The rains are steady and everything is green and grows at least 6 inches in a week, not kidding here! The jungle will literally overtake you if you stay sleeping too long. You can almost see the plants grow right before your very eyes. It’s crazy amazing how fast things can grow in the rainy season. I love it. Of course it does mean that I am doing the machete dance every week to keep the jungle from overtaking my front porch, and my agriculture. This is the season where backs are bent permanent as we weed our fields. Neverending….
There is one airline that operates exclusively in South Sudan called Kush Air. I have never flown with them but it is the only flight up to Aweil from Juba. I am flying to Aweil in July to get my ministry there moving ahead. Well, I can’t order my ticket online because they don’t have a website that works. So I have to go all the way to Juba just to purchase my tickets. I called the office and they don’t do reservations unless you pay up front. Major hassle and unnecessary travel. Nothing is ever easy here that’s for sure. Praise God we now have a UN connection and I can fly to Juba and back to Yei free on their helicopter. Thank YOU Jesus, thank YOU Jesus!!
One of our workers got a call that his daughter was taken to the hospital to have her baby. A normal call on a normal day. Within hours he received another call that the baby was born but the daughter/mom died. It is so very sad that this is a normal situation here in South Sudan. Can you imagine living a life where you are always aware that death stands at the door and knocks? Peter had to take her body to his village for burial, only to returns four days later with the body. For some reason they could not bury her there in the village so they buried her on their compound. So the body has been dead for six days before the burial even took place. Don’t even want to go there…. The very same day of the burial, we took Peter’s good friend’s daughter, another of our staff workers, to the hospital and she gives birth and is fine.
The next night as Peter’s family lay sleeping, two young boys break into one of his huts and awakens Peter. He goes to check it out and surprises these two boys. They wrestle in the dark, four shots ring out and Peter is grazed by one, not seriously though. The boys get away. Pray for Peter’s family and all this that he is going through right now. He is the loveliest and sweetest man. We adore him and he sure could use some encouragement from Jesus through our prayers.
I told you last week about my Sudanese friend and how we had to discipline her concerning her actions toward some of our children and staff members. That in itself was very hard to do. After much consideration and ministry to her, we had to let her go this week. My heart felt like it was being dug out of my chest. It felt like a lead weight. After we made it official and she was packing her things, the children were standing around crying and I was crying and it was just such a terribly sad day. Sometimes we have to make such hard decisions for the good of the many. I tend to lean more to the side of endless mercy so I was the one staff member making this decision who was really dragging her heals. I want to give chance after chance after chance. And maybe if it were up to me, I would have. But being part of a team requires team effort and team decision. So I had to throw in my lot and it was rough.
I went to visit her today and she is so strong. She is doing fine and moving on and remains my very close friend. She really did leave with such grace. She even hugged the one who had to fire her. I know it was hard on him too. So, I write this to encourage those who have been fired and have to do the firing. Always remain on the side of mercy, but sometimes the grace has to kick in to do what is right and to do what needs doing, whether it is to let someone go or hug the person who fired you. Forgiveness is the seed that needs to remain. When it is done in love and with His grace, He will make it right.
My friend Aphisina, the widow who lives by our church, as you might remember was sick last week. On Sunday we took her some clean water and food. On Tuesday morning I went to check on her and she was still not feeling well. I took her to a local clinic and bought her medication and then went to the market and bought fresh vegetables and fruit and bread. This Sunday she is still not up and around like she normally is. She’s a hard worker and loves to be outside. I found her in her hut in bed at noon. I brought her some more clean water and porridge and am praying for her restoration. She lives alone and has no one to care for her. Her garden needs to be weeded and I am sure she probably even needs firewood for cooking and bathing. I’ll tackle that one tomorrow.
This Friday and Saturday we drove into the bush to disciple a new church plant. We traveled down a trail basically as there really wasn’t much of a road. The jungle was so thick that there is no way to get through without a machete, no way. There were so many trees and strong vines hanging from then, trailing down to the rich green foliage below. I could imagine Tarzan swinging through this place. There were large plants with huge elephant ear leaves and elephant grass taller than a man. Again, one could imagine a safari hunter prowling through, peering through this grass to find his prey. We came to a clearing and this was the church house. Just a wooden frame made from large tree limbs. There were only four pews, kind of like a very, very short hitching post. We arrived at 10:00 and no one was around.
The church bells in Sudan are always a rim of a big truck hanging from a tree and something metal to hit it with. We rang and rang and rang. Over the next hour and a half people started coming. By the time everyone showed up we had about 30 adults and as many children. We had just gotten started with the teaching, maybe a half hour into it, and the ladies came over with tea and bread, causing everything to stop and center around having tea. This is Africa where tea is most important. Seriously?! Yep, seriously. All in all it was a very good two days and we are even going back to disciple them more. These people came walking for miles in the rain, barefoot and hungry for the word of God. They want more.
The two main cattle herding groups in South Sudan are the Mundari and the Dinka tribes. They don’t get along at all. There are always problems with grazing rights and cattle rustling. This week these two tribes have finally ticked the government off with all their bickering and killing each other, innocents getting caught in the crossfire. These two tribes own all the cattle thus they provide all the meat in all the markets. The government shut down every butcher in the nation until these two solve their differences peacefully. No beef or goat for anyone unless you own the livestock and cook it for yourself.
Well, while we were in the bush discipling these lovely people, a man came riding up on a bicycle. He stopped and asked if anyone wanted to buy dried meat. Dried meat here is really good. It is basically smoked and dried. When you buy it, you throw it in your sauce and it becomes wonderful meat for dinner. I bought it all! I came back and told the children that God’s children will not suffer from lack of meat. He will even provide in a famine. The great beef famine of 2012! Haha, we ate meat! God is so amazing.
Monday I decided it was time to finally go and purchase a comfortable chair to sit in. The only thing I have sat in or on are hard wooden benches or chairs, hard plastic chairs, and concrete steps or the ground. My back suffers severely, as we say here in Sudan. It has been three years that I have lived this way. So I went to town and purchased a handmade living room chair, just like the ones we have in the USA. It is sooooooo amazingly wonderful. The first day I sat in it I almost fell asleep. I now look forward to my evenings and mornings reading and SITTING comfortably. I am so extremely blessed! By the way my chair is a cheetah pattern, very Africa! Lovin it.
Lastly, I have been taking the Iris youth ministry on an Acts adventure for the last two weeks. I have these amazing DVD’s that take us through the book of acts as if in real life. These older children simply love these DVDs and they really understand and have a better grasp on the Acts church. It has been an excellent teaching tool and better yet, we are all so very encouraged by the faith of the apostles through watching these DVD’s. We are renewed in our diligence to “preach the good news” and to set the captives free, no matter the cost. It’s amazing how much this has increased our faith and our zeal for the house of God.