Sunday, November 24, 2013

What does Love Look Like?

What does love look like? This question has been quietly simmering in the back of my mind lately. It popped up as I lost my shoe to the grasping mud for the second time. I felt around for it with my foot, hoping to find it and nothing else in the muddy water. I was half supporting, half carrying our oldest worker to her home to recover from combined pneumonia and malaria. Although she is nearly 10 years younger than I am, she looks nearly 20 years older; my generations of good nutrition contrasting with her heritage of deprivation. 

“What does love look like?”, I wondered, stopping myself from running out to protect the precious 2 inches of rainwater left in our last rain barrel. I was watching the community children as they laughed and chatted while letting the water run unused. After all, they didn’t want to rush taking turns to wash their feet! This is sharing life with the poor. It is sharing in the lack of running water and understanding the lack of foresight to conserve it when the means of conserving water are so often unavailable, and even unimaginable.

What does love look like?I am struck by the sheer power of goodness shining through the midst of difficult circumstances. God is unfailingly good. And the challenge to look for, to see and to express His goodness in every aspect of life - surely this is what love looks like.

Horn of Africa Area Assembly:
The audience hushed as ‘Jesus’ walked in, resplendent in wig and re-purposed Mothers’ Union uniform. It was the 3rd bible study drama of the Area Assembly. This one, presented by the Opo, was bound to be good! In quiet solemnity, the crowd followed Jesus, holding wounded heads bound in cloth, walking with shortened and twisted limbs, and otherwise looking generally woe-begone. With quiet majesty, Jesus healed all.  As all sat down, one of the disciples approached the Lord, clearly explaining in Opo that the crowd needed to eat. A regal gesture from Jesus sent him back to the crowd, where 5 small loaves and 2 real fish were produced in hushed reverence. As Jesus lifted the basket high in mute thanksgiving, the plastic bag under the loaves and fish was ripped away, revealing the hidden bounty of bread rolls underneath. Electrifyingly, the crowd leapt to their feet, their cries of joy erupting from the absolute silence like a foretaste of resurrection! As one man, they dove in a free for all scrum, loaves of bread flying everywhere, mouths full of laughter and food - real joy... and really funny!

Area Assembly: 200 gathered for 2 days of business, worship and teaching. See attached “Bishop’s Charge”

Clergy and Lay vote at Area Assembly

Definitely NOT boring!  Just a couple of years ago, life was fairly predictable. Most days I could be found in my office, in front of my computer screen doing professorial preparation or in the classroom teaching. But now, a kaleidoscope of travel has kept life, well, let’s say ‘interesting’! 

South Sudan: Speaking at the retreat for students graduating from Bishop Gwynne College and then at the graduation itself combined joy (finally a chance to go to the college where Wendy and I were to have gone almost 30 years ago but were prevented by war), and frustration (preaching at Emmanuel Jieng Church, the wonderful worship interrupted by an hour long campaign speech by the country’s Vice President as he ‘greeted’ the people).

Addis: learning Amharic; jumping through residency permit hoops; filling in at our English congregation while the rector was away; leading and preaching at the Remembrance Day service organized by the British Embassy with 40 ambassadors and their ‘Military Attaches’; introducing a famous Baptist preacher at theSunday evening service at St Matthew’s. 
During one of our trips to Addis, a couple of terrorists blew themselves up while trying to assemble a bomb that they had intended to detonate at a large football match between Ethiopia and Nigeria. The devastation would have been horrific. The country is now on heightened alert. Nothing boring about life here.

Gambella: Life has been no less varied. Reports, repairs, preparation, Area Assembly (like a church ‘Convention’ or ‘Synod’ for the Episcopal Area of the Horn of Africa), and of course, interruptions - the stuff of ministry here. Wonderful visitors from the Mothers’ Union (one from London, one from Juba, one from Addis) to train local literacy facilitators in how to teach the women in our Gambella churches how to read their own language; great visit from St Matthew’s Church representatives to the Area Assembly. Much less helpful visit from a (now) former priest (deposed for neglect of duty, deception, violence and threatening behaviour among other things). Not much that is ‘routine’ here either.

I have often told people that nothing is mediocre in Africa - it is either spectacularly wonderful or truly awful.  I recently read the Old Testament story of the spies going to check out Canaan. Most of them (10 out of 12) came back with the report, “The people were like giants; we seemed like grasshoppers next to them.” A couple of days after reading the passage, I realized that I had caught a case of that exotic disease, ‘grasshopper syndrome’. I was having a tough time trusting that God would give the resources (material and spiritual) that are needed for this work. The ‘cares and occupations’ were taking a toll. I began to long for that 9-5 routine at the desk and in the classroom. A bit of boredom sounded kind of nice. A series of people and events have helped. Bishop Mouneer in Egypt has provided great wisdom; countless encouraging emails seem to arrive just when I need them; and (of course!) Wendy is always there to pray and support. God is good - I may be a grasshopper, but our God sure isn’t. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 2013

Hope in practice

Rev Deng Mark Khor, installation Sept 8th

The beauty of the drive was only surpassed by the frustration of its ending. We had almost made it to Opo land. Nearly 400 people were waiting for us to come to be with them in this, the first time ever, that a believer had actually died since the Opo people, nearly all 3000 of them, had come to faith in Jesus Christ six years earlier. 
But there we were, blocked by the treacherous mud sinkholes hidden beneath the brown surface of the river. It was impassable by car. I stood in the rain, watching Grant, Isaac and Cherinet trying to sound out a passage through the river, astonished by the muted beauty of the water birds and lilies hiding the potential danger of crocodiles, snakes and mosquitos. “Let me go on”, begged Isaac, our Nuer priest - “it should only be a few hours walk now!” Actually, it turned out to be 7 hours of sliding through the sharp rocks hidden by the grasping mud. Isaac, cold, wet, and only 2 days into his course of medication for one of the many tropical diseases that are a part of life here, was able to connect heart to heart with these people, as he talked of the hope of those who had died in Christ, held the memorial service, and then sat under a tree all the next day and answered their many questions. We thank God for Isaac and for the beautiful Opo people.

On September 4th and 5th, we hosted 34 women representing 20 distinct Mothers’ Union groups functioning out of our 14 Mission Centres spread throughout the Gambella region. It was wonderful to see how intently the women listened to the introductory story dealing with issues of how we learn and how we can work together to help take care of problems in the community. And it was a delight to see how much they enjoyed using pictures and story-telling as they later practiced teaching this to one another! They had lots of fun looking through magnifying glasses and binoculars in the session on how we are able to see things that contaminate water, and they were amazed (and quite horrified!) at the pictures of microorganisms shown to them on my computer!

Our practice sessions on solar water purification, water filter construction, clean water dispensers and dish drying racks were full of laughter, good questions and good discussion. When each of the representatives left to return to their Mission Centres, they carried the materials to make their own clean water dispensers, carrying these simple, inexpensive and locally available items as if they were carrying costly treasure.
These ‘water dispensers’ that our representatives will make during their own community demonstration/teaching sessions will replace the common open (and never washed) communal pot of water (which is usually kept inside the mud-walled, thatched roof church office, in the dark), and into which one unwashed cup is passed from one coughing adult to one feverish child, to another with diarrhea, etc.

Our pre-project survey showed a horrifying average of 2 to 4 surviving children per an average of 9 to 11 children born into the family, most dying under age 5 from communicable disease and malaria. Some were moved to tears to think that what they are learning may save the lives of their precious children. To think that the occurrence and re-occurrence of diarrhea is something that can be taken care of and prevented was a new concept to many. To communicate these important truths in a way that is fun, non-judgmental and memorable is one of the main goals of the program. Our Mothers’ Union representatives will return to teach what they have learned by holding a teaching day for all of our 1500 Mothers’ Union members at the Mission Centres, and then by holding a second teaching day at our 70 local churches where each Mothers’ Union member is encouraged to invite and teach at least one community guest. We’ve gotten off to a great start!

Please pray with us for Sarah Nyamuouch Kuel, daughter of our priest Peter Kuel. She was crouching down to avoid the gun fire from the cattle raiders who were attacking her village, when her life was changed in an instant by a bullet shattering her right femur. This was last December. Finally, we have the connections in place to have a surgical correction of an 9 cm loss in bone height (it would end up being about a 12-13 cm difference by the time her growth spurt ended). The marked rotational deformity and likely complete loss of nerve function to the quadriceps will make the surgical correction very complex and also a very long process. Thankfully, the Canadian orthopedic surgeon who has offered to provide this care at the lowest possible fee, is working hard with us to make Sarah's recovery a reality. Please look to God with us for His provision for this little girl. 

Please pray for connections to cardiac care for little Kwess, the 4 year old son of Ariet, one of our staff at the Gambella Anglican Centre. He is the size of a two year old. Suffering from a congenital heart problem, he has great difficulty breathing when he eats, and suffers from incessant recurrent respiratory infections. This type of heart defect is only correctable by surgery - an impossible dream right now for Ariet, who would have to give at least 10 year's salary for this procedure. Our priest, Michael Lual, also has a beautiful little girl, 6 years old, needing this same care. 

Bishop’s Schedule during the Aug/Sept, the later half of Ethiopian rainy season (appropriately named “Krempt”) 
On the (12+48)th day of Krempt, the schedule summary:
12 Preachers Preaching: GAC*-Aug, Sept: training days for 16 clergy (*GAC = Gambella Anglican Centre)
11 Lay Readers Reading: GAC-Aug 27-30: Lay Readers Training -  90 present
10 Drummers Drumming: GAC-Aug 30-Sept 4: Making of new drums for Anuak congregations 
9 Ladies Learning: GAC-Sept 4-5: Mothers’ Union Community Education&Development training
8 Meetings metedAddis-Aug 10, 12-13: S* Believers; Aug 13: Area committee mtg
7 Bibles bringing200 Nuer bibles purchased, to be brought from South Sudan
6 Groups a-gatheringPre-Project community survey & community visitation by Mothers Union Coordinators & GAC staff throughout Gambella region
5 Other things: Isaac Pur & David Anuk appointed to translate Gospel of Mark from Nuer to Opo; Addis-Sept 12- 27: Amharic language school; Aug 4 & 22: church visitations Bonga & Ilea; Sept 15,22,29: Services St Matthew’s Church; Sept 12-28: Addis - mountain (of red tape) climbing.
4 Confirmands: GAC- Sept 1: St Barnabas Church 20-30 confirmations & baptisms
3 OrdinandsPilwal: Peter Gak (priesthood), Peter Tot (deaconate); Gambella: Darash Thatha (priesthood)
2 Installations: Gambella - Sept 8: Rev Deng Mark & Deacon Peter Tot installed St Luke’s
And a Party apparen-t-ly Addis: Sept 27-28 Meskel - celebration of the finding of the true cross, marking the completion of one full year of service in our amazing Ethiopia!
                                            Mothers' Union Community
Education and Development
Program: Training session 1
Achum Chum
Mothers' Union Representative, Dimma
Practice Teaching sessions 
Small Group session

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Dedicating Nininyang's new church

The thought sprung unbidden to mind as we turned off the main road and deliberately nose-dived into the ditch. Just how deep the ditch was, was hidden by the tall grass. I was reassured by the encouraging smiles and waving hands of our guides, mostly hidden in the head-high grass, as they directed us away from the thorny acacia bushes, and in between fields of maize, towards Nininyang’s new church - the roof just visible in the distance. We had arrived!! We were to spend the night resting and preparing for tomorrow’s service - the dedication of the new church! We had plans, after leading an impromptu welcome service, for a quiet night in our tent, in the church. The congregation had other plans. We could not possibly really want to be left alone - they could all spend the night with us!!! Party time!!! We can cook tomorrow’s feast, shout, laugh, sing (of course AT the top of our lungs), and beat the drum enthusiastically with ALL our might!! We emerged from our tent in the pre-dawn dark in some haste when the noise reached a new crescendo. "Were they calling us to get up?" we wondered. Peter Kuel, priest in charge of Nininyang mission centre, met us with his gentle smile, “Why are you up so early?” No matter, we could sit with the ladies as they prepared the feast on the ground in front of the church. I never realized just how grey cow intestines were, but perhaps they had blanched under the doleful eye of the cow's head, sitting together with the tail, seeming to observe all the preparations with less than an enthusiastic air. A feast of Kop (mixed maize and wheat flour) was prepared by two delightful but unfortunately incessantly coughing ladies. Too late we learned that it was mixed with unboiled water, much to our later intestinal regret. The dedication service was a mixture of joy and sorrow. Merle raiders had attacked the village next to us, killing some, kidnapping others. Peter Kuel’s niece was one of the children killed. A dear lady who had walked from a nearby village bringing with her the gift of a goat, was prevented from attending the service. She arrested that morning on the charge of having, by witchcraft, killed someone who had been bitten by a snake. Peter and a member of the congregation who was a policeman obtained temporary release for her, pending trial the next day. We prayed with her. “It is impossible! She is a Christian!” declared Peter. We all gathered round and prayed. It was clergy training days as we returned home from Nininyang. I’ll let Grant tell of this. ...And Sorrow Every month the clergy of the Gambella region in western Ethiopia come for two to three days of training. We are reading through 1 Corinthians, reading a book on the 39 Articles of Religion, and talking about pastoral issues in the area. At a recent gathering one of the clergy came to me during a break. “Bishop, I have a problem. I need help to understand something”. David Onuk is the priest for the Opo people a small language group two hours into the bush from Gambella town. Although the Ethiopian census number only 1,700, there are probably closer to 5,000 Opo people in the world (it is hard to count people who are so isolated). In the last few years many of them have become (Anglican) Christians. David’s problem took me by surprise, so I brought the story to the assembled clergy to discuss. A 19-year old nephew, James, who lived with David and his family, had gone off with a group of other young men to hunt for honey in the forest. They found a nest in a tree and James climbed the tree to retrieve the honey. The bees attacked and James fell from the tree impaling himself in the chest as he landed. By the time David reached the scene James was dead. Then David explained his dilemma. James is the first Opo Christian who has ever died. Some of the people are confused. Are Christians supposed to die? What happens to a Christian when he dies? David explained that the Opo have no view of an afterlife (at this point Grant the pastor was supplanted by Grant the student of African religion: really? I’ve never heard of a group of Africans with no view of an afterlife? Almost all Africans have some way of understanding the ancestors and their continued , usually shadowy, existence after death). After relating the details of the story, and after receiving comfort and assurances of prayers from the other pastors, we turned to an attempt to help David to communicate the meaning of this event to his people. The passage which, in the end, seemed most helpful was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, but especially the first two verses: "We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve as those who have no hope. For, since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died." Paul, it seems, had encountered a problem in Thessalonica which was similar to the problem that the Opo were having. Didn’t Jesus defeat death? Doesn’t John 3:16 say that those who believe in Jesus “will not perish”? So what does it mean that Christians die? We talked for quite a while about that fact that Jesus himself faced death. We talked about the resurrection of Jesus and how Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” of our future resurrection. We talked about how we do not have to grieve as if facing death means facing total loss and emptiness, but how our grief is intermingled with true hope - because Jesus rose, we have the assurance of being raised with him. James, even now, is truly in Christ. 

 ~ Please Pray with us ~ 

~ For the preparation for the Mothers' Union project as each Mission Centre community is visited, and as each community elects its project representative 
~ For ongoing ministry in Addis among Christians from a nearby country 
~ For the peace of the countries of this area of the world. 
~ For water for the Gambella Anglican Centre (more than 3 months without running water, the water tank rusted and now broken beyond repair) 
~ Thanksgiving for the life of deacon Ayano Chule, and for his ministry to religious leaders living with HIV/AIDs who passed away July 2013

 Mothers' Union Coordinator, Achua, teaches at Ilea about the coming "Community Education and Development Project". 

Nininyang Houses: Only the rooftops are visible during rainy season

Tuesday, July 16, 2013



...In Gambella
        “Bishop, I want you to release me from being a pastor.”  As a young man, he had been required to marry his uncle’s widow. This was to ensure that his uncle, though deceased, would have children. In Nuer tradition, having children is the only way one is remembered in the after-life. He had been obedient to the family and married a woman he barely knew. It turned out to be a good and happy marriage. They had eight children, two now grown and married. Now his extended family have made a new demand. Since the wife and children are not “his” but his uncle’s and because all Nuer must marry and have children, the family he has known as his own for over twenty years have been taken away. Now, they insist, he must marry in order to have his own children so that he too can be remembered in the after-life.
       This faithful priest faces faces a dilemma. Should he remain alone, yet true to his long-time wife (now no longer in the country), or should he resign from the priesthood, honour Nuer tradition, and marry a “new” wife? 
Can he honour his family by pointing them to Jesus? Can he witness to the fact that we are remembered in the after-life because we are already known, loved and saved by our risen Lord? Can he trust in the power of Jesus to save from the retaliatory curses visited on a disobedient son?
       After some weeks of agony, he made his choice. We believe it was a good one. He is still a pastor.
       Pray for our clergy.

...In Another Place
       In a very different part of our Episcopal Area, the peace of a Bible study and prayer group was suddenly shattered. Imagine, what it must be like...arrested for having a Bible study. Then you hear that they have gone to your house and interrogated your children. The youngest, two years old, can’t even understand the questions; “What does your Father do for a living?” An urgent prayer request is sent. Without your knowing it, two hundred people attending a diocesan synod several countries away, knelt to pray for you. Funds for a lawyer were quietly and quickly transferred. Miraculously you and six others are released. Sadly, the owner of the home is sentenced to three months in prison for propagating the Christian faith. It could have been much worse. The charge carried a possible sentence of three years. In other parts of the same country, it would have meant a death sentence, carried out without a trial.
       Pray for the persecuted church.

...In Tiergol
       “Tiergol is flooded with refugees. All the food in the market has been eaten. People are starving.”  Armed Sudanese raiders were destabilizing the regions of South Sudan adjacent to this area of the Gambella region of Ethiopia. Michael looked at Grant hopefully, “Can we do something?”
A trip to the World Food Program office revealed that the organization was aware of the problem but still waiting for permission to deliver food to the region - the situation was deemed too insecure to allow them access.
       An Anglican priest, however, did have access. In God’s provision, as Grant and Michael discussed the situation, a member of the Anglican Board of Mission (Australia) sat in our living room listening and quietly typing on her keyboard. “I have Australian dollars for emergency relief,” she said.  Within a few days, thanks to ABM and to Michael’s organizational ability, twenty villages received much needed food supplies. A second shipment was taken to Tiergol just last week.
       We give thanks for your prayer and partnership!


The new Anuak Bible

There are seventy languages groups in Ethiopia. Most groups have no Bible in their language, although there are many language projects underway. Our Anglican Christians have complete Bibles in English (obviously!), Nuer, Amharic and Somali. Our Mabaan and Jieng (Dinka) Christians have the New Testament but no Old Testament (the Jieng are getting close). The Opo (or Opuoo) people have none of the Bible in their language: when the Bible is read in their services, the reader uses an English, Amharic or Nuer Bible and translates extemporaneously. The Opo have only had an alphabet for a few years. The Anuak have had the New Testament since the 1960s when it was released in the Sudan in Latin script and in Ethiopia in Amharic script. Now, at last, the Anuak people have a complete Bible which includes the Old Testament and a revision of the New Testament.

One of the translators of the Anuak Bible, Niles Reimer, celebrates with the ecumenical gathering at the Bethel Synod of the Mekane Yesus Church of Gambella.
The fruit of 45 years of translation and revision,  the Bible was celebrated with reverence and joy.

A young Anuak girl watches the celebration

Emergency food
....on its way to Tiergol

... arriving in Tiergol

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sharing Life.... Mission

“Aaah! Aaaaaah!”  'Who was this tormented person?', we wondered. How could we help? While one of us (who shall remain nameless) fell asleep, Grant stayed awake, praying fervently for the sufferer whose cries pierced the quiet of the night in this Opo village. In the morning we saw who it was. It was a goat. Standing and straining at his tether, he was leaning down and screaming into the ear of the goat next to him. From time to time, the object of this attention, with almost palpable disdain, would - “Pugh!” - spit into his accuser’s face, eliciting even more aggrieved and vocal protest. The goat argument was happily ignored by the women who sat near them, already hard at work preparing morning tea. Finally Grant could stand it no longer. Walking over to the goats, he addressed them directly: “WHAT’S your PROBLEM?”  There was a moment of frozen disbelief as both goats and women stared at the bishop, standing with his arms spread in earnest supplication before...a goat! The women doubled over in incredulous laughter. But the goat, his little head hung down, went humbly to his own patch of dirt, and, for the first time in many hours, sat down quietly.
It must have been the prayers...

... and prayed for...
“Do you live in the woods?”, she had asked us as we emerged out of the small strand of trees separating her property from the one next door. We chatted in the warmth of the complete and instant friendship that only the very young can give. Now a year later, we have learned that every night before she goes to bed, this little girl from South Carolina, folds her small hands and prays to God to bless Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy. We were overwhelmed. 

Teaching....And Taught
There is a little church in western Ethiopia, in a town called Illia. The church’s walls are made of a few bamboo sticks; its roof a UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) tarp . There is nothing inside but a bare, smooth floor of packed mud. The small congregation somehow had found a chair for the bishop to sit in, while they themselves sat on the ground. They listened as Grant taught about the woman who had given Jesus her wealth - her gift of costly ointment worth a year’s wages; had given her pride - in the ancient world only a slave could be required to attend to a person’s feet; and she had given her reputation - she had let down her hair to wash Jesus’ feet. As it came time for this church to give the offering, to the handfuls of grain and little one birr notes (worth six cents) that were laid on the mat, were added the gifts of the women. One laid down her head scarf, the next her necklace of plastic beads, and one by one, women, who from a western perspective had ‘nothing’, came and brought their gifts - ‘costly’, because that was all they had. In the West, because of (or perhaps in spite of) the ‘much’ that we have, we can substitute pleasure for joy. The women of Ilea do not have this option - but they have joy. The poor have something to teach us. 

Back in North America for April and May, as we reconnect with friends and family, we are more grateful than we can express - for you, and for your friendship, your prayers and your support. What a joy to partner with each other and with Jesus in His love for us all!

The Rt Rev Dr Grant LeMarquand and Dr Wendy LeMarquand are missionaries of SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders)
Bishop Grant is Area bishop for the Horn of Africa within the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

Praying in Matar

Sharing the Bible
Thank you to those who gave the gift of Anuak and Nuer bibles:
Church of the Incarnation & Shepherd's Heart, PA
Parish of St Helena, SC
St Peter's Church & St Claire of Assisi Church, CA

~ Please pray for the following projects ~

The Nehemiah Project
will provide:
  • much needed security for staff and residents of Gambella Anglican Centre
  • demonstration vertical gardens, an alternative for those who have no land for family gardening
  • teaching eco-friendly brick making from local materials for income generation
See link: Nehemiah project

Rebuilding and Repairing Churches in the Gambella Region
will provide:

  • an on-site church for the future theological college chapel and for use of the local Anuak congregation
  • new churches for those whose churches were destroyed by flooding
see link in future newsletter: Expanding the Gambella Anglican Centre

The Mothers’ Union Community Education and Development Project
will provide:

  • education by “training the trainers” in health, bible, prayer ministry and income generation

If you would like to share in this work, see the following charitable donation links:
In Canada: Devxchange

In the UK: Friends of the Anglican Church in Ethiopia, and Egypt Diocesan Association 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Good Friday

March 2013
       “I was wondering,” Johann later mused, “what does one DO when one’s pajamas are carefully laid on the pulpit beside you as you preach?” We were with him when, without missing a beat, he continued talking about the heart of Love, - as clothes, toothbrush etc were quietly, almost reverently laid beside him.
       “A sheep has done this,” explained John to Grant. Seeing Grant’s respectful but somewhat blank and enquiring expression, John, priest in charge of Matar Mission Centre, further explained, “ A sheep has broken into the car”.  As Grant was trying to visualize this, it dawned on him - “Ohh!! A THIEF!”. Our minds went immediately to the money given to re-roof the church. Was that taken too? 
       Thankfully, only one bag had been opened, and the items recovered, one by one, it seemed. Preaching, communion, confirmation and church council meeting later, it was off to the police station. There was our thief or lost ‘sheep’ - the Nuer pronunciation of sh/th and f/p being somewhat interchangeable. He was a skinny, underweight and undersized little guy, 14 going on 11 in appearance, named Chol (a Nuer name meaning “the one born after the previous child has died”). He was from South Sudan, just across the river. He was alone, without parents, food or means of support.
       What to do with him? It was decided by consensus, as is so often the case in this culture; “Let us take him home and feed him.”
       When I met him, Chol was sitting in the corner, his back to us in self-imposed shame, eating leftovers from the morning’s breakfast ‘feast’ of goat kidney stew. He had been admonished by the Mammas, “Don’t you know that we are your mothers? If you are hungry, you come to us!” We offered to pray for him. He was willing. By the time we drove off he actually waved, though in his eyes, tears were threatening.
       Two weeks later we watched another thief as he walked off with our soap. It was the day after he had received his disciplinary letter of suspension from his duties as parish priest; his church’s money having been redirected into the unimaginable riches of his new fridge and colour TV (these rare and precious appliances likely doomed to sudden death by electric power surge given the nature of Gambella’s power grid).  And yet, just moments before, we had seen him standing with our neighbour as her husband was buried, sharing her grief. And he had comforted her. The flash of anger over the loss of soap was reminiscent of the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35) as the love of Jesus seemed to cry within, “Who is robbed and I am not robbed?” Jesus’ words to the penitent one suffering beside Him ring out: “this night you will be with me...” (Luke 23:43). Sin, defeated by His love, is no barrier to God.
       This Good Friday, just two days before we leave for North America, pain and love resonate as memories of Africa come to mind. A few months ago, there had been flowers, lush reeds and myriads of butterflies and water birds in our region. Now the land was now charred and ravaged by the pre-planting season fires - the precious micro-nutrients of the topsoil burned away. Yet even as we travelled through the scorched and burnt earth of the dry season, the land remained beautiful. Through the patches of yellowed grass on charcoal black earth, we could see herds of exquisite antelope, beautiful red monkeys wise and Amish-looking with their white whiskers; and powerful, threatening baboons looking at us imperiously from the deserted village they had taken over for the season while the village people were away, bringing their cattle to the water. The physical suffering of hunger, thirst, and unremitting heat - 105 degrees day and night [40 degrees centigrade, eh] - is mixed  with the delight of new life shared with new brothers and sisters in a global family...and with the almost physical ache of looking forward to being with our family back home.

    Wendy & friends Pinyadu Refugee Camp

                           Abol Church

The Rt Rev Dr Grant LeMarquand and Dr Wendy LeMarquand are missionaries of SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders)
Bishop Grant is Area bishop for the Horn of Africa within the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

Beautiful Africa

Beautiful children...

Beautiful Friends...

Rosie in the Rain

Johann - kid magnet

Prayer Concerns
~ Developing the Gambella Anglican centre: new church; new theological college; going green
~ Newly formed congregations in Ethiopia
~ Mothers' Union Community Education and Development Project

Africans teaching Africans

Bishop's Highlights:
In Addis
March 2: Addis’ first service for the newly re-formed S***** congregation
March 3-5: Time with St Matthew’s congregation;
Meetings & more meetings, including plans with Tearfund for a pilot ‘savings group” in Lare
In Gambella Region
March 6-15: Visit from Rosie Fyfe, our wonderful Diocesan proposal writer (many thanks, Rosie, for your invaluable aid)
March 6-20: Visit from Johann Vanderbilj - priest, scholar and friend, - discerning a call to teach in Africa (yes, this is the Johann of the redeemed pajamas)
March 8: Anuak worship conference at Gambella Anglican Centre 
March 9: Visit to Matar and Nininyang 
March 10: Confirmation Service in Matar
March 11: Visit to Lare, Pilwal, and Itang
March 13-15: First aid training at Gambella Anglican Centre
March 14: Visit to Opo (Rosie and Johann)
March 17: Service in Illea Anuak church 
March 17-20: Visit from Australian Board of Mission representative Julianne Stewart and her husband Martin (thank you for the food given to our mission centre in Tiergol - a famine region deemed too unsafe for the World Food Program to intervene)
March 24: Confirmation service in Abol
March 24-27: Visit from Dr Ron Lett  to those Gambella region schools receiving First aid training program
In Addis
March 27-31:Holy Week services with St Matthew’s church
March 30: S***** service 
March 31: Easter Sunday St Matthew’s 
March 31: Fly to North America

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February Newsletter
                                              Mountain and Valley, War and Peace
Sherkole Refugee Camp

The heavens declare the glory of God...”(Ps 19)
       We sat under a canopy of shining stars, astounded by their nearness and their beauty. All heaven seemed to lean close to hear the children and youth of the Mabaan as they ended the day, as was their custom, singing Evening Prayer. It seemed like Jesus was nudging me in the ribs - “See That?!!!  My kids!  Aren’t they beautiful?” -  I could feel His joy reflected in the beauty of the stars, pouring forth the silent speech of glory. The health of the Mabaan congregation and the maturity of its leadership was evident in the happiness of their children. 'I’m so happy I’m here', I thought, as I headed into the clean-swept tukul (mud-built thatched house), beautifully adorned with natural rock-powder paintings, for a night of peace.
       Then it started.
 It was, apparently, night two of the neighbouring clan’s three-night, all-night marathon of dancing and ‘music’, celebrating the return of a newly ‘rich’ young man from Australia - home to find a wife. Grant and I wondered if it was a contest of strength; (- the young woman who was able to dance vigorously all 3 nights and then sing the loudest on the 4th morning, perhaps the one most worthy to be chosen as the prospective bride?). The volume from this was such that Grant and I, sitting side by side, touching each other, yelling mouth to ear at the top of our lungs, were literally unable to hear our own words. The screeching music, sometimes blaring lyrics such as “ I don’t care, don’t care, DON”T CARE!!”, and “Hey! Hey!! HEY!!”, was interspersed with sounds reminiscent of machine gun fire, ambulance sirens, alarm clocks, traffic jams and battle zones. Worse still, it would suddenly and jarringly stop mid-screech for 10-20 seconds - the short savage bursts of silence as aggressive and startling as the din. Occasionally we would be treated to sounds of canned ‘merriment’ and ulalations cut unnaturally short.
       The suffering two to three hours into this was nothing compared to the suffering at eight to ten hours in - truly I understood why such things were sometimes used in torture. By night three, having done all we could within the gentle and respectful code of inter-clan negotiations, suffering seemed to blend with peace.  The sheer, quiet, overwhelming goodness of God, still present with our Mabaan hosts (who were more distressed over our discomfort than over their own), somehow defeated the power of the mocking and disrespectful attitudes of those whose oppressive, alcohol-driven ‘pleasure’ seemed to speak only too loudly of their hopelessness and despair. 
       The day’s lectionary readings after our first night with the Mabaan seemed particularly appropriate, - the disciples first glimpsing the glory of God on the mount of transfiguration and then needing faith and an ‘extreme make-over’ in their thinking, as they encountered the demon-oppressed down in the valley (Lk 9:28-43).  We were refreshed as, in reverence and joy, the Holy Spirit was received in power in baptism and confirmation. Truly, I was happy to be WITH Jesus and with the Mabaan.  ...“Having done all, to stand"(Eph 6 )...Interesting.... Grant’s ‘light reading’ at this time was Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”.

February: Bishop’s Highlights
 A few of the Mekele Students

Feb 1-3: Visit to Ethiopia’s newest Anglican church: formed by students of Mekele University, northern Ethiopia, wanting to meet and worship together in a common language (English). We were struck by the depth of unity in this ethnically diverse group.
Feb 9-12: Visit to Serkole Refugee Camp:  fellowship, baptisms, confirmations, healing prayer with the Jieng and Mabaan congregations
Feb 7-29: Work at GAC (Gambella Anglican Centre): Digging begun for the new well for GAC's agricultural area, clearing of agricultural area land, interviewing for GAC's Agricultural Co-ordinator job, meeting with contractor re: design for new GAC Church (to host St Barnabas' Anuak congregation as well as area diocesan events)
Feb 10-15: Addis meetings: Amhara and Somali believers
Feb 13: Ash Wednesday service: St Matthew's Church, Addis
Feb 16-18: “Life Skills” program training:  (Darash Thatha - Education Co-ordinator, GAC): Fifty teachers together with the principals of regional schools received training and materials to begin a new program teaching  Grade 6  students about  conflict resolution and first aid. (one wonders - first aid if conflict resolution fails?!!!)
Feb 23-24: Visit to Pinyadu: meetings with Anuak church council members of Pinyadu town; fellowship with "Pinyadu Old Camp" churches; worship and confirmations at the "Pinyadu New Camp" of twenty thousand new refugees from the Blue Nile/Nuba Mountains region of Sudan
Feb 28-29: Clergy Training days: Bible (1 Corinthians - pastoral issues); Anglicanism and the 39 articles of faith (text “Essential Truths for Christians” by Bp John Rogers); Prayer (Knowing God); Stewardship (Budget)
Feb 28-29: Visit from Canadian Embassy representative to schools hosting the “Life Skills” program.

            Confirmation at Sherkole

           A little beauty from Mekele

Prayer Concerns
Please pray with us for these ideas to be actualized:
1) 'Vertical Gardening
Many Gambella region families do not have enough land or water for farming. Each family’s tiny plot of land is surrounded by a (none-to-secure) 'security wall'. A ‘Living wall’ would transform these ‘security walls’ into vertical gardens which could grow the vegetables and fruit vines so desperately needed for nutrition. The water used for the top levels of the garden would be funnelled down and used for the lower levels as well.
We are hoping to build a “living wall” demonstration vertical garden at GAC for use of our staff and church community members.

 2) Mother's Union:
The Mother’s union members of our 73 churches in the Gambella region are asking for further training. Already involved in leading literacy circles, church activities, fellowship groups and home visitation (for illness, bereavement, prayer, outreach and practical care for those who are shut-in or in some way incapacitated), they are ideally situated to provide one-on-one teaching as well as small group participatory learning activities for the women of their communities. They want to teach bible, prayer and practical skills (such as simple methods of water purification , disease prevention, nutrition, and child care), as well as income-generating skills (such as sewing, weaving, and handicrafts) 
Please pray for the development and implementation of this program.