Well, our week started with it being 104 degrees INSIDE (in the shade) so you can just imagine how blazingly hot it’s been outside. It just zaps you of all your strength by 1-2:00 pm and we find ourselves lying on a slab of concrete in our rooms for two hours trying to cool down, and drinking liters of water. I find myself making my trips to the watering hole with my wheelbarrow to fill my jerricans with water at 6:30 a.m. so I am not crawling back in the heat – haha. Needless to say, ministry here tends to start early so that we can enjoy the cool 100 degree weather of the mornings – lol.
Last week I told you about Manyang, our boy in the wheelchair. He is a delightful handful, and I say delightful facetiously. He was due to have his surgery to repair his good leg, although rotting, on Tuesday. When the time came to go under the knife, he ran, literally ran, er rolled away. He left the hospital. We spent the next hour scouring the streets for him. It’s amazing how well a boy in a wheelchair can hide himself. When we caught up to him we learned his story.
During the war, his leg was injured somehow (kind of unclear here) and he was taken to Wau, a city three hours away. He went into surgery and woke up with his leg chopped off. He thought that on Tuesday they were going to chop the other one! We talked for two hours and finally got him to go back to the hospital. Too late, the surgeons had gone. The next morning we receive another call that he is refusing to go under, he doesn’t trust them to not chop his leg. I get there and spend the next hour trying to talk him into it. We were about to give up when all of a sudden, out of desperation, I reach into my bag and pull out money and yes, I bribe him to do it. Sorry if that offends anyone but desperate situations sometimes lead to desperate acts of love.
Here on the streets money talks when nothing else does. It took him all of two minutes to decide to do it. The surgeon said he gave him enough anesthesia to knock out a horse and even as he was fighting going under he kept making the motion not to chop his leg. He came to and saw his leg still intact and was very happy. I love this story because his trust in mankind was restored. MSF is now saying that if he completes this treatment they will send him to the capitol city of Juba to also receive a new prosthetic leg for his amputated one. A street boy receives favor from his Papa God! Praise You Father for your love of this one, this one who drinks like a sailor and is a wild boy, but you love him.
Now, meet Joseph, and eleven year old small scrap of a boy, who was found drunk and passed out in the road. His head had been run over by a car! His scalp was peeled back on one entire side, his ear flapping down with a severed ear canal. They didn’t even count the stitches there were so many. His eyes were swollen shut. The doctor said that he was able to shoot water through a hypodermic syringe from the inside out!! This boy has become our newest “son” and he is the sweetest kid. The doctor said that it is a miracle, a true miracle from God that this boy has no brain damage whatsoever and he can hear perfectly from his ear! The Papa’s favor on another of His boys! Joseph now helps Manyang in the hospital when he needs anything. He even asked me for clothes because he had none, not even a shirt to wear. I brought him my favorite shirt and on the front it says, “The Spirit and the Bride say Come!” Our boys. Makes me smile.
We also took another boy, Anyar who is 13, into MSF because he had a rotting wound, not as bad as Manyang but still bad. When they took his pants leg away to clean it I literally almost lost my guts because the stench was so bad. I had been suffering from diarrhea and no appetite for three days and this one did me in. All of these wounds are typical of street kids and they are septic. We now have a meeting place on the street to give these children the antibiotics they need each day.
Every time I bring one of these filthy, smelly urchins into the hospital, I can see the shame on their faces as the local women point and talk about them. My heart aches for these boys who have no mothers to love them. I pull them even closer to my side at these times because I am not ashamed of them and I love them. Tuesday I came home and found myself on my knees quietly crying for them, the ache in my heart for them to know love.
Here in Aweil there is no escape from South Sudan life. We don’t go home to a nice compound that shelters us from the outside world each day. We have a bamboo fence and kids stand on the water well peering inside at all hours of the day. It is too hot to eat our dinner inside and we eat outside under a roofed structure in the shade, thereby the kids watching us all the time or talking at us through our fence. Haha, last night I reached over and offered our “favorite” little boy some food from my plate. He swiped his hand in for a scoop and he wouldn’t take more because he didn’t like my Cajun spice. Our neighbors have their grass structure built right up against my house wall and it’s like living with my neighbors, who are very nice by the way. I go and sit with Asunta, the lady, and have my daily Dinka lesson. Living in community this way, you hear every noise, dishes clanking, conversations, babies crying, never quiet because of the close quarters of living in our community.
Also, it never ever smells nice here. The ground is too hard and rocky for everybody to have a pit latrine. You guessed it, people just squat in a field and go. The field in my neighborhood, at least one of them, happens to be on one side of our compound so we get a nice wafty smell when the wind is right. There are no nice flowers or anything to scent the air. All we get here is dirt, dust, urine, trash, charred trash and hot air. When you are suffering from upset stomach and diarrhea, your stomach just churns constantly. Needless to say, one has to really work up their appetite to even eat during the day. You thought I was skinny last time I came home? Sometimes I long for a sweet smell. That’s when I spray some perfume on me – lol.
I share my outdoor shower shelter with our compound wild cat. He spends the entire day sleeping on the bricks and when I go to take my evening shower he comes flying out hissing. You would think he would be used to us already! I have started to use the local well for my laundry water. It is like the wells of the Bible days, where it is deep and opened up top surrounded by a low brick wall. I had to fashion a small bucket with a rope so I can lower and raise with water. During my fist attempt, yep, I lost hold of my rope and everything went into the well. I ran and got a very long bamboo stick and began to fish the rope out. With the Lord’s help it only took about five minutes. But all this sure beats hauling water from the borehole which is about a hundred yards away, whereas this well is right outside our front gate.
Each day we go to the streets to care for wounds, give out love, and find the lost ones. We walk the back streets, the out of the way places, looking, always looking for the lonely and lost. We found one such boy lying by himself, curled up sleeping on a slab of concrete near a shop. His hair was filthy and his hipbones were sticking out of his trousers. He was so out of it from sniffing glue or drinking, just 12 years old or so, that all I could do was sit next to him and caress his head and arm and back as I prayed, my tears dropping on the stony ground. I don’t say all this for affect. I want people to get a picture of the suffering that the world lives with each day in so many of these third world countries, especially the least of these, the children.
In Matthew 9:37 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” The next lines in the Bible Jesus then gives his workers, the disciples, the authority to heal and cast out demons. So I pray and pray and touch and love wherever I can each day, believing that His word will accomplish that which I pray. There is my favorite cheeky boy named Garang who has been hanging out with me since I first saw him two years ago on my first visit back. He used to always fight and rarely smiled. Whenever I saw him I would pay special attention to him in all my visits and pray for him. I am noticing that, for some reason, he seems to smile a lot more and I never really see him fight. Seeds sown?
I remember Heidi Baker telling us in Harvest School how she had come to a place in her ministry where she just got so desperate for God that missions, everything meant nothing if He didn’t manifest His Presence each day and walk with her. I find myself in this desperate place, now more than ever. I got here a month ago and went about my normal morning devotions, one hour or so with the Lord before running into my day. I wore out and wore down in three weeks. This last week I have become so desperate for the living Jesus, for His very Presence, that I get up in the wee hours and spend my first three hours now desperately seeking His very Presence. Now my days do not start without this intensely intimate time with Him. I have come to the end of myself, my strength, just to live every day life here. It is right where He wanted me all along, totally dependent on Him. There is no other way I can live here. It is that hard.
In the midst of all this ministry with the street children, we still meet with church leaders and governmental officials. Praise God I have managed to secure the place that God promised me called Masara for our feeding program! We shall start very late next week I am praying. We still need to hire cooks and purchase food and set the program up with our volunteer Sudanese disciplers. Also I will be in Juba, the capital city, for three days getting my internet issues sorted and procuring a few more medical supplies. I hope to return on Wednesday and start the program on Friday but that might be pushing it. The Lord did highlight to me this week in Psalms 145, during team devotions that “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.” I trust and believe that.
Also during our week, we are reaching out to some of the local churches and having mini teaching seminars concerning relationship with God and His heart, Intimacy with Him, restoring bodies to full health and equipping the believers to do the works that Jesus did because He gave us this promise that we would. And last night, we had our first community outreach in the Darfur Refugee village of Maper. I took my electronics and my Jesus Film, Dinka version, and set up a sheet on the side of a mud hut, dust flying everywhere, hundreds of excited kids, and enjoyed God’s Presence in this poorest of poor places.
It was a great encouragement to all and some came forward for healing and salvations. We left there amidst happy faces and hearts filled. On the way home we got lost and found ourselves driving through the midst of an SPLA (Army) barracks area. A very drunk soldier came out and started berating us. I just kept quiet and just kept calm, I was driving our little three wheeler wagon, and waited for him to finish. By then two other soldiers came up, who weren’t drunk, and they greeted us warmly and allowed us to proceed. I wasn’t the least bit scared or nervous. I have learned by now that the devil always gets mad after these community events BUT God always goes with us and handles this small stuff on our behalf! As you can see, we have been busy, busy, busy.
I am on my way now to bring fresh bread to the boys in the market. I quote the words of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, born in 1696 in Italy.
“Jesus yearns to come to our souls in Holy Communion. And so that everyone could easily receive Him, He chose to leave Himself under the appearance of bread. If He had left Himself under the appearance of some rare or very costly food, the poor would be deprived of Him. But no, Jesus wanted to place Himself under the form of bread, which costs little and can be found everywhere, so that every person in every country can find and receive Him.”
Share Jesus’ love and bring His Presence, fresh bread, to those who are starving today. I go to bring His communion to these boys, bringing them the living bread of His Love for them.