Last week we came to the end of our first full semester. It went remarkably well with some memorable high points.
The low points were all about getting in enough money to pay wages at the end of each month, and when we did get some money, seeing it claimed by those who are still owed from the past. Yes, we had to find around 500,000 SDG (Sudanese pounds = around $200,000) to pay off the debts. We have now just 20,000 SDG to go but this is still a lot when you consider our monthly food bill for all the students seven days a week is budgeted at 3,600 SDG, and our total wage bill is restricted to 5,500 SDG. Nevertheless the albatross is getting lighter month by month.
The main high point was the arrival of the students that had left the previous year disappointed and down because the college had had to be closed. That was a hard time for them. They probably felt that the college was not going to recover despite all the talk of reopening the following year. How absolutely delighted they were to be coming back to a new Bishop Gwynne College under new management. The opening was a memorable day.
The other special days were when we received our visitors - Bishop David and Ian Woodward from Salisbury, Prof. Joseph Britton from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and, just after Easter during the election period, a party of students and staff from Trinity College, Bristol. This perhaps was the time when the students enjoyed themselves the most - especially as we all had a bit more time as lectures were suspended for the elections as so many were away.
On one occasion, Daniela Rapisarda, a volunteer lecturer, invited us all into her home to watch a film on her TV. She also gave us food and cold drinks from her fridge which was a real treat! On the last week-end of term, she invited again us to a leaving party there. We watched another film, A Little Princes. Then after that we each did a party piece. The students threw themselves into some wonderful Christian songs in local languages with dances to go with them. Neha (a local friend of Indian descent) tried Chinese whispers, but the concept was so completely new that the message was nothing like what it started out to be! We'll have to try it again sometime. There are some pictures of this event on our picasa picture site, but here is one of the whole group.
Thanks to Dave Lewis we now feature on You Tube too. Find the link from our website on the right.
The next stage is to get onto the new site with a new first year. We need you prayers for that. Pray that the site will soon be vacated and we can get on with getting quotations to begin the renovations. We will be contacting our prayer partners within the next few days.
Our personal plans are to be in the UK in June and early July (ash clouds permitting of course). We will travelling from south to north visiting friends and churches, thanking people for their support and prayers. So watch the blog for news.