The First Day of......

One door has closed.

The other not yet open. In fact, it might be on a timer, delayed activation.

My Visa and passport have not arrived. So, a call to BA tomorrow to figure out what to do about the flight due to leave on Saturday.

It is what it is.

So, if I did have extra time, what would I do with it?


My hands in the dirt, planting flowers, cutting back bushes, pulling weeds.

Sleep late, catch up on some projects, play with the cats, finish my taxes, and visit more with K.

What I will not do is fret.


It is what it is.

Life throws us curves.

We expect a fast ball, we get a curve.

We might not even realize that we have been playing baseball. Maybe we thought we were playing football.

Or even if we realize the game we are playing, we might have the wrong inning.

Maybe this is my seventh inning stretch.

Where's the Phanatic?


Dateline Sudan, ERD and Lainya Diocese

Lainya diocese, ERD partner to support Sudan's returning refugees

Click image for detail
[Episcopal News Service, Lainya] The Diocese of Lainya in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) is partnering with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to support vocational training programs for returning refugees in southern Sudan, one of the primary challenges of the post-war conditions in Africa's largest country.

Lainya's visionary Bishop Peter Amidi hosted a group of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans who toured the diocese's former educational complex destroyed during the 21-year civil war that ended with the signing of a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Amidi outlined his plans for using the remaining structures as a foundation for building a rehabilitation center to train refugees returning to the area, primarily from camps in Kenya and Uganda. ERD has committed to funding the multi-year project through ECS' Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA).

So far, 423 refugees have registered as prospective beneficiaries of the program and many will assist with the rebuilding necessary to get the training center up and running. Some have already trimmed and removed some of the overgrowth to clear the way for the next stage of development.

"Life is starting again from absolutely nothing," said Janette O'Neill, ERD's director for Africa programs. "The whole area was thrown away during the war and even the structures that you see now are still incredibly temporary and will be gone within a few years. To put up the infrastructure of buildings, particularly schools and offices, is a huge challenge but is essential for the future stability of this region."

O'Neill said that ERD will stand with the Diocese of Lainya over several years to see this program through to completion. "Our first challenge then is to put together a program of training that really meets the needs of this community and helps people who missed out on any formal training to develop the skills that enable them to look after their own families and plan for a future."

The Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan is committed to empowering people from all over southern Sudan through vocational ministry, "equipping them with skills in carpentry, in bricklaying, in technology, in agriculture," said Adimi. "Through this ministry, the lives of individuals, families and communities will be improved."

On the journey from Juba to Lainya, the group representing the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada was offered a glimpse of the daily transportation challenges in southern Sudan. Serving as the primary goods route from Uganda, the road is nothing more than a dirt track with potholes, abandoned vehicles, overturned trucks, and trash piles littering the way, a sign that waste management in the country is not an immediate priority. The 63-mile trip took three hours to complete in a sturdy Toyota Landcruiser, provided to ECS' development officer, the Rev. Wilson Khamani, with ERD funding.

Along the road, the group witnessed a landmine-clearance program, part funded by Canada's Diocese of Ottawa through the CAMEO organization, which came as a pleasant surprise to Ottawa Bishop Peter Coffin, who was not expecting to see this diocesan initiative in action.

The Diocese of Lainya runs programs committed to capacity building for women, adult literacy, theological education and clergy training. Some of the diocesan initiatives, such as a tailoring program, are currently suspended due to lack of funding. Lainya is one of ECS' 24 dioceses, which collectively include some 4 million Episcopalians throughout Sudan.

Amidi acknowledged a huge educational gap in Lainya and throughout southern Sudan. "There are parents and many children who have never gone to school because of the war, so the level of literacy in this diocese is extremely low," he said.

In partnership with SUDRA, ERD is implementing an integrated development program that focuses on education, primary health care, and food security in four dioceses in southern Sudan. The partnership is also focusing on primary health services and building vocational skills in the dioceses of El Obeid, Port Sudan, and Malakal in northern Sudan.

For the past two years SUDRA and ERD have been involved in capacity building programs, such as training diocesan administrators and development officers throughout ECS' 24 dioceses.

Later this year, SUDRA will offer courses in financial management and organizational governance.

Khamini said the work of capacity building is essential for providing people with the necessary skills "that equip them to become agents of change."

Khamini appealed to the international community to join the people of Sudan and the Episcopal Church in prayer and support so that they will "be transformed in all aspects, spiritually, economically and socially.

"People here should be changed so that they can finally feel stability in their country after so many years of war."

-- Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the Anglican Communion.


Date Line Juba, Sudan

In Sudan, ecumenical group reviews peace process, builds Church partnerships

[Episcopal News Service, Juba] A U.S. ecumenical delegation visited Sudan April 19-24 to assess the latest developments in the country's peace process and build partnerships with the nation's four million Episcopalians.

Sudan, Africa's largest country by area, has been devastated by two back-to-back civil wars spanning some 40 years.

A meeting with U.S. Consul General to Sudan Christopher Datta brought a deeper understanding of the U.S. government's involvement in working to maintain peace and develop infrastructure in southern Sudan, where the latest 21-year conflict claimed two million lives and displaced four million people.

The ecumenical delegation, which included bishops representing the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), met with officials from the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), celebrated the April 20 enthronement of Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, and attended a House of Bishops meeting to hear about some of the challenges throughout the province's 24 dioceses.

Midweek, the delegation divided into two groups, one visiting Lutheran World Relief programs in Torit and the other hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Lainya to learn about an initiative, supported by Episcopal Relief and Development, to build a rehabilitation center for training refugees returning to the area, primarily from camps in Kenya and Uganda.

At the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the delegation discussed some of the challenges of repatriating the Sudanese diaspora following the official end of the civil war in January 2005 when a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was negotiated between northern and southern government officials with the involvement of international leaders.

Datta acknowledged that the CPA is currently experiencing some fragility and admitted there had been challenges working with the southern government, but he also recognized "a great deal of potential."

For decades, the civil wars that have ravaged the country have cleared southern Sudan of infrastructure and development. "Capacity is enormously limited here and the southern government is often overwhelmed by the tasks," said Datta.

However, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), a political entity and the main constituent of GoSS, "has the potential to unite everyone," said Datta, who hopes the Movement will organize in 2009 as a national party and that the minority parties will form a uniting coalition.

Datta works closely with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is partnering with GoSS on development initiatives such as building education curriculums and training teachers; paving roads; offering micro-credit and banking programs; distributing seeds and farming equipment; and organizing training days on issues such as public health and government and democracy.

USAID also provides the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the military wing of the SPLM, with logistical training, especially for commander control to ensure that the armed forces in the field are sticking to government protocols.

Saying that he is doing God's work, Datta recognized the Church as one of the few institutions to have survived the war. "It has enormous potential to rebuild the south," he said.

Alexander Baumgarten, international policy analyst for the Episcopal Church, said the U.S. government presence in southern Sudan provides an important resource for those working to bring about a lasting peace. "We heard time and again while in Sudan that the friendship, partnership, and accompaniment of the international community is vital in supporting the still-new Government of South Sudan," said Baumgarten. "We witnessed the U.S. government stepping into that role in a significant way, and we saw the degree to which the southern Sudanese people welcomed that."

Baumgarten said the U.S. presence in southern Sudan reflects a longtime commitment of the American government to a peaceful future for the Sudanese people.

"The current work of the U.S. government in supporting economic development and the transition to peace and stability in South Sudan is an extension of the critical role our nation's government played in helping broker the 2005 peace agreement," Baumgarten said. "Americans should be proud that their government did not walk away once the peace agreement was signed, but increased its presence in South Sudan in order to put flesh to the promises of the agreement."

The 2005 peace agreement between the northern Government of Sudan and the southern people was negotiated with the involvement of U.S. envoy to Sudan John C. Danforth, a former U.S. Senator from Missouri and an Episcopal priest.

Datta called on the religious community to educate people about Sudan because, he said, very few people understand the differences and dynamics between the south and the north. He said that many Western companies are reluctant to trade in Sudan for fear they will be perceived as endorsing the Khartoum-based government.

Throughout Sudan's history of independence, the northern government has periodically attempted to impose Sharia law nationwide, including punishments such as amputations and stoning.

Datta said that the international community needs to continue putting pressure on northern Sudan as its main political governing organization, the National Congress Party (NCP), "has a history of broken agreements that go back 20 years."

The northern government has claimed for years that Sudan is an Arab Muslim country, Datta said, despite the largely non-Arab Christian population of the south. "The north claims there are more Muslims than Christians," said Datta, "and its National Congress Party is very good at using technicalities to outmaneuver the south."

The vision of John Garang, former vice president of Sudan who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005, was for a unified Sudan, Datta said. "Through a system of fair elections, the Africans in the south would overwhelm the Arabs in the north."

Sudan's first census since 1993 got underway on April 22 amid much skepticism in the south, partly due to the north's refusal to cooperate in the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) so that they could be counted according to their region of origin. The census is regarded as a critical element in implementing the CPA and an essential step before the country's first democratic elections in 23 years, scheduled for 2009. The CPA also set the date of 2011 for a referendum in which southerners can determine whether to secede from the north or remain a unified country. Datta fears that without a referendum the country would return to civil war.

Although the south doubts the credibility of the census because of the large number of displaced people, "it needed to happen now because the enumerators were in place and canceling it would have meant tens of millions of dollars being wasted," said Datta. "Donors would then think twice about giving money in the future."

Datta admitted that it may not be the perfect census, "but it will be a good census and we don't want the NCP to say that the southern government is responsible for its failure."

Sharing of oil revenues also forms a major part of the CPA and Sudan being one of the poorest countries in the world "means that both the north and the south need those revenues," said Datta. "It's in the interests of both not to go back to war," otherwise the oilfields, mostly located in the south, would be shut down.

Datta has also been involved in negotiations to bring peace to northern Uganda, where Lord's Resistance Army rebels, led by Joseph Kony, have terrorized the population through widespread massacres and child abductions. Datta shared some encouraging news that the LRA appears to be splintering since Kony killed one of his deputies causing three separate factions to emerge.

Earlier in the week, the delegation met with GoSS leaders Major General Clement Wani Konga, governor of Central Equatoria State, Henry Danga, deputy governor and state minister, and Charity Gaba, secretary general, for talks about the peace process.

The Rt. Rev. Frank Gray, former assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and former diocesan of Northern Indiana, was impressed to hear Konga say that the Episcopal Church of Sudan is the largest social and religious institution in southern Sudan outside of the government.

"The Church is alive and vibrant despite most of the clergy not being paid and bishops riding bicycles great distances to visit congregations," said Gray, who accepted a call to serve as Archbishop Deng's commissary in the U.S. to help fulfill the Sudanese Church's vision of developing companion relationships for each of its 24 dioceses. "There is a sense of 'God will take care of things.'

Gray described Sudan as "one of the most inspiring places in the world. The Episcopal Church here is very poor, and yet it is the largest non-governmental organization in Sudan." It is estimated that ECS includes four million Episcopalians throughout northern and southern Sudan.

Richard Parkins, former director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, said that the Church is strategically positioned to be a capacity builder in southern Sudan and acknowledged the importance of education, which was underscored by both Church leaders and government officials during the visit. "The vast majority of skilled workers currently have to been imported from neighboring countries," said Parkins, "so there needs to be more emphasis on vocational training."

One of the major problems facing post-war Sudan is the return of thousands of refugees, including two million IDPs, who have been displaced for up to 24 years. "Thousands of towns and villages throughout southern Sudan will have to think of ways to absorb these returning refugees, which is a particular problem because those communities lack infrastructure," said Parkins, commending the Church for continuing to play an educational and integrating role in southern Sudan.

Janette O'Neill, director of Africa programs for Episcopal Relief and Development, said it was encouraging to hear the acknowledgement from Datta and GoSS officials that the Church plays a vital role in civil society, but she expressed disappointment in the lack of partnership between the government and the Church. "But we must remember that this government is only three years old," she said, "so when we reach out in partnership it has to be one that is supportive and based on solutions, not on demands."

The ecumenical delegation included Episcopal Diocese of Chicago Assisting Bishop Victor Scantlebury; the Rt. Rev. Francis Gray, former assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and diocesan of Northern Indiana; the Rev. Howard Wennes, retired ELCA bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod and interim president of California Lutheran University; the Rev. Duane Danielson, ELCA bishop of the North Dakota Synod; the Rev. Emmanuel Sserwadda, partnership officer for Africa; Janette O'Neill, director of Africa programs for ERD; Alexander Baumgarten, international policy analyst in the Office of Government Relations; Richard Parkins, former director of Episcopal Migration Ministries; and Kimberly Stietz, director for international policy in the Washington Office of the ELCA.

-- Matthew Davies, editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the Anglican Communion, traveled with the ecumenical delegation in Sudan.

"Above All, trust the slow work of God"

It is unfortunate that I should have missed the sermon preached by The Rev. Rod Welles on April 20 at SsAM.

At the conclusion of his sermon, he read a quote written by Pierre Teihard de Chardin, described by Anodea Judith as "a visionary French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who spent the bulk of his life trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, most specifically Christian theology with theories of evolution."

Rod has quoted from de Chardin numerous times, but this quote particularly resonates with me at this time.

Above all, trust the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally, impatient to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet, it is the law that progress is made by passing through some state of instability, and that may last a very long time...

Only God can say what this new spirit forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete"

Thank you Rod for the quote and SsAM for reprinting it.


Stocking Up

I planned to get an early start this am, but then after lying awake for about 1/2 hour, I decided that I wanted to sleep a little longer in my Select Comfot bed, 35.

Judge me not harshly.

The beds that I slept on in Kampala and Juba, were really platforms with maybe one layer of padding. However, I carry extra with me at all times.

Awakening much later, I did not make it out of the house until noon.

Nicholas was here and at two, he is irresistible.

So we played in the toy room, then downstairs to feed the cats, upstairs to get dressed and change his diaper, then outside to run in the grass, pull out the jeep, run after the kitties, butterflies and birds, carry around the pool duck, swing in the hamock, then back inside for some breakfast.


Stockimg up on Nick.

Back to Daddy at 11:30. I took another shower and out I went.

First to WSFS, then to the mall, then to the Acme, another bank, then gas and home.

I stocked up on toilet paper, contact cleaning solution, deodorant, soap, saline solution among other things.

Returning home I watched the John Adams series on HBO,a then turned on the Yankees. (They just loss in the bottom of the 9th).

Then Nicholas again.

Can't stock up on too much Nicholas.


Agro Program Update


On 23 April 2008, at1100 hrs, an Agro-Based Demonstration Pilot Project has been inaugurated in Wala Walang Village, Juba.

The project is launched by an international NGO named BRAC. The project is supported by WFP, FAO and UNMIS Sector-1 providing technical support to it.

The project was inaugurated by Mr John Chol Dohl, Director General of The Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, GoSS. UNMIS A/Sector Commander, HoO, various section heads, Representatives from GoSS, FAO, WFP, NGOs were present in the ceremony.

The program was covered by SS TV. Juba Radio, Radio Miraya, UNMIS PIO and other news papers and agencies.

The aim of this project is to explore and create opportunity to the local people in cooperative basis by the local farmers. Teaching them the know-how of cultivation is another focus of this project. The demonstration project will be an inspiration to the locals to replicate the same in days to come.
The Chief Guest in his speech thanked BRAC, UNMIS and all other agencies for their support to make this project is success. He promised all out support from the GoSS to render in this type of project in future.

He also welcomes all agencies to come forward with this type of project In a war-ridden country like Southern Sudan.

This is the text and some pictures sent to me by Major Said, the UN Peacekeeper that I met in Juba in February. He wanted me to know that they are doing other things other than the UN job.



The lunch time hour started out as usual. Gathering up bank deposits and mail.

Getting into Tweedy Bird and heading up Concord Pike, towards Saladworks.

However, I was craving something else.

A hamburger from the Charcoal Pit? Thank goodness someone's better judgment prevailed.

Season's Pizza, Taco's (notice the theme here? I do not eat meat)

Once I dropped the mail off, I found that I kept driving up Route 202, past Saladworks, and into Pennsylvania.

(For those that live in this area or have lived in this area, you will recognize what I describe).

It is a beautiful day here today. Spring has sprung so the saying goes. It is a wonderful time to be in the northeast.

As I drove north, I smelled spring: mulch and flowering bushes. And the trees, either decked in flowers or newly budding green. All different shades of green.

I silently thanked God for traffic lights. Slowing me down, making me witness, watch and listen.

These past weeks have been filled with things to do, marching from one agenda item to another.

Today, God took me on a different path.

I was remembering. Route 202 and Baltimore Pike used to be the area that D and I would visit regularly over 30 years ago. Styers Nursery. In between all the new homes and shopping centers, were the smaller businesses that I remember from long ago.

However, the intersection of Baltimore Pike and 322 was so changed I almost missed it. Here D worked for Westinghouse and we lived in Aston. K was not yet born.

Heading down Route 322, I passed the golf course where Bob taught me to play, when I worked for my CPA firm. Here was the vet that we used for all our animals whether we lived in PA or NJ.

From 322 I moved onto Route 452, south of Aston and heading for I-95 south. This intersection was so familiar to me. Down this road was were my friend from church lived. She watched K when I went back to work.

Farther down the road, the Warlocks played with their toy bikes.

I passed by Rock Manor Golf course, the Wilmington Skating Club, through Brandywine School District where J works. Here again was a part of Delaware that I used to know well.

Finally, back onto Concord Pike south and back to the office.

I had spent an hour traveling and had come full circle.

What I had been hungry for was provided.

I had been lamenting that I would miss Spring... and I almost did.

Giving Thanks

The auditors left yesterday.

Jokingly, I told them today that I would rent out advertising space on the blog to them.

A unique way to raise funds for the trip to Sudan.

On the other hand, we give thanks for our auditors, Pete, Eric and Joe.

Thanks to their willingness to shift their schedules, the audit was moved up one week.

This enabled me to leave, as planned, on April 30.

Without their generosity, this would be one hectic leave taking.

Thank you gentlemen and God Bless.


Bishop Daniel Deng and The Episcopal Chuch in Sudan

Here is an article from Episcopal Life on Line today, April 23, 2008.

that the time for action is now, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) addressed partners from the United States and around the world who were invited to attend the April 21 House of Bishops meeting in Juba.

The bishops and their new primate Deng, who was enthroned the previous day in a joyful four-hour ceremony at Juba's All Saints Cathedral, shared present concerns and the future vision for their Church and called on international partners, including the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, to deepen their commitment to ECS.

The Rt. Rev. Frank Gray, former assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and former diocesan of Northern Indiana, accepted a call to serve as Deng's commissary in the U.S. to help fulfill the Sudanese Church's vision of developing companion relationships for each of its 24 dioceses.

Gray, whose new role as commissary was unanimously approved by the Sudanese House of Bishops, has a long-standing relationship with ECS. He has been instrumental in coordinating mission initiatives in Sudan through his work with Episcopalians in the Diocese of Virginia. One such endeavor included the construction of a new cathedral in the Diocese of Renk, where Deng had previously served as bishop.

Sudan, the third largest country in Africa, "is one of the most inspiring places in the world," said Gray. "The Episcopal Church here is very poor, and yet it is the largest non-governmental organization in Sudan." It is estimated that ECS includes four million Episcopalians throughout northern and southern Sudan.

Gray said it will be an honor to serve as Deng's commissary. "In this role I will be able to tell the story of Sudan in a different way than I have before," he said. "The Sudanese have told me that visiting them is more important even than sending money. They said: 'if you have $2000, do not send it, come and see us; if you have $4000 dollars you can bring the other $2000 with you.' They desperately want partnerships and people-to-people contact so that they can feel more a part of the Anglican Communion and the outside world."

Deng said the meeting with ECS bishops and international partners offered an important time to get to know one another. "I want to express our joy that the Lord has brought us together," he said.

"The Church of Sudan is now at a crossroad," he added, acknowledging the issues of resettling refugees who had fled the country during a 20-year civil war that claimed more than 2 million lives and displaced four million people.

"In Archbishop Daniel, ECS has a true prophet," said Gray. "He has spoken with courage in a very forthright way about the failure of the Government of Sudan to address the Comprehensive Peace Agreement."

An ecumenical delegation from the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met with political leaders in the Government of Southern Sudan to discuss some of the issues relating to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which has encountered some recent setbacks.

The 2005 peace agreement was negotiated between northern and southern government officials with the involvement of international leaders, including the Rev. John Danforth, an Episcopal priest and former U.S. Senator who was named by President George Bush as envoy to Sudan.

Government of Southern Sudan leaders Major General Clement Wani Konga, governor of Central Equatoria State, Henry Danga, deputy governor and state minister, and Charity Gaba, secretary general, welcomed the ecumenical delegation for talks about the peace process.

"The vision of a peaceful Sudan is inscribed deeply in the life of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, and we've heard consistently from political leaders here how vitally important it is for Americans to convey that vision to their own government through advocacy," said Alexander Baumgarten, international policy analyst for the U.S.-based Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.

Despite initial hopes for the success of the peace agreement, southern Sudanese leaders have been frustrated by the northern government's refusal to live into the major terms of the agreement, including sharing of oil revenues, drawing of fair borders, and the execution of a fair census to determine representation in the national-unity government set up by the peace agreement.

"The future of peace in the Sudan will depend, in large part, on whether or not the international community keeps pressure on the northern government to live into the terms of the peace agreement," said Baumgarten. "There is a palpable feeling in south Sudan that the American people helped make a difference in bringing about the agreement, but now that pressure has fallen off a bit."

The peace agreement set the date of 2011 for a special election in which southerners can determine whether to secede from the north or remain a unified country.

Gray noted that the government in the north, based in Khartoum, "continues to largely ignore the comprehensive peace agreement which frustrates and disempowers the south."

"We've heard from the people of southern Sudan that a unified nation is the best hope for long-term peace in the Sudan," said Baumgarten. "The problem is that if the peace agreement is not lived into between now and 2011, the incentive for a unified Sudan will not exist when the vote is taken."

Assistant Bishop Victor Scantlebury of the Diocese of Chicago, which shares a companion relationship with the Diocese of Renk, said it is essential for U.S. Episcopalians to raise their voices and interest in supporting the peace initiative by calling and writing to legislators on a regular basis.

"We hope that when our delegation returns to the United States, its report will inspire a new wave of advocacy by Episcopalians and a new platform for engagement by American political leaders in working for a peaceful future for the Sudan," said Baumgarten. "In particular, we hope to be able to speak about the ways in which the currently ongoing conflict in Darfur, as well as other regional conflicts in East Africa, are related to the hope for a holistic peace for Sudan."

The conflict in Darfur, a remote region of western Sudan where government-backed militias have carried out a program of ethnic cleansing against Darfuris for the past five years, has claimed at least 200,000 lives and displaced as many as a million people from their homes.

During the afternoon, the ecumenical delegation met with officials at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to hear about some of the challenges they face in repatriating the Sudanese diaspora who "often return with nothing in their hands," said Deng. Addressing the international partners, Deng said: "You -- brothers and sisters around the world -- have been with us during the war and we have seen the tangible things you have done. The time has come to resettle the people who have been scattered all over the world."

Addressing some of the challenges faced by the bishops, Deng said that some lack transport and other necessary means to fulfill their ministry. Gray noted that Sudanese bishops often ride bicycles great distances to make visitations to congregations and in many instances clergy serve without pay.

Deng underscored the difficulties in communicating with one another throughout the province, particularly with those who serve in remote areas. "Your presence here with us is a great encouragement," he told the partners. "We need to be connected with the world, at least through communication and prayer -- that's the most important thing for us as a Church. When you have friends around the world praying for you, God will make a blessing."

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan is growing daily, said Deng. "If you want to really establish us as a strong church and to be a very strong part of the Anglican world, these bishops need help…We need to be connected to pray for one another, because if we join in prayers, God will open other doors that are not already open."

Bishop Anthony Pogo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji said there is a sense of excitement among the ECS bishops as they meet together, along with international partners, for the first time since Deng's enthronement.

Bishop Francis Loyo from the Diocese of Rokon serves as secretary of Sudan's Episcopal Council. He said it is important to include the partners in the House of Bishops meeting so that they can hear about some of the issues and challenges they face in their respective ECS dioceses. "It's also a time of fellowship for us as we deepen our relationships with partners around the world," he said. "We look forward to continuing our work together in the future."

Also attending the House of Bishops meeting were Andrea Mann, Anglican Church of Canada's global relations coordinator; the Rev. Howard Wennes, retired ELCA bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod and interim president of California Lutheran University; the Rev. Duane Danielson, ELCA bishop of the North Dakota Synod; and two suffragan bishops in the Church of England's Diocese of Salisbury, Stephen Conway and Tim Thornton.

The ECS bishops will visit Salisbury for a two-week pilgrimage prior to the Lambeth Conference in July to celebrate their Church's 35-year partnership with the diocese and the 750th anniversary of Salisbury Cathedral, where a statue of Sudanese martyr, Canon Ezra, will be erected on the west front of the building. "This is a defining link and we have been deeply affected by our partnership with the Sudan," said Conway. "Thirty five years is just the start."

While the House of Bishops was in session, Janette O'Neill, senior director of Africa programs for Episcopal Relief and Development, met with the Rev. Wilson Khamani, her counterpart at the Sudan Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA). The purpose of the meeting was to provide emergency funds to assist the bishop of Ezo to meet urgent community needs following a violent attack -- thought to be organized by the Lord's Resistance Army -- which left people without seeds for planting and farming tools.

"Sudan is beginning its raining season so now is a critical time for that," said O'Neill. "It's important that these efforts to destabilize and terrorize the population do not stand in the way of peace and settled life. ERD is very happy to be in a position to help this population to get a crop in the ground and face the future with some confidence."

Anglican Church of Canada Bishop Peter Coffin of the Diocese of Ottawa is responsible for some 70 military chaplains in the Canadian Forces. He met with Brigadier General Gordon Mica Luala of the South Sudanese Police (traffic division) and one-time Sudanese community animator in Ottawa, and a chaplain for the Sudanese People's Liberation Army to discuss the role of chaplains in the guerilla warfare, "not least of which was the observance of Geneva Conventions concerning POWs which were afforded the conventions' protections, a rare thing in guerilla warfare," Coffin said.

Scantlebury said it had been important to hear the struggles of the bishops in exercising their ministry, and acknowledged that many of the clergy work without salaries. He described the meeting as a humbling experience "because we work in very different conditions. It would be helpful for many clergy in the U.S. that serve affluent congregations to have the opportunity to work for a year or two in areas that are economically challenged."

Scantlebury described the level of poverty in Sudan as disheartening. "There is no reason for anyone in our societies or communities to go hungry," he said. "It was encouraging to hear President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Government of Southern Sudan say at the enthronement that much of the support for the people of Sudan has come from the Church. Much of that has been possible because of the support that ECS has received from brothers and sisters in the U.S. Episcopal Church. I would urge that we begin to work much more intentionally, because there is still much more to be done for the welfare of the people here."

-- Matthew Davies, editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the Anglican Communion, is traveling with the Episcopal Church delegation in the Sudan.


Conversation with JJ

Tonight I had dinner with two good friends. What a gem of a night. Good food, drinks and discussion.

Our discussions took us all over the map.

Animals, faith, Countdown (duh), politics, funerals, the PA primary, foreign countries, travel, the Daily Show, work, retirement, friends, Sudan, dreams.

We started at 6 PM and ended at 8 PM. A treat.

Playing with adults after work.

A reminder that for the next four months, there is a possibility that this will not be repeated very often.

Not that I would not be sitting down to dinner, not that discussions would not take us all over the map, not that the food would not be excellent.

But it would not be these past two hours.

Thank you J & J.

I look forward to repeating it in September.




I thought that last Sunday was a fluke. I did not go to Church.

I worked in the yard instead. There were and are a lot of things to do before I leave.

But then it occurred again this Sunday morning.

I woke with butterflies in my stomach and found myself not going again. What is going on?

This is my community. I will miss these people.

I do not want to say good-bye.

Do I actually publish this? Acknowledge that I am feeling this way. That I might just want to slip quietly out of “Dodge.”

When and why does excitement turn into anxiety? And, does it keep cycling around?

So to work through the guilt, I did “mission” stuff.

I completed my application for NY. Last trip it was passed over. Not required. This time, needed.

I wrote more thank you notes.
I cleaned, did laundry, filed. Butterflies remained.

Not able to ignore them, I went to the movies. Great escape.

The Forbidden Kingdom. Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the same movie. Fantasy replaces reality.
In the middle of conflict and strife, the protaganist is transported away.

Quickly, silently. No good-byes.

As I write this, I am watching baseball. On Sunday night.

Am I trying to get my fill of all things American? Entertainment in forms that I will not have access to in a few weeks?

Play Ball. Go Yankees


Making Lists

I'm back to making "to do" lists. I have not done this since my trip abroad in February.

History repeats.

But there are some differences.

I have already cleaned the house for my sister's visit.

Hire gardener, specifically to tend the gardens. Check

Hire lawn people. Check

Someone to stay in the house and tend the cats. Check

Transfer bills to on-line and arrange for direct debits. Check

Stop mail. Check

Stop newspaper. Check

Get airline tickets. Check

But there are some major outstanding items.

VISA - stuck in Washington.

Arrange for all my TV shows to be forwarded to Sudan. Dae Joyoung (Korean), Countdown, House, Comedy Central, LOST.

Buy cheap wedding ring at Kmart, leave all other rings home.

Visit Amy and pick up Solar Stove.

Arrange for Happy Harry's to open a store in Khartoum and Juba.

Arrange for Starbucks to open a store, with drive-thru, in Khartoum and Juba. Drive-thru will be perfect for Khartoum, not sure about Juba.

Arrange for Border's to open a store in Khartoum and Juba. I understand that English language books are hard to come by.

Need a Pan-Asian restaurant. I am not into the various ways of cooking goat or sheep and using all body parts.

Whiten teeth, dye hair, pamper feet, staple stomach.

Take everyone with me.



Awake at 3 AM. Cursed.

It is finally hitting me.

Two weeks from today is my last day of work and the beginning of my sabbatical.

Diocesan Convention is over. The auditors are in house. Yesterday, I met with the chair of the loan and grant committee. I prepared an agenda for their May 8 meeting. I will not be attending.

Next week, the chair of the Trustees. Their May 22 meeting I will not be attending.

Time is marching/running forward.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from the Southern Sudan Mission. This is where I sent my visa application. It seems that they could only issue visas if I were entering Juba first. (Thanks Emmanuel).

However, I am entering thru Khartoum and that means that the Sudan Embassy must issue the visa. She, Sunday (great name), was walking the application over to the Embassy. Their time frame 3-4 weeks. She will emphasize the need to expedite.

Last night, I had my send off dinner with Jackie. Great time. However, she is sadly excited.

Then home to stuff more fund raising envelopes. I thought asking for support would be easy. It is not. For others, it is a piece of cake, for me, not so much. I am humbled by the support.

Today, I will talk with the consultant who will work with the staff while I am gone. My replacement. Feels strange to write that.

Each task becomes something that I do for the last time, temporarily.

Saying good bye. My daughter. My sister. My friends.

Suddenly, I am reminded about Easter and the Resurrection message. The promise of new life.

However, new life comes with a price. One must first leave the old, even if it is temporary.


Uncertainty is Certain

I am learning to become more comfortable with the unknown. Notice that I did not say "have learned." I am forever in the classroom on this subject.

On Monday, I read an email that came in on Friday about the logistics of my trip.

If you remember an earlier writing, I had finally made the decision to arrive and leave from Khartoum. I had not been able to get a definitive answer to my questions from those in Sudan. So I had taken the lead.

I was feeling quite comfortable "knowing" that I would have two months in Khartoum and two months in Juba, and a trip over to Kampala. I had a place to stay in Khartoum and was putting feelers out to wrap up housing in Juba.

Whoa. Now it appears I might be staying a very short time in Khartoum and more in Juba.

Or not.

The phrase Go with the Flow keeps popping up in my head.

And, the song Don't worry, Be Happy (thanks Mary Ann), by Bobby McFerrin.

And, finally Always look on the bright side of Life" written by Eric Idle and performed by the cast in Spamalot playing on Broadway. Fans of Monty Python will know that this came from the move The Life of Brian. Seeing the play last Friday evening has me whistling this during the day.

Of course, I will at times be playing downbeat songs from Les Miserable or something from K.D. Lang. (Judy can attest to that.)

However, what I am certain of in my heart and soul, is that it will be alright. Plans will work out. I will have a roof over my head and food to eat and people to be in community with.

Why? Because I am not in charge. I am putting my travel plans in the hands of a more experienced travel agent. Thanks be to God.

For certain.



I love getting gifts. Not because of what is inside, it could be empty. I love surprises. I love the unwrapping. I try to give the wrapping the attention it deserves, but I am not always faithful.

Yesterday, I heard from a voice from the past. A woman I used to work with at the diocese. What a joy to hear from her again.


She called because she read an article about my trip in the Communion, the monthly newspaper of the diocese. She was so excited for me.

We caught up on the fact that she was back living in Delaware.


Then she shared with me her own journey to South Africa. It was wonderful to hear the excitement in her voice. And, she told me the following story.

She had decided that she wanted to support my trip to Africa, in lieu of her returning. However, she did not know which "pot" she should take the funds from. She told me that last year she had purchased a new energy saver washer and dryer. It came with a rebate.

But the check had never arrived as of Sunday. So, she prayed and the check arrived Wednesday.

So this was the pot she was sending up to support the trip.



What A Difference A Day Makes

What A Difference A Day Makes.

The version of this song, by Dinah Washington in 1959, has been playing in my head since yesterday. I can hear her voice so clearly. The words and music are by Maria Grever & Stanley Adams.

March 31 - more than a month before I leave.

April 1 - I leave in a month. What a difference a day makes.

I garden, a lot. My neighbors ask do I ever stop? No, it helps me remain sane. It connects me to God. The digging and planting, the feel of the wet earth in my hands. One plant, planted among others planted before, becomes a garden. A community.

In addition, the phrase April showers bring May flowers has always brought anticipation. The thrill of seeing that what has been buried rises again for another year. The garden changing from dormancy to life. Color. Home Depot's garden department.

Yesterday, the realization hit me that I will not see May this year in Delaware. The colors will be seen by the house sitter. And wet earth is traded for desert.

The anticipation for me now becomes: what new colors will I see. How is color brought into the desert? What new type of garden can be created for two months in Khartoum?

And, another reminder last night. Thunder storms in April in Delaware. The sound of rain. The sight of lightening striking. Sounds and sights I will not hear in another month. In gratitude, I turned the TV off, raised the blinds, and watched and listened.

And gave thanks.