Thursday, February 07, 2013

Arrival in Nzara

Hi to our friends in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa and elsewhere!

A group of four - Bishop Alan Scarfe, Donna Scarfe, Rev. Kathleen Milligan, and myself (Rev. Torey Lightcap) has at last found itself the very willing beneficiaries of hospitality in the Diocese of Nzara, in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, in east-central Africa. Bishop Samuel Peni, his wife, and various folk affiliated with the diocese are our gracious hosts.

Our presence here was precipitated by a long series of prior conversation and visitations that eventuated in the formation of a companion relationship between Nzara and Iowa at the 2012 Iowa diocesan convention. The list of folks from the Iowa side that people here remember and continue to pray for is quite long, and it is for all those founding and innovative energies of leadership that we continue conversation and the relationship-building on this largely diplomatic trip.

Bishop Scarfe and Donna were to meet Kathleen and me in Detroit, but their plane was delayed in Des Moines due to mechanical difficulties. While they investigated possibilities for getting out of Des Moines, the number of ways to do that began to dwindle and chances for going this or that way fizzled. Finally, the Scarfes grabbed their children, drove to Chicago O'Hare, and dropped themselves off. (The children then had an uninterrupted six-hour drive back to Iowa.) Meanwhile, the other half flew on time, if tiringly. Omaha/Des Moines, Detroit, Amsterdam, Kigali, and finally Entebbe. An ECS driver met us and took us to an overnight retreat house where we caught a tight five hours sleep. When we awoke, the Scarfes - who had gotten themselves to Entebbe via Istanbul with thanks to Turkish Airlines - had dropped in at the retreat house just long enough to shower before heading back out again. We hopped a Mission Aviation Fellowship flight out of Kampala, landed back in Uganda just long enough to check out of the country, got back in the air again, and landed in Yambio, in South Sudan.

The plane was met by a significant contingent of Nzara Anglicans. They sang us beautifully melodic songs in Jesus' name and showered us with leis. Representatives of the government were on hand, and one even prayed (!) a powerful word of thanksgiving recognizing all it took to achieve the moment. We were truly blessed.

Driving to Nzara town, we saw and heard about life here. Folks build their simple homes adjacent to property they intend to farm; after a few years, they move along to a different farming location and build more homes. Economic deprivation is everywhere evident as South Sudan is a baby country emerging out of a period of enormous internal and external strife.

Driving up to the diocesan center, we were met by many, many folks who waved branches and sang songs as we passed through them. We went right into the cathedral (a simple frame operation with seats and a place for a band) and had a service of welcome with prayers and songs. Bishop Scarfe was asked to say a few words. Let me see if I can remember the really choice bits.

A paraphrase:
Donna and I were about out of energy when we landed this morning for all the adventures it took to get here, but I will tell you that when we had that reception at the airport and again just now, I was reminded of the scripture that "The joy of the Lord is my strength." And I will tell you that that strength is rising within us.
We believe in and preach Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen. We recognize in Iowa that all we do is to serve Christ and him alone. We see that you, too, only want to serve Christ and him alone in all you do. Brothers and sisters, this makes us truly one...

We know that we have been in your hearts for some time. You, too, have been in our hearts for so long. So we are very glad for this day.

After that reception we toddled out to the places we're staying and had a little lunch (rice, banana, pineapple, beef stew, bread and jam and hot tea) under a mango tree. In about 30 minutes a contingent of US soldiers who want to greet us will be stopping by for tea.

The schedule for the days ahead calls for much to be done, yet it doesn't seem overly taxing. Included is at least one ordination and 60 confirmations in addition to a diocesan Standing Committee meeting where we will bring your greetings to the many assembled.

Please keep this entire event and all of us wrapped in prayer. Perhaps again soon one of us might be able to take advantage of this technology long enough to post more information.

Yours very truly in Christ,

Torey Lightcap


Blogger Tim Tutt said...

Wow! Just wow!

7:14 AM  
Blogger Mission Team ~ Iowa said...

Excellent description of your welcome to Nzara... Many thanks to the four of you and to our companions in Nzara. Hoping the Scarfes get some sleep! Joy to all!

5:45 PM  

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