Where to start?
We spent the years 2007-2010 in a beautiful, very rural area of
South Sudan called Yabus. We joined an international team and settled into our new home with a 2 year old and a 1 year old. Our first year was full of learning the culture, learning Arabic, learning how to cook on charcoal, washing clothes by hand, learning how to kill snakes, scorpions and other freaky insects and bats, and building relationships with the beautiful Sudanese people we’d loved even before we arrived.
Originally we were only supposed to spend 6 months in Yabus for culture and language study but we fell in love with the people and area and saw endless opportunities we could plug into ministry, so we stayed. We raised our family of boys there those 3 years. Bush life was all they knew. Our youngest son, Joshua came to Yabus at only 2 months of age.
In April 2010 we packed up our Yabus home and stored it in a metal container to leave for a 9 month home assignment, expecting to come right back. Instead we decided to first spend a year in
North Sudan to study Arabic further before returning. During the past few months as we’ve lived in Khartoum, the situation in and Yabus has gone from bad to worse. After the separation of North and South Sudan in July 2011, Blue Nile State Blue Nile State is now considered North Sudan. So really it was a matter of time before the North came to “claim” their land. But the way they have claimed it has killed, injured, and terrorized many many people. Thousands of people have fled to refugee camps in Ethiopia and other states further south in . There has been bombing in the towns north of Yabus and in Yabus as well. Our team had to evacuate in June and then again in August, this time for good. This week we heard from our compound manager that army troops came to the compound and took our truck and quad bike and have probably taken other things from our compound. Sudan
This is a great loss. Everything we poured our lives into those 3 years is gone. I’m not worried about the stuff. But everyone we ever greeted and loved on has had to run for their lives. They’ve left homes, gardens, goats, everything they own to flee to a place where they probably won’t have those things. How do they feel? What are they thinking? I don’t know how to process all of this. I feel like a huge chunk of my heart has been cut out and something is dying inside of me. Is this how it’s going to continue to be? After language school when we move to a new place, might we have to hold lightly and recognize that we might have to leave again? This is way harder than saying goodbye. When and how will I ever see all those friends, those brothers and sisters again?
When we first came to
Sudan in 2007, a very experienced missionary who’d lived in multiple countries in East Africa, including during the war, told us, “Be careful not to pour too much effort into buildings and stuff that can fall apart or be destroyed. Pour into people. If a building is toppled, a person still survives and what you’ve poured into them still survives wherever they go.” Now I see what he means. Eli sweat and spent many months building the secondary school, buildings on our compound, a water system from the river, and the Unity Bridge. What will that all come to? I don’t know. But we also poured even more into those dear people from 5 different tribes. We lived with them. We ate with them. We did life on life. And I pray that as I grieve this loss that I will remember that God goes with His children, most especially in their suffering and sorrow, and I pray that whatever Hope He planted in their hearts, will burn now more than ever, and grow their faith to get them through this season. And I pray that God will teach us more about Himself and how He wants to use us in this torn up nation. Sudan
The boys spent many hot afternoons down at the river with their friends
Joshua was right at home in Yabus - happy and content
Unity Bridge - an effort made by 5 tribes and Eli that took a year and a half to complete but changed life for the whole community every rainy season thereafter.