Wednesday, January 9, 2013

we have arrived!!!

After 5 days of traveling, we finally made it to the village of Maar, in the Diocese of Twic East in South Sudan! Jim Yeates and I began the journey on Friday morning, flying from Omaha to Minneapolis and then to Amsterdam, where we met up with the medical mission team from Mississippi (Bishop Duncan Gray, III; Dr. Frank Criddle; Dr. Addy Henderson; and Peter Malual, a pharmacist originally from South Sudan). The six of us flew to Nairobi, Kenya next, where we spent two nights (which was a welcome break). In Kenya we worshiped at St. Luke's, a Sudanese Episcopal parish in Nairobi that worships in the Dinka language (one of the tribes of South Sudan). I was also fortunate enough to meet up with my friend Jenny Korwan, who is doing the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) at Be the Change, Kenya. It was great to see her again! On Monday we left Kenya for Juba, the capital of South Sudan, staying overnight in the Episcopal Guest House. We got up bright and early to get to the airport so we could board a charter plane (which we had hired through Mission Aviation Fellowship, or MAF, who fly specifically for Christian missions). After figuring out how to balance the weight of the luggage and people, we were off! The charter plane has 11 seats, plus 3 in the back if you don't have much luggage. We were traveling with 8 trunks full of medicine for the doctors to use in the clinic, so we needed all the space we could get! From the air we were able to see the Nile below us--what an incredible view! The pilot, Jane, made the smoothest landing I've ever experienced, and on a landing strip made of dirt! When we arrived in Mabior or Panyagor, the county seat of Twic East, we were greeted by a host of people, including Bishop Ezekiel and the District Commissioner, Dau Akoi Jurkuch. The Commissioner invited us to his office, where Bishop E. introduced us to him. Then we went by truck to Maar, an hour's journey on dirt roads filled with the worst pot holes I've ever seen. The whole village had turned out to greet us, and we were welcomed with joyful song and dance. The rest of the afternoon was filled with intermittent song, dance, prayers, and eating. Such a wonderful welcome!

Some info about our life in Maar:
  • We are in a compound made up of several huts and space in the middle for meetings. Bishop Duncan has his own hut, and this is where we eat our meals and have tea. Jim, Frank, and Peter share a hut. I am in a hut with Addy, and we sleep on beds with freshly treated mosquito nets. It's quite spacious, and I slept very well last night. 
  • The moon doesn't show up until about 2am, so once the sun goes down it is completely dark. I was able to spot the constellation Orion, though, which was comforting. 
  • We eat rice, meat, beans (they got them especially for me, since I'm vegetarian), a sponge-like bread, and Dinka Donuts (fried sweet bread).  
  • I am writing to you from the solar-powered internet cafe right outside the compound. This is a way for the people of the village to be self-sustaining. How ingenious!
Today we worshiped in the community center and took a trip to the medical clinic. Who knows what the rest of the days will bring, but each day is an adventure (my word of the year), and I am blessed to be here!

A picture of a hut like the one we live in! Photo found here.

*Sorry for the lack of personal pictures; I don't have a way to transfer them to the computer. However, this will leave you something to look forward to when I get back :o)  If you have any questions or things you want to know about, let me know and I'll try to respond. Don't know how much free time I'll have to write, but I will do my best to answer! Love to all!


  1. Wonderful to hear that you have a 21st Century link for communication. Blessings indeed! Amongst the welcoming team with the music, marching and drumming I'm sure you saw my friend Alier. A mover a shaker in the community as teacher, school principal, choir director, youth leader and soccer coach. He is the contact re the eye exams we gave last year and the kits left in his care at the cathedral. Give him good wishes from our ASC team and extend a warm and generous hug to our brother Ezekiel. So excited that you and Jim and the Mississippe folk are settling in well. The sponge like bread is called kithra in Dinka or injera in Arabic.
    Love to you, CT

  2. Thanks be to God for a great, safe start. Prayers for you and for the whole team!

    + JSB

  3. Fascinating entry, Lara. Glad you and Jim (+MS group). Arrived safely and that you are able to share the journey with us! Look forward to your photos and more entries as you can manage.
    Peace and Prayers!
    Noelle Ptomey