This week I went to the airstrip to pick up one of our missionaries. I sat in a hot car on a dirt runway for two hours waiting. Our typical bush “airport” consists of one small building, smaller than any of your houses, and they might contain a desk or two and a couple of plastic chairs. There are no computers or telephones, no xray machines, no baggage scales as we know them with digital readouts. Our scales are these round things with a hook at one end to hang sacks of grain from to measure the kilogram weight. This is what we use to weigh bags, and sometimes ourselves (haha) as we hang from them (haha).
There are no soda machines or water fountains or even restrooms. There might be a latrine with a hole in the ground and no toilet paper of course. So, if a plane is late we don’t know it until we are there waiting and we see that, hmmmm, the plane must be delayed. And we wait…….. When we see the plane in the sky in the far distance, if possible we drive down the airstrip to chase the goats and donkeys away so they don’t get hit, and sometimes the people. This was standard practice in Akuem. Here in Yei the airstrip is finally fenced in at least. Morale of my story? Don’t complain about your modern airports with all their restaurants and nice stores and newsstands and drinking water and need I go on J?
Here in Sudan almost everything we do is an effort. If we want beans for dinner, and we do every single night (mmmmm), we have to sift through an industrial sized cauldron of beans to weed out the bad ones. If we want peanuts or peanut paste for our wonderful sauce, we sit around in big groups and shell peanuts all afternoon. Then we have this large flat stone that we put a handful of nuts on at a time and we use a smaller stone to rub them (grind) into a paste. Hours and hours of work for one meal using peanut paste.
If we want to use sesame seeds in our sauces, and we do a lot, then we pick these large plants that have small heads of these seeds. We put them out to dry. Then we pile them into a pile and get on our knees and beat this pile with bamboo poles until all these tiny seeds fall to the dirt. Then we gather these tiny seeds and start sifting them three times through and through. Then we grind them with the stones.
If we want coffee, we buy raw coffee beans in the market and we roast them in a saucepan by constantly stirring them until they are a rich dark brown. We then take them to the stones and grind them into a fine powder. Nothing is easy here. There are no refrigerators or microwaves or even electric stoves and ovens. There is no sink. All of these chores require water for cleaning and such and so along with the work we have to pump and haul water for cleaning.
The best thing though about all this work is the relationship we have with each other. No one does these things alone. Every time we have to go to the field and harvest things, many of us go, even the children. We sit and pick and peal and shell and talk and laugh. When we are grinding or roasting, we are sitting around the fire or the stones together. I love these times with my family here in South Sudan. Tomorrow I am going to town to purchase all the material for my roofing projects.
Many tree poles are needed, over fifty. Many bundles of grass, taller than a person and as big around, are needed, over seventy bundles. All of this along with nails and ropes and tools will be carried down small bush trails by as many of us as I can get in order to reach the small huts that we are going to remodel the roofs on. Without each other, this work could not be done.
God created us for relationship and to help one another. The modern world has changed the face of society in more ways than one. Community is hard to find. I love the simple ways of these people and I learn so much about the Kingdom here in this primitive land. I pray that you too can see through heaven’s eyes and experience the simple things in your world. Jesus used the simple things to teach us and it is through these that I love to learn about His ways. Be blessed in all that He shows you this coming week.