Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GRACE ABOUNDS

Dear Friends:

I know you are very busy and don't have time to read lengthy emails.  And I tend to be lengthy when I start writing about my children. :-)  So, I have changed the format for sending the updates.  Attached is an update in newsletter form.  I hope this works well for everyone.

Belated Happy Easter to all.

God's GRACE and peace, love and joy,

Libby Dearing

Thursday, November 20, 2014

GRACE newsletter

Dear Friends:


I cannot believe that it is the end of the year and we are leaving for the U.S. in just two days!  Time does go by fast.  I thought I would send one last newsletter before we leave to let you know what all has happened in just a short time.


In October a team came from Memphis to work on a second Home for Children that will be opening soon in Kenyi.  It is called Green Land Home for Children and was built by Memphis Conference and Abingdon District of Holston Conference.  Green Land is half the size of GRACE but, like GRACE, was designed to be actual homes where the children would live with a mama that is there 24/7. Memphis team bought furnishings for the houses and did many other things.  That included work at GRACE Home.  They very generously provided a frame for the swing set with plans to send the swings from the U.S.  However, so the children could play on them, they rigged up rope and a wooden bar.  Richard even taught them how to use the side bars to turn flips.  The children enjoyed them so much that within a week the rope had broken several times and been re-tied.


Fred was supposed to bring the swings back with him in November but due to weight couldn't bring them.  But the Knoxville team came to Fred's rescue and found a hardware store that carried some items that could be used for the swings.  So they hung four swings and the children immediately started swinging.  One mama was even spied swinging when she thought no one was looking. 


The children received letters from a Sunday School class at Christ UMC in Knoxville.  They decorated themselves with stickers, ate candy, and did some crafts.  I'm not sure who enjoyed themselves more - the adults or the children.


It was time for another child care training for the staff at GRACE.  With Green Land close to opening, the staff joined with GRACE for a three day training of Discipling and Disciplining our Children.  It was great to see the staff come together and work together to learn how to raise children in a Christian way.  We will be doing this annually.


I will take this opportunity (although early) to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.   As Paul said (paraphrased), I thank God for you every time I think about you.  May you be blessed with much joy and the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.


GRACE and peace,


Libby Dearing   


   

Saturday, September 27, 2014

More GRACE growth

Hello Everyone:


So much has happened since the last update, that I don't know where to start!  So, I will start with the most exciting.  On September 9, 2014 GRACE Home had our one year anniversary!  It is so hard to believe that it has been a full year since the GRACE family was born.  To celebrate we had a birthday party for staff and children.  We sang, danced, and ate cake, popcorn, and soda.  The children and staff were honored as each were presented with a sparkly garland around their necks.  I think popcorn was a new treat for them and I think I can safely say that they really enjoyed it.  Alex (our driver) popped the corn and the cooks were amazed to see how those kernels popped up to fill a huge kettle.


Next, after much waiting and prayer, GRACE Home got a vehicle!  It is a very rugged Land Cruiser double cab pick-up.  Elias found the vehicle in Juba and got a steal of a deal price.  It is a 2014 model and had been used only to drive around town.  The mileage was low and it had been very well maintained.  We feel very blessed to have it as it will make it much easier to do marketing, transport children and staff for medical care, and get to places they could not go to before.  Of course, Alex decided that it should stay at Captain's House but I nixed that idea really fast!


Finally, the GRACE family grew.  We added on two new members when we got two very fierce puppies to help protect the children.  How much better can you get?  Children and puppies are God's gift to us and, for me, makes me realize that pure joy can be found in small packages.  The children named the male Tiger and the female Simba.  We will see if they live up to their names.  I think Tiger has possibilities.  When the pastors were meeting there, he ran into the room, barked once, then turned around and ran out.  


That's all for now.  We thank you for your continued prayers and thank God for everyone who made GRACE Home possible.  You have proven that the saying "it takes a village" isn't limited geographically.


God's GRACE and peace to all,


Libby


Monday, August 11, 2014

Growing GRACE

Hello Friends of GRACE:


Fred and I enjoyed a very nice holiday in the States, but we were happy to return to South Sudan and our family and friends here.  It was nice to see so many of you and be able to report how well things are going for GRACE Home.  And, after being away for two months, I returned to find that there were many changes taking place.


Maybe it is my imagination, but the children seemed to have grown so much!  They looked so healthy and happy.  Justus had held Sunday School lessons for them while I was away and they had made a chart for taking turns for daily prayer.  Even the little ones participate.  Two brothers that had arrived in April, whom I had been a little worried about, had adjusted well and were very much a part of the family.  They are now singing and dancing with the choir as well.


Not only had the children grown, but also the vegetation!  The gardens were ready to be harvested and they had started eating a lot of it.  The banana trees that were difficult to see from a distance are now large and bearing fruit.  The wood lot is growing although we lost many of the Acacia trees.  We will soon have papaya and guava from the fruit orchard.  To help the children and staff learn agriculture/horticulture, Justus and Moses started a little competition for them.  Each house is responsible for growing a plot of vegetables and each  person is assigned a tree to take care of.  I found out that trees were planted for me while I was away.  That is trees - plural - so I have a whole line to take care of!  The pressure if on!  


While I was away, Dr. Sharon Fogleman went to GRACE Home and taught the cooks and mamas how to bake bread.  That was a real hit!  So, when I returned they informed me that they would like to do that on a consistent basis.  Sharon had used a sand oven which worked OK but can only hold one or two loaves.  I contacted the man that built our rocket stove and he is now building us an oven.  When it is completed the ladies can bake enough bread for them to eat as well as sell some.


Please continue to keep the children and staff in your prayers.  They appreciate that so much and they pray for you as well.


GRACE and peace,


Libby


  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

GRACE Update

Dear Friends:

I must say I have been very neglectful about sending you an update on GRACE Home since my return to South Sudan in February.  Yes, I have been busy but, that's no excuse.  So, as I prepare to return to the U.S. again I thought I had better update you before I leave.

February is the start of a new school year here so when I returned I immediately started getting the kids ready for school.  Justus' father is a tailor so we hired him to make the uniforms for everyone.  He did a great job and the kids were so excited when they received them.  Oftentimes, even if the children go to school the guardians cannot afford the uniform so they have to wear regular clothes.  This makes them feel different and the school will even send them home because of not having one.  Everyone was registered except for Simone, the little three year old.  They do start school at age 3 here but she just turned 3 and is not ready.  They tried sending her to school but she kept running back home (the school is in the church building just outside the gate).

We now have 23 children with only one vacancy left for a girl.  Just last month we got two brothers, ages 13 and 8 years, whose parents had died.  They had been left alone and had to go to the neighbors to get food.  They are now in the GRACE family and doing very well.  I wish I could share with you the smiles I saw when they were shown where they would sleep.

Our agriculture work at GRACE is going well.  This planting season we are teaching the children about gardening.  They prepared a plot near the gate for ground nuts and our agriculture manager is working with the mamas and children.  They bought plenty of g-nuts for the area but ran short when the children ate them instead of planting them!  So, after buying more the planting will continue.  The mamas and children will be responsible for weeding, caring, and harvesting.  Agriculture is so important here because if you don't grow your own food you don't eat.  Their chicken population is increasing but they face the challenge of keeping the chickens alive since they are "free-range".  The chicks are easy prey for predators and the hens lay their eggs anywhere they choose.  

As we develop the land for agriculture, we are also looking at a playground.  UMCOR gave us some old tires so we will be working on a design and the best way to use them.  The kids also love playing soccer so we want to have a place where we can put up a make-shift goal and windows won't be broken.

I will be leaving here on May 13th and will arrive home on the 14th.  I hope to see many of you while I am there.  Please keep the children and staff of GRACE Home in your prayers.  

May God's GRACE and peace be with you,

Libby      

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More from GRACE

Greetings once again from South Sudan!


It’s so nice to be “home” again after being “home” in the US.  As we expected, work got off to a running start.  So, I am writing to let you know a little of what has transpired between the last update and today.


While we were still in the US many refugees from the conflicted areas came to Yei where the UN had set up an Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp.  There were lots of children and food was at a minimum.  Justus took the children from GRACE Home to the camp where they played with the children, sang to them, gave gifts of sweet potatoes, and ended in prayer.  Mandela, a friend of ours, was there and said that the prayer was said by our oldest child (age 14) and it really touched his heart.  He said it was very moving and she was even crying as she prayed.  I have attached two pictures from that event.  It occurred to me when I received the pictures and the report that our children had become missionaries.  They took the gospel to those in need and lived out what Christ wants of them.  Now it is my heart that is really touched!  It was even more special that this happened when we were gone because it was completely from them - not us.  


On a sadder note, when we arrived we learned that three of our children were not orphans but children of two of the pastors who had given false information.  The fathers admitted what they had done and came to take the children home.  It broke our hearts as we had grown to love these three little girls.  Justus has now started going to the villages to interview the community to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  We pray that no one else has to leave.  


Although we grieve the loss of these three children, I am pleased to say that we have brought four more boys to GRACE Home today.  Three of them are brothers.  I have attached a picture of them waiting to enter the compound.  The children were at school so when they broke for breakfast they came to the gate to greet their new brothers.  Then they led them to the dining hall with singing and enjoyed breakfast together.  The boys seemed a little frightened at first but soon brightened when they got to choose their bed, a few clothes (thanks, Mafair), and were given a prayer shawl (thanks Deanna Howard).   Justus took them immediately after breakfast to register for school and I’m not sure they even knew when their guardians left.  Their mama had a house of girls previously and now will take care of the boys.  She probably needs your prayers!


Our prayer requests are for the three children who left GRACE Home to return to their villages, the family they left behind at GRACE Home, and the new family that has been formed at GRACE Home.  God is so good!


GRACE and peace to all,


Libby

Saturday, January 25, 2014

GRACE update

Hello Everyone:


As most of you know, Fred and I were unable to return to South Sudan on January 9 as we had planned due to some conflict in Juba and further north.  After a very brief skirmish in Yei, things returned peaceful and are becoming normal once again.  During this time our concern was for the children.  We were able to stay in contact with the staff at Captain's House and GRACE Home so we had frequent updates.  The head guard at GRACE instructed the children about procedures should they hear gunfire.  They practiced that and then carried on with life as usual.  It was good to know that the children felt safe enough to continue playing.  Justus made sure there was plenty of food and made arrangements for evacuation with UN should that become necessary.  As a child, Justus was on the run due to the war so he knew best what to do for the children.  Once again, I saw God's hand in bringing Justus to GRACE Home.  


On a lighter note, GRACE Home celebrated their first Christmas together.  Through donations from some missionaries in Yei, the children got new clothes and some toys.  They had a Christmas tree (from the same donors) and bought some decorations for the dining room.  They enjoyed a big meal at church then another one with the family at GRACE.  The children sang at church, played with their toys, and had a great time.  They celebrated the New Year with another big meal and a church service.


This week Justus is registering the children for school.  Several will start school for the first time and the others will be going to a new school.  I would imagine that this would cause some angst, so please keep them in your prayers as they start this new phase.  Also, keep in prayer the two young ones who will be left behind as the others go to school.  I'm sure they will miss their siblings.  


Fred and I tentatively plan to leave here on February 6 and return to Yei on the 8th.  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel, South Sudan government, and the children as they start school.


GRACE to all,


Libby