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Sunday, August 21, 2011

News from Fred and Libby Dearing in South Sudan

Hello Family and Friends:

We hope as you read this you are happy, healthy, and staying cool in what we hear is one of the hottest summers yet. Since this is the rainy season, we have been blessed with cooler weather. In fact, it is cooler here than it is there. Go figure!!!

We are doing well here and staying busy. Our first house guest, a young lady from Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, Ohio, stayed 5 weeks and did training for the youth. A few weeks ago Danny Howe, Anne Travis, Micah LaRoche, and Paulette West came to see some of the projects in action so determinations could be made for future work, and then they went with us to Kampala for a Roundtable Discussion (more about that later). When we returned, Marva Usher-Kerr from Women's Division came with us and helped us with some ideas and grant proposals for the women and orphans. Currently, a young man from Knoxville, Thomas Sherbakoff, is here to help us and the Hodges with financial matters and setting up a records-keeping system that doesn't confuse everyone. (You better really pray for that one!!!).

Fred spent a week in Aweil, a town farther north but still in South Sudan, with Ginghamsburg UMC and UMCOR. Ginghamsburg has been active in Darfur for some time and are now interested in coming to South Sudan where many of the people they worked with have settled since the separation. They will be discussing what their involvement will be and how their ministry can continue. From Aweil Fred joined the rest of the group in Kampala for the Roundtable Discussions. This meeting was with Bishop Wandabula and East Africa Annual Conference representatives, Bishop Swanson and Holston Conference representatives, GBGM, UMCOR, and six South Sudanese leaders from the United Methodist Church. The purpose for this meeting was for the Sudanese church leaders to determine and prioritize their needs and how best to meet those needs. We were so proud of them. They were well prepared and eloquently presented their presentations. In the end, they seemed pleased that they were heard and that the partners will work together with them to accomplish their goals.

As for daily life here - someone asked before we left what a typical day would be like. We didn't really have an answer then but now I can give you an idea. Our staff asked for a bible study because they did not know the Word and wanted to learn. So, we decided to serve them breakfast then do a brief study. So, we prepare breakfast for ourselves, 5 staff, and whoever is here to visit. We eat, laugh, and learn about each other and each other's culture. In fact, it has turned into a language lesson. We can now name breakfast foods in Juba Arabic and ask for what we want. They continue to laugh at our East Tennessee Juba Arabic accent. We are grateful to Boo and Phyllis for hiring such a great staff. They work hard and are a joy to have around. After breakfast we usually have to go to town for something - food, banking, meeting. It can be a little difficult maneuvering around town but we have a great driver who can get us through the pot holes and ditches (not to mention the motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians!). Fred meets with the pastors, works on lessons for them, works on grant proposals, and keeps the records. Libby takes care of requests for food, medical care, and orphan needs. In the evening, we try to settle in to read a little, play a game, or relax. There is something to be said for no TV! It may sound boring but by the day's end we are tired and ready for bed.

Special prayer request: John, one of our guards, is having some problems with his eye and had to have a minor surgery. The other two guards have children who are sick. Please pray for healing. Also, please pray that God will give us wisdom, strength, and his heart as we deal with many needs of the people.

May each of you hold God's peace, love, and joy in your hearts,

Fred and Libby