Friday, February 08, 2013

Day Two

Yesterday, Torey shared a description of our warm welcome by the entire village, at least it seemed that way.  It was overwhelming in so many ways.  When we were walking through the village later, children would come running to see us and to wave at us.  Today, we had the opening of the Diocesan Standing Committee, which is the equivalent of our Convention (Note to Anne Wagner:  the Bishop and I are beginning to imagine format changes for our Convention!)  The day began with a celebration of Holy Communion conducted in Zande.  I was particularly moved by the strong sense of personal hospitality.  The young man sitting next to me, who was functioning as an acolyte, kept me apprised at all times of where we were in the service.  The music was in many cases quite familiar; and by the end, I had a sense of the rhythm, so was able to sing along.  "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" is apparently a favorite of theirs, and it is one of mine as well.

People walk to the Standing Committee meetings' the farthest parish is about sixty miles away.  The clergy may come on bicycles; but others walk, and it may take 2 to 3 days.  They stay in parishes along the way.  Each parish is expected to bring representatives of the Mother's Union, along with a youth representative, and either the Senior Warden or a Lay Reader.  When this doesn't happen, it may be because of an illness.

There is no dispensing with the reading of the minutes. The entire conversation is reported; and questions are asked about the progress or completion or resolution of the issues raised.  It makes for a strong sense of accountability to each other.  One question raised last year was the need to follow the liturgical colors, and learn to use a liturgical calendar.  The question was raised this year as to what had happened with that concern, and we able to present them with a calendar for each parish. 

The overwhelming impression so far is of deep commitment to Jesus Christ, and to the life of the church.  They have clearly seen the Diocese of Iowa as their companion in the journey since the beginning of the diocese in 2009.  The outpouring of thanksgiving for our presence along with the general and very personal offerings of hospitality is exceeding humbling.

A world is being created here.  There are two schools, and another in mind.  There is a very active clinic.  There is much work with maternal and child health, and there is a strong focus on the empowering of women.  The sewing machine project is one aspect of that. In addition, there is the beginning of microloans to women.  Two hundred Sudanese pounds are lent to women to beging some kind of money making enterprise.  One hundred is to be paid back the first month, and two hundred the second.  They can keep what they raise; and they are being enabled to provide a living for their children. Thirty seven such loans have been made.

I was pleased to note that the women in the Standing Committee are not hesitant to speak up.  There is a woman priest in the diocese, and a woman deacon.  We will see another woman ordained to the diaconate at Sunday's service.

All in all, it is a wonderful experience.  There is much more to be shared and experienced in the next few days.  We were all able to sleep fairly well last night, and seem to be holding up.  Thank you all for your prayers, and God be with you.

Kathleen Milligan 


Blogger Anne Wagner said...

Can't wait to hear about your ideas for the 161st Diocesan Convention!

9:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home