As I was heading to town earlier in the week on my motorcycle, I saw a young boy lying beside the road, one of the busiest roads in Yei.  Big tipper trucks go bumping by raising clouds of dust, motorcycle taxi’s zip along at breakneck speed, sending dogs and goats scurrying to the sidelines for cover.  The young boy arrested my attention enough that I pulled off the road and turned around to go back to him.  When I got off my bike and approached him, he started to crawl toward my bike.  He was obviously mentally challenged.

He was such a handsome and sweet looking boy of about ten years of age.  His sole focus was my motorcycle.  I picked him up and held him fast as I asked the people around me where he belonged and who was he.  The people just said, “He lives near here” but no one could say where.  I looked around almost hopelessly, refusing to just leave him there, when a motorcycle pulled up and the man told me, “I am the boy’s uncle”.  I was so happy to see him.  He just came out of nowhere.  The boy was returned safely home on the motorbike of his uncle.  Another example of God’s perfect timing.

Here at the children’s center we have been on high alert against malaria.  It is the rainy season and it brings with it a torrent of mosquitoes.  We can’t walk around shrouded in a net all day and so it is almost inevitable that we get bit.  I have been spending my entire week running kids back and forth and myself back and forth to get medications and treatment and plenty of prayers.  Finally Friday night came and I was so looking forward to a day of rest on Saturday.  Early Saturday morning, 4:30 a.m. to be exact, I am awakened by one of our older girls.  Another baby is sick.

At 5:00 a.m. we are heading down the dark bush path in our little RAV IV vehicle, baby in tow, going to find someone who is open to care for us.  We are literally the only vehicle on the streets of Yei.  Everyone is still sleeping.  We try the one clinic in town that is supposed to be a 24 hour clinic.  It is dark completely.  I rattle the gate, call out to any watchman, nothing….  So we climb back into the car and drive across the town to another clinic.  It too is closed.

I felt such compassion for any mother who had a serious problem with her baby and finding no one to help her.  This is life in the third world where medical care is a luxury, not a right.  I felt the frustration of being helpless to help this baby.  We drove back to the 24 hour place and I paced back and forth in front of the gate for an hour, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Finally we were admitted and our small baby, Patience, was to stay two nights with an IV drip for malaria.  We just have to keep pressing for a malaria free world.  Most of the third world below the equator lives with this terrible sickness every day.  It is a part of our lives.  I pray for the day that it is defeated, no longer having the sting of death on these little ones.

This month is the one year anniversary of two very special events.  It is the first anniversary of South Sudan’s Independence from the north and it is one year that Mercy has been with us.  To celebrate Mercy, we took her to lunch in town.  This was her first trip out of the center since coming here.  The smile on her face was so awesome.  She couldn’t contain her excitement and waved to anyone who would look at us as we drove through town.  We held her hand tightly as we parked the car and walked her through the market where we found her.  The people remembered her and were amazed that we still had her and that she was so clean and healthy.

I keep thinking of the Christmastime saying, Jesus is the reason for the season and I keep thinking that Mercy is the reason for our season here in Yei.  Last year she couldn’t communicate with us or hold a pencil or sit still for more than 30 seconds or eat without getting food all over her face or go potty without soiling her clothes or even focus on any one thing for more than a few seconds.  She has learned to communicate wonderfully, she loves to help, she has learned how to match cards and pictures perfectly.  She has learned so much more, this one whom we were told was deaf and crazy.  Mercy has changed all of our lives more than can ever be written.  She has taught us unconditional love and patience and acceptance.  Happy birthday Mercy, we surely do adore you!

Today marked the one year anniversary of South Sudan’s existence as a new nation.  I went into town with two other missionaries and two of our mamas and Peacey.  We wanted to join in the celebrations in Freedom Square.  We arrived there a little after one p.m. and there were tons of people around but all of the chairs were being packed up and there were empty water bottles strewn all over the square, which is basically a huge square dirt field where they play soccer and hold ceremonies and such.  It looked like all was over and we missed it.  Abuba said that there was still more to come.  So we went and had a coke and waited.

Finally two hours later hundreds of people started arriving again from all over the city.  Soon, tribal dancers started to arrive and large pockets of people began to form around the different tribes.  There were at least a few thousand people there in the square and me and the two missionaries were THE only white people around.  It was actually way cool.  I am telling you, the Sudanese are the friendliest and kindest people and we were so enjoying the day just watching the different dancers and greeting all the people as we went along.

Our day ended back at the children’s center with me and Esther handing out fruit cocktail and crackers with our beans and posho dinner.  Bees were swarming all around us and even resting on my hands and shirt, not one sting on any of us.  It was crazy.  I have never ever stood amidst so many bees and not get stung once, at least a hundred of them if not more.  We stood there and kept handing out the fruit for at least an hour taking it all in stride.  Of course I was praying for God’s bee angels to keep the bees peaceful.

It’s been an exhausting week and in the middle of it all, sick kids, me sick, independence celebration, visitors coming and going, I still met with my girls as we talked about their future husbands and writing down scripture to start praying over the one God has picked for each of them.  We made promise beaded necklaces with each color representing a character trait we would pray for.  The girls loved this idea and loved the idea that they could start praying even now for the husband they would one day meet.

God bless each one of you who read these updates and who pray for us here in South Sudan.  The north continues to attack and thousands are displaced with nowhere to call home.  The people are amazingly faithful in their trust in God.  All around me I see churches praying and standing in faith for better days, always believing.  Every nation has its own set of problems I am sure, even America.  It sure is comforting to know that those who trust in the Lord will always remain in His rest no matter the circumstance.  During this week of Independence both for America and South Sudan, I pray that for the both of us, that we remain in His rest as we trust Him.