Off Road

It is hard to believe that today is only our second full day in Ibba. Yesterday was a full, long, exciting day. We traveled 45 miles to a more remote part of the diocese, visiting three parishes. Because of quick stops for greetings on the outward leg, the total number of stops was 6. The driving time, round trip, was over 7 hours. Much of the time 10 mph was reckless. We stopped several times to clear trees from the road, had someone scout ahead on foot for suitable passage, forded a small river, and got very stuck. While the "off-roading" was epic in itself, the powerful part was to be with these dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. They were deeply touched and amazed that someone would come so far to visit them. They feel isolated and apart in their own diocese, so these two foreign strangers was a powerful statement to them. It is known that they exist and are worth the visit. The full story will need to wait for in-person and with photos!  For many, yesterday was the first time they had ever seen a white person. We were able to greet them on behalf of the Diocese of Dallas and Bishop Sumner, to offer our own greetings to them, and had the joy of praying with them for some very significant issues.
Today, I accompanied Bishop Kamani to see the work in three parishes in a another archdeaconry. It was inspiring. They have many needs, some of which are not difficult for us to meet, but have incredible faith and perseverance. The last stop this morning included a report from the parish evangelism team. Every parish here has one!  I look forward to telling more about their report. Shortly we will have a rehearsal for tomorrow's ordinations (6 deacons and a priest).
All this and only "day 2"!  ( or is it day 5?)


It is so hard to try and convey our experiences in a short format. We are having a wifi pitstop on our way to today's visits. We will mostly visit schools of various sorts. Education is a high priority for the diocese, but there are challenges. One of the most significant is the lack of trained teachers. Yesterday was an exciting day. The service was a bit shorter than expected, perhaps 2.5 hours. Bishop Kamani commissioned a lay reader and then we proceeded with ordinations: Seven deacons and three priests, of whom I laid hands on three deacons and one priest. I did my best at reading the prayers in Zandi. There was great rejoicing when the newly ordained were presented.  Later in the service, the bishop announced their appointments, and as each was announced, people from the parish rushed up to the person to embrace and rejoice with them. Again, space limits the ability to adequately describe the experience. Several times people expressed their gratitude for our visit. There is a heart-link. Yesterday was also the opportunity, because of the clergy gathered for the ordinations, for the bishop to distribute the stoles and clergy shirts we were able to bring. These, too, were real gifts to the recipients. The lack of infrastructure is striking to us westerners, but so is the ingenuity, hard work, faithfulness, and commitment we see. We are enjoying the joy and hospitality that surrounds us constantly. Please continue to pray for us as we continue our time here and for the people of Ibba.

P.S.  Some have been worried for our safety. We are NOT in Sudan, where there is such violence, but in neighbouring South Sudan.  We are safe.