Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Half-Way Recap

Wow! I can not believe it, but I have been in South Sudan for 8 months! I admit, that I have learned a lot about the world and about myself, and I know it sounds cliché, but I really am a changed person because of my experiences! There were some downs and many ups during my time in South Sudan these past months, but I can honestly say that I would never trade my experiences for anything in the world!

I truly am grateful for my experiences and would like to thank the following people:

  • My parents, siblings, and family for their continuous prayers and support.
  • My friends for their support.
  • The Salesian Missions Office in the US and the Salesian Lay Missioner Program for sending me to such a great place and allowing me to be a part of a great program.
  • The Salesian Community of Gumbo for housing, feeding, taking care of me and accepting me as one of your own and as part of your mission.
  • The Community of Gumbo and my students/fellow teachers for allowing me to serve you on my mission.

What have I learned? How do I feel? How am I coping with the situation? Do I miss home? These questions are such simple questions but unfortunately all require long answers. There are many things I have learned and done during my 8 months in South Sudan that it would take me either to have a great conversation with you, or for me to write a novel about my experiences. So rather than reading about all my experiences and what I have learned here in my blog, I encourage you to reach out to me and video chat or talk to me when I get back about my experiences, that way I can also promote the idea of interaction with others in the digital age.

Overall, I am feeling great about living in South Sudan! I am so happy with the work I am doing in Gumbo, South Sudan, and will continue to say to anyone that asks, that I am enjoying my time here and I am in love with the people here!

I know I sound like a broken record, but I urge you to continue praying for my mission and above all, continue praying for peace in South Sudan. As mentioned in my last paragraph, I am in love with the people here, the children bring a lot of happiness and joy, while the men and women I work alongside and for are people who I admire and care for so much, they are the most caring and loving people I have met! It is my hope that these people I love so much can one day live in unity and peace!

Posing with some of the children after daily rosary!

The children and I are having fun with the camera!

These children wanted to take their picture with me and then became shy when it was time to take the picture!

These children were not so shy about taking their picture!

This boy had a lot of balloon hats that fellow volunteer Michael made for him, so I asked him if I could wear one.

This is one of my good friends!

I am in the blue shirt playing basketball underneath the rainbow (thank you Michael for taking this picture)!

Sometimes the poses these boys make are very funny!

These boys always greet me in front of the church!

Oratory at the sisters' compound! I was taking in the beauty of the children enjoying oratory with the sisters! 

Playing saxophone with the brass band!

These boys just started learning, so I was happy to help them with their scales!

They are off to a great start, we hope to develop these boys to play a couple songs by the end of the month!

In the morning on my way to work, I always run into kindergarten students going to school as well!

Giving a good morning talk to our graduating students at the VTC!

I am very proud of this small group of students that are prepared to go out into the world and become great technicians!

With one of the electrical students and the solar panels he is installing!

Supervising his work!

"Installing the light and air-conditioning!"

But really, I was acting as if I knew what I was doing, I really didn't do anything!

Supervising one of my students' work.

With Mr. Michael (like the dean of the VTC) inspecting this student's installation work! The student seems quite happy with his result!

This student is explaining to us and his teacher what he did!

Overall, I told him that he did a great job!

Most of my days at the school I am in the office doing administration work for the VTC!

Some days I am in the classroom teaching English or Communication Skills!

I really enjoy teaching and I love my students!

My students are very attentive and committed to their studies!

It is a great joy and pleasure to be teaching my students!

I am sorry, as you can see, I am sweating a lot! Juba is very hot!

Students are intently listening to me telling them a story!

Here I am enjoying a traditional South Sudanese meal!

I got to see the River Nile with my friend and fellow volunteer James from Kenya!

James and I walking in the rain! ( Thank you Italian Volunteer Margaret for taking this picture!)

I tried to imitate my friend's pose in this picture!

With my role-model, older sister, and mentor Sr. Thuy from Wau, South Sudan! It is always a pleasure to see her when she comes to Gumbo! She is from my home state of California and has given her life to the mission of South Sudan. Please pray for her and for her mission in Wau!

Enjoying the sunset at the end of the day!

I usually play guitar in the evenings to relax and to enjoy the beautiful sunset!

The sunsets are so beautiful in Gumbo!

Sometimes while I play guitar, I also pray for peace and for patience!

Playing guitar while enjoying the sunset is so relaxing and a perfect way to end my day!

Fellow volunteer Michael and me with some of the boys!
Hope you enjoyed the pictures! I urge you all to continue to pray for peace in South Sudan! I wish you many blessings and please know that you are in my prayers! God bless!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spotlight: Michael Patrick Gordon

Today I would like to spotlight my site partner and fellow Salesian Lay Missioner: Mr. Michael Patrick Gordon! Today (post was written on Saturday 4/16/2016) is Michael's 23rd birthday, and I wanted to do something special for him by showing people how special he is and how important he is to the mission here in Gumbo, South Sudan.

Michael is a young man (younger than me) who is an ornithologist, and as such, has an obsession with birds (of course), with science and with nature. He is also an avid juggler, unicyclist, balloon artist, and orator of German poetry (he can do it perfectly)! Here in Gumbo, Michael works as a librarian, science teacher, and assistant administrator at the Don Bosco Secondary School (high school). His students really look up to him and turn to him for inspiration. After school, I always see Michael playing and enjoying himself surrounded by small children.

I have to say, I very much admire Michael for his patience, his care for his students, and his passion to serve the people of Gumbo. I am super proud of Michael for what he is doing here in Gumbo! I know that if he continues doing what he is doing, he will be successful and go far in life!

As you know from my previous posts, being on mission is not easy sometimes, and especially being far away from home, it is not just us, missioners, that are affected, but also our friends and family. I would like you all to join me in praying for Michael and his family on his year of mission.

Michael is not a man of many words, so like him, I will not talk so much and leave you with these pictures to enjoy his work here!

Cooking pumpkin on Thanksgiving with James: one of his sfrmertudents.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with fellow Salesian Lay Missioner and volunteer: Colleen Burns.

Enjoying himself on Christmas!
Making balloon animals for the children in the village of Mori!
Teaching us about a fish that a small boy caught in the Nile River.

Although he is an ornithologist (studies birds), Michael did study Wildlife Biology, and as such, knows a lot about fish too!.
With the children on his unicycle during oratory!

The children absolutely love it!

Some children even got a free ride from him!
Making balloon art for the winner of the St. Don Bosco Quiz on Don Bosco Sports Day.

The children enjoyed his balloon making skills!

Feasting with fellow Italian volunteer Margaret Dragone!

With his friend Lino!

Helping children make their palm crosses on Palm Sunday!

Reading and relaxing under on tree during our Salesian Easter outing!

I told him I might sell this picture to advertise libraries and reading more.

Photo was taken by one of the children if Gumbo.

With one of the boys from Gumbo!

Once again, this picture was taken by one of the children in Gumbo.

Monkeying around!

Lifting up another boy that also wants to to get lifted up!

These children really have strong arms!

Showing me what he thinks of rearranging and fixing the library at the DB Vocational Training Centre!  

But seriously, Michael is doing well in terms of helping out with the DBVTC library!
Lecturing about doves when we found a dead dove on our porch.

Happy Birthday Michael!