Mark and kids,
I am safely here in Melut. The boat trip down the Nile was beautiful but long-about 4 hours. But I saw several barges packed with people and I was glad I was not on one of them (think very big iron canoe -sitting about three inches from the water packed with people and sacks of grain). I hear it takes them 11-12 hours to make the trip.
The base here at Melut reminds me A LOT of Luampa in Zambia except they do have electricity and water. There is a small concrete building with two classrooms which is the Gideon Theological College. And down different paths in the tall grass are the missionary houses. Very simple and sparse. Not much indoor plumbing really. They sit right beside the Nile river, which makes for great views from their porches. There is a small fence between us and the water. Which is probably good -I saw a huge croc on the way down.
The students are from many tribes. Their tukols are interspersed on the other side of the base, along with a workshed. All of it sort of blends together and missionaries can easily go out their door and walk about 50 meters to a couple of tukols to visit. The Sudanese frequently drop by to visit the missionaries as they wash their clothes or cut the long grass. Our folks are doing great with language learning! I am so proud of them!!
As it was for us in Luampa, a lot of time necessarily is spent on basic living/ survival. They are making it as comfortable as possible. I am staying with a missionary nurse. She has a small house. The shower consists of a small concrete room with a shower bag that we hoist up with a rope system she contrived. Everyone except one family has outdoor pit latrines and outdoor makeshift bucket showers. (Theirs is indoor).
My hostess let me know right away that she has a bat problem and showed me the bat guano coming from the ceiling in places. As I got in bed last night, I made sure to tuck my mosquito net in all around the edges of the bed! Sure enough, the little bat came in around midnight and swooped all around the room. But I felt fine as long as my net was tucked in.
There are plenty of bugs and mosquitos here. And even though it is not dry season, it is still pretty hot. I am kind of hoping to see a thunderstorm while I am here because they say it is eerily beautiful on the Nile.
I have been able to tour the “campus” and visit the Sudanese women (who are the wives of the students). I brought pictures of my family and they are very impressed with my five children! They insist that I must be real Sudanese not a white woman with so many children -ha!
But most of my time is spent with the missionary ladies and the kids. On Saturday the kids are going to put on a homeschool presentation for all of us. So on my first day, after having a nice cup of coffee and a quiet time by the Nile,I watched the MKs prepare their song and speeches. Then I gave out the stickers and sticker books I brought for each of them. Then I visited one of our families and played with their 2 year old daughter. She is really taken with me and now calls out “Auntie ‘Tacey!! Where are you Auntie ‘Tacey?” so that I will come and play with her and her dolly some more. We were making “soup” out of grass and leaves and feeding the baby.
I am also enjoying seeing the families’ homeschooling progress and to be able to visit with the Mommas and discuss ideas.
Today, I enjoyed more one on one time with the moms and then gave them a long break while Debbie and I helped all the MKs with a special lapbooking “unit study” on Ocean Animals that I brought along. What fun!!! And towards the end, some Sudanese boys decided to join us. It was amazing to hear one of our ten year old MKs, who is fluent in Arabic, explain the animals to his Sudanese friend.
On Saturday evening, I am meeting with all the missionary ladies for a special time of encouragement. So please pray for me that God will give me the “words to sustain the weary” (Isaiah 50:4).
When I first arrived here on Wednesday, I felt such a homesickness for Zambia wash over me -especially for those early days at Luampa. I know that sounds crazy. But I could not help but wish I could do it all over again, knowing what I know now. I envy the missionary women here in some ways – to be able to sit at the fire with the African ladies, to speak their language, even to live such a simple, uncomplicated life and to raise their children here- But there is plenty not to envy , the extreme heat, the sparse living conditions, the dangers of illness, the lack of fellowship (because even if you have other missionaries around you, you don’t always feel close to them), and the pit latrines!!
I know that our season of life is different now and there is no going back to those days. And I am sure that by the time we take a boat out of here next Tuesday I will be ready! Of course we will spend another night in Malakal (another pit latrine and bucket bath) before we get to Juba where we can sit on a real toilet (and a take a shower -though cold). And then when I get to Nairobi and sleep in my own bed, use my real toilet and take a hot shower, I will be soooo thankful! AndI will really be happy to give my peeps a BIG HUG!! I miss you all so much.. I am not sorry I came. The women keep telling me how happy they are that I am here, and I know they mean it. So I know God has a purpose in it. Keep praying that His purpose will be fulfilled. I love you little family!
Mark and kids,