Sunday, August 2, 2009

Training the Yambio School Teachers

Teaching the youth to play Four Square

Matthew and the kid called "Captain Underpants"
Bob Bullen and Katura
Sue and kids

Sue and Asha ( for whom Asha Designs is named )

Sudanese brothers
Peggy giving gifts to women's church group

Peggy and kids

Neil and kids
Matthew singing with kids

Kyle giving lesson with keyboard donated by OSLC

Brothers in Christ

More Pictures


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Noon Time Message From London

We arrived safely is heathrow airport. We have a 3 hour layover and than are on our way to Boston.


Sent from Kyle's iTouch

July 29 -- " More Bars in More Places "

" hi, mel, made it to uganda last night, are in etebbe airport, heading for heathrow. be into logan tonight. thanks, susie "


Monday, July 27, 2009

Bob and Charles, a seminarian. They have become wonderful brothers in Christ
Hi to all back home,

It is our last day of full programs. We really have busy if not with the kids we are out talking with people. Yesterday we went to the english service at church and then again at 11:00 for the zanda service. The choir sang and danced in the late service they are so up lifting for all the people.

Pastor Nichols gave a sermon on Noah and what the rainbow means for all people. We are all introduced in each service and shook hands with everyone in the church. After church we had a meeting with the women who help in the church. We had a short devotion and the asked them what their needs are now for the church as well as themselves.

Many of the women would like to start a business so they can support their families. We gave them all a gift which they seemed very pleased with. It is like pulling teeth to get the women to talk but once you get them going they are like all of us... talk talk talk. We are all looking foward to getting home, we leave for Uganda tomorrow and then the states.


Going to church yesterday was an interesting experience. The first service, which was the english one, was nice it was only about 1 hour 15 min and it was nice and cool.

The next service that we went to which was the native language service was about 2 hours and 30 min. It was Long and very hot. I kept thinking, thank the lord for the tea in the morning. without the caffine i would have passed out. The sermon was given in the native language and translated to Arabic, which did not help us much.

We got a couple of the english/arabic/native speaking seminary students to translate to us what the sermon was about. I can't wait for Uganda tomarrow, where i can have running water to shower in! Also looking forward to seeing all of you again on sunday.



Praying with the guys of the Yambio youth group--about their families, their future schooling and much more

Yambio Lutheran Youth dancing and singing praises to God.

The Yambio Womens Group with Sue and Peggy. Peggy and Sue gave the women many gifts of encouragement.

July 26 AM - cool and foggy

Sue giving gifts to the Women's Group

July 26

It was cool this AM and foggy – not something I expected in Africa – but after the fog lifted it became very hot and then showered – it is not muggy and partly cloudy.

Today was our first experience in attending a church service, or rather two services – the first was traditional in English and was very recognizable as we used the blue book. The second service was in Zande with a translator standing next to Pastor Nicholas to convey the message in Arabic. Most of the population here is Zande but some only speak Arabic.

The services are quite long – the liturgical portions of the service strike me as more traditional than ours however the musical portions are lively and typically led by the youth – today was Youth Sunday so there were 5 or 6 songs with very elegantly choreographed dancing by the younger and older students, event their exiting and reentering the pews was part of the dance – the end of the services was also differentiated by Pastor Nicholas as had been in Khartoum and Juba for the past month and so he provided a lengthy update about the trip and its results.

Our faces appear to becoming more familiar to the group – however we are typically the center of attention and they remain curious about our every move. It is very interesting as their mannerisms are a bit different then ours and so interpreting facial expressions is a bit challenging – it could be my perception but women tend to be more reserved but open up when approached.

The darkness of the skin is quite variable but I find all their eyes very engaging given the contrast. Our time spend living across from the 17 seminarians has also given us time to get to know them and today was family day so we were able to meet their wives and children.

We have been fortunate to all be well and unaffected during our trip and hope and pray it continues so. All the best to those at home – it is hard to believe that next week this time we will be with you at OSLC.

- Bob

July 26, 2009

Just a quick note on this our last full day in Yambio. We had a great time this morning with the children at the Yambio Lutheran Primary School, telling stories, singing silly songs, playing games and handing out sweets. It's very warm again today, actually, more humid than hot, probably in the mid 80s with 95% humidity. We are all pretty sweaty, and some are a little stinkier than others...

Thank you for all your prayers and support of our team. As always, my week in Yambio is one that I will remember always. I pray that the Sudanese will remember us, also, and that God will lay his healing hand on this land.

God Bless,
Pastor Nicholas, preaching

Neil and Kyle with Sunday School kids

July 26, 2009

Worshiping at Yambio Lutheran Church

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Message to the Maine Team

We want to wish Godspeed to our Maine goers as you leave tomorrow for Portland! Thank you all for putting Jesus' love into action with the families of African refugees at the Root Cellar. We love you all and are praying for you from this side of the Atlantic!


A village in Yambio

Thank you so much for maintaining our blog. We all genuinely appreciate it so much. Below is a blog entry from me today. There's also a special one with well wishers for the Maine team. Please post that as a separate blog entry. Thanks!

Kyle also is sending a blog entry as well as 9 photos from our ministry here today. Please encourage folks in worship services tomorrow to read the blog as we've been working hard to keep it updated for all of you. We love you!


Hello to our families, friends and church families! It's Saturday evening about 6 p.m. here in Yambio and we're typing from the one working internet cafe in the town. There are so many God-moments to share with you that I have put them in bullets below. As our senders you all are just as much a part of our mission here as we are.

Last night (Friday) Kyle and Neil shared their testimonies with the 14 seminarians during our evening devotion time. We all thank God for these two young men. They talked about their own relationships with God and how they try to live for Him each day. It was a very moving experience and the seminarians were encouraged and showed much gratitude two Kyle and Neil.

Bob is becoming quite the preaching man! His presentation on leadership with the seminarians was fantastic, and his message today for the youth about trusting God was genuine and heartfelt. I am so thankful he is here. He continues to help us process information and ask great questions. It's great to have a fresh set of eyes and ears on the team this year.

Peggy is fantastic with the children! She brings such joy to each one through her teaching and love! She is the 'Parachute Queen' as well as our 'Medical Queen.' She and Kyle have been teaching CPR and First Aid basics to the teachers at both schools we've been working at--and the teachers are very grateful.

Sue is the 'Sudan Mama.' So many of the youth and seminarians ask for her, share their hearts with her and enjoy being with her. She listens to them and loves on them--and it's a beautiful thing to see. She continues to be generous in her giving and loving.

Today (Saturday) we spent 7 hours with about 20 youth from the Yambio Lutheran Church. Our focus of the day retreat was Proverbs 3:5-6: Trusting in God. We were able to give them devotions, cross necklaces and more. They sang and danced--and we danced with them!! Awesome! We've got some rhythm!

They very rarely have special events held for them, and it is these youth that are the teachers of the children in Sunday School. What a privilege for us to have an entire day for them to teach, encourage and have some good ol' fashioned fun with them! A special moment for me was when we split up the guys and gals. Picture this: Neil, Kyle, Bob, myself and 12 or so Sudanese guys (ages 17-30 or so) sitting under a thatched hut classroom sharing prayer requests with one another and then praying for one another. These moments were a gift from God to all of us. The young men prayed for all of you, our senders, as well!

Our training day with the Baguga teachers yesterday (Friday) went well. There are 10 teachers and they have not been paid for many many months. We will use some of the gift monies we brought to help with their salaries. We shared a variety of teaching tips, medical tips and AIDS prevention information. We also tried to teach them kickball--and boy was that funny! When a group of folks don't have a concept of baseball, kickball is a hard one to teach! Oy vey!

Speaking of laughter, our team spends a good amount of time doing that. Whether it's over a variety of creatures we've discovered in our rooms or in the bathrooms; or about being misunderstood when trying to teach or share something; or noticing how goofy we look at night as we walk around with our headlamps (flashlights on our heads) in the evenings! We look like a bunch of miners!!! Praise God for the gift of laughter

And can you believe this...the butter that we use for meals here in Yambio is 'Blue Band' butter and on the flight from London to Uganda they served us 'Penn State' pretzels! I kid you not!

Even in Africa, Penn State is still the best college football team! (in case you don't know--the Blue Band is Penn State's marching band!) I saved the Penn State pretzels to show you all so you'll believe me! Let's go Lions!

Neil Preaching

Neil discussing "Trust in God" with the seminarians.

Neil and Gideon (a Jr. in High School) at the youth outreach.

Kyle with children from Yambio.

July 25, 2009
Hello to friends and family back home,

It has been an awesome couple of days since my last blog entry. Today we were able to spend time with many of the youth from the Yambio Lutheran Church. Neil and I gave short messages about the importance of trusting God. We gave the male youth devotion books, Boston sport team shirts, cross necklaces, bracelets, and (Matthew's favorite) evangecubes. The girls were given Boston sport shirts as well as lipstick, bracelets, necklaces, nail polish, and bags.

We also taught the youth how to play 4-square. I got some intense games in against the guys, even though they did not understand all the rules to the game. Hangman was another popular game that we taught the teens. They slowly caught onto the gist of the game and even the quiet girls even won a few prizes at the end... after guessing the right word.

Last night, Neil and I had our first chance at preaching. We were asked to prepare a message for the seminarians and so we both talked about the importance of Trusting in God. I talked about David's trust in God when fighting Goliath and how I similiarly had to trust in God during my junior and most difficult year in high school. The seminarians really appreciated our messages about trust and I believe that God has used this team to bring hope for the 14 seminarians.

Yesterday we also spent time with the leaders from Baguga during which we gave them health tips and tricks for enhancing the learning experience for the students at Baguga. We gave the teachers devotion books, teaching books, and other tools that would help them as teachers and Men of God. During our breaks we taught the teachers 4- square and kickball which they all thoroughly enjoyed.

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to come to Sudan. It has been a huge blessing spending time with my fellow teammates, church leaders, teachers, and youth.

The children here are also a lot of fun to be with. Even here in the internet cafe, there are a group of children just hanging around being friendly and funny. The smiles on their faces would brighten any sad face. A simple smile and wave at the kids is enough to get them jumping up and down, giggling, waving, and smiling. I have done my best to be a friendly Kawaga (white person) to the kids. The kids are all so intrigued by our presence and it is a lot of fun to laugh and play with them.

I have had many opportunities to play soccer with the kids here and it has been nothing but a good time. They love watching me play; whether I score goals or just make a fool of myself. They all cheer me on and laugh with me during the games. Not only has it been a lot of fun to play with the kids, but I have also been very impressed by the young kids skill on the field. For their age they are very good at the game and I just enjoy spending time with such happy and friendly kids. I am very happy that we were able to donate so many soccer balls to the children of Sudan.

Thanks for your prayers!!!


The entire Yambio Lutheran Church youth group.

Sue and Peggy with the girls youth group from the Yambio Lutheran Church.

Peggy, Matthew, and Kyle dancing with the youth group.

With the Youth Group

Bob discussing Proverbs 3:5-6 with the youth group.

Sunday July 26 - Yambio

The male youth group from the Yambio Lutheran Church.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24 Baguga School

The Baguga School teachers listening intently to the team's presentation.
Hello Everyone!

Being over here has really opened my eyes to the third world. There is such a lack of the things that we take for granted everyday, the biggest being infrastructure. Little things like running water and always having electricity all hours of the day. Over here running water has a completely different meaning. Over here someone runs to the river or well to run back with water to use, and electricity comes on by a generator and only from 7pm to 11pm. Other small things that the teachers loved that we take for granted are a toothbrush and toothpaste, something that they do not normally use.

I find it so hard to watch because I want to help so much but in some cases there is nothing I can do until there is infrastructure. As soon as they come up with infrastructure, all of the lives in Sudan will be so much better and easier lived.

Today I learned that the teacher strike in the government schools was settled, and that the government decided to finally pay the teachers in the schools. But there are still the private Christian schools that need funding. The Baguga school is in desperate need of funds. They have about 375 students and there are only 3 small, one story huts to teach in. Also they only have about 10 teachers for all of those students, Kindergarten through grade eight. These teachers have not even been paid for the past six months yet they still continue to work. This is amazing that they still continue to work. No one in there right mind in America would continue to work for six months not knowing when the next time they will get paid. God has truly blessed this school with teachers who continue to work under these condition. --Neil

Our Team with the Semanarians

Hell-o to all family friends and lcs,

The team is all doing well no one has been sick thank the Lord above. We began our day going to the Baguga school to see all the children We were very surprised to see only 100 children there due to it being the second day back after the holiday. I guess it takes a week to get everyone to return to school. The students were all happy to see us do our bible skits. The Baguga students were not afraid of the puppets they wanted to touch them and play with them. The ride to Baguga which took us an hour last time took 30 minutes the roads are improving. We all returned tired and very sweaty, it is really hot here! We set off for the internet café which is a lesson in patience for most of us. I think it took me 20 minutes to send one e-mail yesterday,

We stopped in Yambio market to buy the boys material for shirts and they love the bright fabrics. After dinner we had a devotion session with the seminary students run by Bob one of our team members. (He did a great job). We handed out all the materials we brought for the students and they were very grateful. We taught some of the students to play uno cards. They had so many questions for us about the U.SA.. Charles thought we all had a plot of land and grew our food for our families. We tried to explain a grocery store but he was really confused. When we explained that the food was already there on the shelves to buy, the look on his face was priceless. Oh what we all take for granted. The teachers and the seminary students have patience and perseverance that put me to shame. –PEGGY

Distributing Supplies at The Seminary

Kyle and Peggy handing out supplies to the seminarians.

4 - Square

The Baguga School teachers playing 4- square for the first time.

With The Seminary Students

This morning, we were awakened by the heralding of the guest house’s roosters, telling us that a new day was starting, with or without us. Then, the noises of the seminary student began, laughter, music from their little radios, sounds of water being drawn for baths and laundry. Slowly, unenthusiastically, reluctantly, I got out of bed and trundled off to the toilet. (Not the bathroom here…that’s where we shower, and, certainly not the restroom…there is no resting in there!) We don’t have to use the squatty potty this year, but, what we have is only slightly less icky. It is a flush toilet, but, there is no water plumbed to it, so, in order to flush it, we must fill the tank with water from a large yellow jerry can…I’m not certain where they get the water to fill the can…I don’t think I want to know. But, for Yambio, this flush toilet is the height of luxury and they are very proud to offer it to us.

It has been a blessing to get to know the seminary students. They are wonderful, dynamic young men who are, at great sacrifice to their families, studying to be pastors in a 4 year program. They live here at the guest house, some of them leaving wives and children hundreds of miles away, for a nine month program, then, home for a few months before starting it all again. Most do not get to go home anytime in those nine months. One young man, Charles, is from Tambura, a town 150 miles away and when he goes home, he does so on a bicycle! These are young men who are truly committed to the cause of Christ. There presence has been a blessing.--Susie

July 24 Bob Preaching

Friday July 24

Matthew showing the AIDS cube to the Baguga School teachers

"Jesus Loves You - So Do We"

"Jesus Loves You - So Do We"

Baby Joseph

Peggy Holding Baby Joseph

Kyle, Kids, and Elephant Puppet

Greetings from Yambio, Sudan.

Sitting here on July 23, 2009, it is amazing to think back on the
events that have taken place over the last few days. Two days ago, we
left Uganda for Sudan on the small MAF plane in which I was co-pilot
to Pilot Achim. He was a very friendly man, willing to show me the
cockpit and all it’s contents. After an impressive landing in Yambio
we met members of the church and left for our Sudanese homes. After
purchasing Sudanese fabrics at the market, we were measured by the
tailors for our custom fitted outfits. In our first night in Sudan,
Neil and I had some very new experiences: a fast lizard almost got
into our room, scared bird caught in the corner of our room, and a
killer (exaggeration) moth landed on my neck right before bed.

But after a wonderful night of sleep, we left for the nearby Yambio
Primary School at which we put on a Creation play and a Noah’s Ark
play. The kids loved all the puppets and animal masks that we used
during the skits. We sang the Funky Chicken and Jesus Loves Me with
the children as well. Than we set up two stations for the children:
one had the parachute and the other had bubbles. Later in the day, we
went to the Yambio Hospital to witness the needs of the facility. It
was good to see that supplies and equipment were readily available,
but even sadder to see that the hospital was unable to use a lot of
the equipment because they have no consistent and strong source of
power. Before supper we walked to the nearby soccer field where we had
given a soccer ball to the children. I got a chance to play with the
younger kids and it was a lot of fun. The kids were very young, but
very talented for their age. I was impressed by the skill and passion
for the game.

Today we went to the Baguga School to host a children’s outreach.
After meeting with the teachers and local chief to discuss problems
and solutions to the difficult situation, we acted out the two plays
from yesterday, as well as a play about the Prodigal Son. Afterwards,
the children thoroughly enjoyed the parachute and “Red Light Green
Light.” After a donation of three soccer balls to the school I got
another chance to play soccer with the Sudanese children. Again, I was
very impressed with the skill of the much younger children. For their
age, they are all very talented. Tonight I am hoping to get the chance
to play with the kids again before devotion.

Thanks for all the prayers!!


Kyle playing soccer with the Baguga kids.

A Group of Kids From The Baguga School

Thursday Afternoon July 23

In the afternoon, we visited the Yambio hospital…it is so discouraging
to see so many in need of medical attention and so little that can be
done for them. The doctors and staff are very frustrated and somewhat
defeated by that overwhelming need. Most everything stems from a
lack of power; no power to run sterilizing autoclaves, to power lights
in the operating theater, to purify their water. It looks,
basically, like a civil war era hospital, not clean, open air and
large wards with bed after bed.

This is a land of want, of hard work and of few comforts, yet, the
people greet us with smiles and handshakes wherever we go.

Thanks for your prayers,

To the Baguga School

Our bus ride to the Baguga School- the team is on the bus.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The weather has been very warm and very humid, but, it rained last
night and we thought that would help clear the air, so to speak. Not
so much. It is even more humid today, but, hey, we’re in Africa!
What would you expect?

We are going to the school in Baguga for the first time today and we
will be playing with the kids, doing skits and songs, and being warmed
by their amazing smiles. Yesterday, we went to the primary school
here in Yambio. We were met by the sound of 200 children singing a
song to greet us as we walked up the trail to their school. We told
the stories of the creation and of Noah, using puppets and animal
masks, to the children’s delight. Their laughter almost drowned out
the voice of the storytellers.


July 23

Bob and Neil playing with the kids at Baguga School.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Soccer Donation

Bob and Kyle giving soccer balls to the Yambio Primary School.