How do you describe a world you thought existed only in history books… a country you didn’t think your eyes would ever really see….a people you never thought you would touch, hug…and even teach of Christ.
We flew from Nairobi in a WWII looking tiny airplane by AIM missionaries across thousands of miles of bushland and plateau looking mountains amidst the virtually unknown expanse. We embarked in Juba to switch planes and to pay 100$ for a visa and stamped passport into the newest country of the world (Independence July 9th, 2011) – South Sudan. Finally after days of travel, we landed in Lietnhom. Immediately, I could not control the tears for there as we landed was an entire tribe singing and celebrating our arrival – some holding crosses that many missionaries before had invested their lives to make known to them. After the surreal greeting under the hot 4:00pm sun, we were taken to a compound…composed of a grass fence, a working well, and a rarety…an actual primitive building among the touckles (huts). Rice and beans were offered to us along with fish with the head and eyes looking at us…I thought it was all delicious! Water was brought in for us from nearby towns, and mosquito nets were above our simple beds covered with a sheet and small pillow…we were in the nicest of hotels…outhouse toilet, no running water, and electricity only sparcely in some rooms when the generator was run.
The first morning I was awakened early…there’s usually a drum beat coming from somewhere and maybe a rooster. Cows are seen as the most important thing alive to this culture – it gives milk, manuer for planting, meat for celebration, and most importantly, doury for their many wives which would afford them many children – many of whom die early. Michelle came to my room and said, “they came to us and are expecting someone to come and speak to the Catholic church…like YOU.” I said I’d be happy to as long as I could spend some time to pray. Simon (those that are Christians have English names – usually Biblical names) came with a motor-cycle (extreme rarety and took me to a church service of hundreds of people under a large tree. It was precious…I got to tell the people the Truth of the Word and taught them motions…It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. On the way back, while passing National Geographic sites everywhere I looked (kids playing with a babboon on a chain, touckles, children with beads, sticks like spears carried as normal, bush country, etc.) Simon took me back telling me of the disarmment of all of S. Sudan and laughing at everything…even what was serious with the joy of those who have been freed by Christ and knew it. I’m SO thankful for these people. I came back and we spent the rest of the evening with the people…When I walk out of the compound I’m surrounded by all the children and teens and the women….babies are taken care of by their older (meaning by 1or 2 years) siblings…I LOVE IT HERE! They are precious….they all just want to shake your hand and hear me say, “Chibak!” (Yes, I turn the handshake into a hug!) They LOVE singing and dancing…but there are many different sounds than we know – like shrill sounds to augment the chant/ singing with incredible words (what’s translated)….it’s all so pure. I feel so honored to be with them and I’m extremely anxious to drink in all of the culture that I can while here! I genuinely am moved to be with these people.
Posted in: Snapshots from the Road