It is strange to think of the “holiday” season actually beginning back home when the temperatures here are soaring.  We are now at the start of our summer and it is going to get ever hotter over the next month, even up to 130 degrees in Aweil when I arrive there at the start of the new year.  I have a very small battery operated fan and I feel so extremely blessed to even have this small luxury in this place of need.  I don’t miss air conditioning any longer and have grown quite accustomed to being without it.  I do miss the ceiling fans though.

Last year I was able to put a small string of Christmas lights up in my room and hook them to my solar battery.  This year I shall have to wait as I am to arrive home in Texas on December 12th.  I am looking forward to that for sure.  So, the holiday season for me will begin then and I will enjoy the lights of the North American continent!

Thanksgiving Day I was supposed to go and enjoy fellowship with some of the area NGO’s and have a chicken dinner with all the fixins.  If you follow me on FaceBook you would have noticed that I ended up having beans and posho instead, our usual every night fare.  By the way, posho is ground corn maize mixed with water until it is thick like cookie dough.  We then dip this in whatever sauce is being served.  Kind of like mashed potatoes without the flavor.  I actually like it and it is filling.

Thanksgiving Day found me making five trips back and forth to town for various things which were out of my control.  Just making one trip to town down these potholed and rutted roads is enough to wear anyone out.  Making five is unheard of, especially for us out here in the bush.  The truck we have has the worst suspension so every dip and bump throws us up and down and back and forth.  My back was hurting by the end of the day and making one more trip to have chicken dinner just didn’t sound worth it so I didn’t go.

Thanksgiving in a third world country has a whole new meaning for me.  When it comes I find myself truly giving thanks and not taking my small luxuries for granted.  I have so much compared to the poor around me, when seemingly, I have so little according to my friends back home in the USA.  I have a motorcycle which affords me the luxury of traveling great distances in a small amount of time.  I see ladies here with a baby strapped to their back, carrying a large stack of firewood on their head, and holding a sizeable water container or some other such parcel, while the sweat runs down there face and back in rivulets, never faltering in their steps.  I almost cringe when I see them and here I am riding my motorbike not carrying a thing.

I am truly thankful that I don’t have to gather wood for my cook fire and then have to build it and fan the flames to get it going and then cook my food over it under the hot sun.  I have a small butane stove inside my room, not that I use it very much, but when I do, I am so thankful.  I am so thankful to have a small twin bed and a four inch foam pad and a zippered bug net to encapsulate my body at night and hold it in restful sleep knowing that I am safe from spiders and snakes and things that crawl in the night.  Most people here sleep on a thin woven mat on a dirt floor, many without even a mosquito net, worrying about all manner of things creeping across the dirt floor at night.  My list could go on and on but you get the idea.

My greatest wish I think is for all people to be grateful for the things they do have and to be ever mindful of those who have not.  Even the smallest things in our world in America are luxuries to these the very poor.  This holiday season I want to be ever thankful that I have been truly blessed to call the USA my home.  It really is the best place to be, regardless of who is in charge or how wrong we may think our government is.  You have no idea how bad it could really be.  Come stay with me for a bit and I can show you how government operates here.

This week finds our high school children finished with their exams and off for the “summer”.  Our other grades are not taking theirs until week after next.  This last week every primary school had a competition for two days where teams presented there talents in the areas of playing locally made musical instruments, singing and drama.  The children have been practicing for about a month preparing for this.  When all was said and done, our school from Iris placed second overall.  Unfortunately there wasn’t enough room in the facility to house spectators so no one but the other students was able to enjoy the competition.  Three of my Thanksgiving trips into town concerned this competition.

Almost weekly I am witness to the suffering of others concerning the lack of healthcare available in third world countries.  Even last night I dreamt of praying for the sick earnestly because we couldn’t find a doctor and had no medicine.  We have one small girl on our center that is wasting away before our very eyes.  We have had her tested at three facilities for all things testable in these limited facilities.  She has some form of parasite that refuses to die in her body.  We give her medicine to kill the parasites but the eggs remain only to breed new life.  One of our missionaries was able to obtain a special medicine from Canada that will kill the eggs.  It won’t arrive here until next week.  We have been having her eat five meals a day to maintain her weight.  Her feet get swollen and the pain is so great that I have had to carry her to the latrine.  She is a brave little girl, as are all of the children here.  They seem to be resigned to this life of suffering because it is so much a part of their lives and so they suffer through it stoically.

I think that the people of these countries and even missionaries are more worn out and tired from the mental aspects of doing every day life in a third world country more than the physical.  If not for God we would fail miserably.  Here in these circumstances we see the love and comfort of God lifting the weight from weary shoulders.  I see these people and their extravagant praise to the Lord through dance and song and emotion and it is truly uplifting.  Worship here is really a sacrifice of praise so many times and the end result is a peace which passes understanding.  It is a peace that carries one through the next high river or fiery trial.  I love the life lessons I learn here and I think that is one of the big reasons that I stay.  I see how Jesus is woven through our lives here clearer, without all the distraction of the things of the world.  I will forever treasure these times and thank the Lord for His wisdom in teaching me here in this place.

I close with what has become my heartfelt mission statement concerning my life here as a missionary in South Sudan.  I pray that I will have the physical, mental and spiritual capacity through Christ Jesus to walk it out all of the days of my life.

“We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; yet so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works. “  Francis Asbury  This man was one of the first revivalists in America along with the Wesley brothers and Jonathon Edwards.  As a matter of fact there is a modern list which is kept in the Washington DC archives that contains the names of the top 200 people who have influenced and shaped this great nation of America.  Francis Asbury is on this list next to George Washington and Ben Franklin and the likes.  I want to affect a nation for the glory of God.  That is my mission.

May His grace and mercy follow you and overtake you this holiday season as you celebrate His birth and life.  The Lord bless you and yours.