Well our weekend began with some drunk old guy coming in the night and breaking the neighborhood borehole, leaving us with no water in our neighborhood for two days. Wherever there is a borehole, usually there is a person of high standing that is in charge of it for repair and such. It is up to him to go around and collect some small money from the neighbors until he has what he needs to get the tech guy out here to fix it. I found the guy who handles the neighborhood quickly and paid the $30 to get it fixed. I’m sure the neighborhood was happy that they could keep their small hard earned money. We had water by Sunday night.
Saturday night we drove about 10 kilometers out to a refugee camp of northerners from Khartoum. It is the largest camp around these parts. We wanted to show the Jesus film the night before Easter, giving it some additional meaning. As soon as we arrived, the tire on our three-wheeler went completely flat. No spare on these wagons and all shops closed and it’s getting dark. Hmmmm, what to do? It was too far to walk home in the dark, no flashlights, down a long lonely road. I was pretty surprised at how calmly I handled everything. The team wanted to leave and start walking. I just knew we were supposed to show this film and be where we were. I asked one of my Sudanese team members to call two rickshaws to come out and get us but I wanted them to stay and watch the film and was willing to pay for their time. The guys who came out were definitely Muslim and they stayed to watch the film. I would like to believe that these two were the reason for the flat tire and that they were connected in their hearts to Jesus this night. We will never know this side of heaven, or will we….
Easter was spent by myself watching our compound while my watchman (also a friend), went to repair the three-wheeler. I sat there with plenty of time to wonder why we are experiencing trouble almost every day. Maybe God was allowing it so we could see what these people who live here have to deal with every day, I don’t know. It could be as simple as we live in a fallen world and that’s just how things are. These people live life where there is no quiet place for them to get intimate with God, no place to “get away”. If there is no borehole, they walk further to the next one while we load up the three-wheeler and get some water within minutes. Going to the market is a major event for the locals because one has to walk to get there. I can’t imagine walking to town every single day to get the things I need just to cook dinner that night. These small troubles to us are a lot more to them. It gives me an even bigger appreciation for how the people in third world countries live and overcome all these things.
If you have read my book you would have read a story about a boy and the new shoes I bought him. He was wandering around, tears rolling down his face, open blisters on his feet and it was at least 120 degrees outside. He slumped down next to a wall of the Catholic Church and sat there looking pitiful. He was only about six years old maybe. The story ended wonderfully with my buying him new shoes and becoming his friend. This was three years ago. I have seen this boy once since then, at another market, which is very far from the one we are in here in Aweil. On Friday he came to our program! He found his way to us. It was a good feeling. Most days I am so busy that I never get to sit and eat with the boys. This week I made the time and they were very excited to have me sit with them. Some even picked up where they were sitting and moved closer for fear of missing something important. I was very blessed to sit in the dirt, literally, and eat my food with them. It was a good day.
Also this week a small boy of about seven or eight years old became angry with me because I had asked him to leave. He came one and a half hours late and the rule is you cannot come in then just to eat. He missed the teaching and ministry time. I even give them a half hour leeway. These kids know that when public school starts, ours starts and they come. We walked this small boy out the gate and told him to return tomorrow. No sooner had I turned my back than he three a rock at me. I now have a nice baseball sized bruise on the back of my leg. Not funny! We caught him and drug him back and our friendly scoutmaster took care of it. He basically got his butt walloped. I went looking for him the next day to love him and forgive him but couldn’t find him anywhere. I will keep looking until I do.
The children are really so happy that we are there for them. One boy, about twelve, he gave me a Jesus keychain and a smile. It was broken so he might have found it or had been saving it. These kids have nothing and for him to give me this, it is very special to me. I try to make time to sit in the dirt and eat with the children, big and small, and they totally love that I do that. They move their plates to come and sit next to me even though we have a very hard time communicating. I touch them a lot, on the shoulder, on the back, on their head, lots of hugs, and I give a ton of eye contact and smiles. I know they crave this and it changes them from the inside out. Friday we were singing Dinka worship songs and people were stopping at the gate to see what was going on. Children from the adjoining school were peering over the wall as these boys sang loud and crystal clear and beautifully, these same boys who are labeled as criminals and ruffians and thieves. Inside they are just boys who crave love.