So much has been happening in so many directions, it is difficult to know quite where to begin! First, we have now largely moved onto the new site - although not completely. We still need the old building for one of the classes and six resident students. Our offices are still located here too. The library is due to move to the new site as soon as we can get the new shelving built. We are not quite sure when that will be. This is not ideal as the two sites are about three quarters of a mile from each other and traipsing between the two is hard for some, and you never quite know where a particular student is if they are not in the place they should be! And not just the students. Staff are frequently getting lost. However, as the timetable settles in, the problems should ease. Moving the kitchen from one site to the other was quite a palaver.
Pictures on the picasaweb site when we get round to uploading them.
Secondly, we can now report that, at last, we have every expected member of staff present and working. One should not assume that just because a person is agreed and signed up, that they will actually turn up! But, after two months we have got everybody, which is a tremendous relief. At one point in September with sickness and other things, Tina and Trevor were the only teaching staff on duty with fifty enthusiastic, but often homesick, students! Not good. Thanks for your prayers on this one. Now, having got over the initial settling in period with the new students, we are beginning to gel into a community. Joseph Taban, our newest full-time member of staff, has taken on working with the students to form a proper community with an agreed way of life.
This is not easy as we still have to share the site with all sorts of people. The workshops are still operating in the middle of it, for instance, but we will not ask them to move until we have the money to clear all the buildings properly. Nature abhors a vacuum. If the buildings are empty we would be inviting who knows who, or what. There are, of course, a variety of fauna including human that would delight in empty buildings!
So we need to get on with the second phase of the development - the multipurpose chapel - before we can be really comfortable. But this is where the usual patience comes in. We couldn't have done anymore than we have done in the time; there just aren't enough hours in the day. But now the question arises of where we are going to raise the money for the next stages. We have some exciting developments here.
The roadside area of our site that is earmarked for leasing to an investor is already drawing interest from people. I have had a meeting with an interested agent. Other ideas are out there. After the planned referendum, if all goes well, we anticipate quite an investment spree in Juba and we are on land that is very central. So we need to see what transpires on the political scene - but not for long because the referendum is due to take place in January. But if a lease were agreed this would result in more rent money - quite a lot in the long term.
Then there is the possibility of a visit to the USA in June next year to tour some of the parishes and groups that might be interested in supporting us from there.
But more immediately we have applications in to two charities in the UK for money to help us build the second house. We have also applied for a grant to enable us to move the library to the new site. Lots to pray for!
People are asking about the political scene and all that goes with it. From everything we hear all is still on track for a referendum in the South on 9th January 2011. The question to be put is whether or not Southern Sudan should be independent of the North. Most people in Juba are assuming a vote in favour of separation. But, of course, no one knows for certain how things are going to turn out, so we are inevitably in a time of uncertainty mixed with excitement and a lot of hope. For those of you who are not familiar with the geography of Sudan, it is the largest country in Africa. The northern two thirds is mainly desert type land. This includes Darfur which has had an issue with being ruled by Khartoum/Omdurman for centuries. The southern third is green and fertile with many great rivers, and now oil has been discovered in it. Juba is many, many miles from the border - two or three days by road - and has long looked south to Uganda and Kenya for its trade, so whatever happens we here will not find as much day to day change as those along the border or in the north. Our plan is that the students all register to vote here in Juba. This means we will be open again in time for 9th January so term will start early - 5th January 2011- which means we will be in the UK for the whole of December until just after the New Year. Then we shall all be safely in Juba when the hoped for referendum takes place.