I just looked back on my calendar and counted back through the last two years and I have realized that I have come to the end of my 75th week in Africa! Wow! Time really does pass quickly, yet it also feels like I have spent years here. My spiritual growth has progressed farther than I could imagine and yet I look down that road and see that I have a very long way to go. And so, I am just enjoying the journey, even in the desert places.
It has been raining so very much in this last week. The sky just opens up and the heavens pour down in buckets. Everything is lush and green and we are seeing many, many harvests of fruits and vegetables in this part of Sudan. On Sunday I chopped up ten sugar canes for the kids again and have decided this will be a weekly treat. They love it and it is actually an inexpensive treat for them. They love walking to the market with me to get it. They love watching me machete it and help to put it in the basin (125 pieces) and carry it to the bore hole for rinsing. And then it’s SUGAR TIME!!!! So good!
This week we drove down the Kaya Road toward the Uganda border to go goat hunting. Well, we didn’t actually go hunting, more like shopping. There is a market that supposedly sells them cheaper and healthier than the Yei town market and so we went. We drove along a beautiful mountain range and arrived in the village of Mugwo. It is a very small town with just a few shops and such and there is a place in back under the mango trees where all the bush people come to bring their produce and livestock. We arrived too late because of heavy rains and so we only found one goat who was worthy of buying. We bought her and named her Sarah, as she will be the mother of many!
She is such a sweet goat, very gentle and even allowing the children to come up to her and pet her. That is unusual. She really likes her new place here at Iris. Then we went the next day her in Yei and actually found a great billy goat and bought him. We named him Abraham. You guessed it, the father of many! Again, he is very gentle and the children were able to touch him. So, we are still on the lookout for two more girls and the rest will be up to them.
Last night, Friday night, I began the Iris Friday Night Youth Group. We will meet every Friday night and have a Bible study and worship and fellowship, modeled somewhat after the American Wednesday night groups. We are studying the book of Philippians and it will be somewhat slow going because we still need to interpret everything from English to Arabic. The young people enjoyed it and look forward to each week of having this time together.
This week we also did another three day FIRE conference where we teach about the Father and Mother heart of God, talk about generational sin and curses, intimacy with God, laying down our lives and following Jesus and lots more. Many captives were set free and there were many testimonies of how God moved in their hearts. One lady even stood and confessed that twice she seriously considered hanging herself in her despair but she stayed the hand of the enemy. This is huge breakthrough for an African to admit to suicide because it is not a recognized part of their culture. They just don’t kill themselves. She testified that because of this conference she has felt such freedom in her heart and release from the things that have been pulling her down. It was a powerful three days and the Lord changed many lives.
I am still battling sickness and have been attacked by yet another illness this week. I believe this is a backlash attack by the devil because of the things that were destroyed in people’s lives at this conference and because of the extreme strangeness of the manifestation of this latest attack on my body. I am also reminded of all those who have chronic illnesses and how strong they remain in the battle and also of those who have been on the mission field and have been through these same trials, and so I press on in the hope and strength of the Lord. There is no medical facility here, which is trustworthy, and so my hope really has to be in the Lord. I press on, setting my face like flint, keeping my gaze on the One who adores and cares for us.