12 November, 2007


Most of you are probably more surprised that I have posted 10-15 times on this blog than that I haven’t posted anything for a month and a half or whatever it has been. So maybe this will be me turning another leaf and getting back into the blogging something like every couple weeks or maybe this one will take quite a long time to be followed up on again. Either way, I hope that it helps those of you who are interested to have an idea of what is going on with me over here in Sudan.

Well, I’ve moved. I’m currently in a town (for Sudan standards, maybe it would be considered a city . . . but probably not even) called Maridi. It’s been a couple of weeks of getting a base set-up by making sure we get a fence up, concrete slabs poured for our tents, a kitchen and storage built, hiring staff to facilitate our operations, meeting with church leaders from the area as well as those of the various churches we are able to partner with, and begin helping these churches move towards the building process through coordinating transportation of natural resources, encouraging the churches to work, distributing tools, food, and getting things prepared at each site for the making of cement blocks. Of course, I’m not doing all this on my own. We have a new staff member from the U.S. that is here with me learning the process of things, and there are a number of national staff that we have added who are helping an enormous amount. We’ve met with fifteen churches (the farthest being about 2 and a half hours away from town) that I hope will all be finished with construction by April and already have another fifteen on their way to being ready for construction.

It’s been quite a change from Yei where there were all different levels of things happening. There, we have kind of a factory where all the trusses and steel going to sites are fabricated, doors and windows and benches are made, and churches were at all stages in the process around there. Here, it is only the mobilization of the churches that is really taking place as things will be shipped from Yei for the construction. Facilitating the churches gathering sand, stone, backfill, and water needed for construction as well as ensuring the proper molding and curing of the cement blocks used for the church are really the only tasks regarding the church building here. Coordinating transportation on difficult roads and in the midst of the continuing rains is the biggest challenge aside from making sure that the setup of the base and coordination with local officials is happening.

So, that’s a bit of an update from me, and here are a couple of photos from here in my new area.

-Joe Dirt
Outside my temporary new home (will be moving into a tent soon)
Looking at a sample of river sand to see if it might be useful for construction
So the roads don't have proper drainage. . . On the right used to be
the road some years back, the bypass on the left is used now