Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Arriving in South Sudan Part 2


After arriving and settling in at the compound and having one more training session, we made a visit to a local orphanage.  This was something I had been very excited to do.  I had prepared some crafts and a story of Daniel and the Lion's Den to share with the children with the help of my teammates.

It was such a fun time.  First, we took a tour of the grounds.  I struck by the rooms that the kids slept in.   I went into one of the toddler rooms.  It was adequate but stuffy, hot, and dim.  There were about 20 small cots placed right up against each other with no room to walk in between.  The walls were dingy white and bare.  Thankfully, each bed did have a mosquito net over it.  Over to one side each child had a little cubby full of clothes.  That was it.  That was the extent of their belongings.  I thought about my childhood room with a comfy bed, Care Bear curtains, a full book shelf and plenty of Barbie dolls to spare.  It's so sad that a lot of those kids actually have families and homes somewhere, but for whatever reason, they were deemed better off spending their childhood in this orphanage.  At 15 the worker said they leave the orphanage.  There's no real plan for their future beyond those orphanage walls.  Some go back to their families if they have one and some fend for themselves I guess.  I know the workers try their best to provide for each child's basic needs; I could see that in the way he proudly gave his tour of the place, but it reminded me that this is simply not God's ideal idea for those sweet kids.  They need homes and families and a safe space to grow.  That is one reason why adoption is so near and dear to my heart.  It's near and dear to God's heart.  It made me a little sad to be in that room, so I quickly headed back outside.  

The orphanage children put on a little performance for us which was impressive indeed.
Children performing some lively songs for us!
Then, we taught them a fun song about God, complete with hand motions.  I told the Bible story, and all the children roared every time I mentioned the lion's den.

My interpreter and some of the kids roaring!
Me sharing the Bible story.
They were fascinated by our digital cameras.

Several of my teammates played games with the kids, and we gave them prizes like bracelets and stickers.  Even though we were all pretty tired from traveling, I think this visit with the children really livened all of our spirits!  I hope we brightened their day as well.

It didn't take me long that evening to really start feeling the effects of culture shock.  Around dusk I went to the shower area, and as I peered into the room I spotted 4 GIANT cockroaches on the wall above the shower head.  There was no way I was washing off with those guys hanging around, so I went to fetch John and Jeremy to smash 'em.  My shower was cold and very quick, for I had to be on guard the whole time.  We had beans and rice for dinner, and then I needed to use the latrine.  (This was my first time venturing over to that room since we arrived)  Let's just say I've never used an outhouse and only used a port-a-potty maybe 3 times in my life and this African latrine was a whole different ball game (plus those cockroaches liked to hang out in there as well!).  I never knew how much I loved my toilet seat back home!

As darkness fell, the generator brought us our only few hours of electricity that day.  We went to bed just after dark with the fan on in our room.  Too bad that when the generator was shut off at around 11pm, the fan went off as well.  It was an extremely hot night in our room.  We were afraid to let bugs and creatures in, so we attempted keeping our door closed that night.  It was a sauna, and I felt like I was laying in a pool of sweat.  We weren't getting any sleep that way.  I was so hot I was getting queasy, and Jeremy got a pretty bad headache due to the heat.  So, we gave in and opened our door which only provided slight relief.  I tried and tried to sleep but it wasn't happening.  The two of us literally laid there in our twin beds sweating the night away listening to packs of wild dogs howling in the distance, but getting no sleep.  Thus, at about 5 a.m. when the roosters started crowing and the ladies at the compound awoke to begin their morning chores, I was wide awake and exhausted.

I actually started crying that morning partly out of frustration and partly out of fatigue I think.  I told Jeremy that I wasn't cut out for Africa.  He encouraged me, and we headed out to begin our day.  At breakfast, everyone else seemed to be well rested and cheerful.  I felt like I was the only one who felt crummy and unexcited about hiking around in the blazing sun all day.  A verse popped into my head that morning and kept reoccurring to me all throughout the day.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Cor. 12:9

This verse really became my mantra all week as I walked further than I ever walk in a days time and stayed hotter than I am accustomed to staying.  I thought about it as I craved pizza and salad when we were having beans and rice again and when I was longing for a sink and a toilet seat!  I felt really petty and self-centered for the first couple of days as I missed these comforts that we're used to back home.  I felt guilty for feeling this way, but I kept repeating that verse hoping that even in my weakness, God could use me to touch the lives of the people in my village.  And He did.  I know for a fact that there are missionaries who would have been WAY more qualified than me for this trip to Sudan...ones who feel at home in the sweat and dust and cockroaches...ones who don't get homesick like I did...ones who can speak native languages and communicate the gospel clearer than me....ones who aren't as concerned about germs and cleanliness as I was.... BUT, as you will read in the next few posts, God's power overcame my weaknesses and His message still went forth.  People were still saved in our village in spite of me and my shortcomings.  This is a lesson that really became real to me as the week moved on.  

Stay tuned for day 4 when we meet our good friends Johnson and Robert @ Kiri Village

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