From Here To Eternity

So, here I am in Yei listening to Kenny Chesney on my ipod while cleaning the latrines when I should be in the big city of Juba enjoying unlimited internet, great food, and warm showers.  Haha!  You know what?  I am actually very happy to be here in Yei with the simple things in life.  I left this morning driving our car to make the six hour journey to Juba on rain and mud pocked dirt roads when an hour out of town my brakes quit working.  Serious, zero brakes.  I employed the emergency brake and called one of the guys to come rescue us.  Our Abuba was with me along with one of our kids.  It’s a Sunday morning so I turned on the radio and we had church along the side of the road under a, you guessed it, mango tree.

Our goat “project” is growing beyond what I had dreamed.  We have 15 or 16 goats and sheep and 4 babies on the way!  This week I am putting more of your contributions to work by building a bigger shelter for more goats, twice the size as the one we have!  I imagine one day we will have enough goats to have meat twice a week!  Awesome!  The boys begin work on the construction today!  Also this week we begin construction on two dormitories.  As you remember, last week I blazed a path through the bush to mark the soon to be road.  Our grounds maintenance guys slashed a 20-foot wide by about a 100-yard long road through the bush in just a few hours to prepare for this new project.  I tell you, Iris Sudan is growing so fast and we are receiving many visitors.  These are exciting times for us.

On a more somber note, we have a pond right outside our front gate and we are always chasing the kids out of it because it is just stagnant and dirty.  Last weekend myself and Abuba went down there with tree branches to swat a few behinds, Abuba swatting and me scolding and pointing toward home.  On Wednesday I was in town when I received a call from one of our missionaries.  One of the girls from our school slipped in and drowned.  She is not one of our children at Iris but does attend our school.  I waited to meet them as our tipper truck brought her body in to town.  As our truck approached I saw that the back of this huge truck was filled with mamas and children and our pastor and the headmaster.  Oh my heart broke.  People came from all around to see and the weeping and wailing began.

The death of a child is so extremely sad and everyone, whether they know her or not starts weeping.  Our missionary told me that she was so sad and angry because if we had had an ambulance service and a defibulator we maybe could have saved her.  She and the headmaster did CPR but they had gotten to this girl too late.  Even the hospital here does not have a defibulator and certainly no ambulance service.  The hospital would not even look at her until we took her to the police first.  The police asked why we removed her body from the pond.  We were incredulous but polite as we told them that our priority was to try and save her.  We live in a crazy backward world and it is so heartbreaking sometimes when we think of all the modern conveniences of the west and how here we have nothing.

I kept thinking how glad I was that it wasn’t any of our babies at Iris, and trying not to feel guilty for thinking this.  And what a hard way to learn a lesson.  Not one of our kids has been near the pond since this has happened.  They have taken the elephant grass on the path leading to the pond and have tied it in a makeshift gate as if to say, “Stay out”.  Later that night I talked with the youth group about fear and death and about heaven and how even when we don’t understand, God is good.  Earlier that day, two of our missionaries had been ministering up at the school and they were telling the children to check their lives, to do an inventory and see where they needed to get things right with God.  The children then repented and redirected their lives toward Jesus.

It was during the break, just after this teaching that this girl slipped into the pond.  Apparently she had gone down there by herself, unbeknownst to any in authority, to bathe.  She lives in town and the walk here is very long.  Two little girls came running the long way back up to the school to tell someone what had happened and by the time they reached the pond it was too late.  I did not know until later in the day that the kids had had this teaching.  One never knows when they will stand before the Lord in eternity…