Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Confessions of a Missionary Mom

I just wanted to visit my friend who lives out in one of the further camps. Usually when I go with the boys, we feel like the Pied Piper as crowds of children surround us as we walk. Since it's a 40-minute walk today I thought it would be a good idea for the boys to ride their bikes. WRONG!

We had just barely made it into the outskirts of the camps when one by one, two by two, children came running from everywhere to see these strange little white people on bicycles. Soon they were yelling and cheering, getting as close as they could to the boys who were a bit alarmed and unsure whether to slow down or speed up. Meanwhile I was walking behind the boys, going as fast as I could to try to keep up with them so I could at least attempt to manage the crowds.

We finally made it to the turnoff for the specific area of the camp and turned onto a footpath which would normally be wide enough for bikes but today there were piles of murrum (gravely stones) spaced every 30 feet. So the boys had to get off their bikes and walk around each pile, now giving time for all the hoards of children to catch up with us and push in, almost to where we felt we were about to be knocked over. I grimaced a few times as I noticed some of the wee children being stampeded or knocked over. Several kids weren't watching where they were going and stepped right into thorns with their bare feet. Oh what a mess we were making!

Further down the path, an older man suddenly sprang from behind a hut with a long switch/whip and started whipping at all the throngs of children. Again I cringed as these innocent children who were just clambering to see something exciting for the first time, were snagged by the mean whip. I know this man meant well. He was trying to give us some space, but I felt badly that it was at the cost of some of the children running in the opposite direction sobbing in pain.

We finally arrived at our destination, my friend Marta's house. She is a dear friend from our first year in Sudan. We don't talk much since she is very quiet and shy but our friendship is special and has been tested by time and distance. Before I get to Marta's house I know by looking at Isaac's disappointed face that Marta is not around. All their huts are locked up. I asked around and found out she was at a funeral, the whole family was. I had planned on visiting my friend Rauia, also from our Yabus days, but found out she too was at this funeral. Like an angel at just the right time, Marta's husband showed up with a surprised look on his face. He too explained where everyone was. I couldn't even get close enough to shake his hand because of all the village children pressing in. In fact, we could hardly hear what the other was saying over all the voices around us!

After a bit of deliberation, I realized this visit was not meant to be. Even though we'd pushed through all the way to their house, there was really no way this visit would happen today. Humph! So I smiled, passed the bag of coffee beans and sugar I'd brought as a gift for my friend to her husband, and told him I would try to come another time - next time alone. :)

On the way home, I told the boys to pedal ahead of me - that way they could get going faster than the children could keep up. And I would follow behind. I'm so thankful for my responsible 11-year old who I knew I could trust to keep all his brothers together and get home. As I walked behind them, even though the boys were out of sight, I could hear the chanting and cheering of the Sudanese children as they sprinted after the 3 miniature bikes. I smiled to myself and thought, "Well at least this will make a great blog post!" I've learned my lesson: don't take your children on bikes into the refugee camps!

This is a first for me, living among refugees. I'm so thankful for all we get to learn but it's not always fun in the learning stage. I couldn't help but spend my brisk walk home praying for these precious people. Several things stood out to me as I smiled and nodded at people that I passed and as I stopped to greet a few people that I knew:
   - Friends that we've known from Yabus or Melut are now much thinner and older looking. The years have been hard on them. After not seeing each other for five years, they comment that we look just the same and it saddens me a bit because their lives have been so harsh. They have had to fight to stay alive and many of their own family members have died in the struggle.
   -  There were a lot of drunk young men.
Making local alcohol is a money maker so many women in the camps brew it and sell it from their homes. With life feeling hopeless and empty, many men turn to alcohol to escape the pain and helplessness. It is devastating to see how alcohol is gripping many mens' lives and holding them captive.

*I  share this story with you because for one, it was such a crazy experience, I had to share it! But also to ask you to pray for the many different tribes who are having to live almost on top of each other in this community. For many of them it is getting old, and since we didn't have a good rainy season this year, crops have failed, cows have less grass to feed on, and people are really desperate. More violence and unrest has broken out in the last month between different tribes. They've been trying to get along but are just plain tired of it, I think. Please pray for patience and endurance and that all would desire PEACE more than anything else.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

That is such a rich story! You had such a calm demeanor during that chaotic situation! I don't know how I would have held up! I can imagine your friend was DELIGHTED to hear that you visited! And that you'll be back!