Thursday, May 9, 2013


      There is so much I could say about the Juba HASH.  Soooooo much I could say about it, but I won't, other than to say it is great fun and a really wonderful way to meet people as well as getting in some good exercise as we run around the Juba area.
      For people unfamiliar with the HASH, the HASH was started by British ex-pats in Asia somewhere back in the 30's or so.  It has been described as "a drinking club with a running problem," and now spans the globe.  I was aware of their being a HASH in Juba but I resisted for nearly two years because I thought it was merely a drunken brawl.  My evidence for this possibility was the regular extremely hung-over condition of two friends, one a faithful HASHer, whom I would see at church early on Sunday mornings.  However, another very dear friend who arrived in Juba and participated in the HASH assured me that my fears were misplaced; the extreme inebriation of my friends was the result of post-HASH consumption rather than at the HASH.
      I started participating in the HASH around February of 2012 and have not looked back at all.  The hour or two I spend there each week is often the highlight of my week, such is the state of my social life in Juba.  But it really is a great way to meet people, to unwind and have some fun.
      A few weeks ago we ran just outside Juba at an area near Gormoruk Cemetary.  This is a really nice area, with some old volcanic hills which afford great views of the surrounding country.  Juba is surrounded by classical African savanna grasslands which you don't really appreciate at ground level, you have to get up a few meters and take in a grand vista to see the beauty.
      Here are some photos from that HASH:

Out on the trail.  On-on!

This was a small pool, outcrops of granite and basalt made a natural dam.  Anyone for a dip?

After the run, the challenge was to haul the "beverages" up on the rocks
Everyone post run enjoying drinks, songs and fellowship

The view from the mountain with yours truly showing his good side.  Hard to tell where the socks end and the white legs begin.  Nice hole in the shirt, d'oh!
A friend enjoying the view from the mountain

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Job

     I came to Sudan almost three years ago  now.  I originally only came for a four month project.  I sometimes don't know what has happened to the time.  But four months has stretched into three years, and now I have a new job and don't know when I will return to live stateside.
     I was a missionary working for the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.  I came just to help study the Church's finances and help to create some systems.  Not really your typical missionary posting.  Actually, keeping the line between overworked employee and missionary was very difficult.  I often found myself more caught up in the work than on building relationships or some of the other soft, fuzzy things people thought I was supposed to be doing.  It was hard to remember that when you are responsible for managing the finances of a three million member organization and there are huge pressures.  Vendors looking for their money or bishops howling for their stipends never asked whether or not I was a missionary, they just wanted their money.  It was a tough job, the conditions were hard.  Except for people who saw me in action here, it would be hard I think for people at home to ever really understand.  But I also always felt that I was where God wanted me, where I was supposed to be.  I never felt discouraged or that I made a mistake being at the ECS, not for one day no matter how bad it got.
     I left the ECS in March.  It seemed to me the right thing to do.  I felt like I could have stayed there for thirty more years and have still been doing the same thing.  I felt that so long as I remained with the Church they would not really grow, nor would I.  We would both be dependent upon each other - the ECS to avoid having to do on their own the things I had so often taught them, me hiding from challenging myself to learn new things, push myself.  I was getting stale and lazy.  It was time to go.  I miss the ECS, I miss the community, the emphasis upon living a life of faith.  And though I knew I was done working for the ECS, I did not feel that I was done with Sudan.
      The thing about South Sudan is that as a new country, it's future, it's direction has not been fully decided.  This country has all the assets to be one of the wealthiest, most wonderful countries.  It's that possibility that makes living here so enticing.  South Sudan has the history of 192 other countries to learn from to avoid making similar mistakes.  The future here could either be great or terrible - it hasn't been decided.  I think that like teenagers to whom no amount of advice really penetrates - they just have to experience things for themselves in order to learn, maybe the same is true for countries and they just have to go through bad times in order to learn and grow and emerge hopefully better.  But it is that uncertainty that makes it so exciting to live here.
      So I have traded a seven days a week, seventy hours of work position for a seven days a week, seventy hours of work position!  which is great because I left behind when I came Africa a seven days a week, seventy hours of work position.  At least now I am able to get a paycheck every two weeks, and my house and office has reasonable electricity - even air conditioning and hot water!  That's not just crazy talk! 
     I don't want to go into too many details, but I am now Director of Finance & Administration for a non-governmental organization (NGO) called IMA Worldhealth.  We support the development of primary health care by supporting health clinics and hospitals by giving them training, equipment, medicines, whatever we can do to help them to develop.  My job is to make sure we have all the resources we need to do the job and to account for how those resources were used.  I spend my days and nights worrying about wire transfers and receipts and audits and exchange rates, etc. etc.  I worry about everything, which suits my nature - I like to be involved with everything, I like to be in charge.  My ex-wife always said I was bossy.  I just like to think that if I'm not in charge, nothing gets done.
      I don't know what this is doing to my sense of identification.  People bring over magazines and newspapers from the US and I hardly recognize the country I left behind.  I feel alien from there.  But I will also always be an outsider here, though I am making a commitment to Africa which is the most astounding thing I could never have imagined.  This experience has exposed me to people I would never have met otherwise.  I have friends on four continents now.  I went to England for Christmas last year to be with friends.  This Christmas I am thinking of going to India and Sri Lanka to see friends.  I'll be going home in June to see family in America.  It's a whirlwind, and it's hard sometimes to know where it's heading.