Away from the computer: I'll see you when I get back from Sudan

Away from the computer: I'll see you when I get back from Sudan

I'm writing this in a hurry. It's Friday afternoon. On Monday morning I will join Holston's sixth mission trip to Sudan.

I've had nine shots. I have Blue Lizard sunscreen and a new safari hat. I bought a camera that's more compact and that takes both photos and video. I just visited my mom and signed a new "Last Will and Testament."

I tried not to buy too much, because it seems silly to buy clothes and fancy camping gear before you go to Africa. But I confess that some investments seemed too practical to ignore. I also confess that I hope to come home thinner because the food will be so different and scant in Sudan. Yes, how American and shallow of me.

Yet, after weeks of preparation, I already understand more about what mission workers do to get closer to God. Because that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Our team leader, Danny Howe, says God really doesn't need for us to go over to Sudan to do this work. What God wants is for us to build relationships: Relationships with the Sudanese people, relationships with team members, and ultimately, relationships with God.

Count me in. Because I haven't been so good at relationships.

So many of you in Holston Conference have given generously to show your love for the people of Yei, Sudan. I am honored to be there "on the ground" to see the fruits of your gifts. A teaching team is pumped up to take the Yei church leaders to the next level of United Methodist training. A medical team has been working for months to gather medicines and supplies to treat thousands of sick people. Important decisions will be made to prepare for Boo and Phyllis Hankins' two-year appointment in Yei, beginning in June. Meetings will be held to help the Sudanese become more self-sustaining and connect through communications.

I get to see it all. What a thrill!

And then, I will try to write stories and show photos that are impossible to ignore, impossible to forget. Impossible to put aside for a ballgame score or Britney sighting.

I hope I can do it. I will do my best.

Annette Spence is editor of The Call. The Hope for Sudan VI Team will depart Feb. 16 and return on March 4. The Call 2 e-news will resume during the week of March 9.