Community Health Outreach Adventure

Meet Neil, a short-term SIM nurse working in Doro, and Cornelius, his Arabic speaking, Sudanese translator. The rainy season turned their most recent trek to the isolated village of Bowish into a harrowing adventure through mud, muck and grass 8 feet tall!

The journey began Thursday as they sloshed through thigh high water to reach the town where a boat awaited them. Delayed by torrential rains, the boat never arrived. The following day Neil and Cornelius took the 3 hour, scorching hot boat ride to a village downriver, where they started off through the bush. This 5 hour walk continued to grow thanks to the tall grass they had to push through. Using a flip-flop to protect his hand and arm, Neil deflected the tall, sharp grass away from his face. Evening came and still no village. Dehydrated and exhausted, they stopped and set up mosquito nets under a tree.

In the morning, Cornelius found a nearby river and returned with some precious water. They retraced their steps for 2 hours until they found the semblance of a trail. Soon they came to a field where some teenage girls were working. Neil called out in Mabaan, the tribal language for this area, but scared, they fled into the bush. A few seconds later three men came charging out, spears drawn. Startled, Cornelius sprang up from his rest and Neil hurriedly announced his name.

Realizing it was their friend, Neil, the men began laughing, excited to see their missionary and his translator. They had not expected Neil to make the difficult journey during rainy season. The girls, they explained, had simply said, “Someone white is coming to get us!” The farmers accompanied them the 3 additional hours to the village.

Sunday morning, Neil preached in the local church and, after lunch, started the clinic meant to have been conducted on Saturday. By 5:30 pm, they had seen all the children and began seeing adults.

Monday morning, after treating 15 more patients, they started the long trek back. Mentally this trip was easier because they already knew the way. Physically, however, it was more strenuous as they had to fight against the leaning grass. During this 8 hour trek, they met only one person, a soldier who, although friendly, startled Neil as he seemed to appear out of nowhere. Neil and Cornelius stayed 3 days in the next village before giving up on the boat and opting to use a homemade raft to get back to Doro.

For the full account from Neil himself check out 8 Day Adventure! on his blog.

Epic Canoe Camping

This might have been my most hard-core camping trip yet but I totally nailed it! I can use a squatty, bathe in a lake, canoe in gale force winds till my arms fall off, eat instant potato pancakes and sleep on rocky terrain in a tent as good as the rest of ‘em! Not to mention I stayed super calm in the face of chipmunk attacks.

And for the record I DID see a wolf print.

It was beautiful. All of it. One morning the lake was like glass. The next, it was windy and rough. God displayed beautiful sunrises, sunsets and a big, bright, blue moon. He showed us chipmunks, squirrels, fish, loons, gulls, a bald eagle and a moose momma with her calf!

He calmly affirmed that I am indeed capable of living in South Sudan when I rely on Him; even if we live in a tent, with no running water or electricity with snakes, scorpions and bugs of all kinds. He is my rock, my strength, my fortress.

 

 

 

Prequel

I’m not sure when I signed up for the bush living prep course but the day has arrived. And while this is certainly not an exhaustive list of supplies, these are some of the Bear Grylls approved essentials plus a few of my own:

“Little House in the Big Woods” experience

  • toilet paper
  • shovel
  • hand sanitizer
  • bug spray
  • fire starter
  • hatchet
  • rice, rice, rice
  • trail mix
  • sunscreen
  • clean clothes
  • Water filtration system
  • biodegradable soap
  • sleeping bag
  • a tent!

Coming off a rustic two-day cabin stay in the north woods near Herbster, Wisconsin (Never heard of it? Neither had I!) we are now embarking on a 3 day/night camping trip in Boundary Waters Wilderness Area near the Minnesota-Canada border. By the time we return I will be grateful for running water, electricity, a soft bed complete with pillow and a flushing toilet! But… for the record I’ll know if I prefer an established “long drop” to digging my own hole.

Before I come off sounding totally prissy I am looking forward to time in the beautiful great outdoors, communing with nature, (exceeeept for the mosquitoes, wolves and possible bears) bonding with family as well as stretching myself physically.

Did I mention we’re CANOEING to our campsite?

Sounds like a pretty good “welcome to South Sudan” prequel trip to me!

Toilets

I told you about the plastic chairs and tents but you haven’t heard about the toilet!

In Doro it’s better known as an outhouse, latrine or the long drop. You know…the kind your great-grandfather used back in the day on the farm? It’s that small wooden building falling down out behind the house.

The thought of stepping outside the safety of my tent after dark, to walk down a path littered with bugs, scorpions and snakes, just to make a pit stop at the privy makes me nervous! Maybe The Boy will install some solar-powered garden lights to direct me safely down the path to the throne room. Maybe they could even be in shape of flowers or colorful butterflies.

Hmmm… That might have some potential. At least if I can’t have a porcelain potty I can have pretty lights!

Plastic Chairs cont…

Tent (or maybe mud hut) living. NOT on my bucket list. 

Notice the BLUE plastic chair!

Welcome to South Sudan! Since I have such a handy husband and building houses IS on HIS to do list, I began to dream of the place he would build us. I was sure we would not be living in a tent for long before we could move into a beautiful mansion! He soon burst that bubble with his talk of Plastic Chairs.

We have to furnish our house (Wait…not even a house…our TENT?!) with PLASTIC CHAIRS? Those just don’t belong.

Back this up just a little.

His house remained just that…a house. There was a world map taped to the wall. His furniture did not match. He didn’t have extra pillows on the bed much less a bedspread. The curtains didn’t match or even fit all the windows properly. Obviously he’s not going to be bothered.

But me?

My house in Kenya turned into a Home just a few short weeks after I moved in. I painted and put pictures on the wall. I bought furniture and dishes. I searched the markets for curtains and bought comforters with matching pillows.

Now everything we own will have to be flown in, paid for by weight and that is expensive. I have to admit a battle went on in my mind and in my heart. I like my space. I like to make it personal, comfortable, beautiful even. I need a place to relax, unwind and get away.

How can I do that living in a tent?
How am I going to make it a home?

The Lord has been working on me. I am very excited about this new adventure and opportunity. But I won’t pretend the adjustment is going to be easy.

Through it all my hope and prayer is that LOVE would permeate whatever “house” we have to live in; that love would turn it into a home; that when friends, co-workers, villagers, Sudanese come to visit they won’t even notice the chairs, plastic or not, because they can literally feel the love of Christ.