Where to even begin? Yesterday started with us waking up to the chorus of roosters, strange birds making siren noises and shouted discourse in Dinka that we have all come to know and love. We dragged ourselves out of bed, and after a nice cup of coffee (thank you Starbuck's on 119th/Renner), we push-started the Land Cruiser and were on our way to meet Father Giovanni.
The Padre is 70 years old and has been in Africa for 47 years in Kenya and Uganda. Within the last dozen or so years he made his way to Sudan, and it has been his home. He does many different humanitarian type projects for the Catholic church including vocational training, building, and drilling wells- the primary reason we are making our visit. Most people who drill boreholes out here only go deep enough to hit water. However, the Padre has determined that you have to go at least 60 meters to get clean, drinkable water that is not going to cause any problems.
We were going to have the borehold drilled this last year, but various complications kept it from happening. Now, his entire crew has returned to Italy because of worries about instability during the referendum. However, as he put it: "I cannot leave. My people need me here when they are suffering more than when they are well." He is an inspiration to us all. We made arrangements to have the borehole drilled when his engineers return after the vote- possibly February or March.
We took some time to see the Father's compound- it is absolutely beautiful. Huge mango trees cover an outdoor church. Young Dinka kids running around learning how to cook, build, sew, etc. One thing I did notice was the proximity to the large white mountain "Kur Majak," where we had an incident last year. See my youtube channel for the video...
After parting with the Father, we made our way to Lang Dit (LONG DEET), the birthplace of Awan Ater. We were instructed to go to the bridge over the river Bar-Gel and wait. Soon, the county commissioner and a truckload of SPLA arrived armed to the teeth. I won't lie- it was kinda neat.
We then headed for Lang Dit. Before we could even make it to town, a huge crowd of people stopped us, singing in the street. We got out of our vehicles and they were singing, dancing and screaming praises for Awan- "Awan has come home!" The next hour saw much dancing and several bulls lost their life- I will spare you the pictures here.
We finally gathered under a huge fig tree and were treated to more dancing and a 7-Up. We probably shook a few hundred hands and then we were ushered again to our vehicles to make our way to Malou-Pac (maLON-page), the hometown of some of Awan's family. There, it was all business as we were greeted by the Paramount chief over the entire area and some of his sub-chiefs, and the villagers addressed their concerns.
Chiefly among the concerns in this area are:
- Water: there is only one borehole drilled for a population of over 5,000 people.
- Hospitals: there is no medical help. The chief shared with us that his son died in his arms just over one week ago as they were trying to get him to the hospital in Cueibet.
- Education: there is only a primary school in the area. There is only one secondary school in Rumbek, and it is over-populated.
We heard their concerns and moved back to Lang Dit, where we ate and then had a similar meeting that went well into the evening. They had identical concerns, and gave Tim and Awan an opportunity to address the people there. This area is one of the areas in which our work here will eventually move to through Samuel Maciek.
The people know that we alone cannot make the difference for them. Just as was told them when Jason, Tim and Tiffany came here first in 2007. We told them we don't have the ability to solve their problems, but God does. "Seek first His Kingdom, and His righteousness, and all you need will be added to you" were the words that Jesus told the poor in the gospel of Matthew, and that is what Tim echoed to them. He went over the history of our church and our working with Awan and the local Sudanese in KC, and how the work had to begin with them. We challenged them to seek God on what they could contribute rather than waiting for the government to help them, because they could be waiting for a LONG time.
"I challenge you to seek God and give," said Tim, "and when I come back, if you have done so and He hasn't given back to you, you can call me a liar."
It was dark when we left Lang Dit. Our vehicle is draining brake fluid and only one headlight works. Luckily it's impossible to go over 10 mph with the way the roads are, so it's really no worry. Right now Jason is heading to Cueibet to get some brake fluid and we will go back to Abiachuk to our compound to begin teaching Samuel's church leaders.
It is likely we will not be able to update before Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. For the next few days, we will be in training for the young leaders of the church, teaching about evangelism and challenges of church leadership. Sunday is the big day, and we will be going with some of the locals as they vote to become their own independent nation!
It is a very exciting time for Sudan right now, and once again, we are stoked to be here. If AT ALL possible, I will update after Sunday. Please keep us and Sudan in prayer.
Randy and the rag-tag group of guys from Olathe who somehow got to be a part of this thing
|Samuel, Awan, Randy, Padre Giovanni and Mike|
|Tim and Awan on Giovanni's property. Kur Majak is in the distance|
|I just had to get a picture of this guy with the .50 cal strapped on|
|Walking to Lang Dit with the SPLA|
|The sacrificial thing where the last bull lost its life....|
|The chiefs in Lang Dit|
|Aim, Charlie, Tim and Mike at the talk in Lang Dit|