Michael and Rachel Weller
What a great time to visit the U.S. just as the leaves were in their magnificent fall glory! Michael and I came to the States the first week of October for two meetings in Dallas and Louisville. Then we had the privilege of telling the story of what God is doing in Ethiopia to folks in Santa Fe Presbytery in New Mexico - our first time to Ghost Ranch, the Presbyterian conference center there. Afterward we traveled to North Carolina where we enjoyed our family - especially Myles Parker Weller, our first grandchild, the son of our oldest son, Brian and his wife, Sheila. The wonder of a new baby outshines the beauty of the fall colors. We feel very blessed to have been given this time to be here.
In Dallas we participated in a gathering of PC(USA) mission workers to consult about how to do mission “Better Together.” Utilizing a process called “Open Space Technology” and a lot of energetic discussion, we used many reams of newsprint and several boxes of markers and tape to talk about the future of mission in the PC(USA). Presbyterians across the spectrum collaborated to begin making a plan to encourage Presbyterians to become actively involved in alleviating poverty, fighting injustice, and sharing the Good News.
We then flew to Louisville for a week of regional liaison training. I have recently been assigned to work with Michael as an “administrator” to keep up with logistics, especially while he travels. It is always a pleasure to get acquainted and re-acquainted with our colleagues who work around the world and learn to see God through the eyes of the nations. Then, since we were already on the continent, we agreed to spend some time in Santa Fe Presbytery telling the story. That was our first time in the Wild West! It is strikingly different from eastern Virginia, western Pennsylvania, or western Ethiopia - our usual stomping grounds. Besides enjoying the fascinating geography, we enjoyed wonderful encounters with more people interested in what God is doing around the world. Telling the story of God's unfolding presence in the world is invigorating, giving us energy to return to Ethiopia to continue our part in the story.
I am now back in Gambella, and Michael recently joined me. He had stayed in Addis to work on getting a visa to South Sudan and was granted a three month multiple entry visa - which is pretty exciting, since everyone has only been able to get one month visas since South Sudan started issuing visas.
So on November 18, Michael used one of those entries to go with some of our Nuer colleagues from Gambella by bus, boat, and boot to Nasir to participate in the celebration of 100 years of the Gospel being in South Sudan. He joined them in giving thanks for the missionaries who went there and began that work.
I will be teaching a class to students at the Jack Jordan Bible School on the compound of the church where we live. That is not the way CHE is designed, but I think it is a good opportunity to present the idea of servant leadership and to encourage theologians to become community developers. I plan to make trips to the three clinics, Adura, Pokwo, and Gilo, under church supervision and to work with the communities to take "ownership" of them if they want them to continue operating. The Pokwo and Gilo communities have already had gatherings to begin thinking about that idea. Many of you are praying already, so please continue to pray that they follow God's leading. In the past, the three clinics received their main funding from PC(USA) through accounts that no longer exist or are soon to be depleted. The Ethiopian government has been building a health plan for the past several years that should reach most people.
The reality, however, is that the plan is not materializing as clearly as it was written on bureaucratic papers. I have been told a number of times that the church-related clinics offer a hope that, even with the best medicine and equipment, the government clinics do not offer. So our prayer is that God will guide the communities as they work out what their role should be regarding health.
Thanks for joining us in God’s mission in Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan. Thanks for your part in this work. Your prayers, emails, and Facebook notes are encouraging.