On Sunday we went to the Iris Church here which is located at the Darfur Refugee camp area of Aweil, in a village settlement called Maper (pronounced ma-fair). There are approximately 3,000 Darfur refugees who came just before South Sudan received its independence from the north in 2011. As with any westerner visiting a local church we were invited to preach, no notice, just a request minutes before the service is to start. So Angela and I decide, no problem, we will teach on what God had shown us that very morning in our quiet time.
I tell you, to a hungry crowd, every morsel is indeed sweet. We never worry that we wont be good enough or speak well or have enough scripture to preach on. We know that if we just step up, all the rest will fall into place, and it does. For sure, in Africa, one needs to be ready in season and out of season. That’s why Jesus cursed the fig tree because it did not bear fruit, even out of season, Matthew 21:18. Jesus was not angry because He was hungry and there was no fruit. This was to show the disciples that they should always bear fruit, especially to the hungry in spirit.
We are still seeing blind people each day in the markets, and they are different people each time so there are many here who are blind. We pray and we wont grow weary in praying, believing for the miracles to come in this city. The foreigners are definitely targets in this city for theft. While in town eating lunch on Monday, parking the 3-wheeler immediately outside of the open door, our mirrors were stolen in broad daylight. The Ethiopian man who owns the restaurant told us that it happens to him all the time. People here are really struggling so you really can’t blame the kids for stealing, BUT, they have to be taught that it is wrong.
Later that day a young man of about 16 years, came to us and told us that he had found our bicycle that was stolen last weekend. He was approached by a boy who was trying to sell it. When asked where he got such a bike, he was told, “We took it from the kawajas, and their fuel also.” This young man, called Lazarus, then came to us and told us about it. It turns out that Lazarus is a disciple under our pastor James and his love is to preach the gospel and disciple nations. So this morning the men went with the police to retrieve the bicycle. The police asked if we wanted to press charges and we declined. Instead we brought the boy, the thief, back to our compound to minister to him. He of course received the Lord as his Savior and we can only pray that Jesus stays with him. We got our bicycle back and even my basin, with a promise to return the fuel. I declined the fuel because unless it comes from a petrol station, it is bad fuel.
Also on Monday, our pastor, James and I went to visit the governor of Northern Bhar El Ghazal at his office. I entered and shook his hand and told him that I just wanted to greet him and not take up his time because I know that he is a busy man. He smiled and looked at me for a few seconds and then he asked if I would come to dinner at his house with my team. I said I would be honored. And so we went. We had a very nice dinner and fellowship. Afterward, when we were leaving, we gathered around and laid hands on him and prayed for him. He really liked that we did that.
While in the market I found the most amazing thing. There are these big clay pots, about 10 liters or so, here that are used to store water. All of our drinking water is warm because of the intense heat here. These pots keep the water very, very cool. It is probably my best ever purchase in South Sudan! It is so very nice to have cups of cold refreshing water now. I cannot even begin to say how much this small thing means to my entire life and well being here in this hot, hot place. Everyday it is up in the high teens and twenties, one hundred that is, ummm degrees! And the price for this simple clay pot cannot be beat – only $2.50 USD!
Every day that we go into the market to buy our veggies and such for our dinner, we have many people coming up to us constantly asking for money or food, all ages and types. We don’t have refrigerators here so we have to buy everything fresh each day and cook it over a fire at night. Unlike Iris Yei, where our fires were already started by the staff and where our food was cooked and ready to eat, we now have to cook our own food each night over a fire, taking turns at cooking and fire starting detail. We are even back to an outdoor squat pit latrine. God has a great sense of humor calling me back to the harder lifestyle – hahaha.
Anyway, there is a very crippled and extremely skinny lady that scoots around on her butt, begging in the market. She is filthy dirty, slow in her mind, and looks extremely malnourished. I went up to her and knelt down to give her some money and she reached up to hug me. I drew her in and prayed for her, her dirty skinny arms holding tightly to my neck. It really brings things into perspective about how truly blessed most of us are in this world. I pray that I never lose sight of my blessings.
The boys continue to call my name and shake my hand and ask me for food. I have to keep putting them off, but with a promise that I am not forgetting them and I am working very hard on the situation. On Wednesday I met with the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports and he told me that he didn’t see any problems with giving me the local sports arena area for the feeding center for the boys. He called me the next day and there was a problem. But he then talked to the police commissioner and he agreed to let me use a compound that belongs to the police department. I will go hopefully on Monday, as soon as he calls me, to check it out and to set things up. Things take a while to happen here and nothing I can do will cause anyone to hurry things along. So, I wait……. And pray.
Yesterday, Eric and I began hooking up our solar system. The nails here are too weak to penetrate the walls and the hard mahogany wood. We have wasted so many nails just trying to run the wiring along the walls. We spent all day, literally ALL day, running wire in my room only. After many hits on our fingers with the hammer we finally got my room wired only to find that our lights aren’t working. So, Saturday finds us reviewing and reworking our DC lights power. We have laughingly said that it might be better to hire an electrician! Hmmmm….
We finally did figure it all out. It is now Sunday and all we have left to do is get the panels on the roof and hooked up. Believe it or not, we are waiting until tonight or tomorrow night to do this in the dark so people will not know that we have solar power. Just more temptation for someone to rob us. This morning as I was driving the team to church on the 3-wheeler I kept hearing in my spirit, “Do you realize what a privilege it is to live here amongst these people and be welcomed as you are?” And I had to answer yes I do realize this and am amazed that God has given this privilege to me.
When I was here with Samaritan’s Purse, even though I lived in a tent, I still had my food prepared for me each day, we had a water line hooked up to run our showers, and we had a small refrigerator so we could have cold water, and we had 24/7 power from a generator, and we had a full staff to do all the work to keep things running smooth. Where I live now is the hardest place I have ever lived. No running water, no one to carry our water for us from the pumps, no solar hooked up yet, cooking our own food over a small fire, open pit latrines and outdoor grass bathing shelter, and having to do all the work ourselves to fix things up to make them livable. Even through all this, I still feel privileged to be here. I just know that all this sacrifice cannot be for nothing. God will do great and mighty things which I have not seen yet.
The first thing that the Lord spoke to me when I started this journey to Aweil was to not be in a hurry. He wants me to take the time to know the people, to know the culture, to know how He wants to interact in this place, before I start full time ministry. We minister in some way almost every day. Every single day we stop to pray for blind people, as we did today. And we pray for the boys as they need it and hug them and love them. There are always opportunities. My team, we spend at least three days a week in extended worship and intercession together, usually two-three hours at a time. In these times the Lord is showing us that we are going to see a new dimension of His DNA, of our DNA and how it all fits together in this place. I am learning to really slow down and wait upon the Lord, how to serve each other on my team, even in this place of this street boy ministry that cries out to begin. God is not in a hurry, He will take care of these boys. His kindness is infinite.
And I leave off here. It is my turn to cook so I have to go get a fire started. I bless each one of you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I pray that you are walking in the fullness of the thing that He has called each of you to. And I pray that His grace is all sufficient for you in every part of your life.