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A letter from Nancy McGaughey in Sudan

July 8, 2011

Children of South Sudan

Grace and Peace to all of you.

A woman standing with a group of children.

Nancy and children from Sunday School.

I write this on the eve of the birth of a new nation—the Republic of South Sudan.  I am afraid if I wait, many recent events will be overtaken by the events of tomorrow.  Even though official celebrations start tomorrow, yesterday when we were in Rumbek it was hard not to get caught up in the festive spirit.  People were practicing dancing, singing and marching.  At our meeting at the Ministry of Health, the director told the doctor from Mustard Seed Hospital and me, “Even you can be Southern Sudanese on Saturday!”  The drums have already started beating.

I have always heard that Dinkas (as well as many of the other tribes of South Sudan) are very proud of their cows.  This last week I learned that they have 99 (or more) different names for them, based on their coloring!  There is no way I will ever learn all of them; even among the educated Sudanese I work with there is disagreement as to whether a cow is one name or another.  The "true experts" are those who live with the cattle in the cattle camps, I am told. 

A young woman holding her toddler little sister.

Nyandur and her sister, Adol village.

Last week we held refresher training for traditional birth attendants (TBAs).  It is one of my favorite trainings.  The women are so eager to learn.  We had invited 20 women to attend; 19 of them were present for morning devotions the first day (almost unheard of, as people slowly trickle in for trainings) and by lunchtime we had 21!  In an attempt to show our donor the effectiveness of our training, we had decided to give pre/post-tests.  That proved to be quite a challenge.  We divided the women into small groups, with one member of our staff in each group to read the questions and answers to them.  They were to "check" the appropriate answer(s).  I hadn’t realized that first we would have to teach them how to hold their pen!  I am not sure how valid our results are—in one group during the pre-test the translator was on question 2 and one woman had marked answers through question 4!  One of the TBAs, Martha, gave a short talk at the closing ceremony.  It was moving to hear her talk of how she, and through her, her family, had been changed by her training.  She talked of how the participants were different—in dress, in attitudes, personal hygiene, etc., from others in their respective villages.  As well, she said, they had helped to bring about change in their communities.  She talked of how they could now identify some of the women who were "high risk" and could refer them to clinics for help.  As a result, fewer women died in childbirth.  It was a moving tribute coming from a citizen of the country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world!

As the new nation appears, please pray for:

  • Peaceful transition of the government
  • A sense of unity among the different clans and tribes
  • The leaders of the Republic of South Sudan
A group of children under a large hut.

Children of Ploc village.

And praise the Almighty for hearing and answering the prayers of His people.

I will be in the United States from mid-September through January and available to share with you more of this work in South Sudan.  I will be based in Indiana, but my Gmail address can be still be used for arranging times to visit.  I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones as I share with you the work of Across and the PC(USA) here.

Grace and Peace


The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 54
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  • Wonderful to hear about the birth training for the women!! So important. The hosptial in Pakistan where I was a Mission Co-worker sent out teams to train the women in the villages. I've had the blessing of beening with Ingrid at the New Wilmington Mission Conf. and Debbie spoke at my church and was my house guest and also at the Conf. Wonderful to be with them. I'm working with Caryl Weinberg on the Tumekutana African Women's Uganda in Oct. Debbie and Ingrid have asked Debbie Braksma to attend it. Great if you could also, but looks like you will be in USA. Please pray for the women. Hope we can get together when you are home so we can learn what God is doing inyour life and your witness there. I am a retired critical care nurse and set up the ICU at Memorial Christian Hospital, Sialkot, Pakistan. "...may the God of peace...produce in you through the power of Christ all that is pleasing to Him..." Hebrews 13:20,21 Blessings, Patty by Patty Summerville on 08/04/2011 at 10:14 a.m.