What the title is all about and how my second month in South Sudan went, that and much more you will discover in this months newsletter.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. [1 Timothy 6:6-8, NIV]
In ‘The Practice of Godliness’ Jerry Bridges defines Godliness as 1) God-centeredness, the devotion to God and 2) God-likeness, the Christian character traits. Being godly first of all means that your life is devoted to God: to fear God, to love God and to have a deep desire for God. Out of that flows our ‘good Christian behavior’.
Contentment was one of the character traits that stood out for me. Am I content with what I have and do? We came with nothing into this world and whatever treasures we collect, we cannot take them with us. Discontent, so Bridges, is questioning the goodness of God. Everything comes from Him: our health, our breath, our food, our money, our abilities and our relationships. It’s all been given to us by our loving Father. Do you question God’s goodness? Are you content?
Maize and Relationships
‘Fadel’ is Juba-Arabic and means ‘Welcome’. It’s a word that I get to hear very often, because you are always welcome, to sit, to talk and to eat. The main foods here are Asida (maize mash), Mula (cooked leaves, kind of a soup) and Janjaro (beans). You sit in a circle around a big plate of food, a pot of mula in the center and asida around it. After washing hands, everybody takes a piece of asida, forms a small bowl and scoops out some greens. Yes, we eat with our hands. You definitely get used to it and I very much enjoy it now! Why do I tell you all this? Because eating together is building relationships. So many times when I walked home, I was asked to sit and eat with people I barely know.
This past month, I was able to build more and more good relationships with people here. Hours of sitting, talking, eating and telling them that I didn’t understand, because I’m still learning arabic.
Inta arufu kalas
That’s arabic for ‘You know enough’, your arabic is good enough. Even though I often laugh and tell them that I’m still learning, I notice that I’m able to understand a lot now. Greeting neighbors, some small talk on the street and even sharing some thoughts in a bible study become more and more natural and easy. I understand most of the words now, but I’m not fast enough yet, to put them all together to a full sentence. So a lot of what I hear is still very blurry, but week after week I get better.
Dancing and Choir Practice
I love my church and especially my youth group. A big part of church in South Sudan are choirs, singing and dancing. Every Sunday in church, there’s a presentation of the kids, the teenagers and the youth. And guess what? I get to sing and dance too as I’m part of the youth. Twice a week we meet to practice new songs (which they compose themselves, super creative) and practice the dances. It’s so much fun and I really enjoy singing and dancing. Every month, there’s a youth fellowship of all the churches in Torit, where every youth group gets to share their songs and dances. And here I was, dancing in front of 200 young people. Terrifying, but also so much fun!
But it’s not just about dancing and singing. I was able to build good relationships to some guys in youth group and get to hang out with them during the week. Two guys are very musical, so we sing some songs together and I get to teach them guitar. Two guys play soccer in High School, so I was able to watch them play the other day, which was really good. We also meet up once a week to go running (puh, I’m so out of shape) and just spend time together. I’m really grateful for these relationships and friendships and hope to invest more and more into these young guys.
Part of this year is also to read a lot of books and to spend time with God. This combination naturally leads to personal growth, I guess. God has been teaching me so much already. I’m currently learning about setting good boundaries, saying ‘no’ and living a more healthy life, without the fear of burning out one day. I’m really thankful for this year and that it enables me to learn a lot about cultures, missions, but also about myself, before actually working on the missions field.
I guess again, just day to day life. Building relationships, learning language and sharing life. In November we get to stay in a village for 3 weeks, which I’m really excited for. And in December we go to Uganda for the conference and a short break.
Thank you so much for your support and prayers! God bless you!