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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan
January 30, 2011 9:39 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Once again Linda uses the Language Acquisition Made Practical curriculum to train new missionaries in this self-directed method of language learning. Get the correct pronunciation from a native language speaker on a recorder and listen to it over and over until you can mimic it back. Then go out into the community among local speakers and practice, practice, practice. Come back tomorrow and record a new phrase.

This method not only builds language ability but it builds relationships and culture learning, both of which are high priorities of ours and AIM.

The deSmidts from South Africa, the oldest couple in this course, already have served 32 years with AIM in other parts of Africa. He speaks 8 languages and she speaks 5. Isn’t that amazing. And now they are learning yet another local Ugandan language even though their ministry will be to AIM leadership in Central Region for leadership support and development.

January 29, 2011 3:03 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

The last six weeks for South Sudan have been nothing short of AMAZING! Worldwide media predicted dire impossibility of a credible or peaceful referendum. Yet while thousands around the world were praying it happened in a quiet and beautiful way. Unanimously the international observers have declared the voting free, fair, and credible. Resoundingly the South Sudan people have pressed their thumbprint on the open hand and registered a vote for separation. Predictions are that over 95% have voted for separation from North Sudan. Preliminary results of the vote will come out in the next few days with final results on Feb 14. Meanwhile the international crisis against oppressive governments triggered by the Tunisia uprising has also affected Khartoum by weakening their political clout against the south. One month ago, my best- case-scenario was not this good.

Because of the surprising sheathing of the sabers our Sudan team has been released to return to out posts effective this weekend. This is a huge answer to prayer.

South Sudan will not officially become a new nation until July 9, 2011. Meanwhile they need continued massive amounts of prayer to achieve the challenges of creating a new African Nation out of the war rubble of past decades. By God’s grace it can happen.

January 29, 2011 10:46 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Bonded by our mutual ministry to the Sudanese, the Sharlands and Lettners and we renewed our friendship last weekend in Arua, Uganda. Our AIM leadership visit to the Cassels and Stephen Kwan in Arua was additionally blessed by many friends from the years we lived in Arua in 2004 and 2005.

January 20, 2011 10:51 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Matoke, cooked green bananas, is a staple food of many Ugandas. We see the large green bunches of bananas coming into Kampala city piled high on huge truck loads and then going out on the backs of bicycles. Some of the bunches of bananas are as large as the bicycles.

Matoke Inn is the name of our AIM guest house in Kampala. It is “a home away from home” for us while we are visiting Uganda, like now when we are awaiting the results of Sudan’s referendum. All of the people at the table are Sudan members except the older couple on the left.

At Matoke Inn we rarely eat Matoke. The Ugandan staff are excellent cooks of American cuisine.

January 10, 2011 3:54 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

One hundred twenty hungry missionaries, inspiring worship with familiar hymns in English, intensely insightful sermons on “Wrestling with God” from the life of Jacob by Eddie Larkin visiting pastor from the UK, delightful fellowship with fellow missionaries, a beautiful mountain lake setting in Rwanda… a recipe for a successful missionary conference.

We have been blessed!

January 1, 2011 10:01 am
Published in: Uncategorized

New Year Greetings from Islamabad, Sudan.

Well not really–but last night just before 10 pm, our household of six decided we were not keen on staying up two more hours to being in the New Year. After all, we were already one hour past “missionary midnight” (9 pm).  So with the help of my I-Phone World Clock we ascertained that Islamabad was just 4 minutes from 2011. So we quickly exercised our mental omnipresence and welcomed in the Islamabad New Year with a countdown, cheers and laughter. Then PhiLinda and the 4 lady missionaries went to bed.

Prior to this, after a delicious meal of Linda’s rice and curry, we had prayers with the above mentioned six plus with Father Harold and Father Sylvester, pictured on today’s blog post email. (By the way, if any more of you want to regularly get these blog posts by email rather than going to our blog site on the web, it is no extra work for us once you are in our “blog” group email list…just let me know if you wish.) These two Catholic Friars are such a delight and inspiration to be around as their love for Jesus is radiantly and joyfully communicated. We eight transitioned into the new year with an extended time of prayer for Sudan and then for each other. It was sweet.

Tomorrow we begin our two day trip to Kampala followed by an overnight bus trip to Rwanda where we will be for our annual AIM mission conference through the 9th and then a four-day leadership consultation for our Central Region leaders. I anticipate this to be a good time of fellowship at a beautiful lakeside hotel in Rwanda.

We are sad that our regional leader, Steve Wolcott, will not be with us. His wife, Debbie, is still having undiagnosed health problems in Arkansas and their return is delayed month after month. Because of that, our international leadership has asked me to  resume the Acting Regional Executive Officer position for the first half of 2011, until either our Home Assignment begins in June or until Wolcott’s are able to return. I held this position for 2 months last year and mostly enjoyed it.

A longer stint brings the weight of “carrying the region forward” rather than just the maintenance needed for a short time. I feel very inadequate for the task but willing to trust JESUS to carry us through. We are hoping that Linda and I will be more together this time than last year when we were apart most of those weeks. We still intend to spend a week or two each month in Sudan and Northern Uganda for my unit’s leadership needs.

As Linda and I prayed for the 2011 year before us this morning in our back yard, she commented, “It seems this year has more unknowns than any I remember.” Yup, and looks like we will live out of an LLBean duffle bag for 11½ of those months. (By the way, those canvas LLBean travel bags, purchased almost 20 years ago, were one of the best material investments we ever made. They are still sturdy and just now freshly scrubbed back to their original blue color.)

P.S. Pray for our border crossings next week. Linda’s Yellow Fever immunization is a few months overdue for it’s ten-year renewal and cannot be obtained in Sudan and a fresh outbreak of Yellow Fever in Northern Uganda and South Sudan is giving scrutiny to the usually overlooked vaccination cards. I’d hate to leave her at the border.

January 1, 2011 9:59 am
Published in: Uncategorized

We’re really going to miss these two Catholic Friars whom we’ve come to love in the past year. We’ve had some very sweet fellowship with them including New Year’s Eve fervent and meaningful prayer for Sudan. They are leaving their Sudan ministry next week. Their love for Jesus and their genuine warmth of relationship soon causes one to forget their peculiar attire. Father Harold educated us that a Friar is a “Monk on the move.”

In addition, let me say a few words about Sudan which is in the international news these days. The long anticipated referendum is scheduled to start one week from tomorrow, Jan 9. It really looks like it is going to happen against all odds. Even 2-3 months ago there were dire predictions that logistically it just could not be pulled off. But in answer to many prayers, it is on schedule. Last night I got a SMS by phone from Nagishot that a UN helicopter had delivered ballot boxes to Pastor Laku’s mountain top storage room. This is a very remote place not accessible by road. In addition the rattling of sabers between North and South Sudan which has been so prominent seems to be lessening. Again I attribute this as an answer to prayer also. Today I am more optimistic than I was a month ago that January can be a peaceful month for Sudan.

Our AIM missionary team will all have exited Sudan by tomorrow, Jan 2. We hope to return by the end of January after monitoring reports of the referendum results.

Please continue to pray for peace of Sudan and for wisdom for Phil in making leadership decisions for AIM missionaries.