This week began with the one hundred mile (5 hour) arduous drive back to Yei from Juba. We stopped to visit one of our pastors and encourage him and his family. They live near the side of a mountain and there is no water. Juba is very hot and dusty and even though the Nile River flows through her, most parts of the outlying areas have zero water. It costs 2.5 dollars to have one drum trucked in. Remember, these people on average make less than a dollar a day IF they can even find jobs. As we were visiting, his sister-in-law was sitting near a pile of rocks with a hammer and breaking them into small pieces to sell. This pastor was given a piece of land by the chief of the area and our pastor built a small church and his hut on it. Soon after, another man came along and demanded he leave and then began construction on his own hut. The wall of this man’s house is two steps from our pastor’s front door, serious as a heart attack!
Turns out that the new government decided to remark all plots in South Sudan, laying new lines of demarcation. All who have built houses or structures will now be forced at some point to move them or leave them. No one has any recourse and no reimbursement will be made for loss of property or cost of moving. That’s just the way it is here. I left our pastor and his family with three weeks worth of water to be trucked in so that his church members can have water to drink after walking from far off and our pastor’s family could have water for cooking and bathing. Our pastor usually gives his last water for them to drink, never turning any away.
The ladies walk for hours carrying heavy cans of water on their heads for just enough water to cook a meal and maybe wash a few clothes with a few sprinkles left for the entire family to clean themselves. The borehole where they fetch the water from is a war zone. There are a hundred jerrycans lined up and everyone waiting for hours for their turn to pump their two little cans of water, EVERY day. The lives of women revolve around this quest for water. Can you imagine this all consuming task day in and day out? In the west one cannot even imagine being without water like this. At least during the rainy season water can be collected in basins. But now a family must be able to afford to buy them. Always something……
It rained the entire way back to Yei, a light drizzle, and exactly halfway we hit a large rock and punctured the tire. So here we were in the rain, red mud on our hands and knees changing our tire, big transport trucks swaying precariously close at breakneck speed. The spare was low on air so we had to take it slow but made it back 15 minutes before nightfall. The whole purpose of the trip was to correct a modem problem for our internet service. I plugged mine in when I got back to Yei and —————- nada, nothing, zilcho! I was so frustrated because I had to deal with this same issue for almost a month earlier this year and had to go back to Juba to fix it. Yep, same thing and it’s back to Juba to fix it. One of our guys is going this week so I pray he can get it fixed for me.
Then this morning (Saturday) my inverter blew for no reason. This is what takes power from my dry cell battery and charges my computer and phone and other stuff. So I had to go into town and spend $100 for another. Very frustrating just to get basic communication with the outside world. It’s been a crazy month and I found myself frustrated and tired and so ready to throw in my towel and even had thoughts of what job I could do in the USA in the economic downslide. But I came to my senses after a time in God’s peaceful presence and I am peaceful in spirit once again. The Bible says in James I think to pursue peace. Sometimes it is a trek and requires steep climbing. It doesn’t just happen. We have to go after it but it is there for the taking. And most importantly, I give thanks to God for all that He has given me. I find that giving thanks for what I DO have is the biggest help in bringing me back to my senses.
Every Friday night, the first prayers that the children and I pray to start our time of worship is prayers of thanksgiving. I tell them to thank God for our water, our crops, rain, good health, warm and dry beds, shoes, school fees paid in full, just every little thing in their lives. The gates of thanksgiving are what bring a constant flow of His blessings. It takes us into His very presence and all that He wants us to see and have with Him. Psalm 24 says to lift up your heads O ye gates so that the King of glory may come in. Lift up your heads in thanksgiving and in His glory are all things needed. Now that is a good preach. J
Some time ago a grandfather and his little granddaughter came to ask for our help. The little girl was severely malnourished because she refused to eat anything except maize flour paste (posho) and rice. The girl is about four years old. The grandfather refused to take her to his village and let relatives care for her and he refused to let us find a better situation for her. All we could do was give him more baby porridge (fortified). We counseled him as to how to make her eat other things and told him we would come to check on her in a month. This week we went to check on her with a good plan. We found out that the grandfather took the girl to live at another children’s center here in Yei. This was an answer to prayer. We don’t have a nurse at our center and she needed care that we couldn’t provide onsite. This other center is a Christian based center and they now have a small hospital onsite. Everything worked out wonderfully praise Jesus!
During the past two weeks, many of us have been having bad dreams in the night and have been waking up depressed and heavy for no apparent reason. We talked about it and decided that it was spiritual and that is how we attacked it. I gathered the children together as usual for our Friday Night Furnace prayer meeting. We were not going to focus on all that the devil wanted to do to bring us down. We rebuked him once.
Then we all stood like a wall of fire in our church and faced our compound. We all pointed at the compound and declared in unison seven times, “Let there be light in Jesus Name!” We then gathered in groups of three and four and we envisioned ourselves as lights. As we prayed over every house, every school building, every village hut around us, we envisioned the light of heaven going forth into those places, causing darkness to run for the hills. That night when we laid down to sleep, many had prophetic dreams and slept peacefully for the first time in weeks.
The darkness can never extinguish the light, no matter how small, it cannot swallow it up. Light reveals all things, all truth. The devil is a liar and he is darkness. When light comes, truth is revealed and it prevails. I always say, never hide anything from God. Even in our own hearts, if we see the truth, we must tell it to Jesus. Pull that splinter of pride out before it festers and infects. Once it is exposed, the devil cannot accuse, therefore holding people hostage. The truth, the light, will set us free always.
The rains are still here although we now go three days in between instead of every day. Another two weeks and we will be in dry season, and hot. Every time it rains, when it stops, all along the paths there are rivers of ants dissecting the trail, serious rivers of ants all moving to a new location. It’s wild looking and a bit creepy. We also have this really large snake living on our compound deep in a sorghum field. A few of the boys have seen it and say it is a yellow belly greenish brown backed snake, about three feet long and moves very quick. Needless to say, I don’t take the short cut through that field anymore!
The elephant grass grows so fast that the jungle threatens to overtake the path within a week. Today I spent Saturday morning with a hoe, digging up sprouts of grass, which brings the bush to my doorstep. I like to keep it trimmed back to avoid any sneaky crawly visitors. We then loaded up ten children and took them into town for a birthday treat of a large chocolate glazed doughnut and a soda. We have an Ethiopian bakery in town and it is the only place to get a piece of cake or doughnut. We go once a month to celebrate birthdays. It is so fun to watch their faces as they eat this sweet treat and stare at everything around them. Life on our compound in the bush leaves little to really stimulate the hearing and seeing senses. So when they go to town, it is all eyes and ears.
And that is the news from my little corner of the world, bugs and snakes and flies and worms in my gut and dirt in my toes and sticky little hands and faces on my clean clothes and all the rest of the stuff I encounter each day. J