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Shopping for South Sudan5 min read

“Retail therapy” is a phenomenon known to many people in the USA as a joke or the almost inborn desire to buy something in order to satisfy some desire. It is, though, an almost universal desire, as I learned that even in South Sudan people are attracted to the markets not only to buy or sell, but to see people and be seen.

So you might ask, what does a shopping experience look like for Hands of Mercy? A recent donation exemplifies the experience here in the USA.

A couple invested in Thrivent Insurance long ago and are now reaping the benefit of “Choicing” some dollars to different charities. One such gift of $1,200 came to Hands of Mercy recently and, as stewards of such funds, we get to decide how to spend it.

What does a thousand dollars buy in Yambio, South Sudan?

  • A borehole (well) outside the village of Nasoro where Hands of Mercy is building the local congregation a small school. We dug this well for the Hands of Mercy compound and the primary school in Yambio.
  • A roof, plaster, and paint to complete the pit latrine we started in 2023
  • Shelves, a charcoal stove and vinyl floor covering for our new indoor kitchen building
  • Paying for a wheelchair and 5 fifty-pound suitcases of girls’ menstrual kits, first aid supplies, little girl dresses and boy shorts, and even an adapted new sewing machine (pictured) to get all the way from Michigan through Uganda and into South Sudan.
  • Cost of feeding Hands of Mercy people three hot meals a week for almost a year
  • Or the salaries of our two managers, cook, cleaner, and shop keeper for 10 months

It is an interesting shopping trip, with a marvelous “therapy” benefit. Not only do we get to make the purchase decisions, but more than that, we get to see firsthand how the Lord turns $1,000 into life-changing exchanges. Girls stay in school, simple bone pain remedies are given out, children run around as living advertisements of the bounty of the Lord’s hands of love, and clean water flows and is ready to be collected right where they live, to name a few. I hope I never forget the simple pleasures of bringing a colorful quilt to the oldest person in the area to sleep on, or a wheelchair that allows a child to go to school with her peers. The “tangible” love of Christ in the kits and items made here is almost immeasurable in the impact on the lives of people in South Sudan.

So, what has happened to Hands of Mercy this winter? While the mission might seem quiet from here, it is actually quite lively with progress. Thanks to good smartphone connection, we can “see” what is going on there. Money gets wired or carried over by a visiting professor and pictures get sent back!

Perhaps the biggest event was the arrival of the Orphan Grain Train/Lutheran Heritage Foundation-sponsored huge container, which came after 2 years of work. And it arrived in Yambio on Christmas Eve!!! Hands of Mercy was allowed to tag along, filling space with a huge number of boxes, wheelchairs, walkers, and suitcases. Here you can see a photo of two happy local managers with stacks of those boxes. The remains of our church rummage sale, plus hundreds of diapers, menstrual pads and OTC first aid supplies, jewelry and clothing, will keep our people well loved by this tangible evidence of the compassion of Jesus for their needs. The Lutheran church received many items for the congregations such as paraments and communion ware, as well as huge farm implements and even a restored boat for fishing in the nearby lake. All the outlying congregations got a share of the clothing sent as well.

Our new workshop/indoor kitchen was finally completed this winter. New vinyl flooring and bookcases complete the space for our sewing machines and craft-making center. The place is lively with a new clean and easily accessible space for them to be together. We even got the painter to put our logo on the street side of the new building.

The next big news for this winter is we can move forward with the Nasoro school project. A pit latrine for the community was our first priority. And now money has been sent for the brick walls of the school/church office building. Soon we will receive a picture of the walls of this foundation we laid last year. The congregation of Nasoro couldn’t wait for the school so they “opened” it under the trees of their bush. We hope, by God’s grace, that they will be teaching their children in a new large school and office by August when we are able to return in person.

Alice Minisare (L) and Pat Nuffer (R)

And the last news from this winter is that both Alice Minisare (our new Associate Director) and I will return in August together. Already I have five suitcases of supplies ready to go—full of diapers, girls’ kits, first aid kits, a pediatric wheelchair or two, little pillowcase dresses, eyeglasses, and more. And I can well imagine the songs of praise and thanksgiving with which the people of Hands of Mercy will respond—for once more the Hand of the Lord, through all of the many compassionate people in the USA, is extended.

Perhaps our theme for this return trip will be “‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end ; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’” (Lamentations 3:22–24).

To learn more about Hands of Mercy, or to donate, visit handsofmercymission.org.

Photos courtesy of Hands of Mercy

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About the Author

Deaconess Pat Nuffer is the Director of Hands of Mercy

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