For those who are supporting me in all my endeavors this summer, first of all ‘Thank You, I wouldn’t be here without your generosity!’ This blog is largely for you. In lieu of a very lengthy support update, I decided rather to give those of you who would like to know more, an opportunity to learn about my experiences throughout the summer as you feel inclined to check up on me. I hope it will offer you some encouragement about how God is moving in both my life and the lives of so many others I’ve been able to interact with over the course of this summer. This blog will attempt to recount some of my experiences and tell you a little about my heart. It is by no means exhaustive, nor is it very eloquently written, but for those of you who would like to know, here it is:
My time spent in
It was also amazing to see the work that God is doing to rebuild
This trip was also a confirmation that I would like to continue to be involved in engineering missions, as least in some capacity; whether that be on a volunteer basis or maybe spending a more significant amount of time in a developing country doing civil engineering work. I’ve discovered that I have more of an attraction to long term involvement in one place. I would really love to live somewhere for a more extended period of time to get to know people and the culture more, but I’m content to start out with more short term stuff and see where that leads. At this point, I do not have any particular place in mind. I would love to return to Southern Sudan to see how the ministry is doing, or observe the construction of the school and women’s center we designed, but I'm not making any particular plans at this point .
Engineering missions, now more than ever, excites me. I see how I can be passionate and involved with that sort of ministry, and I pray that God will be clear in his direction of my path beyond this point. Thank you again to all of you who made this summer possible!
__________(The Civil Engineers discussing our Wastewater design)
I already explained a bit of my responsibilities as a civil engineering intern – that research continued throughout the week. After our return from Jalle, the architects began their design, and worked really hard throughout the week to put Michael’s vision to paper. We met with him almost every night to show him our progress and make sure we were being faithful to what he wanted for the school and women’s center.
___(One of our architects, Sarah, presenting some design ideas to Michael)
After the design was pretty much finalized, I also got the chance to help out the structural engineer, checking calcs and putting some designs into AutoCAD, before our final presentation.
_________(The design presentation with the community members)
On our last night- we put together a slide show and presented our final design to Michael and the community leaders- It turned our really well, and they loved it! It was really cool to be able to present all of our work to them and see their response. We do have some more work to do back in the states to compile everything into AutoCAD drawings, and produce construction documents and reports that can be used as fundraising material. I will work on that with my fellow intern, Phil upon our return to the States in the Colorado Office.
(A snapshot of the school's design that we presented to the community members)
Our departure the next day was of course bittersweet: I was excited to not be sweating every second of the day (did I mention it was like 90+ degrees and 100% humidity?), but I wished I could spend more time getting to know the people and the culture there. Alas, Sunday morning we were sent off by a large group of community members, and began our trip back on that 12 seater plane back to
As I said, we were pretty busy during the week, trying to get everything done in the limited amount of time we had in country, but fortunately we had the chance to hang out with some kids, and got to know Michael and some other people we met in Bor. We met one man in particular, Abraham, who was also a “Lost Boy” and had built a school an a village close by. That was a great opportunity to talk to him about his design and learn some stuff about a project similar to what we were doing!
One of my favorite experiences was hanging out with the kids- we brought soccer balls and Frisbees to play with them on our time off. (They had clearly never played with a Frisbee before and it was interesting trying to teach them how to throw.) In my experience, yes, you were a celebrity because you were white (in fact they would frequently laugh and wave shouting “Kawaja! Kawaja!” which means “White People! White People!” as we’d pass by) but most every kid I met just wanted to shake my hand or be held. They were so excited just at the opportunity to play with you! It was honestly humbling to see their attitudes and this joy that seemed crazy given their circumstances. I am not a kid person but those kids were so sweet and adorable- that playing with them was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
We packed into 2 land rovers and got a chance to see what those vehicles were actually made to travel on. The road was full of muddy pot holes, we were frequently splashed with mud through the windows and actually got stuck once or twice. It took us over 3 hrs to go 30 miles!
Upon arrival in Jalle, we had lunch in the city center area then drove with several community leaders out to the “site” which was a few miles away. The scene was completely flat African savanna as far as the eye could see in every direction. There were maybe 2 huts being built about a mile a way.
____________(Might as well have been a 360 degree view of the site)
We asked about site boundaries, and they told us “You are Free. Take whatever land you need” As engineers, and architects, we were unsure how to respond, but when we asked for a rough approximation of the land we could use, they again said with arms outstretched “You are Free.”
This paired with the fact that the terrain was completely flat in every direction made surveying unnecessary- we attempted a soil test, tested the water quality at the closest well, before driving back to the city center to meet with the community.
_________________________(Testing the Water)
_________________(John and Phil performing a "perc test")
The community joyfully welcomed us and gave us brief greeting (we had only a short time before having to leave). I was really happy to meet the people we were actually serving even if it was only for a short time. I did receive one marriage proposal and, one of my fellow team members was kind enough to offer my hand for 3 cows…thanks Aryn.
___________(A Few potential husbands and I after the community meeting)
Our time on site in Jalle was successful, and we were able to return with all the information that we needed to begin our design.
As a civil engineering intern, I spent a lot of time initially investigating local septic systems and water sources. (Not always the most glamorous of jobs)
___________(Phil and I doing the dirty work - septic tank investigation)
We tested several different wells for water quality and met with some local well drillers to learn a little about how the process works here. We also researched some septic tank designs at local schools and in the hotel at which we were staying. We all had several meeting with local officials: The Minister of Physical Infrastructure and The Minister of Education, where we learned about some requirements we need to fulfill. We anticipated there would be a few "hoops" we would need to jump through for Rebuild Sudan to aquire the land from the state, or permits etc. that would be required. But when we asked the Minister or Physical Infrastructure, His Majesty (yes, that's how he was addressed) told us "Because you come with open hearts, you can just have the land." Throughout our trip, we experienced this generosity and support in gratitude for the service that Rebuild Sudan was providing the people.
___(Danna helping some Dinka women pump water at a community well)
The interaction with the locals and these observations is the biggest reason that it is necessary travel to the country which we are serving. We could just stay in the
A brief description of our transit:
Thursday___(5-21)___-Flew from Denver to Boston
________________,,,,,-Met most of the team in Airport
________________,,,,,-Flew from Boston to Frankfurt
Friday_____(5-22)___-Arrived in Frankfurt for 18 hr layover
________________,,,,-Explored Frankfurt;ate sausages
________________,,,,-Flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
________(enjoying our 18 hr layover in Frankfurt)
Saturday___(5-23)__, -Waited several hours on a delayed flight, told
__________________, mid day our flight was cancelled and moved to
__________________, the next day. Put up in a really nice hotel,
__________________, where we explored Addis a bit and did some
__________________, official team intros.
_____________(Waiting in the airport- we got really good at that)
Sunday____,(5-24)_,_-Flew from Addis to Juba, Sudan
_________________,,-Met Michael upon arrival
_________________,,-Instead of beginning our 6 hour car ride to Bor
__________________ (the place where we would stay for the week),
__________________ we stayed the night in Juba because the roads
__________________ were "unsafe".
__________________-Met with Michael and other community leaders
__________________ and heard his story in person
Monday____(5-26)___-Took a small 12 seater plane to Bor
___________________-Settled into our hotel and explored a little
_____________________(our little charter flight to Bor)
____(Looks kinda like we're squished into a van, right? Nope, that's the plane.)
Despite all of the set backs, our team was really great throughout. We all learned to be very flexible and patient, and spent our down time getting to know each other. Honestly, hearing everyone's story was one of the highlights of my trip.
Following a very brief orientation with the other interns at eMi (3 days of wonderful outdoorsy activities and an introduction to the staff and what life will be like as an intern for the summer), I am leaving for Africa! Here’s a little bit on our team, our task and our very loose itinerary:
The team consisted of 12 members – Only 3 of whom I met briefly before our departure:
eMi Staff Co-Leaders:
Henry Watts_____(Structural Engineer/Construction Management)
Danna Judish____,(Civil Engineer and Intern Program Director).
Phil Madrid______(Civil Engineering Student-University of Florida)
Me____________ (Civil Engineering Student-University of Michigan)
The remainder of the team was composed of volunteer professionals, many of them using their vacation time, paying their own way or raising support to spend almost 2 weeks in Africa. Needless to say they are interesting and amazing people whom I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know and learning a great deal from:
John Agee______,.(Civil Engineer- Golden, Colorado)
Gene Cochran____,(Structural Engineer- Eugene, Oregon)
Jill Sorenson_____,(Architect- Berkley, California)
Sarah Fucinaro___,(Architect- Berkley, California)
Blake Clark ___,__"(Designer- San Francisco, California)
Aryn Bergman___,"(Mechanical Engineer- San Francisco, California)
Kevin Knox____,__(Pastor of Mosaic Church-Berkley, California)
Dave Gerber___,__(Rep of Mosaic Church-Berkley, California)
Our team was an awesome mix of people- as you can see we have 2 guys who were representing a church in Berkley, California who is partnering with Rebuild Sudan. They were there, not as a technical part of the design team, but rather to be pursuing ministry opportunities and seeing how they can further support Michael as a church. I think it is really awesome to see this group of people committed to the long term success of Rebuild Sudan, by being invested in helping to raise funds and potentially sending volunteer groups in to see this design come to fruition.
The other 10 members of the design team are each responsible for their part of the design process, corresponding to their expertise. I, however, (lacking in the design expertise department) bring more of a willing servant’s attitude to do whatever they need me to do.
We will meet with Michael and some other community leaders when we arrive in Sudan in order to gain a more complete idea of the vision he has for Rebuild Sudan. Thereafter we will begin to design the master plan and more specifically the first phase of the project in Jalle.
Here’s the vague itinerary I received:
Thursday__(5/21) ,____Fly from Denver to Boston to Frankfurt
Friday_____(5/22)____ Fly to Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Saturday__"(5/23)____ Fly to Juba, Southern Sudan
Sunday____,(5/24) ____Drive to Bor, Southern Sudan
___________________,, Vision meeting with Michael
Monday____(5/25) ___,_Visit Site in Jalle
Through _______,_____WORK ON PROJECT
Saturday __,(5/30)__,__Final Design Presentation
Sunday___, (5/31)__,__Fly to Uganda and continue on the long
___________,,,,_______ adventure home…
As an intern this summer I will be going with a team on a project trip to Southern Sudan. There we will have an opportunity to do some research in country, meet with the ministry we are working for, and with the community we will be serving. We will do as much design work as possible in country, and complete the remaining work back in US. I will also likely be working on finishing up additional projects from earlier this year, and basically helping with whatever the staff needs help finishing up.
So here I am, embarking on what I anticipate to be the most epic summer of my life (so far, of course). I intend to closely document it, soak in every detail, and make the most of every opportunity. Honestly, I can't recall the last time I was so eagerly looking forward to something. I'm typically more inclined to say “Don’t expect too much, so you won’t be disappointed.” But that's is no way to live, is it? No...
I am convinced that God has plans for me beyond what I could ever envision for myself. And I believe if I devote myself to seeking Him and His will, He will not only direct me on that path I should take, but will give me an abundantly full life. I am being led on an adventure, full of risk and dangers, but I believe that’s just part of the call.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
Here’s a cool dissection of that passage from a book I read prior to my arrival in Colorado:
“Go first to give your life to get life. Then trust God will provide the other stuff as a byproduct of following Jesus with deadly, reckless abandon. If you live to protect your life, Jesus says you lose. But if you lose your life for the sake of Jesus, you’ll find rich blessings of life. In the end, the most radical call is not a missionary call. The most radical call with the greatest blessings comes from living a life of commitment to the lordship of Christ.” (Mack and Leann’s Guide to Short Term Missions)
So that’s the plan. Live a life of deadly reckless abandon worthy of the call I have received. (Ok, don’t be alarmed, mother. That does not mean making unwise, purposely dangerous, or thrill-seeking decisions, but trusting that God may lead me to take some risks and be out of my comfort zone.) I’m attempting to position myself in a place where I can be used. Yeah, it may not through ministry in a developing country the rest of my life or even all that dangerous. But I am excited for the opportunity now, this summer to "GO". This opportunity to combine a passion for civil engineering and a curiosity about missions is such a privilege!
I am seeking God’s will for my life this summer, and He has brought me to an engineering missions organization: Engineering Ministries International (eMi) as an intern. We are traveling to Southern Sudan is less than a week to work with an organization, Rebuild Sudan, to design a school and a women’s center as well as provide clean water for the community. I honestly think God has been preparing me for work like this for a long time. There have been several influencing factors that have led me to a passion for providing clean water. My freshman year over spring break, I went to Haiti and installed rain catchment systems to provide clean water. It was there that I first understood the importance of water and began to see the connection between engineering and missions. Throughout my sophomore and junior years I have been involved with a few student organizations who are involved in providing sustainable solutions to various infrastructure needs in the developing world.
So here I am in Colorado Springs, about to embark on an adventure several years in the making. It is now, in this great opportunity that I am able to truly explore what a future in engineering missions might look like, and whether I am suited for it. I am no longer bound by the responsibilities and stresses of school. I am FREE to to listen, learn, experience and just enjoy what this summer has to offer. I cannot think of a better way to spend it.