Hello. I am sorry that you haven't had any news from us in Lui. The new Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) satellite terminal and internet that was installed recently with five computers has been playing up, so it was impossible to get on the internet more than once or twice for a few minutes, and most of the computers were not working at all. The company that installed them needs to come back and sort it out.
We left Lui at 9 this morning and arrived at MAF about 2 hours ago. Sheila of MAF made us cheese sandwiches for lunch - our first dairy products since leaving here. The Americans fly home later tonight, whilst the British and Swedes in our group are going on a sightseeing trip to the Source of the Nile tomorrow, returning via MAF to shower and change, then to the airport.
We have done our work in Lui - conferences (what we would call workshops) for Sunday School teachers and Youth Leaders last Friday and Saturday, then for Pastors and Mothers Union on Monday and Tuesday. I did some computer training but not as much as I wanted due to the computer problems. Meanwhile Jeannie visited Lunjiini School, Shirley visited the hospital and they both went to the Mothers' Union Sewing Room and Shop.
Bishop Bullen has been ill and had to have an operation whilst we were there. We were able to visit him in hospital on our final day and found him very frail. He sends his warm greetings to everyone in Blackmore Vale. We also had tea with his wife and family at his compound, though he was not present.
The news in Sudan is not good. The referendum will be on 9 January. There are 800,000 Southern Sudanese living in the north, plus the Christian populations who are actually northerners. The Northern government has already said that if the South secedes they will remove citizenship from Southerners in the North, confiscate their property and sack them from their jobs. Yesterday the Northern government announced that they will stop all flights from Khartoum to the South from 1 December. This means Southerners won't be able to escape the North by air. Some in Lui are saying those people should have moved South already, but of course when they do they will have no homes, no jobs, nothing. Lui Diocese is preparing some plans to house what they call IDPs (Internally Displaced People) and may ask 'partners' such as us for funds to help if it happens. The Headteacher of Lunjini School is talking of dividing the half-built chapel that a Missouri lady is funding in memory of her husband into four classrooms with temporary partitions, to provide education for those arriving children. The Southern Sudanes are expecting war and are saying that if it happens they are going 'to take it to the North' rather than letting it all be fought on Southern territory as last time.
So it was sadness and some tears that we left them to face all this trouble in the time before any of us may be able to visit them again.
The good news is that the internet will get sorted out and more of the people we met have email, so we can have some contact with them even when we can't to to Lui.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon. Regards. Anne