Stories of Hope from South Sudan

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  • Dec

    Arriving in South Sudan with a Bit of Uncertainty

    South Sudan ArrivalAfter struggling to get our ten heavy bags out of the airport and into the car, I paused, pondering in my mind: how am I already dirty and sunburned? Only minutes after arriving in Juba, South Sudan I found myself covered in a layer of dark-orange dust with my forearms scratched by the sun’s strong rays. Standing in a cloud of dust and heat, I surveyed the parking lot. Almost every vehicle was a Land Cruiser or some type of off-roading vehicle, reminding me that the road ahead would be rough. Really rough. I began to wonder about our decision to move to South Sudan.

    “Even though we got your reservation,” the man at the guesthouse in Juba explained, “we just learned that a group of one hundred is coming, so you cannot stay here.”

    We were sent to a new hotel and carried our big bags to our room. Children stopped their movements and stared at us silently, unresponsive to our efforts to greet them. Language differences blocked my desire to interact with the women cleaning the hotel. “It is possible, even with all the thought and prayer you put into this decision, that you were wrong.”

    Thirsty and exhausted from a whirlwind of travel, we grabbed our empty water bottles and headed towards the common dining area. As we walked down the dirt road to the cafeteria, tables in front of the building led our eyes to a river… and to a revelation. The Nile claimed the ground before us, powerful and beautiful. The ancient friend called me to sit close and calm my spirit. Bumping past stones, smoothly sliding by, reflecting the dancing sunlight, the river carried a sense of comfort to the anxious soul at her side.

    In the Christmas season we celebrate the mysterious reality of “Emmanuel,” God with us. Though God’s presence is at times difficult for me to discern in my life, our connection becomes abundantly clear when I am near to nature’s wonder. Through the soothing sounds of the Nile’s waters, I felt the Prince of Peace affirming me, “Yes, this is where you are to be.”Nile Photo

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