2023 is finally here. Well … it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. It’s been a rough month with many lows, but nonetheless also a lot of highs. Despite all the setbacks, I can know that the Lord is still good and he’s in control.
But first …
He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” […] Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” [Luke 9:59,61, NIV]
This passage was really convicting to me in this last month. Jesus asks us to follow Him. So what’s holding us back? Why do we always bring excuses for not doing so? Here were some of mine: Lord, I want to follow and serve you, but I need to first learn more arabic, be married, get this or that camera equipment, become a certain age, know more Scripture, be in the village in half a year, … There are millions of reasons why we withhold from following Jesus wholeheartedly and doing His will. What are yours? And maybe you don’t even believe in Jesus. What is it that is holding you back?
A very typical conversation this month goes something like this:
Person: Inta woduru. (literally: You were lost. You were not seen.)
Me: Malesh, ana kan ayan! (Sorry, I was sick)
I’ve been sick, on and off, since new year. Several stomach bugs (waja badna; waja basically means pain), headaches (waja ras), fevers (huma), a cold (nesla) with coughing (goho) and probably even bilharzia, which I picked up at Lake Victoria in Uganda. And yes, I have learned all of these fun new vocabularies this month and I now know them by heart :-) It was really frustrating as I wanted to keep building relationships, learning language and encouraging believers. And yet many days that month were spent inside my room either sleeping or drinking tea. Some say it can take two years for your body to adjust to Africa. Please pray for healing and that I would be able to learn, invest, encourage and challenge.
Repairing, building, experimenting
Nonetheless, on the few days that I felt better, I was able to acquire some new skills. I finally got to sit with a good local friend who’s motorbike mechanic. I learned a ton and got to know him a bit more through that.
One of my best friends from church is currently building his house, so I got to help him in the mudding process. Once the main framework is done, you take mud and form the walls. What sounds like adults playing in the mud (it is so much fun) is also a ton of work. But again, it was a good time in community, deepening those relationships and learning more language.
As my room mate is Taiwanese and has lived in China for many years, we celebrated Chinese New Year together as a team. It was so much fun and I fell in love with Kimchi. That got me the idea of pickling veggies to make them last longer. As I want to move to the village soon where there is no frequent access to fresh veggies, I’m now experimenting and perfecting the pickling process. My first batch turned out really good already!
Despite the sickness, I got to see the Lord’s goodness and mercy in many ways. I am deeply encouraged through local believers. They have certainly become brothers and good friends. Every Thursday we’re having a youth bible study at my church. And every Thursday I’m super encouraged by their excitement about God’s Word. Young people who are so on fire for the Lord. And again, not only do I get to encourage them, but they also encourage me by their faith.
While I was sick, a good friend came by and wanted to see how I was doing. He prayed for me and encouraged me. I’m so thankful and again encouraged by my local brothers!
And finally my highlight of the month. One Sunday after church, I walked home and got to talk to a guy I didn’t know before. Joel lives in Juba (the capital) and was just in Torit to visit family for Christmas. We shared about our faith and I was again, super encouraged. He became a believer through worship music and is now writing his own songs. He wants to reach people with the gospel through his songs and potentially even translate them into his tribal language, which is Lopit, the tribe I want to go to. We met up again, played guitar, talked lots and prayed for each other. Even though he’s now back in Juba, we’re still in touch and want to meet up again one day. Here is a link to a song we played together.
It is finally here, my new magazine! It’s first of all a thank you for those of you, who support me monthly. You should have received yours by now and I hope it will be an encouragement for you this year. If you would like a copy yourself, just fill out THIS form and I will ship it to you. As there are printing and shipping costs, I would suggest a small donation of about 20 USD. With that you will 100% support me and my ministry. Thank you!
Well, I hope I stay fit to actually do what I’m here for, to learn language and build relationships. I also get to preach soon, which will be my first time preaching in arabic. Please pray that God would use me and the little bits of arabic that I have. Please pray for open hearts and attentive ears.
Let me know how you started into this new year and if there is anything I can pray for. God bless you,