Wow have we been busy! Today we held the first of our five follow-up cluster meetings. Four churches were invited and even though only three of them made it, the church was packed with more than 130 people! Twenty five youth walked 17 miles yesterday evening so they could attend the training! They will stay in Ridya again this evening and start their 4 hour journey early tomorrow before the sun is too high in the sky! Talk about dedication! Diantha and I rode in the 10 passenger Landcruizer to Yei Center church to pick up 4 of the youth leaders that we were expecting to go with us. We pulled up to the church and out came TWELVE youth (there were already three of us in the car). I first thought they had come to wish us a safe journey, but soon learned that was not the case. They ALL piled into the back of the car! Peter, the main youth leader instructed us that we would have a song and start with a prayer and then we could be on our way. They immediately began singing, using any bit of exposed seat as a drum for a good beat. When we finished we headed for Ridya. We didn’t get very far before two more youth came running from the well. The driver was told to stop and I couldn’t believe it when they too piled into the already packed cruizer. Boy can those youth sing! And sing they did for the next hour and a half as we drove clear into the bush to Ridya church!
As always, I was completely moved by the singing and the worship. Each church had prepared a presentation with singing and dancing to help kick off our training. The leaders who had gone through the lessons last week were asked to lead the training today. We got off to a bit of a rocky start and as in most teaching situations the next one is sure to go more smoothly. Nevertheless, we were able to complete a little more than a full lesson and the leaders were given the materials to use to continue the study with the youth at their home church. I think we are doing a great job empowering these young leaders and am glad that God is doing it through us! Please keep praying for the youth at Ridya, Ligitolo, and Morre. On Friday we will have our second follow up meeting- please continue to pray for safe travel for the youth and for a smoother running program.
As for me personally, I am doing quite well. Yesterday, finally, I got my luggage! I have never been so happy to see deodorant and my own soap! I felt like a queen finally wearing my own clothes. I was especially happy to have my tennis shoes and put them on at first light this morning for a short run while it was still cool. The people here are up at first light and do their hardest work before it starts to get hot. Fred and Libby have started a breakfast bible study with 5 of the people who work for them. The first few mornings around the breakfast table were very quiet, but now they are working to teach us both Juba Arabic and Kokwa, which are the local languages. I have learned how to ask to pass everything on the breakfast table! The guards are also working on teaching me how to tell them where I am going when I leave and each day it seems that they use a new greeting on me. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know these people and trying to understand their culture. Please pray that I will continue to learn and build relationships with them. Pray for my energy level as well.
Tomorrow I will visit Yei Teacher Training College and meet with one of the administrators. She will take me on a tour of the facility and share with me how the program works. In the afternoon I hope to sit down with a woman who does HIV/AIDS prevention training for both adults and youth. Both of them are in the fellowship that meets on Sunday evenings and I am looking forward to learning more about the other organizations that are working in this area.
Again, I thank you for all of your prayers, emails, and messages. It is so encouraging to know that I have so much support!