This week started off with the goat project. The Lord has encouraged me to start a goat herd for the kids here at the Children’s Center. I thought, well, I’ll just go and purchase a few goats and that will be that. Wrong! I am told that we definitely need a shelter for them as we are in the rainy season and we can’t just leave them tied up under a mango tree hoping they will stay dry. And so began the goat “project”. I am having fun because I am learning a lot about the whole goat process.
The shelter is made of sturdy poles, which are basically trees that have been chopped down about 5-6 inches in diameter. I had to get twenty of those for the framing. Then I had to purchase bamboo for the walls and ten bundles of grass for the roof and nails and rope to tie the grass in sections for the roofing. And lastly, labor. So, now this goat project has doubled in cost. The shelter plus labor is a whopping $190 USD. BUT, the shelter is really a good sized one and very tall (don’t know why because goats are short). Mama Udita and I are jokingly saying to each other, “This is my house!” I told her that the goats can live in my tent and I will take the goat house because it is so nice. We both had a good laugh.
I am involved in a conference this weekend and so I will make the actual goat purchase I think on Wednesday. I am going to start with three or four females and one studly male, if you know what I mean. We want lots of “kids”! The kids, children that is, are very excited and many want to be involved in the shepherding of the goats. So, stay tuned, don’t turn that dial!
This week we also headed way out into the bush to do another Fire Conference. Wednesday we took off and headed down the Maridi Road and it took us one and a half hours to go nine miles! At that point we ended up in a culvert, precariously tipping on three wheels. We tried to put the land rover in reverse and the brakes wouldn’t hold as it is a very old land rover. At that point the truck just gently slid into the tall elephant grass and not a single thing was damaged. It was totally God keeping His hand upon us. So, we started walking back as we had no phone signal that far out. We left two of our guys with the vehicle and just started walking. What else can you do right?
Eventually, the four of us were able to take motorcycle taxi’s back into town, known as boda boda’s here. I had to share with our friend Pastor Eddie and the driver so there were three of us on my boda boda on these horrible roads! I cannot begin to describe the extreme conditions of the roads here. Remember that none are paved and there are trenches and holes riddling the road the entire way. Needless to say, I was praying in the spirit all the way. As we entered town, here came our big Lorry truck to the rescue! Yay Peter! I opted to make the long drive back out with them and it was easy as pie for Peter to pull us out and we were all headed back to town.
Well, we prayed throughout the day and had all agreed that we were still going to do the conference, riding out to the bush church on boda boda’s for the next three days. The things we do to get the gospel to the people. It’s a wild ride sometimes! So we asked God to make it clear to us if He did not want us to go at this time. We were willing to take the risk of going into the bush with no personal vehicles and no phone reception and had already arranged the motorcycle transport.
We arose the next morning early and the sky was dark and angry looking and the wind was blowing and rain was definitely coming. So, you guessed it, we didn’t go. Today is Sunday and it has been raining non-stop, serious, since late yesterday. The roads are impassable even from our compound out here in the country.
Love is…standing by the smelly latrines in the evening with my flashlight so the kids can see what they are doing. I think some have flashlights but they race over without them or don’t get batteries or something and so I just stand there pointing it at the outside wall so it reflects into the latrines and that way I can’t see them but they can see. All the while I am fighting the gag reflex and reminding them to wash their hands!! Ahhhh the things we do for love. I just had to throw that in there.
Saturday, another missionary and I took twenty of our kids, aged ten to seventeen, and we walked to town, which I think is about four or five miles on trails and paths winding through the Yei countryside, to go to a youth gathering. This week has been Evangelism Week in South Sudan and so all the churches do various things to witness and share the gospel throughout the week. During the week, you will see various groups just randomly marching down the streets and singing praise to our God. I really like Evangelism Week. After the youth gathering, we headed back to our compound and we stopped to buy fresh doughnut balls on the side of the road to eat as we walked and sang. And we also made a sugar cane stop and carried five tall canes back for after church this morning! Mmmmmm, the flavor of Africa.
Last night as we sat together and ate our dinner, we were laughing about the types of dinners we create here. There are five of us missionaries and four of us have small propane stoves (I live in a tent so I don’t). Almost every night we have beans and rice or beans and posho, which is a doughy bland tasting staple that you dip into your beans. I can’t eat the beans because they mess with my insides providing enough fuel to drive a car if you get my “drift”. So, I try and supplement and find myself eating the strangest combinations of food. One night I had a can of cold peas and a can of tuna for dinner. Last night I had a cold can of corn and some ramen noodles that another lady cooked. Another night I took an avocado and three tomatoes and an onion and had guacamole for dinner.
I have been here four weeks now and I am learning the hard way how to stay healthy. I have had two chest colds, an ear infection, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have had a good solid visit to the latrine. I am not complaining mind you, not at all. I am learning though that because I kiss the children on their cheeks that this is probably how I keep getting infected with this stuff. And so I just have to hug them fiercely and tickle them and try my hardest not to kiss their sweet little faces. On the bright side I think I must be building up a great immune system with all this!
Earlier this week we heard an explosion just at the top of our compound. We later found out that there are still active mines from the war buried in random places. It was not on our compound but just outside. The mining team has been back through this area and is currently demining the place and so we really have to beware and stay on the trails and paths.
So the Referendum is less than 90 days away and already (of course) Bashir (president) is causing trouble. Abyei is where Sudan’s oil fields are and it is located at the top of the Southern border, just about two hours from Akuem which is where I was with Samaritan’s Purse, and feel called back to. Bashir doesn’t want to lose these oil fields and so he is trying everything to get that county to vote separately to stay in the north. He wants to move the border. He is saying that there is a nomadic tribe from the north who should be allowed to vote in Abyei as they travel there three months out of the year. So, he is trying to find ways to sway the vote in his favor, which are not on the up and up. These next few months are going to be crucial times for Sudan and many are praying. Friday night some of us got together here on our compound and we prayed for this nation and we wept for this nation and we cried out for God to hear us and heal this land and save His people. His ear is not dull and His arm is not short and so we have to believe He will do it.
Each day we end our day with taking the children for a walk around the outside of the compound. The compound is very, very large and so it is a good long walk. Usually about twenty or so go with us, mostly the toddlers and younger children. There is one little girl, Boke (pronounced boquet) who sits for most of the day just watching the world go by. Although she will smile if you tickle her or play with her, for the most part she just sits with a blank stare watching the world from her little front porch perch. She is the only one I will carry on our walks because she is a tiny frail little bird. She has the most beautiful shiny black face with huge eyes and a tiny frail body. She is going to be so beautiful when she matures into womanhood.
She is able to walk nicely but she doesn’t walk very far, just around her little house area. I have tried to get her to walk on our walks but she refuses, sitting down on the path and crying and carrying on. And so I carry her. When I carry her, I put her on my back and tie her in a wrap like the Sudanese ladies do when they carry their babes in a pouch on their backs all day. As soon as she gets in there, this look of pure contentment and happiness comes over her little face. She smiles and smiles and loves that place. Although she gets heavy toward the end and my shoulder goes a little numb, it is worth the look she wears to carry her, knowing that this small place in time every day is such a contented place for her to rest.
I think God likes it when we are this way with Him. When our Father walks with us throughout the day, there are times where we just don’t want to walk anymore, we want to lay against His back and be contended there as He carries us. I love that picture, me strapped to His back in a pouch as He carries me along the path, even for a small piece of time, so I can rest a bit. I love our Papa God because He loves to carry us. He is the Shepherd who carries His sheep when they need rest.