Sunday, April 29, 2012
The forest canopy has been thinned so that the floor is bushier than it used to be. And dotted with clearings, where the old trees have been cut down. Here is a fresh one.
The men I hiked with had decades of experience in these woods. And they mourned their passing. We noticed a landslide on the far hill of a ravine, just below a clearing that had been cut. Not trees, nothing to hold the soil on the mountain. Sad, and dangerous.
Our local church, the school staff, a local NGO called Care of Creation, neighbors, police, forestry service personnel, and the press are all beginning to cooperate to save the remnant of this forest. Not quite the same as resuscitating a baby on a Saturday morning, but in the long run the effect is similarly life-affirming and future-oriented. A privilege to participate.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Meanwhile back at the ranch . . it rained. And rained. And rained some more.
Lastly, end-of-the-day mail haul, Caleb's official appointment package from the Academy. Good thing we found out by email, as the "you must reply by April 15" letter arrived on April 25. Somehow seeing it in print makes it all the more real.
A day of patients and meetings, rescues and death, rain and songs, the satisfaction of the moment and the reminder of the future. A mid-week gourmet family dinner, Champions League football and a fire. A day of full life.
|The group at our door (my hair loves this rainy weather . . )|
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
He was delivered into our care at Kijabe this week by two Kenyans who work for an American-funded orphan-care NGO, and a South Sudanese nurse. His mother died in the process of giving birth to him in December, from uncontrolled bleeding. Post-partum hemorrhage should not be taking mothers' lives in 2012, but in areas where war and displacement and poverty prevent mothers from accessing reasonable care, it still does. A teenage girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth in the next decade than to finish high school. Christobal's father abandoned the family when his wife died. So the children were brought to an orphanage, where his milk-powder formula was mixed too dilute, and the caretaker was unable to adequately protect and nurture him. A few months later he was stick-thin, irritable, shrunken. His bulky sweater hides a wasted body. He's starving.
Kijabe is a long journey from South Sudan, just for food. But the Kenyans who were in charge of the project did what they would do for their own kids--brought him to a place they know and trust. Severe Acute Malnutrition is a serious illness with a very high mortality rate. We work hard to save at least 90% of kids in this condition, but in many hospitals his chance of survival is more like 75% or even less. And his recovery will be long and fraught with difficulties.
Not the least of which is that war is once again threatening between Sudan and South Sudan. Here is a clip from today's news: President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan vowed on Wednesday to “liberate” South Sudan from its governing party, a sharp escalation of rhetoric after fierce border clashes. There has been growing alarm over the worst violence since South Sudan split from Sudan to become an independent country in July under the terms of a 2005 peace settlement ending a civil war. South Sudan last week seized Heglig, a contested oil-producing region in the savanna that is known as Panthou in the south, prompting Sudan’s Parliament to brand South Sudan an “enemy” on Monday and to call its swift recapture. When world leaders can not agree on borders, sharing of resources, or mechanisms for dialogue, then the most vulnerable suffer. Babies like Christobal will lose their lives by the thousands, silently, even as dozens of combatants clash and die more publicly.
Pray for our team in Mundri, which is far from the fighting, but still in a country affected by war. And pray for Christobal, and the many caring people and organizations who are trying to build a functional country out of the ruins of decades of war. Pray that his generation would be the last to be devastated by this conflict.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Sunday, April 01, 2012
When everyone had arrived we paraded outside, and marched around the church making four stops in the four corners of the swept dirt compound. At each stop someone had drawn a circle in the dirt and written the four sources of this communiy's livelihood: the borehole, the garden, the carpentry shop, and the school. So we read scripture, sang, and prayed for each of these, before hunching down to re-enter the low opening under the thatch roof of the church.
At which point the preacher read the parable of the seeds, and a command with promise from Malachi 4 about tithing and finding abundance in the harvest.
Several things struck me about this service. First, the very Hebrew unity of physical and spiritual. These people did not consider their gardens to be irrelevant to their worship. And rather than murmur a god-bless-those-seeds prayer, they actually carried the seeds to the church to be prayed over. The God who gave us his body and blood, who speaks through His created world, I think would applaud the concrete nature of this act. Second, the church became a focal point for community, as the service ended we watched people share and exchange seeds. And lastly, the way a tithe is faith. To give seeds to the church as some did, is to risk. To risk everything including one's children's survival on the promise of God. If I only had a bag of dusty pods to get me into the next year, I would think long and hard about giving any away, before planting, before seeing what weather and war and market prices and a thousand other in uncontrollable variables would bring.
So pray today that the seeds of South Sudan would be blessed. The literal seeds of a country waiting for rain and food. And the seeds of freedom, of a reorganized society, of markets and trade and books and exams, of drinking water and vaccines and a thousand processes that make up a society.. And mostly the seed of faith, which starts small and dried out and unpromising but in the mystery of God can flourish into a nation that nurtures our world.
The moonlight is Warm enough to dry a load of dripping clothes from an evening wash.
You enter church and are seated on a narrow round log suspended from forked sticks in the ground at either end--the pew. Then you note the entire bulding construction requires no manufactured materials, not even a nail, all is done with mud, logs, bamboo, grass, and twine. Resourceful.
You look out at night to see a blazing inferno a few yards from the homes but no panic- it is actually a fire prevention measure to burn a perimeter around a new tukul prior to putting on the grass thatch roof.
The town has doubled in two years since the last visit, the once dusty market is now a colorful patchwork of food and goods, the team dispersed to 5 nearby church services, the once useless English is now the official language of instruction in schools, a new country where everything is changing and growing.
You comment that it has cooled off quite a bit and check the thermometer : 96 inside at dinner time. Who knew there was such a tangible comfort distinction between 106 and 96??
You spend your sabbath rest submerged in the tepid waters of the Yei river, preferring future tropical disease risk to immediate sunstroke.
The splash of pink bougainvillea by the latrine makes it the prettiest building on the compound.
You have the privilege of listening to and praying for a dozen courageous souls who are spreading their lives out in this parched land to drill boreholes, lay pipes, teach teachers and pastors, plant gardens and improve agricultural techniques, counsel the war-weary and wounded, treat the sick, encourage and inspire, and even develop a volleyball league for the youth. This team grapples with two new languages (Moru and Arabic), loneliness, harsh conditions, and the inevitable spiritual attack that meets the coming of the Kingdom. God put them here at just the right time.