka Vriend, who are 4 weeks into a 6-week post in South Sudan:

"On Friday we 'graduated' the second group of 25 teachers. We almost know the new National Anthem of South Sudan by heart. : ) Two dignitaries were in attendance and both gave speeches. The State Director (Ministry of Education), whose office is in Juba, telephoned to say that he had heard about the success of the training program, that he was so thankful for EduDeo Ministries' involvement in teacher training here in South Sudan and he wished to thank the teachers for their participation and asked for their cooperation in sharing what they have learned with teachers in their schools and surroundings, so that God may be glorified in the schools of South Sudan!!  Can we ask for anything more?! Openly encouraging Christian education in all their schools -- such a contrast to what is happening in our Western schools, eh?

One of the speakers said, "You teachers are the key to improving Christian quality education in South Sudan. You are the agents of change and vital to improving our schools for the sake of the country and its children, and to help eliminate the need for those parents who send their children outside of South Sudan to other countries for their education." The other speaker complimented us saying, "Although I was not in attendance at your workshop, this ceremony alone has indicated to me that learning has taken place. Please continue these workshops so that South Sudan can produce children who are God-fearing and will bring peace in our country."

The cooking crew prepared lovely refreshments for the special occasion -- a bottle of soda for everyone, peanuts, cut-up bananas and pineapple, as well as the usual fried bread cubes which they consider their cookies. The graduates all had their picture taken and we had group photos taken.

Lunch on Friday was different and interesting - it included MEAT as fresh as you can possibly get it. One moment we saw a live bull outside our classroom window, the next, it was suddenly killed, cut up on a huge tarp that was laid out on the grass, then dumped straight into huge cooking vats -- all done within 1-1/2 hr!! The meat was prepared mostly for the huge gathering in the revival centre next to us - a 3-day conference with approx. 2000 in attendance.

Government officials, county, state, and church officials were all there with their security -- many armed police and soldiers, with big machine guns!! They were under every tree and at every corner! This was the first conference for this large county since the peace accord in 2005!  They are having discussions on future plans for education, families, policies for the development of the country, etc. -- they even discussed the huge problem of dowries and how it was making it so difficult for young men and women to marry. 

Anyway, this cooking crew fed 2000 people with no stoves, microwaves, or gadgetry - and everyone had plenty to eat -- maize, rice, some sort of greens and the slaughtered bull! : )

Got back to our guest house, totally exhausted, each one of us too tired to even eat supper, so we showered, then snacked on peanuts and canned sardines (brought from home) and, after chatting with some of the other guests, including the ambassador from India who spoke perfect English, we headed for bed at the usual hour of 9 p.m.

It's time to go - bye for now! We feel your prayers - thank you!

P.S. - We apologize for the quality of pictures – large files could not be sent due to poor internet accessibility."

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