I have just returned from the big South Sudan capital city of Juba. I am so glad to be back in Yei, as always. I don’t know of a single missionary who likes Juba. It is a dark and corrupt city. So much sadness and destitution there. People are starving and dying under the noses of the government rich and nothing is being done for any of them, except to kick them out of the shanty tenements they were living in and leaving them even more homeless. I try really hard not to get angry and frustrated with the establishment here. They expect the Western world to bail the poor and hungry out of their dilemmas and so they continue taking more for themselves and separating themselves from all that is distasteful.
I always, always stop and visit the small tarp community of about 10-15 old people who live on the street in the center of the downtown area. They live under a mango tree with tarps tied around it and all their worldly possessions scattered around them; pots, cooking sticks, washing basins, scrappy blankets. They sit in the dirt all day, too feeble to go very far. I never leave Juba until I have stopped to visit them and love them. Some are missing hands and feet, perhaps diabetic or old war injuries, I am not sure. These lovely ones encourage me because when I come and I give them money and hold their hands, they always say thank you to Rabuna (God). They lift the offering up to him, cradling it in their stubs and hands, ever so thankful for His provision. I am so humbled by their sweet faces. They are precious to Jesus.
I traveled to Juba on a United Nations helicopter, again for free. Last year, all my travel concerning Aweil was free, all of it. Again this year it is amazing how God opens doors when it seems they are shut. I went to the UN on Monday to apply for a seat on Friday’s flight. Thursday afternoon I received a call that I was denied. My friend at the UN was shocked because it should have been approved easily. I told him that’s okay I will just travel on a public bus, which is about a five hour ride. After I hung up I just looked up to heaven and told God that I was okay with it and I guess He had a divine appointment for me on the bus. I thanked Him and went about my business to ready myself for this alternate mode of travel.
An hour later my UN friend called me back and immediately said, “What did you do, pray or something? You got on the flight, no explanation. They just called and said they changed their minds.” Haha! I was so happy. A door blew open at the last hour.
I got to Juba before lunch and went right away to purchase my Aweil tickets. The only South Sudan airlines is Kush Air. I told the lady that I would like roundtrip for 19 July, which is only one month away. She said, “I’m sorry, we cannot book you that far in advance.” I almost had to swallow my tongue. I explained how I had talked to a man on the phone, traveled all the way from Yei……. She said that I could wait and talk to her manager but she was not budging. Five minutes later the manager came in and when all was said and done, I got my tic
This morning in church, our visitors, a one year married missionary couple gave a small talk about the bride of Christ and their wedding celebration. This couple bought two goats and lots of food so we could celebrate their one year anniversary with them. The lady said that in Revelation Jesus was preparing the feast for His bride and He was going to celebrate. This lady then asked, “Do you know who the bride of Christ is?” Immediately, really loud and with hands lifted high, our young autistic beautiful boy named Diliga said, “ANA!” He said “ME!”. This boy can barely speak intelligible words and has a very hard time learning anything. But, he adores worship music and he stands with his eyes closed and hands moving every single time we worship the Lord and he knows he is the bride of Christ. One can tell by looking at him during these times that he knows the presence of the Lord. He knows the Lord so well that he knows who he is. He is the bride. So amazing!
This week I began a teaching with the girls on the book of Esther. I showed them the movie, “One Night With The King”, and they were so surprised that Esther was an orphan. They are always amazed at how many orphans God blessed and chose to do mighty things for His kingdom. I want these girls to see how amazing and special they are to the Lord. I have the same dream for the Aweil boys. It has been so hard for me to wait but I know that all I do in the interim is training and teaching for me for more big things He has for me to do.
My friend Aphisina is finally feeling better. Thank you for praying. She is starting to become more comfortable in asking me for help. This week I was riding past on my motorbike and she stopped me and gave me some money and asked if I would bring her back some fish and tomatoes from the market. I loved it. I am trying to get the girls to sort of adopt her so that when I leave she will have someone to look after her. I think next week we will have to go and help her weed her garden or collect firewood. It is time for our children to give back and I know they want to with sincere hearts. They just don’t know how.
Today one of our young boys walked up to my end of the compound and quietly told me that his leg was paining him. I looked at his leg and there was a nice lump on the shin and his ankle and lower leg is swollen. I have a feeling his shin bone is broken. These kids are amazingly strong and resilient. I cannot take him to the doctor until Monday because the xray guy doesn’t work on weekends. I wrapped his leg and told him I didn’t want him walking very much and that I would take him to church on my motorbike. I offered to take him back down the compound to his house and he refused. He wanted to walk. He promised me he would go slow. Amazing strength.
I learn so much from these precious people. I am so thankful to learn each day to not complain, to stay strong, to persevere in all situations, to stay encouraged. So many times I could get my focus off the things that really matter by looking at the small afflictions that we encounter every day here. Ah, but that is just what they are, small afflictions. The grace of our Lord is so much more amazing. When we allow ourselves to persevere and go through the fire of affliction instead of going around it, we become more and more like pure silver, seeing His reflection in us. The Bible clearly says that we partake in His sufferings. We don’t try to look for a way out. It is easier to go through when you go with Jesus. There is so much revelation in these places.
So, Monday morning will find me at the hospital with this young man. We shall see where the road takes me after that. I know that wherever I go, Jesus will encounter me there, and I Him. I pray that you encounter Him this week on your road and that you know His grace more than you ever have and that you shine brightly, reflecting His beauty. Bless you.