I am going to nestle my blogs from South Sudan into this site so that they have a permanent home.
adios amigos June 11, 2012
flight itinerary today and for the following days for my brief jaunt to the other side of the world.
charleston to nashville. meet my roomies at the airport and exchange suitcases.
nashville to miami
miami to london (9.5 hours)
chill in london for 9 hours
london to uganda (9.5 hours)
meet Chris and Jenn and have a day of rest
2 days of buses and finally reach Yei, South Sudan
here! June 13, 2012
landed in uganda this morning! my flights were all smooth and my luggage is intact. i’m sitting in kampala with jenn and chris having a bit of a splurge day before we head to S. Sudan this weekend which includes drinking a chai before we do some shopping for the day—and might even catch a movie. it feels so american! we’ll be in kampala for 2 days getting stuff together before we travel the 2 days to S. Sudan. i’m a very happy woman right now!
Finally in Yei, South Sudan June 15, 2012
After two days of eventful traveling by bus car and motorbike we have finally made it to south Sudan!!! To make it to the base in yei we had to take six motorbikes with us and our luggage strapped to them through muddy waters. We were greeted by a hundred smiling children who took our bags and smothered us with greetings and hugs. We have spent the afternoon holding the precious nuggets, learning names, and playing games. This weekend we will rest and Monday begin working. Chris will be working on the farm details while jenn and I love and do school with the lambs. The compound is so peaceful and surrounded by lush greenery and trees…the hundred children running around might help a bit. Life doesn’t get much sweeter.
walking across across the border from Uganda to S. Sudan
flat tire on our car...
trying to secure enough boda boda's for us.. and our luggage
those bikes are death warrants
sweetest place on earth
teaching 3 special love muffins in the morning with a missionary on base and then english at the local school for a group of characters ages 13-20.
Yei Children's Village June 19-July 5, 2012
Last night while chatting with a few kids a line of kids passed me headed towards the middle patch of dirt on base. There they gathered in a circle and began singing and worshipping- no adults, no missionaries, just them under the stars which happens to be a regular occurance. Slowly kids continued to gather until the group was over 50. They would do call and response singing, whole group, and then would break out into prayer on their knees with honest and pure adoration for Jesus. For at least an hour in the dirt we sang. With a baby singing sweetly on my shoulder, every child was singing, praying, and participating the night ended with the Lords prayer and hugs. I have never experienced the fullness and love of Christ more than in that hour.
Internet here is sketchy to say the least so hence the lack of nigget pictures. To access the precious web we have to drive 40 minutes to town on a road that could very well be part of of the x games. When we ride the motorbikes on the road-through the mud, water, and rocks- I am white knuckled, sweating, and praying with a fury.
On Sunday we celebrated Chris and Jenn’s one year anniversary. After church we had three goats slaughtered and had a giant feast!!! Our meal consisted of the goats we petted that morning, tomatoes, cabbage, fries, posho, rice, pasta, and soda. Needless to say I was full, bloated, and took a long nap in my tent.
The days here are so sweet. I am constantly amazed with the games children can make up with absolutely nothing. Sticks, dirt, and rocks make endless board games. A Jerry can and a rope make an African sled that we pull around for hours. Our days begin at sun up withchildren luaghing,playing, and pumping water from the well. I begin working with 3 precious babes for 90 minutes or as long as we can keep their attention. All have pretty substantial needs and prior to Esther working with them were completely left out of school and activities. Next I love and play with all of the babies who are too young for school. Our lunch 90% of the time is beans and posho which has in effect turned my stomach into cement. Jenn and I have gotten creative and make guacamole, roast corn etc, using anything we can find in the market to avoid posho twice a day. In the afternoon I teach older students English at the local school for 90 minutes or african time of more than two hours. Africans are very auditory and I think they really have no choice based on the teaching style and available supplies. I am amazed at what they pick up and recall as one who suffers from a rather pitiful memory. After school we read with the kids using books I bought I brought from America. I have never seen anything as sweet as when these loves turn the pages and encounter fancy nancy or skippyjon jones for the first time. There is a silent hush, then giggles„sharing,and eventually chaos. We literally have to kick the kids out for dinner @ six. nights conclude with more games, worship, baths, and time stories.
The farm is making excellent progress. As I type this on the iPad runninginternet via sim card Jenn is speaking with safari, the agriculture guy, about goat houses and chickens. Four milking goats arrived today from juba and their home is nearly ready. Chris had to go back to Uganda to pick up the guys as their travel plans had some serious delays causing them to miss the one flight A week to Yei. They arrive on Thursday and our time is down hill from there which breaks my heart. We will be planting while the guys make a goat house, watering hole, fences, and whatever else the Sudanese can fit in during the coming days.
Life here is so sweet, so simple, yet so full of joy. I woke up last night in a panic thinking that we had already left…. I calmed down once I heard the screaming children and goats outside of my tent.
Market in Yei
goat, goat, chicken
We have 2 days left in South Sudan. I say this with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes- and clearly those tears must be from all of the dust! I am living in a state of denial and squeezing the little nuggets a bit harder each time I see them. Warm water, flushing toilets, air conditioning, and Wal-mart have their perks, but this is the first time I’ve ever been anywhere and really not missed or yearned to be home.
On Friday night we built a huge bonfire and had a marshmallow roast. The kids had no clue what has happening and when we held out the bags of marshmallows they arose with cheers! I don’t know who was more excited us or them! Nothing (besides cheese) pleases me more than a roasted marshmallow- they are straight from heaven and have magical powers. The bonfire was organized chaos to say the least as we roasted marshmallows and passed them around. The kids have a deep love for marshmallows (who can blame them!) and are totally fascinated by their bizarre consistency. They had the kids who had never eaten them at the beginning circle and the other kids love seeing the reactions to them eating them the first time. They don’t know whether to lick the marshmallow, bite it slowly, or shove the whole thing in their mouths—- regardless at the end of the night they were happy, hyper, and in need if a good washing. After the kids were corralled into their homes we had a few of the older kids come to our tents to eat our secret stash of marshmallows and talk. Coffee— one of the older guys here- told us in my reader’s digest version about his killing of a 7 foot black mamba by hitting it very fast with a small stick. Another realm of humanity right there people. They also delicately spoke about the difference between their bodies and American bodies— starting with the fact that we don’t carry Jerry cans which would help us in not being so “soft and big”- I’m sure the 17 marshmallows I had didn’t help my case.
We have finally finished the goat house, fence, and gate— by we I mean Chris, Seath, and Bucky. They have been working tirelessly and getting rather creative with building like using paper to measure and get the angles right on their a frames. Chris hired some Sudanese workers to build the goat guard and supply building. Today we farmed some veggies using the method Farming God’s way— which essentially is no plowing, using ant hills for fertilizer, and covering the crops with the grass cleared away affectionately called God’s blanket. As we were planting we had many stop and question—-and were especially stunned we hadn’t used insecticide over the crops. We are planting another test plot tomorrow with the seeds we brought from America to compare the two plots. Jenn and Chris will be back later this year to see how the crops grow.
Tomorrow is the last day I’ll be teaching English at the Dream Primary School and we are going to have a little party with coke, sweets, music, and picture books. They go nuts over the books and can’t get enough of them—- or they might just want to get a break from my voice that is nothing short of angelic. When I set the books out they race to the titles and laugh uncontrollably over books like Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, and Diary of a Spider. Today after I passed back tests, checked homework, and taught our lesson on the vowel-consonant-e syllable we chatted about America. They were absolutely floored that we didn’t eat posho with every meal and were relieved that we had rice to pick the food up. When asked how I prepare dried fish they were horrified with the fact that we ate it fresh and you can imagine their horror when I told them that we ate it raw in sushi.
Esther, Caroline, Jenn, and I are taking Mercy, Kiden, and Diliga to town to get lunch and a cold coke. The children usually only leave the base for severe medical reasons and for once a month birthday celebrations— though most children do not know their exact age let alone their birthdate. Mercy was found in the market about a year ago after living there alone for two years. This will be the first time she has been back since she was brought to the base and it will be interesting to see her reaction. I love that girl mess and all and will miss her following us around every moment of the day.
The UN is still in Yei and have pulled out all of their troops. Every Monday and Friday they have to fly a 20 person helicopter from Juba to Yei and back. It just so happens that if they have empty seats they let NGO’s on and we just happen to be leaving on Friday. When we went to apply for our spot last week many of the workers there were from Kenya and spoke Swahilli—-it also just so happens got back from Kenya and speak their fair share of Swahilli which thoroughly entertained the UN workers. Needless to say we are saying prayers throughout the day and crossing our fingers to get on the flight. Not only would it save us money, me throwing up from car sickness, and a six hour journey in a toyota corolla over the x games roads—- but it would be bomb.com to ride in a UN helicopter.
We leave for Juba Friday (hopefully in the helicopter), then fly to Nairobi that night for 2 nights before we head back to the states on Sunday. Mixed feelings to say the least but praying this is not my last time here and that next time I can take a few of my friends here (hint hint nudge nudge) to experience the utter peace and happiness that is Yei Children’s village.
Esther and her class
Special trip into town with 3 of my faves
the one i wish i could take home
Iris Dream School
teaching 3 special love muffins in the morning with a missionary on base and then english at the local school for a group of characters ages 13-20.
Nairobi, Kenya July 8, 2012
This is my last blog from the continent of Africa. I write this from my room in Nairobi that is no bigger than my bathroom. The rest of the team left this morning so I am left to my own devices which includes a large amount of chocolate and haribo gummies.
Our last two days seemed like a blur. We had lots if thing to tie together with the farm, school, and leaving. Mercy was an utter champ in town. We took her to where she was found and many of the people that knew her were shocked with the change in her. She walked up and down the streets waving bye to everyone. While eating chicken and drinking a fanta she could not stay focused and wanted us to look at everything that was happening. she could not stop smiling the entire time and you better believe she ate yet another plate of posho and cabbage upon return to the base—-as you are not full at the base until you have had posho.
The last two days rained a lot and were extremely cold which none of us expected to encounter. We had to stay in our tents for a lot of the time which elevated my reading time but cut into our kid playing time. Esther one of the missionaries came in at a clutch time and offered us tea and a cake she had baked on her stove in a pot of sand! Such skill.
The UN in yei kept in contact with is the whole week and were very upset to inform us that our papers were on some desk in Juba untouched so we were neither approved or denied for the flight. They said we’d probably be on next weeks flight manifest. Always a day late and a dollar short! Wah wah.
Our last morning in yei began at five by packing up our tents and saying our gut wrenching goodbyes. Chris, Seath, and Esther headed to town with our luggage to secure a vehicle to juba and send boda boda bikes back to get us. Jenn,Bucky, and I remained doing our best not to get emotional until we left. The bikes took longer than expected to secure and we couldn’t prolong the wait watching the kids so we began walking through the village until we met up with the bikes. As we walked away from the kids and onto the road lined with cornstalks I became overwhelmed with emotion and could no longer contain the tears. I experienced love like i never have over the last month and was there because of love that was bestowed upon me from wonderful and sneaky people in the states who made it easy for me to get Yei. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who have supported and prayed. I’m overwhelmed and utterly humbled to say the least and indebted by your graciousness and love. I have found that love takes a lot if shapes and can look like surprise parties, goat barns, marshmallows, books, coca cola, fist bumps, and empty water bottle containers. I don’t have to go to Africa or exotic places to experience and give love and realized is the one thing i always have readily available. God calls us to live in His presence and love with open hands. Without cheesiness and religiosity I encourage you to find and stay in His presence and give and receive love in what we deem ordinary, unlikely, and in the best way absolutely absurd.
We took a less that shotty van to juba which is the Capitol of south Sudan. As it had been raining almost two solid days before we left the roads were extremely muddy and rough on top of their already pitiful condition. We climbed in for a hundred mile ride that should take 2 hours but instead took 6 with no stops and no paved roads. For those who have been in a car with me know that I look at a car and throw up from car sickness so I prepared myself with 3 Dramamine and a phenigren and still got sick and couldn’t sleep. Lucky for my friends in the car with me! We were all sick and it was comedy at how bumpy and rocky the roads were. We would bust out in spontaneous laughter throughout the trip when we would go over an exceptionally rough spot for a long period of time. The entire six hours were bumpy with not a smooth road in sight. Along the way we picked up 3 mommas and a giant bag of charcoal. We arrived in juba on a paved road with cheers and four flat tires. They say that 90% of the paved roads in south sudan are in juba. Juba is a sprawling city that is the most expensive city in the world behind Tokyo. There are NGO’s for every organization everywhere which drive up the price so much so that to even rent a mud hut in juba costs $1000 US a month! Needless to say we bid Juba and the roads farewell and boarded our plane to Nairobi.
Arriving in Nairobi was almost culture shock and I immediately went to the duty free store to buy bags of gummies and chocolates for us. Nairobi is clean, organized, and has options! We were like kids at Disneyland with our faces pressed to the glass watching all of the activity. We had the best indian food ive had to date and Jenn and Chris told us that we’d be doing a day safari the next day. We went to bed in actual beds. With full bellies and in eager anticipation of our Safari.
We met our driver at 630 and headed to a park right outside of Nairobi. It was a bit weird driving into the park and seeing the skyline of Nairobi in the distance—- it reminded me of seeing the pyramids of Giza right off of the freeway in Cairo. We were nervous we would not see any animals but within five minutes we saw giraffes 10 feet away and 2 lions within 10 minutes right next to our car. It was absolutely incredible and a bit nerve wracking to be driving along and having a male lion night next to the van and a female in front. The driver said he usually is frustrated from not seeing animals but in a matter 3 hours we saw giraffes, lions, rhinos, hippos in water, impalas, gazelle, heart beasts, baboons, ostriches, water buffalo, and zebras. We were happier than kids on Christmas and thrilled with our luck and close encounters.
After the safari we went to the grocery store to buy some snacks (my favorite way to eat) and while pulling into the parking garage we here harassed by a police officer who loosely held his AK47 on his shoulder. He was trying to say we had violated some law and kept having us get in and out of the car, yelling, threatening to take us to jail, and finally for what he really wanted-asked us for money. We don’t pay bribes and told him to take us to the station. After sone conferring with the other officers and a nice bystander we were immediately released and told by the other officers to walk quickly. We did so and walked away with our snack money still in our pockets.
We completed the day with shoving our faces with food at a restaurant called Carnivore in which vegetarians would have ordered a nice glass of water. At the end of the night we sat near the fire at our backpackers place and laughed, debriefed, reminisced, and shared our gratitude to Jesus for making this trip easy on us by providing in every way possible through finances, no sickness, safety, circumstances surrounding the farm, working through things in our lives, and just an absolutely joyful and peaceful time. I’m sad to go but eager for what is to come.
Thank you again to all of you who have helped me get to this place in my life through prayers, finances, encouragement, and keeping me in check. I am forever indebted to you.
Pictures and videos are to come including the video of Coffee telling us how he killed the black mambo with a stick!