I woke yesterday early in the morning. Roosters crowing,workers moving. Evelyn and I were up before the other missioners. It was apparent right away that something was not as it should be. By 6:30 Stephen was in the compound to find me and we went next door. All of the diocesan leadership was gathered together with the police. A break in and robbery had taken place. All of the cash for our present work, food for participants and missioners, water, etc had been stolen. A new reality had come to town.

That new reality was emphasized this morning, there was hot water for tea and leftover bread from yesterday. No breakfast? We are out of paper for the latrine, were the questions this morning. There was no money to buy them. It is the nature of a cash economy. No bank to keep the money in, no insurance, no credit card to front some money. It is an important lesson for those of us who have so much.

And of course suspicion falls on those who have access. They spent hours in custody, were released but, are back with the police this morning. Our hearts break for our friends. Our brothers and sisters are ashamed that this happened while guests are here. We have told them we are not guests, we are companions on the journey. So a day of sorrow.

It was also a day of resurrection. Worship was wonderful. Half the group in Medi and half at the cathedral. The good news was shared, lives were touched, the Kingdom of God was near. In the afternoon, many of us gathered for youth Sunday under that tree that has seen slavery and voters registration and who knows how many speeches and conversations. Three congregations, hundreds of people. Three hours of singing, dancing and praising God. Spirits were lifted and hope abounds. For people who have suffered years of war and violence yesterday was a bump in the road, there is and will be new life. It was after all a day of resurrection.

For those asking the question, what now? I have an answer. We have with us some emergency funds. Team One will depart tomorrow with what they need for the journey home. Team Two will fulfill to the extent possible the work we have begun. I have every confidence that we will finish the roof. English as a second language will continue. We may eat more simply, but that is good for us. We will move day by day to fulfill the mission that is before us. Your prayers are always welcomed.

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Comment by Lisa Fox on August 26, 2013 at 7:44pm

Dan, first I thank you for this honest account of what happened.  Sometimes, missioners "shield us" from the less pleasant realities of life in Lui.  Thank you for this transparency!  

You wrote: "We have told them we are not guests, we are companions on the journey."  Amen.  I'm glad you said that to our friends in Lui.  I understand a little bit about the "shame" culture in Lui, and I can just imagine how bad they feel. 

I can also imagine that your very meager "creature comforts" may be even more constrained than usual.  My prayers are with you. I hope the emergency funds are adequate to provide you all with adequate food.  Even if (as Maria suggested) you have to go finding "tender" leaves for the latrine. 

Our group in 2006 got to enjoy that singing and dancing under the Laru tree.  (I think it only happens once a month.) I haven't heard anyone else talk about it.  I found it amazing in the joy and faith that I saw.  And they asked me to offer the closing prayer -- which was a challenge, since I didn't have a BCP  with me and am not so great at spontaneous prayer.  I'm glad you got to be there and experience the singing and dancing.  It does -- as you said -- speak of resurrection. 

My prayers are redoubled.

Comment by Dan Handschy on August 26, 2013 at 6:11pm

Dan, I like your comment that we are companions in the way.  I know that our Lui friends must be feeling real shame right now.  Annette posted that we are co-workers in Christ.  Paul speaks again and again about sharing in the sufferings of Christ, and rejoiced that his churches shared in those sufferings with him.  We are certainly praying (more now than before) for God's safekeeping.

Comment by Cheryl Elizabeth Ward on August 26, 2013 at 10:35am

It is so amazing how at how the evil in this world works.  The trip, as I spoke to some of the missioners before they left for Lui, was to be aided by their sense of joy and potential fulfillment concerning the work that was set before them to accomplish!  But we know that evil NEVER ultimately wins unless we allow it to do so, and Dan, I give thanks for your positive spirit and obvious stand against this set of unfortunate circumstances.  Right now, with all of you so far away, I realize the best thing  for all of us to do is to PRAY and PRAY HARD and with boldness: both against this evil and cover all of you with the protective blood of Christ.  All of you are loved and will prayed for and welcomed home, having done the very best you could under these circumstances.   

Comment by Maria Evans on August 26, 2013 at 8:30am

My heart also breaks for our Lui friends b/c they work very hard at helping us be as comfortable as possible in this relationship.  Praying for them and you all, and hoping for new important realizations to spring forth. 

I think if I was there, I could get by on "Lui donuts" and coffee if I had to for a spell...AND I would start asking around about what leaves the locals find to be a most satisfactory use for "long calls."  If someone finds out, let me know!

Love and prayers to you all.

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