Today is Sunday and I have been pressing through all day, well the last few days, to get to the other side of weariness, where rest lies. I have been so very tired today and even yesterday I lay down and took a long nap. Sometimes out here in the bush of this very third world country where comforts are very far and few between, a person can grow weary and deflated and it takes the real grace of God to push on through it. If someone were to hold out a ticket home I think today I would get on that plane.
I am reading a book, Before We Kill And Eat You, written by H. B. Garlock with Ruthanne Garlock his daughter-in-law. I had the pleasure of meeting Ruthanne this last trip home. It is the true story of the Garlocks going into Africa, Liberia, as missionaries in 1920!! Can you imagine traveling by ship for weeks only to be dumped ashore in a foreign and hostile place? There was no electricity or internet or solar power or propane stoves to give an inkling of relief from such hardcore living. I praise God that I was born in this era of time and called to follow Him here. All those who have gone before us, they have truly cut some permanent trails and I am honored to walk them.
As I was taking my bucket/cup bath with cold water I dreamt about being in the USA in the summer where my friends are having pedicures and manicures and splashing into summer with a bathing suit and a nice clean swimming pool. I have to swill my bathing water around to get the rust build up chunks out of it. Here, instead of splashing into summer, it is a supreme effort to keep my face from melting off as I sizzle into summer. I dreamt about a cool crisp salad and a tall cold glass of iced sweet tea. Room temperature bottled water is my relief here. Salad? Haha funny. I turn my mind from such things, set my face like flint, and press on. Ah, these light afflictions shall pass.
One of our employees who has been with us since the beginning, almost six years ago, has been one step away from being let go. We sat down to have a very long chat with her, one of many, and have given her one last chance to get her heart right before God. It is so very discouraging sometimes because a person will bold face lie to your face, though all the evidence is stacked against them, yet they refuse to see truth. We have sent her to YWAM to stay for four days to get quiet before the Lord. Monday will tell us whether she has heard truth in these four days.
It is so very hard because this is one of two Sudanese ladies whom I have come to call a close friend. I have trusted her and even though I speak the truth in love to her, she refuses to own up to her actions, which have been obvious to all. I have been so confused because she tells a very convincing lie. As I was doing my washing on Friday morning I prayed to the Lord to reveal the truth to me. Within the half hour our compound manager, a Sudanese, and this lady’s good friend, came and revealed truth to me, confirming what others had said. The Lord is so very faithful and He really does want us to see all truth so that we are not deceived. Proverbs 4:7 tells us wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom and though it costs all you have, get understanding. Sometimes it will cost you a friendship. It is up to us what we do with wisdom.
The rains have been steady and abundant this week. The South Sudan Ministry of Agriculture decided to take a huge area of land near us and fence it off. They fenced off the main road that comes out our way, not caring about us or the UN who need that road. That’s how it goes here. The government does what they please without regard to those who live here. There is NO other way back here except by foot. Cars and trucks have made their own new road now by driving a path through a nearby plot of land. Bad thing is that it is so muddy that daily cars are getting stuck up to their door frames in this murky mud. I refuse to drive the car and get stuck. I found myself on Saturday morning shuttling bread and meat to our compound on the back of my motorbike.
As I was waiting for the meat to be prepared I watched as people walked by in the market. I always smile at some of the tshirts that people wear. Many people cannot read so when they buy these secondhand clothes which are stolen from donation shipments from the USA, they have no clue what they are wearing. It is just a good shirt that they bought for 20 cents or so. I have seen a man wearing a “World’s Best Grandma” tshirt. How about a man wearing a “Smith High School Dance Team” tshirt? Or a small boy, wearing flower embroidered blue jeans and a butterfly tshirt? It is not unusual at all to see ladies walking in the market in prom dresses or bridesmaid dresses or even fancy nightgowns. Our inside clothes are just clothes to the third world people. They are not concerned so much with what they are wearing but more so the cleanliness of their attire and appearance. I always say that these are probably the cleanest people I know. Sure makes it easy to not be concerned with fashion and style when I am here.
As I walked back to our compound from our church I stopped to say hello to Aphisina, the grandma who’s roof we repaired last year. She lives alone and labors in the field all day by herself under the hot sun, carrying a heavy load of firewood on her head at days end. She gets her water from the nearby slimy dirty creek where everyone washes clothes and small kids bathe. Today she was lying on a mat on the dirt floor of her day shelter, still in her housedress. She waved a feeble hello as I approached. She said she was sick. I called some of our little girls to come over and pray with us. We squatted low and came under her day shelter and laid our hands on her and prayed. I told her I would be back quickly with food for her.
These same small girls and I brought some meat sauce and posho and clean drinking water from our borehole and we stayed with her as she ate a few bites. I look at the fortitude of this small woman and I try not to complain even to myself that things are so very hard here. What I have done for three years, she has done for a lifetime, even more. I have a few cuts on my body from various work related scrapes and all are throbbing, inflamed infected cuts. I get so frustrated because a small scratch here means antibiotics and pain for a few days until it passes. Most times I don’t even take antibiotics. But it’s the little things like these that can wear a person down, this constant battle to just stay healthy. I look at people like Aphisina and it encourages me to press on. It also keeps me stopping for the one. She is why I am here, to love her and to learn from her. Fortitude and the grace of God.
I looked at Mercy in church this morning and just kept smiling because she has to be the happiest kid I know. She is always smiling and dancing and laughing, running here and there, never tiring. She eats more than any single person I know of because she is nonstop motion the entire day. She just goes and goes and goes. When she sees me or Esther, another missionary, she makes a beeline and stays constantly close talking in her own special language that all of us are learning to understand, Mercy’s jibberish. She really is so darn cute. I wish that we were all that happy and clueless about the bad things in the world. I sometimes wonder if she even thinks about her life before us, the evils she lived with on the streets. I am so very thankful to have found her that day a year ago. She has changed all of our lives for the better. She has taught us about mercy, about Mercy.
So, after a normal week of loving and ministering to 130 children, all the mamas, the people in town and in my community, today, I am trying to take one day off, my first in six weeks. I am so very tired and rest is the order of the day. Next week I travel to the bush with David, our only male missionary, who by the way is seventy years old and full of life and the Father’s heart. He and I are going to a village that is steeped in witchcraft. The townspeople even comment that you’d better be prayed up before heading down that road, because the witchcraft is so dark there. We are so very excited to see what our Daddy God is going to do this week in that place. Lift them up in your prayers and that Papa’s heart will break through the darkness.
Until next week, I pray that Papa’s amazing love is continuously poured abroad in all your hearts and that you would be rivers of living water to those who are dying.