Sudan and Sec. ot State Clinton

Here is the recent letter from the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Please pass this along. Please see their website at www.afrecs.org

The Honorable Hillary Clinton Secretary of State
2201 C Street
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am writing on behalf of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (AFRECS) – an organization of about 200 Episcopalians including many dioceses of our church as well as individual parishes who have actively assisted the Episcopal Church in Sudan as a force for reconciliation and peace in that war ravaged nation.

AFRECS seeks to give voice to the deep concerns of our Sudanese sisters and brothers that the peace process initiated with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by all parties to the Sudanese conflict is unraveling, that escalating violence in the region threatens the agreement, and that war and the suffering emanating from several decades of war could possibly return.

I know, Madam Secretary, that you, your special envoy to Sudan, and our ambassador to the United Nations are all aware of the fragility of the peace process in Sudan and the horrible consequences that will follow if the CPA is not faithfully implemented. However, I think it important to understand that as possibly the largest civil structure in Sudan, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan under the leadership of its new archbishop, Daniel Deng Bul, is seeking all possible means to keep the peace process alive and moving forward. This they are doing in the face of formidable obstacles. There is real concern among church leaders that the undermining of the peace process by those seeking an advantage in a divided and unstable Sudan will usher in another era of protracted violence and untold pain for the Sudanese people. AFRECS receives daily accounts of people being slaughtered and displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) accompanied by pleas for help from their American friends. They ask us to seek the support of our government in stemming the destruction that they had thought was behind them. Thus we reach out to you and the Administration for leadership on this pressing humanitarian issue.

Our church partners in Sudan and many who have recently visited the region express desperation and frustration that the hoped for peace and stability that the CPA was intended to achieve is in danger. Daily instances of violence being committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and a resurgence of tribal conflict which many assume has been instigated by the Khartoum government and supported with easy access to arms smuggled into the area all point to attempts to scuttle the peace process. This is occurring as Darfur continues as one of the world’s major humanitarian crises and as much of Sudan carries the burden of reconstruction and reconciliation.

It is our fervent plea that the Administration use its good offices and enlist the full cooperation of all those nations who nurtured and encouraged the CPA in insisting that the Khartoum government implement its obligations under the CPA, denounce and curtail the LRA, and cease from instigating actions by others which contribute to displacement of innocent persons and a destabilized Sudan.

The Archbishop in reporting on his Easter visit to Jonglei, one of the largest states in Southern Sudan, appealed to “to our partners, the Government of Southern Sudan and especially those governments and organizations that form Sudan’s overseas friends, in particular the United Nations agencies and the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands, …who as guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement … have a duty to prevent this nation from returning to war, and I urge you to consider very seriously the churches as key partners in the work of peace building on the ground.”

AFRECS asks that our government take this invitation seriously. We believe that our influence can help restore the strict implementation of the CPA. The specter of another civil war terrifies us all. Anything which our nation can do to prevent that from occurring would be a gift to a people who have known nothing but pain and anguish for nearly three decades.

Sincerely yours,

C. Richard Parkins Executive Director


Memorial Day A Year Later

Today Memorial Day. As such, I have been following the news, reading the News Journal, trying to be respectful of those that died serving my country. Since it has been a year, I have reprinted below what I wrote last year in Sudan.

I have never been outside of the United States for a Memorial Day Weekend.

Truth be told, I had to ask my daughter if this was Memorial Day Weekend.

There are, of course, no reminders about this important weekend in America.

I have successfully adapted to Khartoum time.

Or, unsuccessfully.

The BBC covered the story using the background of the white crosses at Arlington National Cemetery.

Comcast News showed a picture of an honor guard firing their salute, commenting about how busy these national cemeteries are at this time of the Iraq war.

There are no plans for a Memorial Day Parade by ex-pats here in Khartoum.

There will be no prayer services at any cemetery for those killed in harms way.

Instead, I worked Saturday and will work on Monday.

Today, Sunday, I will attend church at 6 PM.

Thankfully, there are no malls and no Memorial Day Weekend Sales. Events that have removed from American's conciousness the reason for the day off.

The reason for the remembering becomes much clearer if you are removed from America's distractions.

So, I ask a favor of you that are at home.

Take a few minutes today and tomorrow. Watch a prayer service in person or on TV.

Be silent for a few minutes and thank those that have given their lives and ask God to bless their families and friends.

This year, not much has changed in the US. Sales and special TV shows are running all weekend. The only connection to those that gave their lives are the words Memorial Day in front of SALE.

Shame on US, the U.S.


Side Tracked

Today started out with a plan.

Get up, get dressed, get gas and get going.

To Westchester County New York.

I had finally connected with someone who will be shuttling a computer to Diana in Darfur. I was to meet him at 1 PM. Had my directions in hand.

Everything was going well. I was headed up the NJ Turnpike, remembering why they call this the Garden state.

What a wonderful drive. And easy now that EZPass works.

Of course, it is a little like gambling with a credit card. I will not know what the trip cost me until my bank statement arrives.

Before I left, I decided that I would take a slight detour and drive by the NEW Yankee Stadium, snap a few pictures and then continue north.

Best laid plans, yada yada yada.

As I approach I realize that I am holding my breath. Where is it? There's the old, where is the new?

OMG. the light turns red, the camera comes out and voila. (That's my yellow Aveo in the corner.)

I continue driving and ask a cop about getting tickets.

What am I thinking?

Unlike a movie theatre, you cannot pull over, see if there are tickets and then park.

You must commit first. You must PARK and PAY.


Not me, I am going to see about street parking.

What a Delawarean.

So, I turn around, in the middle of the street, and head back to parking.

They really make it easy to spend cash. Park, walk, and spend.

Next thing I know, I am inside with this view.
And this view.And this...
I am one happy camper.

I find my seat mates to the right are Mike and Mike, Navy men serving on subs.

Here is Mike the Yankee Fan.

I do not have a picture of Mike the Minnesota Fan.

To my left sat Jose and Pena, up from Miami for a 15 party for his niece. They follow the Yankees to games whenever they can.

Behind us sat Army men in town for a Bachelor Party and wedding. Man, did they hate Red Sox Fans.

Loudly hated Red Sox Fans. More beer bought and spilled as bought and drank.

I wore the Yankees cap they were giving away. I look awful in caps. But, I wore it and my new botton up Jeter pinstripe shirt with pride.

And, here is my favorite player, the first batter up for the Yankees. Go Derek.

The Yankees won in extra innings, but not before I became a little dissolusioned with the NEW.

The stadium is so loud with technology that you cannot hear the game. No cracking of bats, no umpire calls, no actual hands clapping.

And no announcers. And no instant replay on the worlds biggest screen.

I had the peanuts and a beer. The cracker jack was Jose's favorite.

But, there was something missing. The sounds of the game.

Gentlemen, take the technology down a notch.

Bring the humans back to the game.

Those of us in the seats.


Life as Amusement Park

I am by nature a hopeful woman.

When leading Morning Prayer, I almost always close with this:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that ye should abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hope for me springs eternal.

When looking up the source of this, I discovered that it was Alexander Pope who wrote this. The rest of the sonnet is written below.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

-Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

Alexander Pope was also a translator of Homer's Odyssey. Discovering this comforts me at a time I need comforting.

Jim is watching out for me. From where, I do not know.

Jim was a non-believer, having been raised a Roman Catholic, and a fellow translator of Homer.

Jim struggled with his own shadows, but he loved K.

My hope was fading today, being replaced with disappointment.

In-actions replacing actions.

Promises made, not kept.

Plans made, not carried out.

Life is always full of disappointments, but sometimes the timing is different. Like a roller coaster or a merry go round.

Up and down, round and around, again and again.

A while ago I thought that my ride had changed. Like the teacups at Disney World.

Lots of laughter, but really going slowly.

How do you balance support for another individual, hoping for a better place for them, with the reality that it might never coming true?

How, as a parent do you come to grips with wanting the best and the realization that the best might never come?

Love does not always make a difference.