After years of prayer and preparation, the South Sudan orphanage built by Holston Conference opened its doors for 19 children on Sept. 9, according to missionary Libby Dearing.
"It finally arrived," Dearing wrote in a Sept. 9 blog. "After so much praying, fretting, praying, discouragement, praying, planning, praying, sweat and tears, praying, and hard work it happened."
Seventeen of the 19 orphans accepted into the United Methodist home (two children arrived later) were escorted to the campus with "joy and singing," Dearing said.
A ceremony included the presentation of prayer shawls for each child and "mamma" -- gifts from Bethel United Methodist Church and McClure Chapel United Methodist Church of Big Stone Gap District -- and blessings for each house by the Rev. Fred Dearing.
Read more about the opening day (blog and photos).
The opening day continued with "a little bit of chaos ... but happy chaos," Dearing said. The children received new balls to play with and were introduced to their caretakers. Some children were initially nervous and wanted to return home, but their new caretakers comforted them.
"Please pray now that the children will adjust well," Dearing wrote.
Read more about the opening day, part 2 (blog and photos).
Later in the week, a mission team from the Chattanooga District arrived in South Sudan, Dearing reported.
"Of course, the first thing they wanted to do was see Grace Home, and I gladly obliged. The children heard visitors were coming so they practiced some songs. They greeted us at the gate and led us in singing."
The children received medical exams and three were taken to the clinic. "Two had malaria and one had a respiratory infection," Dearing said. "They are now on the mend."
An official Grand Opening will be celebrated on Sept. 28 with government officials and church leaders, Dearing said.
Read more about the first week (blog and photos).
- "From dream to reality: South Sudan orphanage to open in September" (The Call, 7/22/13)
- "Edina: Symbol of strength in Sudan ministry" (UMNS, 5/26/09)