Healing The Wounds of Trauma

Seven South Sudanese women crowd together on two hard, wooden benches in the little church. Despite the differences in age and tribe, they share a common despair. To me they look world-weary, eyes overflowing with hurt. They speak of war and hopelessness…of living in the agony of uncertainty as their homeland implodes. There are loved ones missing, dead. And hope that sprang up alive and green in their hearts less than a year ago has been cruelly cut down once again.

What can I offer them? I feel the enormity of their suffering wash over me. Never have I experienced the types of trauma they are revealing…how can I speak to their need? I can’t.

But God’s Word can.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” (Lam.3:21,22)

I cannot offer these women food and medicine today – there are other great organizations who are trying to help with that. But that is not their greatest need. Their greatest need is HOPE. As they go around the circle and share their single most difficult feeling, they share the words: “Hopeless – we feel hopeless”. It reminds me poignantly of Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Truly, they are heart-sick.

We continue together and I lead them through the first lesson of a book called Healing the Wounds of Trauma. We open up God’s Word together. These women listen hungrily, eagerly, grasping for…hope. They ask questions and share stories. “Why does God allow suffering?” “Are we cursed? Our neighbors say we are…” “Can God use suffering in my life?” “Do I have to earn His favor? What can I do?”…

O glorious Gospel! The Gospel of grace, of unmerited favor… I share in English and they repeat over and over to one another in Dinka and Arabic: “because of His great love for usfor by grace you have been saved thru faith...” (Ephesians 2:4,8,9). Eyes and hearts open. I see a glimmer…as despair begins to melt around the edges.

Six more meetings to go, every Sunday afternoon. I encourage them to keep coming. We will cover topics like: Healing heart wounds, Grief, Helping children through trauma, Forgiveness, Taking our pain to the cross, and Living as Christians in the midst of conflict. They seem eager to keep going. It is only with great difficulty that I convince them that our time today is finished, and we pray together. I am just as excited as they are to see what God will do!th 196






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Why Do We Love Homeschooling?

 Just Some Of The Reasons…

This year marks 12 years of homeschooling for our family. It has suited us well first in Zambia, then with all the military moves, and now here in Nairobi. Though Grace and Benjamin have enjoyed this past year at the local American mission school, Grace is eager to come back to homeschooling for her senior year this Fall. Katie, Josiah, and Isaac are excelling at their home education and each at their own pace.  The neat thing is that we as parents can encourage their strengths, strengthen their weak areas, and love them like no one else. No matter where kids attend school, learning and growing should ALWAYS be happening at home…



Breaks when we need them!

Breaks when we need them!

Individualized Learning

Individualized Learning

More creating... The Earth Core

The Earth Core

Culinary Skills Developed. This is Isaac's Grilled Peanut Butter and Nutella Sandwich

Culinary Skills Developed.
This is Isaac’s Grilled Peanut Butter and Nutella Sandwich

More Individualized Learning...(notice the clay person with the speech bubble to learn the word "said". Josiah's idea.

More Individualized Learning…(notice the clay person with the speech bubble to learn the word “said”. Josiah’s idea.

Some things will always stick! Isaac baked a model of sedimentary rock layers. Yum!

Some things will always stick!
Isaac baked a model of sedimentary rock layers. Yum!

Real Live Science! Ben finds a specimen for us to observe, study, and release.

Real Live Science!
Ben finds a specimen for us to observe, study, and release.

Where the magic happens! The dining room tables transforms itself to a family learning center every morning.

Where the magic happens!
The dining room tables transforms itself to a family learning center every morning.

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Grace abounding…

These last two months have been full of activity.

After the team evacuation from South Sudan in December and January, we gathered for a workshop to discuss personal and family risk thresholds. After facilitating a discussion with the parents, Stacey presented their ideas to the larger group. This gave us the opportunity as a team to discuss the biblical meaning of risk and suffering and how it applies to each of us as we follow God’s call both here in Nairobi and in South Sudan.

In early January, we sent a four person assessment group back into Doro. We have been unable to send anyone back into Melut or Malakal. In mid-February, several teammates made the decision to spend a few months in North Africa studying Arabic in anticipation of their future work back South Sudan. Others have taken early Home Assignment for now. At the end of February, we were able to send four more SIMers into Doro to help carry on the work of the clinic and nutrition village. Depending on the situation, more team members may be able to return to Doro in a few weeks. Unfortunately, Malakal has been destroyed by the fighting. We are uncertain of the situation in Melut.

Most recently, Mark and I both completed Advanced Trauma Healing training with several of our team members. Our hope is that this material, created by SIL, will help open doors of healing for many of the South Sudanese both here in Nairobi (where many have fled) and in South Sudan.

Healing wounds of trauma book

2014-02-21 14.04.06Trauma Healing class

A friend gifted Mark and me with a much needed rest day at a local tea farm which included a lovely tour and a delicious lunch. THANK YOU!

Tea farmAt the tea farm

We sent Benjamin off to his first Middle School Banquet…

Ben ms banquetBen

And we are celebrating Grace’s 17th birthday this month! Hard to believe.

2013-12-13 12.01.54We love you Gracie!!

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor.9:8
Please keep our family in your prayers as we continue to seek Christ daily and make Him known wherever we are. Pray for our children -their peace and safety here in Nairobi and that they will personally follow Christ. For us as their parents that we will lead them with love and godliness. Pray for our marriage – to be strengthened and to glorify God and to be a witness to our children. Pray for our work in missionary care that we will have hearts of tenderness, that we will be wise with our time and discerning in our call. Thank you!
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This past month in pictures…(updated)

Our entire team was evacuated from South Sudan due to the recent violence there.

2014-01-06 09.28.40

In between attending CMT, debriefing, and hosting our weary teammates, we managed to have some good times with each other

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Babies were born! This is one of them: Daniel Klay

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Homeschooling was accomplished!

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Ears were cleaned (in the dark with no electricity no less!) Thanks to missionary audiologist Stephanie Cox.

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Fun was had by all –even our teens.

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Rest and relaxation happened at our SLC (Spiritual Life Conference)

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2014-01-23 17.55.18

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Ladies Spa Night was enjoyed.2014-01-24 19.44.47

We celebrated Benjamin’s 12th birthday while at SLC.

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Grace helped with the childrens ministry at SLC

2014-01-23 20.07.00

2014-01-24 15.56.122014-01-25 11.19.592014-01-24 15.36.45

Missionaries relaxed…Just what they needed!

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2014-01-25 16.51.00-

We played games –this is Kubb.

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2014-01-24 16.56.25

We enjoyed great worship with our Ethiopian teammates.

2014-01-25 18.28.29

And finally we arrived back home after a wonderful SLC to find that rats in our house had eaten Mark’s (clean) underwear (in case you were concerned for the rat).

2014-01-27 12.46.05


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Portable Homes


A few of our Missionary Kids creating their very own “mobile homes”.

Recently I had the opportunity to take care of a few of our missionary kids while the parents attended a meeting. As I played with them, they began to explain what they were doing -building their very own mobile homes. Each of the children (from two different families) had taken off with the idea and were busy at work. The significance was not lost on me as I watched how carefully they filled their portable houses with treasure.  After all, no one knows better than these little “refugees” what it means to leave one’s toys, blankets, homeschooling books, clothing -well, pretty much everything – behind. No wonder each house had wheels! The saddest part for me was watching them try to fit in the people. Leaving things behind is difficult enough, but these MKs have also left behind close playmates and friends. It is a picture in miniature of how the grown-ups on our team are also grieving. Only they don’t have the option of play-therapy.

Later this week, our team will come together for the annual Spiritual Life Conference from January 22nd to 26th. Several months ago, we made the very fortuitous decision to move the SLC to January -not knowing how significant that move would be. It is a time for all of us to come together and be refreshed spiritually and physically at a beautiful retreat center here in Kenya. The first part of the day will be spent in worship, prayer, and hearing God’s Word. The latter half will be rest, fun, and fellowship. There are children’s activities planned throughout the day as well. It will be a time for all of us to reflect on God’s call in our lives and what that means during these days of uncertainty. We can rest and pray and look a little deeper than we usually have time or energy to look. It could be that come away with a new appreciation of His work in us and through us -being mutually encouraged and renewed.

To that end, we would like to ask you to please pray for us and our team during this Conference. As the situation in South Sudan deteriorates, there are difficult decisions to be made about moving forward and how to proceed. We need God’s wisdom and peace.

Pray for our teammates as they have been out of S Sudan for almost a month now and many are weary of being “in transition”. This is especially difficult for families with children.

Pray for peace in South Sudan. We heard from news reports recently that as many as 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting. Many have fled to churches seeking shelter. Pray that the believers in South Sudan will extend mercy and grace to those of any tribe and model the all-encompassing love of Christ.

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Staying the Course

Some of you have asked the question: Does this mean the missionaries will all be coming home?

No. For now, we are all waiting it out here in Nairobi, Kenya – our “home base”, so to speak.

In the coming days, our team leadership will evaluate the situation in South Sudan and make decisions about returning. Some organizations are already sending in scouting teams to make assessments of needs and to determine what essential personnel should return and when.

So please pray for all of those making these decisions. And pray for wisdom as each missionary must prayerfully determine how much risk they can accept in this situation. Of course SIM takes very seriously the need for caution and wisdom in moving forward.

Overall, may Christ be glorified and lifted up in South Sudan. May His perfect will be accomplished -even if through the suffering of His people. And may we be able to say with Paul that we desire nothing more than “to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering…(Phil.3:10) so that the Name of Christ will be lifted up and the comfort of Christ will be made known to a hurting people.

Thank you for praying.

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SIM Evacuates Amidst Escalating Crisis

The following prayer update is directly from sim.org: http://www.sim.org/index.php/content/evacuation-south-sudan-personnel. Please feel free to share this with your churches, friends and family for prayer. Thank you!
Fighting which began December 15th in the South Sudan capital of Juba has spread across many states in the eastern section of the nation. At least 1000 have died and tens of thousands have become refugees.
SIM leaders have fully evacuated our 27 adult missionaries (and one child) from their locations in Malakal and Doro to neighboring Nairobi, Kenya. Providentially, our entire team in Melut comprised of 11 adults and 10 children, had already left the ministry site for Christmas and other family reasons.
Please pray:
·         for protection of SIM personnel
·         for protection over our many ministries and our partner church, the Sudan Interior Church
·         for the peace talks to bring about immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to reach the tens of thousands of refugees who have fled for their lives
·         for the Church in South Sudan to stand firm in faith and to discern God’s will for them
·         for the door to open up for our people to return to South Sudan soon
Thank you for standing with us in prayer.
 News Links:
Washington Post: 
9 Things to know about South Sudan
BBC News: Ceasefire talks open in Ethiopia
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