Sudan Reflections

Sudan Reflections

Sudan Reflections

Sudan Reflections are just that—reflections that are written after each return trip to South Sudan. The number, such as "Sudan Reflections 13" means it is from the 13th return trip of Deaconess Nuffer to Hands of Mercy. This is a sampling of the devotional type reflections. If you would like to be on the mailing list of these, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Or add your email to our newsletter list on the home page.

Sudan Reflection Sample

Sudan Reflections 13: In search of our Signature Nov 20,2011

There is a ring on my finger, from Israel, that is written in Hebrew: John 15:16 “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” I see it as “God’s signature” on my life. Perhaps I could have chosen Isaiah 49 that He has engraved us on the “palms of His hands,” or that we are “the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17). Whatever your verse, it is comforting to know God has His signature on us—forever and ever—and “no one can snatch us out of His hand” (John 10).

Hands of Mercy is always looking for its “signature,” in business terms as well as knowing its spiritual one. At first, it was our wooden crosses we decorated with plastic stick on jewels. Those crosses still sit on various government officials’ desks in Yambio and I am thankful that was our first “signature.” Then we moved to add beaded jewelry that the market would bear to sell for only a ssp ($.25). Then we added to our shop things like cd players and cameras, always hoping this would build up our shop reputation and customers—and self-sustainability.

But this trip we have hit upon a new “product” that might just be the signature we are looking for.

HOM is committed to partnering with local resources so we commissioned a young tailor to come and teach sewing, using our lovely old Singer – adapted with a hand wheel – machines. We had cute dresses out of pillowcases at first by hand, and now by machine, which still sell for a pittance of the work involved. But please enjoy the cute photos of those pillowcase dresses that now dot the countryside, balancing yellow jerricans on heads to get water—and thanks to the many women who both made the kits—and some who sewed them for us to take the finished product! But we still were looking for a local product that could be a new “signature.”

Just before I left in October, I decided to chance taking a few extra suitcases to the airport to see if Delta would let me pay and take them on. But—doubtful—as the online requirements spelled out a limit when flying in a small commuter jet out of FT Wayne, connecting to Detroit. Anyway, I hastily chose two suitcases—one full of glasses and one holding 50 pounds of fabric scraps... Sure enough, Delta let me pay for extra suitcases and those two went along with the rest of the 300 pounds of supplies. But once in Uganda, we had no room for those two suitcases on the missionary plane so they stayed behind. We kept texting MAF to see if they would be coming as standby cargo and, again, sure enough, those two suitcases arrived a week later.

Like opening presents at Christmas, we eagerly unpacked all the fabric—yards of gingham, solid lining fabrics of various colors and lots of wonderful prints. The women would be quick to choose for their purses but we saved back about half of it for the tailoring class.

We also take over a few quilts for widows—and use them ourselves as bedcoverings until we give them out on visitations. So while we now share our living quarters with the tailoring/sewing machines, it wasn’t long before we hit on the idea—why not make “bed coverings” out of those fabric scraps. The fancier huts in Yambio have on their woven mat beds lovely hand embroidered sheeting fabric coverings. While we don’t have a market here for their lovely bright pinks and lavenders and very African designs, it is a mark of a well done hut or brick house to have this covering. So we are testing the market with an American type design—the patch work quilt of the quilts we bring.

So the tailoring class cut out squares and practiced their straight line stitching by making rows of squares to be sewn together and then a backing. At least the teacher, John, was really intrigued by the idea and we’ll see if the local market can support a price that will reward the HOM tailors.

The other half of our “signature” is certainly our crocheted purses. Last trip we introduced this purse by teaching how to rip bed sheets into one long strip of fabric and then crochet with a large hook. They took to it right away and eagerly devoured any fabric we had brought. Soon we had purses decorating our craft room wall. And soon they would learn first hand that their skills will be translated into...

I have written how we planned to implement greater “capacity “for “self-reliance,” moving HOM toward “self-sustainability.” So the day came when we decided to pay the crocheting women for their purses. It wasn’t quite “free market trade” yet, as these purses would only sell in the market for $1 and here—well, many of you will see them, and buy them for a lot more hopefully, when we speak here in the USA. The picture of Severina, or “Chickpa” (which means “salt” in Zande, one of our women who cannot produce any real work but is indeed the salt of our group) with the smile is when she got paid a five pound note ($1.25) for her work—perhaps more money than she has seen in awhile. But more importantly—it was our “signature” on her—that she was of great worth, regardless of her “productivity.” While capitalism will probably never catch up with many of the people with disabilities, both here in the USA and in Yambio, it was a small window of “I am worthy” to witness. Unfortunately I cannot say we used the opportunity to remind her that she is more precious than all the Sudanese pounds in the world , but I am thankful the women of HOM got to experience a material worth that only slightly reflects the eternal worth they are to us—and to the Lord. While “we have this treasure in jars of clay,” HOM exists to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2Cor 4). “Therefore, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap…and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them… Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6) Good words to ponder, as we enter the Christmas season—and good words for HOM to teach people with little means to clothe themselves. God has His signature on His people in S Sudan, be it in a new tailored bed covering, a plastic jeweled cross, a pillowcase dress—all a simple reflection of that surpassing, providing power of God, not ourselves. May you rest in God’s signature on your life.

In Christ alone,