Monday, December 28, 2009

Intentional Quiet Times

Check out this insightful/helpful blog post by JR Vassar about planning for intentional "quiet times" in 2010. Staying "in the word" (reading your Bible) and praying daily are keys to perseverance in the faith.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"It Started With A Sewing Machine"


This summer I stopped in Southern Sudan for a few days to visit my childhood best friend. Her & her husband had started a non-profit called Seed Effect to help fight poverty in this devastated country. They wanted me to come and see the work that had begun... it was truly powerful! God is at work to provide for the poor. Just a few weeks ago, a team visited and shot video footage to portray the story, not just in words, but with visuals. Below is the end result.

It is powerful.

It is a God-inspired endeavor... and God is completing the work.

It is a simple, tangible way to combat poverty in this world.

video

I beg you, be a part of The Seed Effect and change not just one life, but an entire community!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seed Effect Gives Their First Loans

Today 19 lives were changed in Sudan. Through SeedEffect.org, micro-loans are being given out to help Sudanese entrepreneurs start or expand businesses to help provide for their families. Today is a GOOD DAY!



Between the near 20 women who went through the Seed Effect training, they have 40 children whose care they are responsible for. Today, these 20 loans will help feed (both spiritually & physically) 80 mouths. God is GOOD!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Muslims in America

Today, some friends and I went to tour a local mosque in Austin as part of a class that works to build bridges between Muslims and Christians in America. The Imam that showed us around also prepared an excellent presentation for us about what it's like to be a Muslim. Our mutual hope was to gain greater understanding of our neighbors right here in Austin.

The intro to his presentation was a great music video put together by a Muslim COUNTRY singer! Here is the Youtube version of the video. It gives American Muslims a chance to tell you about themselves (it's similar to the "cardboard stories" video our church did this past spring). Thought yall'd enjoy learning something about the brothers & sisters that also call America "HOME!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Reviews: Summer Reading


I realize its Oct 12th... but I read so much this summer that I wanted to share/recommend but never got around to posting. So, this was my summer reading list (thru Sept actually, but I think fall just officially got under way)... in short review form:
  • Crossing Cultures by Patti Lane... I pick this book up our our church's summer Leadership Conference after attending the breakout session Patti taught. She shares from years of insight about how to relate cross-culturally with respect, with humility, with a learner's attitude, and in a way that glorifies Christ. Thumbs up, recommend it!
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire... I "read" this via audio-book this summer during lots of road trips. I decided on it after seeing it on the High School Required Reading List and remembering that I'd always meant to read it. I am not really good at picking up on spiritual metaphors, but I LOVED this book and all the hidden meanings and indirect commentary about the spiritual nature of humanity. In fact, loved it so much that I walked out of the play at intercession because I was so disappointed in how they had left out everything I'd love from the book so far. (don't stone me all you Wicked play lovers!) Thumbs up, recommend it (the BOOK that is)!
  • What is the What by Dave Eggars... I grabbed this book to prepare for my summer trip to Sudan with Seed Effect. I was educated through reading not only about Sudan, the harsh civil war there, and the aftermath, but I also got to read the story of a refugee's journey in the U.S. Refugees are something new(er) on my radar and I've been trying to learn as much as I can about their lives. So, bonus-- learned about Sudan & refugees. Thumbs up, recommend it!
  • Dreams of My Father by Barak Obama... I figured since he's our president, I probably should hear his story. I read his other book back in the spring which was a lot more about his goals and aspirations for our country's potential. This book was a portrait of his childhood, his make-up, his history (up until going to Law School). He was asked to write it after becoming the first black man to become the head of Harvard's Law Review. Its tone is pre-political and I enjoyed it! Sure, read it.
  • Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker (see my previous full post review here.)... glowing reviews from me. Super-thumbs-up, everyone should read it!
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali... this was a re-read for me. I had first read Infidel in 2007 and was moved by the descriptions she told about the lives of women in the Muslim World. This time, I re-read the book looking at her story as the memoir of a refugee. She lived as a refugee almost her entire life, from one country to the next. Both in African countries, and the West. Her stories about refugee life alone (regardless of religion) are POWERFUL. I was glad I took the time to change lenses and receive a new kind of heartbreak from this book. Thumbs up, recommend it!
  • Outcasts United by Warren St. John... I picked this book to help my refugee education too. Its the story of a women in a small town outside of Atlanta who started a soccer team for refugee youth. They are discriminated against, persecuted, mistrusted, and mistreated. Its a sad story, but has some hope as they overcome those obstacles. Apparently its being turned into a movie. Sub-par writing, if you ask me, but the story itself makes for your motivation to keep reading. Sure, read it.
  • Tortured in the Name of Islam by Setaareh Shahbazz... Oh my word, this was a tough book to read. Super short, a complete personal essay about a woman who became a follower of Christ in Iran and who was ultimately imprisoned for it. It is her spoken testimony written on paper. Its rough, detailed, sad, and yet inspiring at the same time. To see how she was able to persevere and to witness Christ to her captors was amazing. Warning, she's not a writer, but her story is powerful. Thumbs up, recommend it!
  • Christians Evangelistic Pocket Guide to Islam by Malcolm Steer... Andy's band and I read this before our trip to Turkey this September as part of our training. It's about 50 pages. Super basic. But super helpful. Boils the top issues down to a simple explanation and a simple response. Sure, read it.
  • Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay... This was a great follow up book for me after having read Hatmaker's Interrupted in July. It picked up where she left off with what God was doing in my heart about getting more outside my comfort zone and into community and service (outside the 4 walls of the church). Our church is going through the "Tangible Kingdom Primer" as a whole church this fall, so I wanted to read the "prequel" so to speak. Thumbs up, recommend it!
  • Muslims Next Door by Shirin Taber... I read this short practical book about how Muslims are just about everywhere in the U.S. and we should treat them with love and respect. Taber gives practical steps to help us be educated about this culture, this religion, and how we can be kind and not offensive. Sure, read it.
Nothing I would say "don't waste your time reading". Which means I guess I chose well this summer.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rise & Shine


Andy's been writing songs for a new record (which should be out in about 6 months) and he introduced one to our church yesterday: Rise & Shine. Each fall, our church goes through a Vision Series to get everybody on the same page about our call to live on mission in the CITY & for the NATIONS. This Sunday, Matt kicked off the vision series with a challenge to us from Acts 1:8. He asked: What did a 1st century Christian look like? And do we, today, look anything like that? It was convicting and powerful.

Andy thought the message was a good fit to roll out the new song because the idea of it is-- it's time for us Christians to step up and be the hands and feet of Christ. To download a free copy of the song, click here. I am so proud of Andy. This song really resonates with my spirit and where God has me lately. But I also believe it will speak to a whole generation of Christians out there who are feeling the itch to rise & shine! I also recommend you listen to Matt's sermon: Powerful Witness of the Resurrection (click here)-- you will be stirred.

Here's the lyrics to the new song too...

Rise & Shine (by Andy Melvin)
We were once Your enemy

Now displayers of Your mercy

Called from darkness into light

To be the very hands and feet of Christ

So in the Name that saves

Let Your love ignite a flame in us


We've got rise and shine

We've got to rise and shine

The light of the world alive in us

The hope of the world alive in us

We've got to rise and shine


To you repairers of the breach

To you restorers of these broken streets

For every hungry tongue

For all injustice done beneath the sun


We've got to rise and shine

The light of the world alive in us

The hope of the world alive in us

We've got to rise and shine


For the hopeless and the weary

For the broken and the needy

For Your glory, send Your Spirit

And let it rise

Saturday, September 5, 2009

VOLUNTEERS Needed for Refugees in Austin

I met with the director of the Refugee ESL School Program this week and she shared a very dire need for volunteers. The city-wide grant for all Refugee ESL classes is managed by AAIM (Austin Area Interreligious Ministry). They offer FREE ESL classes to all incoming refugees. And in order for a refugee to receive government assistance in the first 4 months they are here, they must be registered for the ESL classes.

In recent months, due to the economy, Texas has been receiving an abnormally high number of incoming refugees (b/c Texas isn't suffering as poorly as other states in terms of jobs). Which has led to a flooding in the classrooms where these refugees are trying to learn English. The classes are overflowing with students and the paid ESL teachers and the childcare staff are in need of some help.

AAIM is looking for VOLUNTEERS for the following:
** classroom teacher aides for 4 different ESL classes
----- 3 classes offered M, Tu, W, Th from 9a-12p at a church downtown
----- 1 class offered Tu, F 6:30-8:30pm at YMCA Lamar/Rundberg
----- you can volunteer to serve in any of the classtimes, just once a week (or every other week)
** childcare helpers for the refugee families (pre-school)
----- they would like to have 2-3 childcare workers for each daytime class, and 1-2 workers for the PM class times
----- childcare workers can have (and bring) 1-2 children of their own if needed.

I currently volunteer as a teacher's aide and have to say it is EASY! The teacher is totally responsible for the classroom... my job is to help her with demonstrations and build relationships with/encourage the students. I also served with the kids this past summer and they are so easy & precious.

Guys-- this is super easy way to serve the international refugee community that is now flooding into Austin, Texas. If you have ever wanted to increase your exposure to the nations (without ever getting on an airplane), this is the perfect way to do it. I have built such sweet relationships with people from Iraq, Burma, Afghanistan, Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Nepal, Thailand, Cuba, etc. I don't speak their languages, but they are trying to learn mine.

PLEASE HELP! If you want to get involved (and you can seriously make it a short commitment if you need to)... email LU at luz @ aaimaustin.org !! Get your friends to do it with you... 14-20 volunteers needed!

Same Me


Yesterday, Andy & I were looking through my childhood photo album. When he flipped the page to see this picture, he said: "Oh, I know that face!" I laughed, not sure if that was a good thing or bad thing. I can't decide what this face means.

But what I kept thinking on as the day went by was how amazing it is that I have a "look" that has been a part of my personality & person since I was that little. This picture was taken in 1979. I was three at the time. And I was expressing myself in a way that is still congruent with who I am today, 30 years later. How fascinating!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sudan Event in Austin This Week


My good friends Missy & Dave are coming to Austin! After my trip to Sudan this summer, Andy and I felt compelled to pitch in and spread awareness about the issues that are affecting the southern part of the country. Both spiritual and physical poverty are everywhere. And Missy & Dave are trying to do something about it. So we invited them to come tell their story to my friends living in Austin.

YOU'RE INVITED, if you live in Austin, to join us THIS THURSDAY (Aug 27) at Mercury Hall at 7pm.

We'd love to have as many people there to hear about what's currently happening in Sudan, and how Seed Effect (Missy & Dave's microfinance company) is working to alleviate poverty while at the same time spreading the gospel!

Andy & I are excited about the work God is doing among the poor in Sudan and we want YOU to have the chance to participate... Don't you want to impact poverty?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Andy's "Nothing Compares" Video



I am so proud of my sweet husband, Andy Melvin... He has given his life to the service of the Church by using his talents as a musician & songwriter to lead believers in worship through song! This is a video of one of the church services at Austin Stone Community Church this summer. The song is one of Andy's originals off his most recent album, The Human Engine Waits (available on itunes). This video captures our church body in praise as we corporately sing "Nothing Compares."

Here are the lyrics...

Forgive me Lord when I rely

On anything else but Your life in mine
All the vain things I held so high
I count it as loss

Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You
Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You
And it keeps drawing me in
And it's stirring my soul to know You more

Forgetting what lies behind
I'm reaching for the prize
The upward call of Christ
I'm reaching for You

Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You
Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You
And it keeps drawing me in
And it's stirring my soul to know You more

Cause You're my hope, You're my goal
You're all I'm striving for
You're my strength and my peace
You're everything I need
Nothing compares to You

Feel free to put the video up on your blog, or Facebook, etc... you can get the embed-code off youtube.com or vimeo.com.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Want to Pray for Muslims?

Today begins an important month in the lives of Muslims around the world... today is the first day of Ramadan, the month-long fast that is one of the major traditions of Islam. From sunrise to sunset for about 30 days Muslims abstain from food, drink (even water), smoking, and sex. They do this to remember the month that Mohammad received his revelations that eventually became the Quran. Austin Stone's Make Disciples blog has posted a few updates that help explain Ramadan if you are interested in more info.

Each year, there is an organization that puts out a little prayer booklet that serves as a guide for Christians to pray for Muslims during this critical period of their year. This is website... http://www.30-days.net/ . I ordered about 50 of the booklets to be able to give out to my friends who are interested in joining me on this journey of prayer for Muslims... Do you want one? Let me know and I'll get it to ya! Its really great because it helps me have some guidance and focus for my prayers for Muslims... PLUS I get to keep the book and use it year round too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Iraqi Refugees Find Adjusting Hard In The U.S.

Of the refugee population being resettled here in the United States, right now about 30% are from Iraq. Most of those being granted refugee status were Iraqis that had helped the U.S. armed forces as translators, engineers, doctors, etc. Their fellow countrymen felt that these people betrayed their country by helping the U.S. and so they face harsh persecution and sometimes even death.

On the one hand, I am grateful that our government is granting asylum and refugee status to these individuals that are now targeted for attack because they helped us out. But on the other hand, when these refugees arrive in the U.S. they are coming to terms with a much more difficult life than they imagined. Most of their higher education and skills do not transfer, they are living off ridiculously small government aide (for 4 months, and then they're on their own), and they are living in the most poor conditions America has to offer... on top of which they are isolated by language barriers and prejudices. True, their lives ARE safer here, but their quality of life is certainly disappointing.

Today, the New York Times ran an article about this situation that was really good. It gives an insiders look at their transition and the emotional and physical difficulties they must endure. Here is the first 3 paragraphs:

"Not long after the Iraq war began in 2003, Uday Hattem al-Ghanimi was accosted by several men outside the American military base where he managed a convenience store. They accused him of abetting the Americans, and one fired a pistol at his head.

Now, after 24 operations, Mr. Ghanimi has a reconstructed face as well as political asylum in the United States. On July 4, his wife and three youngest children joined him in New York after a three-year separation.

But the euphoria of their reunion quickly dissipated as the family began to reckon with the colder realities of their new life. Mr. Ghanimi, 50, who has not been able to work because of lingering pain, is supporting his family on a monthly disability check of $761, food stamps and handouts from friends. They are crammed into one room they rent in a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in a city whose small Iraqi population is scattered. And Mr. Ghanimi’s wife and children do not speak English, deepening their sense of isolation."

(click here to keep reading)

The article continues with several other people's stories and some very interesting journalistic facts about the situation. I highly recommend you read it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Turkey T-shirts For Sale!

Andy & the band are going to Turkey in September... and to help raise money to cover costs, we are selling T-SHIRTS! The text says "God loves Türkiye" (which is the Turkish spelling of Turkey) and the crescent & star above the wording is from their flag. The design is printed on American Apparel shirts. Cost is $20 each.
If you are interested in buying a T-shirt, shoot me an email a t x a n n a @ g m a i l . c o m with the following info:

QUANTITY:
COLOR: (red or black)
SIZE:

Orders need to be received by MONDAY, August 10th.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Famous People Who Were Once Refugees


Did you know that Albert Einstein, Madeleine Albright, Chopin, and Victor Hugo (author of "Les Misérables") all used to be refugees?

To read/learn more, click here for 136 vignettes of refugees that have made a difference in the world.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

News8Austin Covers Refugee Story

Here is a news story about Refugees in Austin from News8Austin. And if you click on and watch the video of the story, you can see me in the background working with the kids (I'm wearing a green T shirt).

Refugee Kids Field Trip

This past week I volunteered with AAIM at their annual Refugee Youth Day-Camp. This program is designed to help refugee kids, aged 5-17, prepare for school. Many of the kids land in Austin for the first time over the summer and so we wanna give them a little advanced preview of what school (and learning in English is like).

This week, I got to meet children from Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Burma, Nepal, Iraq and Guatemala. Each child had his own special culture that they were so proud of, and yet they all had an eager curiosity to learn about their new home, Austin, Texas. Many of these kids have experienced some pretty rough things in their young lives, but they are slowly healing and starting over. Many don't know English, many are new school.

These kids will have to work hard to adjust. And learning will be exhausting for them ("My brain is soooo tired" and "My brain is spinning with words" were two comments I heard this week). But I hope they succeed. I hope this Day-Camp was encouraging for them... making them feel like they CAN learn, they WILL learn.

During the Day-Camp, we simulated school learning centers for 3 days, and then we celebrate at the end of the week by taking a field trip together. This week we walked to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The kids learned fun facts about their new home state... and we watched a 15 minute documentary at the Texas Spirit Theater. I think the kids were definitely overwhelmed, but loved learning about Texas at the same time!

A boy from Afghanistan sat next to me at the movie and whispered, "I've never seen a movie in the theater before... they didn't have theaters where I am from." All the kids were so precious! They stole my heart!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: Interrupted


My favorite piece of summer reading so far has been Jen Hatmaker's latest book, "Interrupted." It's Jen's personal account of how God shook up her & her husband's faith and started steering them to interact with & befriend "the lost, the least, and the last" in this broken world.

They've been church-going people since they were kids & vocational ministers their entire adult careers... yet in 2007 they couldn't shake the lingering question inside their heads "God, isn't there more?" She prayed and asked "God, raise up in me a holy passion." And God responded.

"Interrupted" puts words to an inner angst that has gnawed at my insides for almost 2 years now. I have been a Christian just long enough to have gotten a good hold of the "routines" of American Christian life-- I go to church weekly, pray & read the Bible almost daily... I have attended plenty of "Bible Studies" and classes on what we think, I've studied theology, I've read a billion Christian books-- I have learned plenty (that is NOT to say I know it all, or even anywhere close to it). But at the end of the day, what was I doing with any of it? Mostly just talking to other church people about it.

I feel sometimes like we are all just "playing church", and that can be a suffocating place at times (just being honest) because... well, here's the way Jen put it: "Why did I spend all my time blessing blessed people who should be on the giving side of the equation by now?" (p. 21) Answer: because its safe and because its comfortable.

Joey Shaw charged a group of us one time with the parable of the shepherd who went in search of the one lost sheep-- he left 99 other sheep behind to go and pursue the 1. Joey reminded us that we like to stay with the 99 because that's easy, its comfortable, its safe.

But if we want to act like Jesus, we go out from the flock, in search of the lost, the least, the last.

I am hungry. Hungry to serve outside the four walls of the church. In Austin. My city is full of poor people, hurting people, hungry people, beaten-down and broken people. Do I know any of them? Do I spend time with them? Do I know their stories? Have I listened and loved well? How much of my life (my time, my energy, my money, my sleep, my home, etc) have I sacrificed in order to love them well?

I am increasingly wondering... not just "have they HEARD about Jesus?" but "have they SEEN & EXPERIENCED Jesus through MY interactions with them?"

This book will challenge you to live beyond Christian comfort and mediocrity. It will tempt you to be crazy enough to actually DO things Jesus talks about in the Bible.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dogs (Water) Fetching

These are from last summer but we couldn't figure out how to post em until now.
video
Lady jumping in the water with a running start.

video
Lady showing off her long jump skills!

video
Lucky copies Lady, but he doesn't have her hops.

video
Lucky & Lady's teamwork bringing in the ball.

(not pictured, Applejack- who isn't a fan of the water or teamwork.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

3 Short Videos from Ethiopia

Here's a video of the waitress serving our dinner the first night in country (Injera & Wot):
video

Here is a video from a Cultural Dinner Show we attended where they performed local & traditional dances. Using their shoulders is the most common dance move:
video

Here is a video from the church service we attending while in Ethiopia at Beza International Church (this is from the worship time):
video

Ethiopia in Pictures

A photo-blog post of my travels in Ethiopia...
Melissa, Shara, and Camilla evaluate (apprehensively) our first night's dinner before digging in: traditional Ethiopian food of Injera & Wot.
The kids at Kids Club showing off their Jesus & Zacchaeus drawings.
These two boys from Kids Club were my little boyfriends.
I spent most of my time at Kids Club with the teens who couldn't decide whether to like me or think I was weird.
Melissa enticing a little girl into her arms for some T.L.C.
During lunch at Kids Club, when I sat too close to these girls they would scoot over (I think they thought I would try to share their food).
Making plates of peanut butter & honey sandwiches, bananas, and fruit punch for Kids Club lunch.
Women from the mountain side who came to the parenting class.
This is an 11 yr old X-prostitute we met at the transitional home for women trying to escape prostitution. (that is not her baby)
At the home for X-prostitutes, some of the women shared their very hard stories with us. Although my effort did not compare, I shared my photo album from home so we could have a sense of knowing each other.
This photo hangs on the wall of the prostitute transitional housing. There are about 15 girls living in the house as they get job skill training to be nurses, hair stylists, computer techs, etc.
The group of women from the prostitution transitional home we visited. They glowed with praise for Jesus for rescuing them from their pasts!
This is Birukti and two of the Street Boys that she sponsors. One night during our trip, we joined her on their weekly dinner date (her and about 20 Street Boys that she cares for go out to dinner once a week-- she treats them to a feast!).
The boys crowd around some of the women on our team for a group picture at the end of dinner. At first they were unsure of us but by the end we were all buddies.
Because many of the Street Boys didn't speak English, we got creative in order to bond with them... above: Shara plays "thumb wars." And below: I played the "sneaky slap" game.

The team leader for the weaving project shows me a bag of the days work, lots of spun cotton.
The ladies here are spinning cotton in order to make fabric. A "small group" from the church we worked with had the idea to create this job opportunity for the women who otherwise would haul 85 pounds of timber down from the mountains on their backs.
One woman tried to teach me how to spin the yarn. I was terrible at it, but she enjoyed laughing at me.
This is a photo of one what the yarn-spinning-women used to do. It would take all day to gather the wood and walk it down the mountainside, for 50 CENTS a day.
When we visited homes on the mountainside, we met some of the children of those with HIV/AIDS.
This is the doorway into a small 10 home "compound" community on the mountainside, which HIV/AIDS families live and grow small crops of food to eat.
Inside the "compound" doorway, there are 3 buildings like this, with several one-room homes in each building. This is 3 different families' front doors.
These are 2 ladies whose homes we visited on the mountainside. On the left is a married woman who's husband is in his final weeks (she too is infected). On the right is a 23 yr old widow who also lost her child (all to the same disease she also has).
This is a sample of traditional Ethiopian food.

Ethiopia Invented Coffee

Ethiopians say that coffee was invented in their country. They are proud of coffee and brew it strong! Here is the process of making Ethiopian coffee (backwards, sorry the pics uploaded in reverse order). And fun fact: they serve fresh popcorn with their coffee.
After boiling the water & grinds they pour them into your cup. Then, as an American, you might fill at least half your cup with milk to cut the PUNCH Ethiopian coffee has.
Once you grind up the coffee beans, you add them to a pot of water and boil it.
After you roast the coffee beans, you them grind up by hand. They hold these sticks and smash them into the little wooden pot until the beans are just powder.
Once you pick the coffee beans from the tree, you roast them over a hot flame until they turn from light to dark brown.
This is a coffee tree. The red & yellow berries are the "beans". When they turn red they're ready to be picked and cooked.

Sudan in Pictures

A photo-blog from my trip to Southern Sudan for all you who think I am too wordy! :)
This is the border between Southern Sudan and Uganda. I had to go into the "immigration office" (4ft x 4ft room) to register my entry.
This man is a tailor in Kajo Keji. He hopes to apply for one of the small biz loans so that he can pay to be trained on a machine he already owns that makes patterned sweaters (like on the magazine covers).
This is one of the local brewers and her child. She hopes to get trained in another trade because she doesn't like the alcoholism that results from her biz. But for now, it's the only way she can make the money she needs to pay for her kids' school fees.
All the full time workers in Sudan this summer. Missy is working on the micro-loan biz & starting the internet cafe. John is starting a Sudanese "Celebrate Recovery." Will is digging wells. Heather is Missy & Dave's full time worker on the ground (the liason between the American side of the biz and the Sudanese side of the biz). Holly is working with the local women's minister and helping John with the women who attend Celebrate Recovery.
This is Cecilia. She makes soap. She hopes to get a micro-loan to buy a bicycle so she can make more deliveries to buyers in the village (right now she mostly walks door to door).
Some children ran to the road to greet us as we walked the village.
A UN Refugee Camp just north of the Sudanese-Ugandan border. When we drove by I could see them sorting bags of grain in a giant warehouse.
This is the UNHCR tents that are given to those repatriating back to Sudan from the refugee camps. When the refugees return home, they are given a tent and a bag of grain to help get them back on their feet.
While walking the village one day, I got to meet one of the Chiefs. I asked his name, but he said to just call him "Chief."
This is Rose, the women's minister. She travels through Kajo Keji and all the neighboring towns & villages on this motorbike meeting in the homes of all the women to pray with them & do Bible studies together.
When you walk from one home to another, you have to stay on the worn paths because they haven't finished clearing the fields of landmines.
The roads are still littered with gun shell casings from the war.
This is an example of an uncleared landmine. The people mark them with red sticks so that you know not to step there.
This is the family who's house I stayed at in Sudan. Gloria & her two children Tommy (girl), and Mike (boy). Her husband Kaya is on staff with e3 Partners.
These are typical homes in the area I was in. Called tookals (i made up the spelling).
This is the first class of tailors in the Vocational School. They are being trained for several months in how to sew and then hope to get micro-loans to start their own sewing businesses.
This is the sewing sample poster on the wall of the vocational school classroom.
These are the sewing machines in the vocational school classroom.
This is the local market in Kajo Keji, where Missy & Dave hope to meet future clients who need micro-loans to better their small businesses.
This was the market diagram that Missy made as she mapped out the various sellers and what they sell (market research).
Missy & Heather & Kenneth interview a candidate for the Internet Cafe Manager position. They hired him!
Missy checks the final product of the electrician installing the wiring at the internet cafe (which will all be run off of solar panels and generators-- no electrical grid in Kajo Keji).
Missy meeting with the carpenter who was contracted to make the desks/tables for the Internet Cafe.
Missy gets measurements for glass to finish the windows to the Micro-Loan Office.
Missy buying the paint for the Internet Cafe & Micro-Loan Office.
This is Kenneth. He is the Director of Micro-Finance for Missy & Dave in Sudan.
Here is the building that houses the Vocational School, the Internet Cafe, and the Micro-Loan Office. You can see the solar panels atop the roof, and the satelitte dish where we'll get internet from.