"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
So the big news this week is it looks like I'm going to the Sudan after Easter.
It's a diocesan trip, and Bishop Smith is going (Debbie, his wife, went two years ago ... on the trip with Sarah Stanage) along with me and six others -- three of whom are ECM students or alum (Emily Bloemker, Tina Grant and Reynolds Whalen). It's a 10-day trip, including travel ... which is pretty short, but that's all the Bishop's calendar will allow. We'll fly into Nairobi, stay at a Methodist guest house there, then take a Cessna across the border into Sudan, where we'll stay in the Diocese of Lui for four full days and parts of two others before making the trek back.
One of the things I know from talking with Sarah and others who have gone to Sudan is that there are ways it makes the trip to Ghana like a bike ride through Forest Park. Ghana is in really good shape for sub-Saharan Africa ... and, needless to say, Sudan is not. There is great hope there will be a formal peace agreement by the time we go, or at least the current truce will still be holding. The poverty is extreme ... and it manifests itself most noticably in lack of water (knew growing up in the desert would come in handy someday).
It's incredibly exciting ... and pretty unbelievable, too. We're looking at setting up a companion relationship with the Diocese of Lui, so this trip is important in relationship-building. It's also important for our community really making this kind of international mission work part of our corporate identity. We're already in talking stages of an ECM trip to Ghana in January, 2006 to work with the people at All Souls in Buduburam, CENCOSAD and the Anglican church there. Just in talking it up, we've got 4-6 students really interested, so that's even more exciting ... makes it feel less like just my thing and more like a direction in which we're all being called.
In other frequent flier news, it looks like I might be going to China for a couple weeks this summer. You might know that I'm on the Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns (or, the ECUSASCAIPJC), and we travel each triennium to places that are going to be the points of emphasis in our work. China is one of those places that has all the things we are concerned with -- a rising HIV/AIDS problem, serious issues with empowerment of women and access to primary education, a looming water crisis ... as well as a very slow development of religious freedom. We're going to build relationships with the church as it exists there right now in hopes that we can work together more as China opens up.
My hope is that Robin will come with me and then we (along with one of my friends on the Commission and his spouse) will do some travel of our own once the official visit is over (on our nickel, of course). The only real thing standing in the way of Robin coming over is child care for the kids, so we're working on that.
So ... it's possible that, after having never been anywhere other than U.S., northern Mexico and England I will, in 18 months, have been to Ghana twice (for a total of 2 months), the Sudan and China. Didn't see this coming with my life!
mike, rod and jane wallace and i were talking about the need for bikes in the diocese of lui. it might make sense to do a big order of parts from china and have them sent unassembled--with additional spare parts, like spokes and wheels and tubes. but what about shipping? can stuff get from port sudan down there by land, or is everthing forced to arrive by air? where would one go to find out
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."