I figure I am long overdue for an update so here we go. Christmas Eve was a wonderful time for the children, all the outside world seeming a million miles away. Each of our houses put together skits and songs to perform for each other, all bidding for the promised “prize”. The stage was my front porch lit up with Christmas lights and the audience, we sat out in my yard on mats and watched as our children proceeded to entertain us. One group reenacted the birth of Jesus story in the Book of Luke, another sang worship songs to the Lord, the boys danced local style and everyone loved them!! It was a wonderful night of entertainment and all went to bed in great expectation of the morning to come.
Christmas morning found me very early hauling 150 individual bags of presents in a red wagon from my house to the mango tree. The children were looking and trying to find theirs and were laughing and excited. The breakfast bell rang out for warm milk and Christmas cookies! Then, present time! There were baby dolls and cars and bracelets and clothes and candy and toys and oh so many smiles. All of the work was so worth it. Everyone then changed into their new clothes and we had church under the mango trees. Then came the big feast of goat and rice and chips and cabbage and so much more. The children were fat and happy for one more season, not knowing what was coming next.
Christmas morning I began to feel really sick. I just made it through the church portion when I made a beeline for my bed. No feast for me. I started vomiting and began to have severe diarrhea for the next three days. No food and very little water as nothing would stay down. I have always been strong and have always fought sickness but this one was doing me in. Yesterday morning on one of my crawls to the latrine I caught sight of myself in the mirror on my wall and knew I had to get help. I looked like a concentration camp survivor, literally. I managed to miraculously get on the flight leaving that morning. By the time I got to the doctor in Kampala, I was diagnosed with severe dehydration and fatigue, my weight being a mere 57 kilos (125 pounds) on my 5 foot 10 inch frame. That is crazy!
I have been here a full 24 hours now and am still very weak, chugging yogurt and water and eating anything I can get my hands on and sleeping a lot. Along with all of this I have finally begun to process the horror of what has been happening in South Sudan and I am just wrecked to tears. I can’t sleep well for the visions running through my mind of the atrocities that humans can do to one another in the name of power. I am sure I know at one or even some of those who were slaughtered and buried in mass graves and left in streets for the vultures to tear at. My mind is overwhelmed by these visions and I find it hard, so very hard to shut it off and rest. There are people I know that even now are still running and trying to find a safe place to ride out the present storm. My friend Cathy in Juba, the one who sent me all of her precious babies, remains behind to secure paperwork for a small boy who will have to be left behind if she fails. She found him on the verge of dying two years ago. She remains in harms way to save him still. She is my friend.
Just today we are hearing that the White Army has risen up to 125,000 strong to again attack the capital city of Juba, just a mere 95 miles up the road from me. The older children and I hold prayer and worship vigils to stem the rising tide of violence from reaching us and so many we love. Our town of Yei spent the day after Christmas on their knees in the dirt in “Freedom Square” for over seven hours crying out to God for help. These are my friends, my staff workers, my family here in South Sudan. South Sudan has become a part of me, a part of my very life’s blood now. How can I turn my back on her and run?
I don’t expect anyone who reads this to have any emotional response. I just want you to know how I am feeling and what this means to me. You don’t walk away from a life of comfort and riches to come and sit with the poor and not be emotionally entangled in it. I just ask that you continue to pray for peace for these people who are your brothers and sisters because Christ loves you. Because He loves you, you know Him and can talk to Him and He will listen. Pray for Him to keep interceding to the Father of all creation to save His creation from annihilation by the devil’s hands of vengeance. Pray for peace in South Sudan and for the safety of my children and family and friends and for me to be able to stand strong in the face of adversity because I really have felt like running myself lately. I have struggled and continue to struggle with remaining no matter what if that is where God wants me. Pray family.
Your hands and feet and heart in South Sudan.