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One part of what God is doing among the Didinga
February 16, 2011 6:12 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Hey, Thanks for stopping by, if you are looking for latest updates, photos, video and more interactive content, you won’t find it here. This is a museum.

Our new website is: www.strangersathome.com

See you there!

January 4, 2011 12:15 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

I put on my warm house slippers before stepping onto our cold cement floor. Most people equate Sudan with heat. I used to too, but up here in the hills the temperature can get downright chilly…
Click HERE to read the article and see some great photos!  We’re on page 8!

I’d also point you to our unit leader, Phil Byler’s article which is immediately after ours.  It’s titled, “Sudan at a Crossroads”.
In it, Phil gives some of his perspective on the Church and on the political situation on the horizon in Sudan.

Also, if you’d like to subscribe, you can do so at aimint.org/usa.

October 24, 2010 5:01 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Well hello, world!
I have been informed that it is time for me to emerge from my new mommy hibernation and address you all concerning our joyous little bundle.
Adelaide Finch Ramirez is here!

Lauren holding Adelaide on the night of her birth

She arrived on October 2, 2010 at 12:31 a.m. after a slow, but very beautiful 2 day labor process. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, she had all ten fingers and toes in tact and a head full of dark hair to top it off. For those of you who love details, you can read our full birth story here, compiled by our dear friend and doula, Lindsey Bell. As I have had time to reflect on Adelaide’s birth and the incredible experience of birthing her, I am overwhelmed with emotion. Somehow, I feel like I have joined the divine order of women everywhere who have shared the beautiful birth experience. I feel empowered. I feel awed at the amazing way God created the human body to function. I feel thankful. And I feel at peace – our birth was exactly as I had hoped it would be – a calm, natural, joyous occasion that brought our tiny daughter into our arms.

Many people are asking about her name, so I will give a short explanation. ‘Adelaide’ is a name meaning ‘nobility’ that Jonathan came across while reading The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky. Adelaide is the mother to the 3 brothers who dies early in the book, but her legacy and character continue on as the boys mature. She represents balance and great hope for what the boys might have been, had their noble and good mother been a part of their lives. We love the regal beauty of Adelaide’s name and hope that she will come to know that she is part of God’s royal family at a very young age. ‘Finch’ is a family name from my side; it was my grandmother’s maiden name and it is my father’s middle name. We wanted to honor the maternal side of the family if we had a girl by incorporating a traditional family name, but we also love the modern image of a sweet little bird. Oh, and we are using ‘Addie’ as a nickname as well!

Adelaide meets her namesake, Howell Finch Ridout, "Granddaddy" for the first time

Life with a newborn is certainly a huge adjustment, but so far, I would say we are all 3 faring quite well. We couldn’t have asked for a more content and flexible baby, and we are really hoping these are personality traits that will continue and serve her well in Africa. Our world does feel small as we spend most of our time at home, feeding, burping, sleeping and such. It is amazing how thrilled we are when she fills her diaper or has a good burp as all of our focus is on taking care of her and nurturing her growth. Thank you so much to all of you who have brought us meals and done small chores to help us out during this adjustment period!

Despite the fact that our world is very small right now as we focus on our smallest family member, we are still thinking ahead to our return to Sudan. We shared the news of Adelaide’s birth with the Laku family and the church in Nagishot as quickly as we could via email and we received their excited responses. Pastor William promised to pray for all of us and to make a special dedication of Adelaide to the Lord and to comission her to join her parents in our mission to the Didinga in Nagishot in the future. We are trying to follow the news updates concerning Sudan as the date for the January Referendum comes closer. The January Referendum will give all citizens of South Sudan a chance to vote whether they would like to secede from Northern Sudan or not. Those advocates for Sudan who have followed the nation’s history over the last few decades are calling for international attention to focus on supporting Southerners as they seek to move forward with Referendum voting. Media experts, international ambassadors and envoys and UN officials are closely watching to see how they can fight for justice and prevent violence and potential war from breaking out. We are praying as well for a peaceful voting process and transition time after the results are released. We are also trusting in our leadership with A.I.M to help us know when it will be secure enough for us to return to Nagishot. We will post more info on all of this as the time draws nearer. For now, back to baby news…


Just for fun, these are the Top 10 Things we love about Adelaide so far:

10.  she is extremely easy going as we are constantly introducing her to new people and places

9.  at 3 weeks, she can already do an amazing zoolander impression – blue steel, anyone? i have yet to capture this one on camera, but when i do, i wlll be sure to share
8.  the shower puts her to sleep

7.  even the intercom system at the grocery store can’t wake her up

6.  she loves to dance with her daddy to Passion Pit (thanks Whitney).

5.  she doesn’t even cry when we have to put an infant suppository in her bottom

4.  her rare, but captivating smile

3. her perfectly pink lips
2. she has the ability to make daddy gag loudly with her diaper deposits (at least mommy thinks this is funny…)
1. her awesome rat tail – or is it a mullet?

Rat Tail or Mullet? We don't know, but we love it...

Lastly, I want to give you all a heads up that despite the prolific nature of ‘mommy blogs’ out there, I am considering starting one of my own. Not just any old mommy blog, but rather a mommy blog with a remote twist as I chronicle the experience of parenting Adelaide in South Sudan and our cross-cultural journey with a baby. I have had a couple of friends endorse this idea and I rest assured that readership would be at minimum 2, however, this possibility will depend on cell phone / data cable reception coming to our little mountaintop in Sudan. We will have to wait and see how ambitious the East African telecom companies are and how extensive their coverage is in such a remote location!

Much love to you all from our growing Team Ramirez,

Team Ramirez is growing!

August 26, 2010 10:10 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Lauren, Jonathan + Bump on the Guadalupe River

As much as Nagishot has become our home over the past year, the Lone Star State still feels like home as well!  We have been back in Central Texas for the past few weeks and have really enjoyed quality time with both of our families and friends. We have made the rounds to Austin, Wimberley, Kerrville, and Houston and there is more to come! It has been so special to reconnect with all of you that love and support us so well. Each day, we are reminded of God’s faithful care for us through the relationships we have.

So, drumroll please…….on to baby news! Baby Ramirez is expected to arrive sometime in the next 6-7 weeks, probably during the first week of October. Our pregnancy has simply flown by, partly due to God’s abundant grace to give me health and strength the whole way. We have decided to keep baby’s gender a surprise until that special moment when we see ‘himmer’ for the first time! We are also excited about our decision to birth at a local birthing center in Austin called Centre Vida with accomplished midwife, Faith Beltz. She is a great fit for us as far as her personality and her belief in the beauty and power of natural birth. Living in Sudan has definitely shaped our appreciation for quality health care, but also increased our awe at the wonder of God’s perfect design for the human body during the birth process. So much happens for both parents and baby to bond them to each other and create a family. This is such a special time for us as we learn and prepare for our baby and it is helping to deepen our marriage. Another gift during this time has been the opportunity to take a birthing class with some very dear friends of ours, Lindsey and John Bell, as they will be welcoming their new little one into the world just a few weeks after us.  God is so good!

In other news: We have had lots of questions about the wheres, whens and whats of our furlough in Texas. To answer just a few of those questions, we are calling Austin home for the next few months. While we will be spending some time with family in other cities, we are thankful to have found a wonderful temporary apartment in South Austin, which will allow us to have the space we need as a family and adjust to life with baby. We have also received a loaner vehicle for this time – thanks a million to Aunt Sue and her friend Doug for organizing this! Jonathan is taking the opportunity to do some sub-contracting construction work in order to supplement our support based income. We are so thankful for those of you who help us out financially, but our support is adjusted for life in Sudan, not America, and definitely not America with a new baby! 🙂  Please pray with us that God will continue to provide sub-contracting opportunities for Jonathan – and if you have any leads, feel free to send him an email.

Probably the most common question we have heard is, ‘How long are you here?’ and that is a question that we don’t have a clear answer to yet. The short answer is, late January or early February is likely. The long answer demands a historical and political analysis of the nation of Sudan and it is much too long for this blog post. Basically, a Referendum is scheduled for January 9 in which all of the Southern Sudanese will have a chance to vote on the future of the country. They will vote for South Sudan to either secede and form an independent nation or remain united with the North. Due to the historical fact that Sudan is not known for stability and peace surrounding elections and the loaded nature of this particular vote, AIM has decided that all members must leave Sudan during this time. That means we would not be able to get into Sudan from the New Year until the time when voting has ceased, results have been released and AIM has had ample time to assess the situation and clear us for a safe passage back into Sudan. All that to say, we aren’t sure how long we will be back in Texas before returning. Our hearts are definitely committed to returning to our Didinga friends and the ministry in Nagishot, but we will have to wait and see when we are cleared for a safe return. We are praying for peace to reign in Sudan leading up to the Referendum and throughout the voting, so please join us and we will keep you updated on all that we learn.

Lastly, please note that our contact info has changed. When in Sudan, we use our satellite phone for email purposes, but we are not checking that uuplus email address regularly here. You can reach us at: jlramirez@aimint.net or either of our personal emails. That’s about it for now – we will be posting as soon as little baby arrives, so check back soon or subscribe to the feed for a notification.

Much love to all, Lauren

Thanks to Ann Marie Itschner Photography for the great maternity pictures!

July 28, 2010 5:40 pm
Published in: Uncategorized


We hope to see you Austin people at Dominican Joe tomorrow night, Thursday, the 29th!  7-11pm

Special guests include Jonathan and Lauren Ramirez (straight from Sudan!), singer Jimmy McNeal, Paul Banks and the Carousels, Rachel Wood photography, Ritz Valle (games on the patio) and MC’s Scott Frazier and Tepera Holman.


20% of the evening’s food and drink purchases go to Makarios – shirts and art for sale – Sudanese kids’ sponsorship – bring old cell phones and laptops to donate!

Come and help these kids!

Hi everyone, I wanted to introduce you to our friends at Makarios.  Makarios is doing incredible work in education and development for the Kingdom in Sudan and the Dominican Republic.  You may have heard of them if you enjoy “changing the world” with your cup of coffee from Dominican Joe’s in SoCo in Austin.


They’ve partnered with the Lakus and ourselves as key sponsors for the development of the City on a Hill school in Nagishot. Stop by and check out all that’s going on in Makariosville and if you would like to support the work in Sudan by clicking on their donate tab, that would make the world that much better.

The Makarios website is worth a click and at least 5 minutes. It’s what I wish my website could look like actually. Hey, anyone wanna make my website look like theirs? Anyone?

Makarios International

Click HERE to see the Makarios/Sudan site.
Thanks Makarios.  – us

A great Op-Ed piece done by Nicholas Kristof.  I had to post it.
You can see it in its original content at : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/opinion/02kristof.html
Op-Ed Columnist

Who Can Mock This Church?

// //

Published: May 1, 2010

JUBA, Sudan

Skip to next paragraph

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

On the Ground

Share Your Comments About This Column

Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels.

Go to Columnist Page »

Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times

Sister Cathy Arata, a nun from New Jersey who now works with a Catholic project called Solidarity With Southern Sudan.


Maybe the Catholic Church should be turned upside down.

Jesus wasn’t known for pontificating from palaces, covering up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues. Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped children?

Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came here to impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church’s. Yet once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world’s neediest are lowly nuns and priests — notable not for the grandeur of their vestments but for the grandness of their compassion.

As I’ve noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find the great soul of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican believes that this newspaper and other news organizations have been unfair and overzealous in excavating the church’s cover-ups of child rape. I see the opposite. No organization has done more to elevate the moral stature of the Catholic Church in the United States than The Boston Globe. Its groundbreaking 2002 coverage of abuse by priests led to reforms and by most accounts a significant reduction in abuse. Catholic kids are safer today not because of the cardinals’ leadership, but because of The Boston Globe’s.

Yet the church leaders are right about one thing: there is often a liberal and secular snobbishness toward the church as a whole — and that is unfair.

It may be easy at a New York cocktail party to sniff derisively at a church whose apex is male chauvinist, homophobic and so out of touch that it bars the use of condoms even to curb AIDS. But what about Father Michael Barton, a Catholic priest from Indianapolis? I met Father Michael in the remote village of Nyamlell, 150 miles from any paved road here in southern Sudan. He runs four schools for children who would otherwise go without an education, and his graduates score at the top of statewide examinations.

Father Michael came to southern Sudan in 1978 and chatters fluently in Dinka and other local languages. To keep his schools alive, he persevered through civil war, imprisonment and beatings, and a smorgasbord of disease. “It’s very normal to have malaria,” he said. “Intestinal parasites — that’s just normal.”

Father Michael may be the worst-dressed priest I’ve ever seen — and the noblest.

Anybody scorn him? Anybody think he’s a self-righteous hypocrite?

On the contrary, he would make a great pope.

In the city of Juba, I met Cathy Arata, a nun from New Jersey who spent years working with battered women in Appalachia. Then she moved to El Salvador during the brutal civil war there, putting her life on the line to protect peasants. Two years ago, she came here on behalf of a terrific Catholic project called Solidarity With Southern Sudan.

Sister Cathy and the others in the project have trained 600 schoolteachers. They are fighting hunger not with handouts but with help for villagers to improve agricultural techniques. They are also establishing a school for health workers, with a special focus on midwifery to reduce deaths in childbirth.

At the hospital attached to that school, the surgeon is a nun from Italy. The other doctor is a 72-year-old nun from Rhode Island. Nuns rock.

Sister Cathy would like to see more decentralization in the church, a greater role for women, and more emphasis on public service. She says she worries sometimes that if Jesus returned he would say, “Oh, they got it all wrong!”

She would make a great pope, too.

There are so many more like them. There’s Father Mario Falconi, an Italian priest who refused to leave Rwanda during the genocide and bravely saved 3,000 people from being massacred. There’s Father Mario Benedetti, a 72-year-old Italian priest based in Congo who fled with his congregation when their town was attacked by a brutal militia. Now Father Mario lives side by side with his Congolese congregants in the squalor of a refugee camp in southern Sudan, struggling to get schooling for their children.

It’s because of brave souls like these that I honor the Catholic Church. I understand why many Americans disdain a church whose leaders are linked to cover-ups and antediluvian stances on women, gays and condoms — but the Catholic Church is far larger than the Vatican.

And unless we’re willing to endure beatings alongside Father Michael, unless we’re willing to stand up to warlords with Sister Cathy, we have no right to disparage them or their true church.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos videos and follow me on Twitter.

April 15, 2010 4:58 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Move that bus!!!

So maybe it’s not quite Extreme Home Makeover’s standards, but it feels like a great improvement to us!

We’ve nearly finished the renovations on the house in Sudan and are very happy with the results so far.  What was once a house built for a single lady is now capable of housing Lauren, myself, and baby/babies in the very near future.

I really enjoyed working with the men and women of the community to move this project forward and felt like I learned a lot through the process about the way things are done here (which is greatly different from the way things are done in the US on a construction site).  We are thankful for those of you who helped us purchase these bags of cement, this paint and helped to employ no less than 50 people in the community in some form or fashion during a time of hunger.  We were blessed to be able to be there and create some jobs for so many.

Every stone, grain of sand, brick, piece of aggregate, jug of water for mixing w/cement had to be hauled up by members of the community, counted and inspected before being approved for building (a big job).  We were thankful especially for Hector Loki who was my building supplies manager.  All of these guys learned some valuable building skills thanks to Apoka (w/the brick in hand next to Hector Loki) who was a hard worker and builder/mason who came from Uganda to help us.

The kitchen!  Lauren cooks every night to contribute to our community meals for about 10-12 people on average…sometimes more!

I’ve piped harvested rainwater in to the kitchen and into our bathing area. (very exciting)

welcome, the living room and entry

dining room..a high chair should pull up nicely and the table will do for now at that size.

guest/baby’s room/storage room & work room (sewing and soap room)

where the magic happens

ze toilette

our first attempt at a demo garden begins

solar power!  light switch operation is difficult to master, but fun.

Thanks for your support and prayers as we make our home among the Didinga in every way.

March 31, 2010 12:35 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Dear Prayer Supporters,

Greetings from Nagishot! We are doing very well these days – Jonathan has finished the construction portion of our housing project and we only have some small carpentry projects remaining. We have fully moved into the completed house and are really enjoying it as a place to host others as well as a respite and sanctuary. I am now in the final days of my first trimester with little baby Ramirez and I am feeling great! We are looking forward to a visit to the international clinic in Kampala for a pre-natal checkup in just a couple of weeks.

Some of you may be aware of the upcoming political elections in Sudan, but we wanted to send out a more comprehensive explanation / prayer guide to help you pray with us over the next few weeks. AIM has ordered a ‘preemptive leave’ for all of us serving in Southern Sudan due to the fact that, historically, Sudan has never had a peaceful election. So we are going to be heading out to Kampala, Uganda next week to wait out the elections and make sure that chaos doesn’t break out. We will most likely be cleared to come back by the beginning of May.

Basically, these elections are for all political figures in Sudan – everyone from President down to County Commissioners will be voted on, and we have heard that campaigning has been going on pretty heavily in more urban areas. Anyone over the age of 18 that registered is qualified to vote but there is speculation about how many people from the rural areas will actually make the effort. Voting begins on April 10 and will continue for 3-4 days in order to allow time for people to get to the polls. Results will be released as soon as the votes are counted, and this is where the potential for chaos lies. Riots and protests over the results could occur, but it is likely they would be confined to limited areas (keep in mind that South Sudan alone is the size of 3 Texas’s). We are hearing hopeful predictions concerning this time from our Sudanese friends. They seem to think that elections aren’t a big enough deal to most people for any major problems to break out.

We simply don’t know, but we are also hopeful. Our South Sudan team has arranged a day of prayer specifically for Sudan and election related issues on the afternoon of Sunday, April 11. We invite you to join with us that day, or any time during these weeks, by praying as the Lord leads you. Some helpful prayer points and scriptures are below. Thank you all so much for partnering with us in our ministry here in Sudan. Amidst such uncertainty, the importance of prayer is becoming more and more real to us each day.

Love to you all,
Lauren and Jonathan

Pray for the Sudanese people – for Northerners and Southerners, for the poor and oppressed, for widows and orphans, and for tribal unity. Pray for the institutions of family and marriage to gain strength. Pray for the uneducated and rural people to be valued and to be empowered during this time of elections.
Families – Psalm 68:4-6, Proverbs 11:29, Mark 10:6-9

Poor and Oppressed – Psalm 9, Psalm 113:4-9, Isaiah 10:1-4

Widows and Orphans – Exodus 22:22-23, Zechariah 7:8-10, Malachi 3:5, John 14:18

Pray for the Church of Sudan – for unity among many denominations under the banner of Christ. Pray for the Church to be a beacon of light, a strong tower and a champion for justice during this time.
Romans 12:1-8, Philippians 2:12-18, Revelation 5:9-10

Pray for the Government and Leadership –  Ask the Lord to redeem a broken institution here in Sudan and guide leaders in wisdom and righteousness. Pray for the placement of Godly men and women in political positions during the elections. Pray that the new leaders would really want to lead FOR the people and not for themselves or for the illusion of power.

Isaiah 9:6-7, Zech 8:12-17, Romans 13:1, 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Pray for the April elections and the coming Referendum in January – Pray for free and fair elections. Pray that riots and violence would be avoided. Pray that these elections would not cause problems or delays for the important Referendum voting coming in Jan 2011 to determine if South Sudan will split to become an independent nation.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Pray against strongholds in Sudan – Historical patterns of war, violence and genocide have been going on for hundreds of years. Politics and government have been marked by corruption, greed and idolatry of power. Religious conflict between the Muslims, Christians, and anamistic tribes points to deep seeded hatred. Witchcraft and spirit worship keep many people in darkness.
Corruption, Idolatry, Greed – Isaiah 59, Amos 5:4-15

Violence / War – Psalm 46:9, Psalm 68:19-35, Isaiah 2:4

Islam / Witchcraft – Isaiah 42:10-16, Matthew 4:16, John 1:1-5 & 10-14

Pray for the Future of Sudan – That healing would come to a land riddled with pain and terror. Pray that lasting peace, founded on Christ, would reign. Pray for justice to come to the poor and oppressed and that the government would lead the way in establishing just systems. Pray for unity among the many tribes of Sudan – that they would each be able to maintain their own distinct identity but have respect for one another as fellow Sudanese.
Healing – Psalm 147:3, Jeremiah 17:14, Hosea 6:1-3, Luke 4:40

Peace –  Jeremiah 31:1-14, Amos 9:11-12

Justice – Deut 10:12-21, Psalm 37:7-40, Isaiah 1:15-20, Isaiah 61
Unity – Zech 14:9, John 17:20-23, Ephesians 4:3-6, Revelation 7:9-10

Pray for the advancement of the Gospel and that Jesus Christ would be glorified above all else in Sudan.
Isaiah 62, Malachi 1:11, Romans 14:11, Revelation 14:6-7

March 2, 2010 2:02 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Ikia Doholech (A Baby is Coming!)

Yes, that is right, we are thrilled to announce that a little baby Ramirez will be arriving in early October! We are so thankful for this blessing and our current plan is to come home to Texas for a few months of “compassionate leave” in order to welcome our new little one into the world among our friends and family back home. We are now officially 9 weeks pregnant and doing very well. It is amazing to think about the state of our baby, even at such an early stage of the game (the following is taken from a website where we can chart the growth of our baby each week):

Your new resident is nearly an inch long about the size of a grape and weighs just a fraction of an ounce. She’s starting to look more and more human. Her essential body parts are accounted for, though they’ll go through plenty of fine-tuning in the coming months. Other changes abound: Your baby’s heart finishes dividing into four chambers, and the valves start to form as do her tiny teeth. The embryonic “tail” is completely gone. Your baby’s organs, muscles, and nerves are kicking into gear. The external sex organs are there but won’t be distinguishable as male or female for another few weeks. Her eyes are fully formed, but her eyelids are fused shut and won’t open until 27 weeks. She has tiny earlobes, and her mouth, nose, and nostrils are more distinct. The placenta is developed enough now to take over most of the critical job of producing hormones. Now that your baby’s basic physiology is in place, she’s poised for rapid weight gain.

What a miracle! Keep reading for a few of my (Lauren’s) reflections concerning this journey and the changes it will bring!

Interestingly, one of the most frequent questions we got as we were making our decision to move to Sudan and preparing to leave was, ‘But what about children?’ At face value, this seems like a bit of an absurd question and part of me was tempted to respond with, ‘Yes, many people have children in Africa…in fact, over 50% of the population is under the age of 16 due to the AIDS epidemic’ but I bit my tongue because I understood the implications of this popular question. People were not asking us IF there are children in Africa, but rather what we thought about having our own children in Africa. Many people assumed that we were just going to come live and work in Africa until the time came to have a baby. Then, we would pack up our suitcases and move back to the comfort of America, where our children could be raised in a comfortable, safe and clean environment.

From our safety-driven American culture, it is perfectly legitimate to consider your life in terms of what is safest for yourself and one day, your children. But my question is this: IS it perfectly legitimate to obey God wholeheartedly before you have children and then obey him partially after you have children, conveniently using the socially acceptable excuse of kiddos to change your willingness to surrender. Hmmm…

It is easy to ask a probing question like this without actually probing one’s own heart. I must confess that I too was operating under a lot of fear and not a lot of faith concerning these questions. It wasn’t until we went to our first AIM conference in Uganda over our Christmas break that I really had a chance to identify my own fears and concerns. The guest speaker was talking to a room full of missionaries, asking us what the giant impossibilities in our lives are – the things that we hesitate to put before the throne of God because they just seem too BIG. As I had a few minutes to reflect, I realized that having and raising children in an unstable country like Sudan was one of my ‘giants.’ It just seemed too big of a challenge, especially because of the messages and caring pressures we get from back home. I knew that in my own mind, it was a topic I was not even willing to touch most of the time because it just seemed impossible. I could say with my mouth, ‘all things are possible in Christ’ but my heart was far from trusting Him with this step.

That afternoon at conference, I had some time to go for a run and really reflect on this giant. I realized that fear is an enemy of the Gospel and to allow fear to control me was giving Satan a foothold. It is true that out of the 26 or so current AIM missionaries serving in South Sudan, only one couple have children on the mission field. It is not an easy place to raise babies. The facts may look tough, but God wants to do something in our lives that stands directly in opposition to fear. The more time I spend with Didinga women, the more it becomes apparent that they really do view white women as outsiders because they are not seeing white women come in and join them in their defining role as women – raising children. I was already sensing this division and I knew that the Lord could really use a baby in our own lives to deepen our bonds with our Didinga neighbors when I also came to the realization that the only real reason we were postponing children was the fear and lack of trust in my own heart. At the end of that tearful run, the Holy Spirit was reminding me that I belong to the greatest, strongest, and most able Being in the Universe. He would never leave me nor forsake me and He would give us all that we needed for this new step in our walk with Him. Besides, choosing to raise our children in Africa is only a matter of trading in some American ways for some new Sudanese ways… So, what ARE the things that we will trade in as we choose to raise our baby here in Sudan versus America?

Car seats – You don’t need a fancy car seat with all the straps and buckles when you live in a place that has no roads or vehicles. Instead, every mom gets a fuzzy baby carrier that she uses to carry her baby around on her back, whether she is fetching water, grinding flour or making a 10 mile hike.

Daycare – They say it takes a village to raise a child and we actually will get the help of our ‘village’ in Nagishot. Fellow missionaries, neighbors, church ladies, older children on the compound…there is never a shortage of people available to watch or play with a baby when mom is busy for a while. And the best part is, childcare here is completely free, as long as we are willing to watch someone else’s baby when the time comes!

Disposable diapers – Ok, maybe cloth diapers aren’t as convenient or as clean, but we will be able to reduce our carbon footprint quite a bit through this change.

Jars of baby food – No, we can’t just run into the local HEB and grab some jars of baby food, so we will be forced to be a bit more creative. Thankfully, many of the local fruits and vegetables will mash up nicely and make great baby food in the future. We need to put that hand-crank blender we brought to good use,and who really wants to pay $3 per jar at Central Market for organic baby food, anyway?

Family (Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles and cousins to our new baby) – This one is definitely the most difficult for us. Thankfully, God, in His great mercy, addressed this topic directly in Matthew 19:29 when He said, “And everyone who has left behind houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive back a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” William and Eunice are thrilled to welcome their first ‘grandchild’ and our dear Didinga friend Hector Loki and his wife are also expecting their second baby about the same time. Bingo – Aunt, Uncle and Cousins!

Hopefully, these thoughts are helping you all to see a glimpse of our hearts – our struggles and the victory we find in Christ each day. We truly are so blessed as we prepare to welcome our first child into the world and we are looking forward to introducing him/her on both sides of the ocean in the months to come! Blessings, Lauren