11.24.2010

Meet Samuel and Deborah Maciek!

Meet Samuel and Deborah Maciek!

                         

We thought we'd take the opportunity to introduce you to the pastor who we were led to on our original trip to Sudan. He and his wife, Deborah, had been praying and waiting for an opportunity to begin a local church independent of the Anglican church in Cueibet. Samuel was a chaplain in the SPLA during the Second Sudanese Civil War and has had some remarkable experiences.

When Tim, Jason and Tiffany went on their first trip at the urging of the Sudanese diaspora, they didn't know who they were going to run into. However, they specifically had direction through much fasting and prayer that they would go there and find a "man of peace."

Tim Speaks with Dinka Chiefs
When they arrived, they were not met with a warm welcome. Instead, the airport officials tried to put them back on the plane Kenya immediately. Only after pleading for an audience with the local government were they taken to a one-room hotel for the night. The next morning, they were escorted to the office of Lakes State Governer Daniel Awet Akot in Rumbek.

Initially, they were met with a cold stare across the desk of Governor Akot. However, as they told their story and all of the things that led them there, the governor began to finish their sentences. They shortly discovered they were of one accord.

Spear Masters (OG Goks) put on a show for the crowd
The next couple of weeks saw the Americans being ferried around Cueibet County (where the governor and the KC Sudanese were from) and treated to much hospitality. After a few days, they were at a gathering for peace talks between two sub-tribes of the Gok Dinka. These two factions had been fighting for almost 40 years, killing each other in cold blood. Jason and Tim found themselves suddenly being called to the microphone to speak to the crowds. Next thing they knew, Tim was being referred to as the man who brought peace between the Pan-dut and Pan-awar!


Tim and Jason with an SPLA Garrison

It was there that Samuel Maciek approached the three and said "I'm the man you're looking for." They hadn't made any announcements, and most were oblivious to why they were really there. As they spent the next couple of days meeting with Samuel, they realized that this appointment was divine. Samuel was trained by Far-Reaching Ministries in Nimule and has a degree in Chaplaincy. He was working as a Payam Administrator (kind of like a County Commisioner) at the time- a highly respected position. Samuel is revered by the local people despite what the Americans came to find out about him.

Samuel's last name, Maciek, means "deformed one." Though Samuel had been in a respected government position, he had lived with the stigma of not being able to have children. This is a huge deal in the Gok community, as having children is a measure of what kind of man you are. Initially, he asked for Tim and Jason before they left to pray for him and his wife, that they might conceive. At the time, Tim and Jason had no idea what his situation was or what his last name meant. So they prayed. Deborah conceived within 10 days.

It was only during the next visit that Tim and Jason found out about his not being able to have children for years. "If we had known the full extent of his situation, we might not have had the faith to pray for it."

Samuel and Deborah are now the happy parents of two beautiful children, Grace and Emmanuel. They shepherd Chumnyiel Lighthouse Church, where we visit. They are an amazing group of people and we can't wait to be with them this January.

The time draws near. We still need your help in the form of prayer and finances. Invest in an awesome group of people through a group of people that you know here. Thanks and have a happy Thanksgiving!!


11.12.2010

6 weeks and counting/Meet the boyz

Would these guys not make the ultimate entourage?


Not a whole lot of new developments, but thought I would take the opportunity to let everyone know that the vehicle is out to sea and before long, we will have the ability to track it. As the time draws near, we get more and more giddy and can taste the dust, smell the smoky air and hear the chorus of thousands of roosters that greets one each morning they wake up in the cool air of Cueibet County. We're stoked. 

Anyway, meet the boys. Jason and Tim first met these boys by coincidence in Nairobi in 2007 when they were on their way to the first Cueibet visit. The boys were alone, not one of them over 20 years old, all living in a tiny one bedroom "apartment" in one of the worst parts of Nairobi. It's not easy being a Dinka in the middle of Kenya. It's next to impossible to find any employment and make money. Food is even more scarce than it would be normally.

The boys "just happened" to be from Cueibet and were Gok Dinka. However, what made their brotherhood so unique is that they all hail from different sub-tribes of the Gok; sub-tribes that have experienced fighting and animosity amongst each other for decades. These boys are all going to school and returning to Sudan educated and ready to take place in prominent government positions as well as being teachers, engineers, businessmen, etc. They will serve as a positive example and bring unity to the Gok.
Being able to meet these guys has been such a blessing. When you hang around them, you just get the feeling that you are in the presence of great men (or future great mean, that is). They have awesome hearts and are so appreciative of the fact that people care about them.

Your donations go to pay for these boys' school, food, clothes. They appreciate it more than you can know. Here's an excerpt from an email that Peter (standing, 2nd from left) sent me. Peter's the oldest and kind of the ringleader:

"Dear brother Randy,

We are so sorry for not sending you our photo very soon. We are confined in school that is why we have no time to come out and do something in the computer. Now we are happy that we finally sent it.

Our studies are going on very well and we owe you everything for rising our world by doing what

seems to be most impossible thing, but with God all things are possible. we promise and call upon the help of God to assist us changing the lives of our people.

Since you people started paying our school fees, we feel loved and now we have so many visions of what we would want to be as God has planned.

Like me my fist thing to do is to build a largest Church in South Sudan which I must name after the Olathe House Church over there. I'm very confidence and sure about this trust me.

We are aware that you and Jason are coming,we are very excited to seeing you again, you know, when we think of you, we see you playing a guitar, but for Jason, we see him catching a very big snake and for pastor Tim, we see him praying for every one of us anointing us to a very great task. You mean a lot to us and our people as whole. So we truly miss everyone of you and can't wait to see your faces again.

Greet your family for us and tell them we love them.Reply if you have received.

Your brother

PETER MALOU."

11.05.2010

Dude- what are your plans tonight? We gotta get to Baltimore!




Our shipping company (who shall remain nameless) altered the terms of our agreement. Now, they won't give us a reliable window for when the ship arrives, so if we get to the port in Mombasa on December 27th and it's been there already for __ days, the Kenyan goverment has themselves a new Land Rover. OR we might get there and sit around in Mombasa for 10 days because the ship hasn't made it! Lame!

It's 2:00 PM on Wednesday and I hung up the phone with Jason. He's in a hurry to drive to Topeka to try to get a hard copy of the title for the vehicle, becuase UNLIKE WHAT THE OTHER COMPANY HAD TOLD US, the copy of the registration alone wouldn't work!

In addition, all the other shipping companies he had called (except for about 3) told him there was NO WAY that we could get a vehicle there by Christmas! What is happening?!? If there was any hope of getting the vehicle out, it had to be on a ship by Friday. We had to get to Baltimore!

I got off the phone with my boss and verified that I could move everything on my schedule back, keep up on emails and drive that night to Baltimore. We would be negotiating and working out a deal on the way and on a hope and a prayer, we would have something secured when we got there.

We drove for 20 hours straight. Jason, myself, and Charlie (who is going to Africa in January for the first time) arrived in Baltimore Thursday night with no idea where to stay. After driving around aimlessly we finally arrived at a hotel and crashed.

This morning, we went to the harbor. We were told at the first place we stopped that we had reached the military wing of the shipping yard, and that we would have to forfeit our licenses, have a search of the vehicle done, and then turn around and proceed to the next entrance.

Charlie "Chuckles" K.


We got to the next entrance and were then told that despite the fact that we had arranged passage and had confirmation manifests, we would have to find an "escort" in order to get the vehicle into the port, inspected and finally put on the boat. Again, the vehicle was inspected and directed back out of the port. 
 
OK... at the nearest gas station, one lady looked at us cluelessly when we asked about an escort (probably didn't sound the best), and the other said "I think there's a place around the corner that you can find someone." 

Jason eyeing the port with chagrin.

We knew time was running short as we had to get this thing on the boat. The contact with the shipping company who had gracefully arranged everything ahead of time told us the deadline was TODAY. We pulled around the corner into a suspicious-looking gravel lot. A dingy trailer sat
near the entrance. Next to the door, a chalkboard had the following scrawled in chicken-scratch next to an awkward smiley-face:

DRIVERS CHECK IN HERE ---->

We were kinda weirded out. Jason went in, while I tried to pretend I didn't notice the portly guy standing in the window staring at me like I was going to steal his bike. 10 minutes pass and Jason returns. "It's getting a little weird."


Randizzle

He proceeds to tell us that he has to drop us off and he has to return, alone, to the office where some guy with a thick Russian accent is going to help him. He would have no ride back from the shipping yard, and there was no telling how long it would take.

We went to the nearest hotel, got a room, and sat in a McDonald's, waiting.


ANNNNND the rest of the story is anti-climactic. Jason went back, the inspection went super-smooth, and now the vehicle is on the boat waiting to go. He didn't work with the Russian guy- instead, he got the big dude who was standing in the window staring me down. His name was Elvis. No joke.

We spent the rest of the day drinking copious amounts of coffee, eating seafood and sushi, and checking out all that downtown Baltimore has to offer. Very cool town! We definitely plan on coming here to ship all of our vehicles! Sorry- no pictures of the dock. It was crawling with intense-looking people and I didn't care to run the risk of getting my wife's camera taken from me.

It was a surreal feeling, getting this vehicle here and getting it on the boat. We won't see it again for another 7 weeks, when we pick it up and begin the psycho road trip. We are so excited and grateful to see all of this come to fruition. Thank you so much for your continued support. This just gets cooler and cooler by the second! 

Until next time,


Randy Jason Charlie

11.01.2010

Getting closer dot dot dot

All right- first and foremost, my apologies for being lazy about updating the blog. I have had several people ask about the progress of the mission, and there has been a lot of progress, so here we go.



We have upgraded the Land Rover with the following:  
  • Air cushions in the rear suspension that allow us to raise the ride height when the vehicle is weighed down so we won't bottom out. This allows us to carry and additional 1000 pounds. It's all powered by a compressor switch under the dash (see picture)
  • Hard core knobby swamp crawler tires. Nuff said. Limo tint that will keep our profile low and fool would-be "obstacles" into thinking we're government workers- not a couple of crazy mzungus/khawajas (white guys depending on what language you're speaking) driving through East Africa.
  • A custom-built (thanks to Rice Precision Manufacturing) steel cage that sticks onto the back of the Rover that will hold a TON of weight (probably literally).

Basically, this thing looks mean now. It is ready to tear up some bush, jungle, mud, whatever you throw at it. 
 

Other developments:
  • We've secured arrangements to ship the vehicle to Mombasa.
  • We all have plane tickets purchased. Jason and I (Randy) will leave Christmas day, secure the Land Rover at Mombasa and begin the drive to Rumbek/Cueibet County.
  • Hope Sudan Charity Organization is officially recognized in Sudan as an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). This will allow us to make our way through Kenya, Uganda and Sudan with a lot less hassle than if we were just trying to ship it for pleasure.




Things aren't all set, however.
Jason man-handling the poor
tent model at Bass Pro Shop


  • We will need 3,000 for the boys' tuition in Nairobi. We covered the last semester with the church fund.
  • We'll still need cash for various things like entry, duties on the vehicle (even under NGO status), fuel, other arrangements.
  •  
  • WE NEED PRAYER. God has provided so much but empowers us to be stewards of what He's blessed us with. If you feel led, please give by donating through the paypal button on the right. You can also generate money just by clicking on the ads!




In addition to your prayers for finances, we also need it for safety. In all the excitement, it gets really easy to forget that we are driving a vehicle into one of the most war-torn areas of the world that is preparing for the possibility to go through another war. We don't believe anything will happen, but we definitely need your prayers.



Thanks to everyone for standing with us in so many ways. Just think about it- three months ago this seemed like a pipe dream, and now it's happening! It's an unbelievable feeling.

Until next time,
Randy on behalf of the group