Added on 05/02/2013
team from Connor Diocese has recently returned from a visit to Yei, South Sudan.
Photos of the trip can viewed by following this link
Team with youth group at Mongo School
The team was led by David Gough of CMS Ireland, who facilitated the trip. It included the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy; Archdeacon Stephen Forde, rector of Larne; Canon Sam Wright, rector of Lisburn Cathedral; the Rev Andrew Sweeney, rector of Ballymoney; Dr Frank Dobbs, Agherton Parish; Judith Cairns, Lisburn Cathedral, and Diocesan Communications Officer Karen Bushby.
Connor has been in partnership with Yei Diocese since 2006 and since then a number of teams have visited South Sudan, which became independent in July 2011.
The team travelled via Entebbe, flying to the red dust of Yei Airstrip in a very small plane, and was greeted at Yei diocesan offices by the Bishop of Yei, the Rt Rev Hilary Luate Adeba.
Bishop Hilary and Bishop Alan
Bishop Hilary later led the group on a tour of the various institutions run by the diocese, including the Martha Clinic with its new children’s ward and eye clinic, Immanuel Primary School, the Yei Vocational Training College and Yei Teacher Training College.
Bishop Hilary showing Andrew, Stephen, Bishop Alan and Frank round VTC
Bishop Alan preached at the service which opened the tri–annual Synod of Yei on Thursday January 17. Team members were all welcomed individually and during the first session a new Partnership Agreement was signed by the two Bishops, formally extending the Connor Yei link for a further five years.
Bishop Alan continued to call into the Synod, which took place in Emmanuel Cathedral, when he was able, and was there to help Bishop Hilary ensure members passed a new constitution.
During the trip GP Dr Frank Dobbs held a number of meetings at Yei Hospital, and ran training sessions for local nurses and staff of the Martha Clinic.
Some of the team visited the hospital where they found that on first impression conditions were not much improved since previous visits in 2010 – the wards were still lacking equipment including mattresses and mosquito nets, the nurses had no uniforms, the paint was peeling from the walls and the grounds were still a camping ground for the families of patients who have to provide food for their sick relative.
But there were improvements. In January 2010 the hospital had no doctors. Today there are six, and 49 nurses who despite the lack of uniforms and depressing fabric of the wards were working hard and with dedication to look after those who needed their care.
New buildings have also sprung up, housing a TB ward and a training centre. Change is happening though its progress may be slow.
A key task for the team was delivering training to pastors from parishes in and around the large Yei Diocese.
David and pastors pray in tukul during training
The first training session got underway in the very African surroundings of a communal tukul, or payot, at 9am on Friday January 18 with around 35 local pastors present. It was opened by Stephen and over the course of two days sessions were also led by Bishop Alan, Andrew and Sam, while Judith, a parishioner at Lisburn Cathedral and Chief Executive of the Waringstown–based Love for Life, delivered training specific to youth leaders. There was much joy, singing and dancing as well as serious learning and meaningful prayer over the two days.
One evening the group had a heartening meeting with representatives of Yei Mothers Union, who spoke of the wonderful work they do caring for mothers and families.
The Sunday of the visit saw an early start for most team members who were preaching in different churches. Some of the services got underway at 7.30am! Bishop Alan preached in Emmanuel Cathedral in Yei, Sam was in St Paul’s Church, Stephen was in Jigimoni Church, Andrew was in St Philip’s, Frank was in the thatched Nyogwe Church and Judith and David were in Longamere Parish, 13 miles from Yei.
On Monday January 21 the team visit Mongo village where Connor Diocese funded the new primary school. They travelled in two landcruisers covering 16 miles on a rutted dust road. Improvements have been made at the Mongo end of the road, however, and so the bone shaking journey took just over an hour each way, rather than the two hours experienced by previous teams.
Sam dancing at youth camp
At the track leading to Mongo Primary School pupils, teachers, clergy and elders were singing and dancing to welcome their guests. The visitors joined this musical procession as it wound its way to the school, where they were welcomed by Archdeacon Jackson of Mongo.
Deputy head Jumo outlined the success of the school, which received a 95 per cent pass rate in its exams, and three Mongo teachers whose training was funded by the parishes of Larne, Lisburn Cathedral and Agherton had the opportunity to express their thanks personally to Stephen, Sam and Frank.
On their last evening in Yei team members had an unexpected task. The guest speaker at a youth camp taking place in Yei Vocational Training College was unable to attend, and the Connor team was invited to fill the slot.
Judith and youth leaders
At short notice, Bishop Alan, Judith, Andrew and Sam produced four short talks which enthused and inspired the 300 strong audience of young people. The team all joined in with the worship to a fantastic African beat!
For further information please contact:
Connor Diocesan Communications Officer