Saturday, February 16, 2013

Echelon



Since we've been mentioning 'Echelon' a lot, we thought it would be good to tell you a little more about them. 'Echelon' is team of young families that are working under the Southern Baptists' International Mission Board (IMB). For now, they are based in Kaabong and living in the Baptist mission we used to occupy. (Believe me, we were more than willing to give it up in exchange for a boatload of friends!). Their goal is to train missionaries to spread the good news of Jesus to the people groups of South Sudan. They were sent to train in Kaabong because the Karimojong are more closely related to the Nilotes of South Sudan than to the Bantu peoples of southern Uganda.

Echelon was an answer to our prayer of many years to have a group of like-minded and like-spirited people to share our burdens and joys with. We can't tell you how much it has meant to us to have them in the region.

Let me introduce you to three of the four couples currently in Echelon (we don't yet have a picture of the fourth couple).

Jeremy and Susan (pictured below) have three kids and served for ten years in South America before coming here. Their specialty is training missionaries to serve in remote, difficult environments and to take great care of them when they 'come out' for breaks and refreshment (we know from experience!). We love you both!
Robert & Maridith (below) have a three-month old baby boy named Shepherd. Robert is a mechanic and is quickly becoming an expert in non-traditional language-learning practices. Robert & Maridith are planning to move to Wao, Sudan later this year to start a church among one of the Dinka clans. We will miss you!
Aaron & Hannah (below) are more recent members of Echelon, and we had the privilege of spending some time with them in Tennessee during our furlough. Aaron is an ace mechanic and has helped us more than once! We are thrilled to have you around Kaabong for a good while and look forward to sharing Karamoja life with you!

For a couple of months, Echelon is doing its first missionary training in Karamoja. The group going through the training includes all the Echelon members, another IMB family, three missionaries from another organization, three Karimojong young men, and three Dinka from Sudan. Here is a picture of their camp in Lotim:
The training touches on many topics pertinent to living and ministering in remote areas. In addition to basic survival skills, the trainees will learn how to tell the story of Jesus through 'chronological Bible storying'. Here's a picture of a session on language-learning that Amber sat in on:

Child-care is provided in the shade of an open grass-thatch hut!
On the way back from this visit to the training camp, we had the incredible gift of a new and strange sight: a flock of cranes feeding on insects fleeing from a grass fire. It was just totally surreal:
We don't know how long we will be blessed to have Echelon around these parts, but as long as we do, we will do our best to soak in their presence as much as possible. We do not take them for granted!

3 comments:

rln said...

SO thankful for your Echelon (had to look up the word :-)-thinking it meant upper level) group. Great picture of the smart birds too.

Notinthewild said...

Love love the Cranes! Hi to my Echelon peeps from Tennessee!

Jimmie D. said...

Praise Him that missionaries will be carrying the Good News into South Sudan. An answer to many prayers. Pray too for faithfulness in the S.S. government.