30 September 2012

by and by

Farther Along (Josh Garrels)

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves em’ both
We’re all cast-aways in need of ropes
Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I’ve seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin’ that line back home

So much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
And wash away all the things you’ve done
Forgiveness alright


Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin’ for my soul
And I’ve got no place left go
Cause I got changed by what I’ve been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin’ on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I’m free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the son of god is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we’re the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon


15 September 2012

"images" of life as a city mouse

  • my zip up/pop-up-tent-looking mosquito net on my bed
  • the dirt floor of my tukul - which is quite nice in rainy season - no need to worry about taking your muddy shoes off outside or having a mat to wipe them off...
  • showering under the stars of the african sky in our corrugated tin and blue tarp enclosed shower area
  • hearing Kaya (aka. John Kaya Commando Giyafa Beautiful) shout from the shower “Eidi! Eidi!” when the water pump automatically kicks on and begins to pump new water up from the aquifer far below to supply his shower water - “new” water as in “has not been warmed in the black plastic tank by the daytime equatorial sun and is therefore freezing” water - his way of reminding me he’s there and would I please turn the pump off (switch is below the sink in the kitchen which is right next to the shower) so he can enjoy a warm-ish shower :)  Makes me chuckle every time - especially when he gets antsy when it takes me longer than he thinks is necessary to flip the switch (which may or may not be intentional on my part :)
  • after a long silent pause in late evening conversation, the goings on of the day type conversation topics exhausted, or so we thought, Boya says from his sprawl on the couch- “So, for me, I don’t understand, what is it - they call it “post office”...well okay then...how about we discuss the function of what is known in most parts of the world as the postal system but people in this part of South Sudan have never had opportunity to experience or use and therefore do not understand the role and function of such a service...after our brief introduction/explanation to said service his primary concern, and that of the rest of the people who had heard such a places discussed on the radio...was what would happen, how would the people working in the post office would handle the following event: sender of letter dies before recipient receives said letter.  Would not have never ever been anywhere near my radar to consider such a question, but in this place - people die, A LOT, and it effects all parts of peoples lives, clearly also potentially one’s interface with the postal system.  Who woulda thunk it.
  • my affinity for all things pus related.  Yes pus, P-U-S.  (my dad had to spell it over the phone to clarify what exactly I was talking about and had he heard me right...yes, in fact he had.)  The human body’s ability to fight infection and produce such a gross substance as a by-product of said warfare, and the procedures required to rid the body of said by-product - SO FASCINATING.  Anyways, I’ve had the honor of spending a few days per week for the last several weeks with Roda and Zebara (yes, as in - zebra) who are a cleaner (“housekeeper” of sorts) and a nurse respectively who both work in the Mundri Primary Health Care Center “minor theatre” - a very fancy name for the room with a sheet-less bed where they do dressing changes and small procedures like I&D’s (Incision and drainage to rid an infected site of pus), lipoma removals (lipectomy?) and tooth extraction and such...They are both Mother’s Union members of local parishes of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and sassy grandma type older ladies who think I’m the best thing since sliced bread since I have a Moru name and come to hang out with and learn from them.  Roda speaks zero english, so we hobble along in arabic together - which is GREAT practice for me and so encouraging - until Zebara (who has been nursing for 48 yrs!) arrives an hour or two later for her 11am-1pm work day :)  With nothing but what seems like an endless supply of lidocaine, they render everyone from grown men to babies helpless and in tears...and I’m not quite sure how Zebara manages not to sever more large blood vessels than she does wielding a scalpel...I actually have only heard the story of one of those instances in the last month or so, thank the Lord.
  • a disarming of the police by the army - think one group of powerful men with weapons trying to take away the weapons of another group of powerful men....hmmmm....could be a disaster...leaving us to get home and turn our lights off and head to bed after curfew hours - 9pm - with our S. Sudanese friends fearful of what might happen if we did anything to stand out even a bit...text messages sent between tukuls on our compound whenever I heard anything “funny”...and all because of cows...a LONG history of hostility between the agrarian Moru tribe and the Dinka/Mandari herdsman due to cattle moving into the area to graze on the grass/bush found in plenty around here during rainy season...it’s a really long story for another day but the long and the short of the story is the immense impact that tribe/tribalism has on the role of law in so many facets of life here...such that the army has to disarm the police...it’s no joke.
  • sitting in church last sunday as the lone kawaaja...struggling to understand ANY of the unbelievably fast arabic translation of the announcements and sermon - it really feels like trying to drink from a firehose - complete with the experience of feeling “drenched” at the end of the service - like I’ve been bowled over by words.  John asked me later in the day if they’d made an announcement about digging at the borehole... “well, I can tell you they made an announcement that included the words for borehole and saturday, but beyond that, I haven’t got a clue what they said”...so goes language learning :)
  • you know they’re hard up when, with Bethany AND Larissa not around, people ask ME to translate for them at the team compound if I happen to be around when talking with houseworkers and such...watch out world...these are desperate times!
  • Melissa comes into town on Saturday, we wander across the street to the market, buy a rolex (chapati with fried egg wrapped inside) and a cold soda treat to eat for lunch, wander around looking for treasures like a new pair of flip flops, honey and kitenge fabric, stopping to buy groceries along the way then when we get hungry and the groceries get heavy we walk back across the street to eat our street-food lunch and unload the heavy things.  We still have some time until she needs to head back home for a skype appt., and we hadn’t made it yet to peruse the used clothes piles so we walked back over and spent an hour or so laughing periodically as we found randomly funny t shirts or trucker hats...never know what you’re going to find in the market in the middle of South Sudan...perhaps a fluorescent pink polyester trucker hat that reads “ugly kid”...or a oversized XXL men’s tshirt that reads “if you tap it, they will come” below a picture of a beer keg...you just never know.
  • discussions with Kaya and Boya and others about whether they would ever marry a Dinka woman (the answer was a very confident no because they would never be allowed by the Dinka men due to the number of cattle they would require as bride price), or answering their questions about how women know who is going to marry them and why it is wrong to lie to a woman when you tell her you’re going to marry her when really you just want to sleep with her and if you told her the truth - that you have no intentions of marrying her - clearly she would refuse you and clearly that would not be okay.
  • praying with Boya the night before he left on Scott’s motorcycle to drive several hours into the bush where there is no cell phone reception at all, to pick his new wife from her family’s home, where it is culturally expected that he will not eat any food her family offers him.  He has paid a few thousand South Sudanese Pounds of the grand total her family asked for in bride price, and has been given permission to pick her and bring her to live in the new homes he has recently built here in Mundri...we still haven’t heard from him since he left on Monday...and the butterflies I found myself feeling in my stomach from excitement/nervousness for Boya as he left...it’s a big deal...or at least I think so.  I prayed for Bushena, his wife, who is pregnant with her first child and leaving her family’s home to go live with this new husband of hers...may peace and delight be hers.
  • “it’s not normal to climb up and stand on top of your toilet when you need to use it” - Scott Will on his recent realization re. the use of our latrine (an awkwardly large concrete cube with a hole in it which was intended to be attractive to white users who “like to sit when they go” but in fact we are all grossed out by the idea of sitting on it, so we all climb up and stand on top of it and squat over the hole...TIA
  • Kaya’s sincere/humorous concern for Scott and Andrew and I, that we each need to become “very serious” about finding a wife/husband.  After probing a bit in vain to find out what exactly being “very serious” in search of a spouse would look like, he did explain a bit more of his reasoning on the subject - “For me, I have no problem, but for you, ah!, your years are going!”  Thank you John Kaya for that treasured reminder :)
  • the chance to go a-visiting with Melissa on tuesdays and thursday afternoons (now that this school year she only has to teach in the mornings) in search of friendly people to sit and hang out and talk with in the language of our choice...arabic for me and moru for her...we’re a good team, between the two languages we can usually hold a complete-ish basic conversation with a Moru woman or negotiate any situation we might find ourselves in a mostly satisfactory manner...whether it’s hearing the heartbreaking story of the abrupt loss of Vaida’s husband almost 20 years ago, or making arrangements to take a friend to the closest hospital with a doctor, which happens to be in Lui, about an hour’s drive away in rainy season...there may or may not be quite a few body motions involved in said conversations, but you do wha ‘cha gotta do in order to get the point across, right?