In those early morning hours that I lay awake in my bed in the safari tent that we were sleeping in, waiting for there to be enough light to get up and move about without disturbing the rest of the mission, God gave Shawn and I this verse: Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast [that word again] because he trusts you. In the night when I woke up full of fear, my mind was not on Him. It was on circumstances that seemed less than ideal. It was not trusting in Him, but trusting in my flesh - and in my flesh there is not a whole lot to trust in other than failure, fear, and hopelessness!
The first night in Sudan we floated off to sleep to the sounds of a party of some sort going on next door! I do not know if it was a funeral or something good - it can sometimes be hard to tell if you are not familiar with the language and culture! But I know it lasted all night! Each time I rolled over I woke up enough to realize that there was strange music and singing, I was under a mosquito net, in a tent, in Sudan of all places! Good grief - what was I thinking? :) As usual, God was good, and despite lack of sleep and emotions running high, His grace was sufficient.
We had a wonderful time the night before getting to know the amazing team there a little and eating the most delicious black bean salsa and home made lime chips (Thanks, Larissa and Acacia!) We introduced ourselves and told a bit about our lives, and they did the same - though I admit that thanks to my blog stalking I already felt I knew them!
Our goal on these trips was not the usual work-yourself-to-the-bone goals that we have when we have gone on other trips. We were not there to build something, paint something, teach English, do a vbs, or any other type of typical missions thing. We were there to get to know the team, see the ministry they are doing, and see if we (and our kids) could fit. So much of the week was spent riding along to see what each of them were doing - anything from water projects, teacher training, pastoral training, formalities of ceremonies, church, or just visiting the market! We spent hours talking and laughing and playing games, and just basically getting to know the world there. Getting my butt kicked by 11 year old Liana in dutch blitz was, while admittedly humiliating, a good thing to do so I could picture my own 11 year old daughter here playing and laughing too! Was it possible that life in Southern Sudan could almost take on an air or normalcy?
Michael and Karen are the team leaders, and I felt a wonderful connection with them from the beginning. We spent hours talking through questions on both sides, doing "what if " scenarios, and being real and personal. I loved that they live as if nothing is off limits and just want to be used by God in real and practical ways. I love that Karen admitted she doesn't like cooking and that homeschooling is not always her cup of tea! There was no pretense, and I felt I could be real and honest in all my many failings!
It was humbling to walk through town and not be able to even say hello! You do not know the times I wanted to say "Muli Bwanji!" But I enjoyed the slower pace of the market, the delicious Arabic food we ate at the restaurant, the feel of the relationships that this team has made throughout the whole community in just two years. I admit that I was also happy that the team is at the two year mark, and not the initial stages of cutting through the land, building the houses, being new to the area, and all the other "new field" things! I will be willing to face that should the time come, but a little stability is nice! :)
So we loved our time in Sudan. When the MAF plane came (and we were so happy to see the wonderful Samuel flying again) and we went back to Kampala, it was a little disconcerting to know that the next morning we were flying out to Bundibugyo to experience another week of new people, new language, new culture, and new food. The only thing that was familiar was the guilt and sadness I felt about missing my kids, and once again I had to hand that over to Him!
More on the beautiful and breath-taking Bundibugyo to come...