I had not expected this: America is quiet.

I had expected green, which I so appreciate.

I had expected appliances. I am in love with my washing machine, the dryer is somewhat appreciated.

I have discovered that I like hanging clothes on the line. Connection to the elements. I will be re-stringing the clothes line in the back yard. And, though, I love the washing machine and the resulting really clean clothes, I also found that the pace of finding time to wash clothes by hand was very soothing.

But, I have the window open as I write this at 3 AM, and America is quiet. All I hear are crickets.

No dogs roaming and barking. No frogs croaking. No rickshaws riding by the house at all hours of the night. No calls to prayer by the mosques. No conversations by others in houses connected to mine.

America feels isolated. This I did not expect to feel.

I sit in a large house alone and have no contact with anyone else. The cats are running around. There is no feeling of inter-dependence that I found in Sudan. That feeling of relying on others and having others rely on you. The sense of community.

I spoke with a friend today that had recently returned from England and Tuscany. She and I were in agreement on the isolation.

Is it because we are isolated as a land mass, as a country? Is it because in America we value individuality over community?

In Sudan, the community is valued over the individual. Decisions are made within the community. Trouble in the family? The larger family and living community are involved in assisting in the solution. It was very alien to me.

That is not to say that I do not have great communities at work, at church, in my family. How many of us make decisions only after discussing within these greater communities?

Thinking of switching employment or retiring? This is usually not discussed outside of a select few, in case it gets back to your employer.

The decision to have a child or not have a child? Usually discussed with your partner, but certainly not a larger community.

To marry ?

To divorce?

Is it possible to combine the best of both experiences?

Should I?


Sudan sans Sleep

So silly. Really.

I thought I was going to slip away from Sudan without a night of sleeplessness.

So silly. Really.

Here it is 3 AM Khartoum time and I am awake. Not wide awake, but awake.

The sultry Sudan sands are swirling slowly in the courtyard.

First one way, then the other. With each change Rascal's bottle "soccer" balls roll around.

The clothes drying on the line have been dryed by breezes rather than by the hot sun and they are swaying to and fro. Dancing shirts.

The sky is cloudy and the moon is trying to peak through. I was hoping for another spectacular view.

I am jealous of Rascal sleeping soundly right outside the door. The only sound that would awaken her would be the sound of cats walking along the roof.

Contributing to my sleeplessness is knowing the agenda for tomorrow, oops today, and the pain in my shoulder that is getting worse. The stress is working its way along my shoulders and neck.

If there is a long lay over in Heathrow, I will get someone to work on the neck.

Today starts with buying a little more rice to cook and some tuna for the dog. The power has been shutting off for long periods during the day and I think the meat for her meal has gone bad. Tonight she brought it all up as I was having coffee next door.

Then at 9 AM, another henna. During that time, we will be taking group pictures. I will be the "kawanja" with the goop on her head.

It will have to sit on my head for three hours, so I will have lots of time to download all my personal stuff from the computer. It remains here in Khartoum. I believe I am having separation anxiety about leaving the computer behind. It has been my link to all of you these past four months.

Why do I not feel that about the towels that I am leaving behind?

At 1 PM, I have my second meeting with Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul. I had my first tonight.

It was while sipping coffee and watching the Olympics that we heard Rascal barking and loud rapping on the gate. Graziella and I opened her door and parked in front of the house is the AB's car. Rapping on the gate is Rev. James Makuie, accompanied by Mannas and the Bishop's chaplain.

Could I possibly meet with his Grace?

Of course, I replied that it was a little late, I was not dressed, and my coffee was not finished.


So off we went, I without knowing why. And, I wondered, could I actually address him as His Grace without smiling?

This meeting is another reason why I am not sleeping.

At 2 PM today, I am invited to a party. How much partying in Sudan, that is unknown. I have been informed that the Archbishop and Bishop Kondo (Khartoum diocese) are to be present, as well as Bishop Joseph Garang of Renk diocese. Lots of purple shirts.This is to last two hours, but if there is a microphone and any clergy are asked to speak, this could take hours.

I can make it stop, just be weeping.

The day ends with having dinner with my neighbors and saying farewell to Dr. Fares.

I have not learned the arabic word for goodbye, so I am opting for "see you soon" in English.

Think this could be intentional?



I have heard the frogs.

For the past two nights, the frogs have emerged up from the sand to call to me and any mate that might be listening.

They disappear back into the sand during the day. Sad really, since I had images of them all sitting around on lily pads that also rose with them during the night.

Not to be.

However, the house that I am now staying in is worth more these past two days. It has become lake shore property. I was initially enamoured with the scene and thought about building a platform out to the middle and fishing.

Now however, I understand that it will stand until the sun dries it up. During that time, algea may form and there will be a horrific smell.

House value will decrease.

Of course, the nearness of the water means that everyone now walks in front of the compound. New individuals are being introduced to the barking, growling Rascal. And, there is no where for them to go, but run or walk faster by.

I have noticed a big difference in American and Sudan men. Those that drive big Tonka trucks.

In America, most men would be driving through the water, popping wheelies and making figure eights. Here, no one goes near the water. Makes me wonder if they now something.

For instance, how is quicksand formed?


Voted Worst in Sudan

My list of Worsts actually have categories, similar to the Academy Awards. So, if it is your custom to get into PJ's, make popcorn, cuddle up, by all means do so, cause it'ssssssssssssss


Worst Use of Recycling Centers

And the winner is .............Sudan

In fact, there are no recycling centers in Sudan, but that does not stop them from disposing of all the plastic soda and water bottles. They dispose of them everywhere, in the streets, in shops, in parking lots, at the airport, at the mall, behind your office. You get the picture. Lots of rubbish.

Worst Use of Miss Manner's Rules of Etiquette

And the winner is..............Sudan

Those of us that were taught our please and thank you's, may I's, holding doors for an elder, giving up seats to pregnant women on the bus, etc. Sudan is a hard adjustment. This is one of the aspects of British Colonial Rule that went home with the British. No one uses the arabic word for please. Instead, they say give me, get me, come here, do this, etc. but never with any hint of malice. It's the culture. Take it or Leave it.

Worst Use of Boston's Rules of the Road

And the winner is..............Khartoum, Sudan

Actually, there are rules, but none of them is about patience, letting someone out of a driveway, letting the other person through the intersection first, using your horn only as a warning, staying alert, or obeying traffic signals. In fact, in Sudan, the Yellow caution light comes when changing from Red to Green. This way it is like driving a Funny Car at the Drag Races everytime you enter a vehicle.

Worst Leave it to Beaver Dad

And the winner is...............Sudan

In Sudan, the culture allows physical punishment of your wife and/or children, without the threat of answering to the police. It is a reality, and it does not matter if you are Arab or African, Muslim or Christian, cleric or not, rich or poor, educated or not. It happens, a lot. This culture is all male chief rule. Agencies that would deal with this abuse are non-existent in Sudan. Women and children suffer and not always behind closed doors. It's the culture, Take it or Leave, if you are able.

Worst Red Carpet Gown

And the winner is.............Khartoum, Sudan

The "top" is the traditional woman's cover made of yards of colorful scarf material that actually envelop a woman from head to toes. They are beautiful to say the least. Watching a woman maneuver down the street is akin to watching womens gymnastics. That being said, I had my turn wearing one and I can say two things: first, they are meant to be worn in cold climates, like Alaska, and second, they need to come with an owner's manual or a least a personal dresser.

Worst Use of a Degree in Economics

And the winner is................Sudan

Pretend that you have now graduated with honors from Penn State (main campus, if you please) with a degree in Economics. You return home so excited and are not greeted with "Great job, we are so proud of you", but "the dishes need washing, the clothes need cleaning, the food needs cooking, so and so is looking for a wife." Here in Sudan, as a woman, you will have a higher "Bride Price" if you are not educated. As a woman, or the eldest daughter, you are to run the house and take care of the men. It is the culture. Take it or Leave, if you are able.

Worst Use of a Sandblaster

And the winner is............. the desert of Khartoum, Sudan

The desert wind need to be harnessed. At this time, it merely blows sand everywhere and into everything. Rather than pitting our faces, and making it hard to stay clean during the day, we need to channel the power and use it. In what way, I leave that to you imaginative science individuals. Note though, I do not want it turned into a weapon of war.

Worst Use of a Willing Work Force

And the winner is.................. the government of northern Sudan.

Imagine coming to Khartoum when you are five years old. You are now thirty and have received your education here in Khartoum, you have worked here in Khartoum, you have lived the past twenty-five years of your life in Sudan. And, you are a registered Refugee from Eritria.

However, government policies say that only Sudanese will be offered jobs first. You must carry a certificate that states you are Sudanese. This is a booming economy, so it is said, and those that can go no where else, are losing their jobs.

This is our country, take it or leave it, if you are able.


Rain, Rain, Go Away

I had sweet envisions of a day of rain in the desert.

Everything would come alive, trees and bushes would look greener and I would hear the frogs that come up out of the ground, croaking away.

Not so.

This place is muddy.

The desert is sand, but all the construction in the desert is with dirt and clay. Dirt is slippery when wet.

It is now 10:30 AM and Daniel Deng and I are the only two people who have arrived.

I grabbed my black rubber shoes out of the suitcase, slipped on 3/4 dark pants, swung my laptop over my shoulder and off I went at 8 AM.

I should add that I walked very slowly weaving in and out of the sand and no sand walking areas. Rickshaws wer running and I made it to work by 8:30 AM. Daniel greeted me at the door.

When I asked him about who might come into work he stated:

Those that like to work will come in, those that like to sleep will not.

Aptly put. I might add that this applies to days without rain.

The Beatles and Todd Rundgren both sang a song about Rain and your state of mind. Here are some of the lyrics.

If the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
If the rain comes
If the rain comes

Sudan will have trouble competing with the rest of the industrial world. They think appointments are relative to whenever they finally show up. Latemess is blamed on traffic. If they are going to be late, they never call.

And, they do not apologize, for anything. Saying sorry has as much meaning as if they had said, the sky is blue.

They try to fight this inclination, but usually lose the battle.

In addition, they have not had lessons in manners in Sudan. This is one British Institution that did not remain after they retreated. Schools yes, manners no.

In all seriousness, in parts of Khartoum and Omdurman, people who have built houses of mud bricks are losing their homes today. They will be sleeping outside, eating outside, in order not to be trapped if a roof or wall collapses.

Long periods of heavy rain is feared here. It is not welcome. There is no place for the rain to go. The ground is hard from all the heat. The water sits and then starts to smell. The garbage that has been thrown from cars, and houses, and walkers runs down the streets looking for outlets.

Of course, it ends up in the Nile.

The Nile looks beautiful from the air, but I would hate to be at the receiving end in Egypt. Along with the life giving water each year, comes miles and miles of Sudan garbage.

There was an editorial in yesterday's English language newpaper speaking about this garbage all over Khartoum, in rich and poor sections alike. The ending quote was this from an ex-patriot:

"Khartoum is a place that makes you appreciate your city when you return home."

Make no mistake, Khartoum is a beautiful place, but I am a frustrated environmentalist in a city that does not know that word.

Oh, that they would.

Rain Rain Go Away
Come Again Another Day

Preferrably September.


The Stranger was Me

Tonight, I felt like the stranger, the foreigner that I am, in Sudan.

Tonight, I felt like the stranger, though not at a restaurant or market.

Tonight, I felt like the stranger in the Episcopal Church.

Tonight, during the sermon, I became the alien.

The alien who does not know Jesus and is in need of saving. Someone that needed to know the saving Grace of Jesus.

I became the symbol of what is wrong with the Anglican Communion

The symbol of those that have lost their way and are in need of the correct road map.

The teacher who has forgotten the lesson and so the student steps in.

The sinner.

The Rt. Rev. HIllary Garang from the Diocese of Malakal was the substitute preacher. Fresh from Lambeth.

Prior to his sermon, I prayed to keep an open mind.

During the sermon, I began to question why has God put me in such a theological setting? The common liturgy is strangely not enough comfort.

I was not comforted by the Bishop's words of redemption, salvation and grace. Their meanings sounded "different" to me. He said that the Africans, along with the Indians, were to bring the True Gospel to the world. They would send missionaries into Europe and North America.

He stated that African-Anglicans have been made to feel less than others within the Anglican Communion. I have heard that said.

Tonight, I knew how they felt.

It feels awful, lonely, without community. Without God.

Is this the lesson?

Note: I would really like some feedback on this one. I am hanging out here having discussions with myself and getting no where.

Regenerating Hearts

Hearts must regenerate I told my sister.

She, who lost her husband Greg last October, assured me that it did.

I was looking for reassurance that day.

I had been looking at Amy's picture.

My throat tightened, my eyes welled with tears that rolled down my cheeks.


The picture that I have is with her standing in front of a hugh garden of pansies planted in front of a beautiful grey stone wall. The garden is on Victoria Island. The picture will be one of the last things I place in my carry on luggage.

As was the fashion then, we all wore scarves drapped around our necks. No thought of terrorism symbols, no spineless Dunkin Donuts advertising executives.

When I get home, I have decided to plant gardens of pansies.

Maybe, Judy and Kathy and Kathryn will help.

Sudan's Believe It or Not

Sudan is entering the ice age, believe it or not.

Well, maybe not the ice age, but it is cooler.

Yesterday the sky was filled with clouds the entire day. It was warm, but that was because the humidity had climbed.

Well, not climbed, maybe took a babystep upwards.

It reminded me of a summer day in Cape Cod, MA before a storm.

The kind of day, when you wore your sweatshirt with jeans and sandals, bathing suit underneath. The sweatshirt only coming off if the cloud cover dissipated. And, breezes from off the water actually were chilling.

Well, last night it stormed and the winds were from the north.

The wind whipped through the house from the back bedroom window right over my head and out the front door. I discovered that I was actually chilly. The fan had long been turned off so the chill was definitely from the air.

I do not know how long it rained, but Rascal slept at the bottom of my bed the entire night. Very comforting and reminded me of nights when my dog, Heidi, used to do the same thing.

Earlier in the evening, Rascal reminded me of Heidi in another way. She climbed up on the bed and proceeded to nest. Great. Heidi I could remove, Rascal, not a chance. Bribery was the only solution. But, what she left on my clean sheet were muddy foot prints.

About 10 days ago, I removed the sunshield that I had installed. It ran the width of the inner courtyard from the house to the kitchen. I found that I did not need it anymore and that I enjoyed hanging out in the sun.

The large spare water container, that had to be filled all the time in case I had to fill the AC unit when the water was turned off, now is used to clean. I hardly run the unit anymore. I sleep with only a fan.

This morning, the cloud cover continues. The fan is running only because there is no breeze. Should one develop, the fan will be turned off.

This non-use of energy is driving my house neighbor crazy. He runs his AC unit all the time and goes through about 15 Kw hours each day just for that. And he has a TV, which I used to envy.

Now, I have stopped paying on electric.

I paid for all of May and June when he was avoiding me and using up the $$. He rants and raves at me through Sami.

Sami is now the go between, ever since this crazy man started yelling at me about America and Israel. As Sami says, they both speak Arabic, but if Sami were talking about the Olympics, this man would be speaking about the weather. No communication at all.

This being said, before I leave I expect to find icicles on my nose one morning.



Here comes another chance to divest.

I love that word.

So it begins, the separating into multiple piles those items that will be returning to the states and those that will not.

Those that will not go are then separated into more piles.

There is the pile of medical supplies that will go the The Mothers Union for their clinic. Thank you Jackie for the masks.

There is the pile of makeup that I will give to Diana who, hopefully, is confirmed by the UN in NY to work here for UNMIS. Thank you Estee Lauder for your samples.

There is my laptop that I purchased before the trip. It will also go to The Mothers Union to be used by Harriet and Mama Daris as they travel around Sudan, empowering women. You cannot purchased used laptops here so, I will replace mine at the store in Lewes, Delaware. They will also receive my Sudani MDSL. Access to their networking friends from around the world is so important. In addition, they may work from home, if needed. Thank you people of the Diocese of Delaware for purchasing the MDSL.

There is the medicine that is left and that will go to my neighbors Graziella and Sami. Should I give credit to Happy Harry's?

I have already donated my spare phone that I purchased on my previous trip in February. It can only be used here and, I certainly do not need two.

Prior to leaving in May, the staff gave me a memory stick that contains past issues of The Communion. I will be leaving it for Tito, who is fascinated with Episcopal Life Online and the Diocese of Delaware website. Thank you friends.

I have already divested of some funds towards those that do not get but one meal a day, or those with medical needs, and will, hopefully, divest of some more prior to leaving.

We gave to a young postulant that needed to get home to see his family in Darfur while on break from school in Egypt.

We will give to a provincial employee that needs access to the internet. The Rev. Daniel Deng is the director of the Theological Education Extension program. This program is training and certifying those priests that were ordained during the past civil war. His work, involving six northern dioceses, is invaluable to the Episcopal Church in the Sudan. Daniel has been a spiritual and physical presence to me each morning that I opened up the finance office.

Some planned but yet not carried out:

The capital campaign for St. Phillip's ECS first church building.

Purchase of knitted items to support Gillia's church women. I am bringing these home. Everyone get ready to receive at least one.

To All Saint's Catheral - Khartoum to support their Youth Program. A small token for the unbounded support that Dean Sylvester and Frs. Joseph Taban and Joseph Garang have given me along with the rest of the staff.

Remember the movie Mr. Mom? The replication of Michael Keaton was a novelty in its day.

Well, I wish that there could be a replication of me, so that I could divest of one of "me" and leave "me" here.

I wish that each human being came with at least two hearts, so that the one that is part African could stay and the other return to you my family and friends.


Voted Best in Sudan

Tonight I watched the podcast from yesterday's Countdown episode. The two-faced kitten made me ill and the political jokes surrounding it were tasteless. Of course, the story on the Paris Hilton Ad more than made up for it.
Of course, two of the features I wait for each night, the Best and Worst Person's in the World.
With only 17 days to go until I start home, I have been giving some thought as to what things I really love about Khartoum and which things I do not. Tonight will be my favorites.

My first Best is the rickshaw. Check this one out.

Believe it or not, these vehicles are popular in India. Watch any Bollywood movie and you will see these everywhere. Of course, in Khartoum, they are the cause of numerous accidents since their drivers seem to believe they can create new traffic lanes, go where motorcycles go, turn on a dime without signaling, and of course, traveling in the opposite direction of traffic.

In addition, they are color coded. In Khartoum, Amarat and Diem they are black. In Omdurman, they are green, and in places in between, they are red. I have even seen a yellow one. Some owners have added a light inside, in order to get the proper change, plastic hearts hang everywhere. I even saw one with big white letters "FBI" on one side and Mickey Mouse on the other. They borrow everything and nothing is sacred.

Would I give them up. Nope.
My second Best are the beautiful front doors. Here are some of my favorites. I plan on putting together a 2009 calendar and using it as a fundraisor All Saint's Cathedral Khartoum Youth Ministries.
I have discovered that you cannot tell what is behind these doors, unless you are invited in.

And, oh how I wished I were staying longer and getting more invitations.

My third Best is the children, all ages,sexes and religions. Here is Anoyya who lives next door to me and is 5. Here is her pretty in pink picture. One evening, she painted the fingernails on one hand copper and the other gold. Kathryn get out the picture of you and your Granny.

And JoJo, the daughter of one of the assisting priests at the Cathedral who lives on the grounds. This was taken

the second day she saw me. The first day, she would have nothing to do with me. Since then, she and I play whenever she is around, which is often. She is a born leader and smart as a whip.

And or course, Rascal's playmates, the boys on the block. I have suceeded in getting the plastic bottles out of the street and into my house for the trash. The boys discovered that Rascal likes to chase the bottles like soccer balls. So they keep throwing them over the outside fence. Rascal chases, they laugh, I throw away. Win, Win, Win.

Finally, my last Best are the goats. I love these animals. They wander everywhere as families. They eat everything but they look cute while doing it. Here they are outside my gate looking in at Rascal and me.
Non-plussed all of them.Of course, it goes without saying that there will be a post with pictures of all my friends in Sudan at a later date.


"Dust Gets In My Eyes"

This past Saturday, afterwork, I accompanied the Archdeacon to St. John's Parish, one of the five parishes within the Khartoum - North Archdeaconery. St. John's is located in Hay Yusif ( Hi Usef) and I drove all the way.

For those of you unimpressed, it is an hour away and involves the world's craziest drivers, including Sapana, and no rules. Not only that, the flashers were on both ways and could not be turned off. Lots of Sudanese hand communications that evening. I had to ask the Archdeacon after his prayer, if he prayed before all his trips or only those with American women drivers.

They just laugh at me here.

Along the way, he asked if I would like to see another of his churches and if I wanted to preach.

Okay, I have to admit this took me by surprise and I reminded him that I was laity. Thinking this would stop the conversation, he said no problem. I thanked him for offering, but at this time I did not think this was one of my talents.

However, if you wanted a sermon on how to connect with God through the internet, or how to choose the correct email provider to speak with God, or how to take pictures that would impress even God and send them as attachments, how to test circuits, or how to do Power Point presentations that would awe God, or prepare bar charts showing my good, bad, and not so good years, then I could give it a go.
Prior to beginning the enthralling topic of Budgeting, using the story from Matthew 25:21 (NIV):
'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!',
I was standing outside drawing attention to myself while trying to get cooler.

I happened to glance north and noticed that the sky was getting dark.
However, not only dark, it was getting brown.

For those of you who have seen The Mummy with Brandon Fraiser, you might think you know what a dust storm is. Well, that was created by professionals. This is created by Mother Nature. So, when you see this, you realize that somewhere someone had fooled Mother Nature and she was not happy.

As I watched this storm progress, the mother in me was trying to communicate with these wonderful children, that they should run home, quickly. That is Sapanastanding behind the car. They did not seem very anxious at all. I, on the other hand, remembered the last storm.

This last picture is taken from the steps of the church prior to running back inside.

So, what is it like? A dirty blowing snow storm, that hurts when it hits you in the face. However, that did not prevent these kids from staying outside. They simply turned away from the wind and walked along.

So, the adults went back inside, discussed budgeting in English and Arabic, and then, when the dust had cleared, took these group pictures.


Waiting for the Wind

It is 1 AM and I am awake, waiting for the wind.

When I drifted off to sleep around 10:30 PM, there was no wind. And, it was warm. I ran the fan.

I awoke a couple of times, drenched.

I used to think I knew the meaning of that word.


I did not.

Rascal awoke the same time that I did. My daughter and friends know why.

It is so quiet. No movements. Car lights come shining in over the wall for a moment and are then gone. The shower is dripping into the tub waiting below.

The rooster is not crowing. No dogs barking. No planes flying overhead.

So, putting on sandals, Rascal and I move to the outer courtyard. Sami is there.

He is just heading to bed. Worries that something is wrong.

No, just waiting for the wind.

Each night it is the same thing. Between midnight and 2 AM, the wind will pick up and it will blow into the house. The fan gets turned off.

Rascal is so quiet.

There is something reassuring about this desert routine. The repetitions in its life that I have come to know and love.

I will miss this routine. The waiting for the wind.


Here she is.